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Scenery Review : LOWS W. A. Mozart - Salzburg Airport by Digital Design

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Scenery Review : LOWS W. A. Mozart - Salzburg Airport by Digital Design
 
You know that you are an old hand at X-Plane if you can remember the X-Plane9® default airport...  Now it is KSEA - Seattle, but in the earlier days it was LOWS, at Salzberg. Throughout the run of X-Plane10 the airport once known as the face of the simulator has fallen into the past receding memory banks, but the reasons why LOWS was such a great entrance to the simulator is still there and more so now with the release of "Digital Design's" new scenery in LOWS W.A.Mozart Airport.
 
First it is a good idea to clear up a little something in that "Digital Design" was JustSim scenery, the same developers that have released both LOWL - Linz - LEGE Girona scenery which I really was impressed with back in April. And this LOWS is another of the same developers scenery and so this is not a completely new developer for X-Plane.
 
First Impressions
 
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Salzburg City is situated at the northern boundary of the Alps on the Austrian side. is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and has one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. The city was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. It is of course also well known as the birth place of that music maestro 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...  and the musical the "Sound of Music" was filmed here. But from an X-Plane point of view it is one of the most picturesque approaches in the simulator with the Alps as a backdrop. 
 
Most approaches are on RWY 15 or from the north (with an ILS - OES 109.90). You can use RWY 33 but it is quite a difficult approach without some practice as it requires a very tight in radius approach path. Ditto in leaving on RWY 15, as any departures require the same to the left hard radius turn or if continuing south also an extremely tight climb up and over 6000ft to clear the Alpine mountain barrier, leave RWY 15 in a southern direction directly and you are faced with the flat wall of a mountain face!
 
So if you arrive from the south like I do here, then there is a significant drop of altitude after clearing the Alps to do a sharp turn back to the LOWS airport for RWY 15. So you have to be on your guard to control the speed with the high speed descent to get that speed right to turn back (slowly) around for RWY 15, it sounds easier than it is to do, but it does make for a very dramatic arrival.
 
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First thing you notice is the huge amount of extra object scenery around the actual Salzburg Airport itself. I was very impressed by the visual complexity of the area.
 
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The scenery expands way out past the central airport scenery and covers most of your view of the approach, in so making the arrival very more realistic and very Austrian, and far better than relying on the X-Plane autogen to do that filling out work for you.
 
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Once over the airfield you have to remember your noted "Go Around" procedures as the wall of mountains to your right and front make the view unnerving and you will want to get out of there the right way and not the wrong way, for god knows what is like flying in and out of LOWS with a low overcast - low visibility scenario.
 
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Runway and taxiway textures are excellent and realistic...  A note is required that your X-Plane settings "Runway follows terrain contours" is off! If not you will get a lot (I mean a lot) of floating objects as you land and floating objects all around the terminal areas.
 
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Salzburg Airport has a huge ramp area that is really well textured and marked out, animated vehicles do wizz past you and give the airport a bit of a buzz factor, but there are no static aircraft (I complained about the same emptiness with JustSim's LOWL - Linz - LEGE Girona as well). I would note the coming X-Plane 10.50 static aircraft feature will help here, but there is no small static aircraft detailing either? A few GA's or smaller aircraft would certainly help the cause, it is just too empty.  Otherwise the arrival to Mr Mozart's airport was excellent and visually very interesting.
 
Airport layout
Salzburg Airport
(IATA: SZG, ICAO: LOWS)
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15/33 - 2,750m (9,022ft) Concrete
Elev AMSL 430 m / 1,411 ft

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North or south views will distinguish the airport very well, but from the eastern or western point of view the central scenery is covered well with the excellent Austrian object scenery. LOWS only has one runway in 15/33.
 
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As noted the runways are laid out very well with great small detailing and very good textures. Good to excellent different surfaces give you a totally realistic feel to the surfaces and realism.
 
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Surface wear and tarmac cracks are evident, and all direction signs and paint markings are perfect. 3d grass is also well done and hides a lot of the flat surrounding ground textures. Overall the ground layouts are of a high quality as you would expect from a payware scenery of this calibre.
 
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The airport is dominated by that huge expanse of ramp area and over 40 parking positions, the main parking areas have 17 positions in front of the terminal (8 - W stands) or the remote stands (9 - E stands).
 
Surrounding Environs
 
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What impressed me with JustSim's (Digital Design) scenery in earlier releases was the sheer amount of environ object local scenery. And LOWS takes that amount of extra objects to a whole new level. You get everything in here from shopping centres, factories, commercial outlets, churches and even glass farming houses. All are set out in the local Austrian flavor with wooded chalets and steep snow moving alpine roofs.
 
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More modern flats and housing are also covered as is the main icons of the Salzburg "Old Town" (Altstadt) city centre. The Hohensalzburg Castle is in there as well, but is positioned precariously atop the Festungsberg. There are many of the famous baroque churches, but most are buried in the X-Plane scenery elevation changes. But overall the full cover of external area scenery is excellent.
 
"Hangar 7" is a sponsored museum by "Red Bull" drinks. And the space age designs of the two half hangars that are positioned on the eastern boundary of the airport.
 
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The hangar(s) house a unique aircraft collection that includes rarities such as the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a North American B-25J Mitchell, a Chance Vought F4U-4 "Corsair" and a DC-6. A selection of Red Bull Formula One Racing Cars are also on display. The dome style buildings have been well reproduced here in the scenery, but the roof glass is more see-through in reality, but it is well done. On the eastern side is small cargo area called Frachtgebaude, but there is no apron parking as all freight is tunneled by trucks under the runway from the main airport ramps.
 
There is a major road under the runways but it is not in 3d but flat, it looks okay but is not realistic from certain viewing angles.
 
 
Terminals and Control Towers
 
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In reality Salzburg Airport is not a very large facility. The huge rear carpark and shopping complex behind the terminals dwarfs the main airport buildings and from most angles makes the airport look far larger than it actually is.
 
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The main central terminal (One) is actually quite small and the second terminal to the south is used only for seasonal overflow flights. Terminal Onet is split into Schengen and non-Schengen areas. There are no airbridges at LOWS and most passenger aircraft to terminal transfers are by bus (Neoplan) or walk on.
The detailing on the terminal including the excellent signage which is very good and the highlight is the expertly well done cafe/viewing terrace above the main building with "Red Bull" sponsorship.
 
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The secondary terminal (Two) is more modern but also more hangar like in detail. A lovely detailed static Austrian Airlines DC-3 is on display and adds well into the overall feel of the airport. There is a lot of branded airport equipment set out all around the ramps, and many are animated as well. I used the LOWS livery "Ground Handling Deluxe" by JARDesign to add in a bit of even more local flavor.
 
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The rear of the terminal landside areas have that huge carpark/shopping complex and all is very well fitted out to fill in the landside areas with ground carparking and bus terminal areas. The wavy connection roofing structures is showing the attention to detail in covering these often forgotten important areas.
 
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The control tower is situated in the corner of the L with a smaller ramp tower sitting next to it. This area is also incorporates the airport administration building that merges into a freight receiving area and airport equipment storage building (well done) with fuel tanker parking areas to the north (or rear depending on your visual viewpoint).
 
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To the far north is the large general aviation, private jet reception and main ramp overflow parking known as the "GAC" apron with 17 stands. There is also here a great selection of five large storage hangars. There is also a fuel depot with three large storage tanks.
 
Everything in the airport central area in textures and building detailing is excellent, very realistic and all is really well completed...
 
...  so it is surprising that something as small as setting the control tower view was overlooked.
 
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Press the (T) tower view and you are somewhere in the center of the ramp, swing around and you do get a great view of the excellent tower itself...  but that is not the idea, is it?   So any approach or departure views of the 15/33 runways are not available.
 
Lighting
 
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Lighting of LOWS is very good, but there is not a lot of variations in the different styles of light tones. The excellent X-Plane default traffic lighting really helps as it passes over the northern boundary and under the approach RAIL lights (Runway Alignment Indicator Lights, also known as ALS). I really like the looming dark Alpine mountains at the point of very first light and dusk, if you want a great arrival or departure viewpoint, then these points of time are the best to use.
 
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The aprons are well lit, but more lighting is on offer on the outer E stands, than on the inner terminal W stands.
 
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The LH Regional CRJ-200 was just under the lighting spread for boarding, and so a little more throw would have been nice.
 
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Terminal building textures are excellent, and look really great at night, from an arrival view then certainly a nightime arrival as noted is the best option.
 
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All lighting areas are good, but the standout is the airport equipment storage building which looks amazing at night from any angle. So overall the LOWS lighting is good but it is not exceptional.
 
Services
 
W. A. Mozart Airport has grown per year slightly since 2005 with 1,695,430 passengers to 1,819,520 in 2014. Most services are seasonal and charter, but I have listed below only the current scheduled services. LCC (Low Cost Carriers) are also very frequent at LOWS and Ryanair has been flying here for 15 years. Almost all destinations are European, eastern block or Russian.
 
  1. airBalticRiga
  2. Air Berlin - Berlin-Tegel, Düsseldorf
  3. Austrian Airlines - Frankfurt, Vienna
  4. British Airways - London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow
  5. easyJet - Berlin-Schönefeld, Hamburg
  6. Eurowings operated by Germanwings - Cologne/Bonn
  7. FlexFlight - Augsburg
  8. Ryanair - London-Stansted
  9. S7 Airlines - Moscow-Domodedovo
  10. Scandinavian Airlines - Copenhagen, Oslo-Gardermoen
  11. SunExpress - Antalya
  12. Transavia - Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rotterdam
  13. Turkish Airlines - Istanbul-Atatürk

Summary

Airport runway and building textures here are excellent and so is all the ground line and signage, overall the scenery is very good, a great investment and certainly worthy part of your European airport network. Arrivals and departures from Salzburg are some of the most scenic and if you use the southern approaches for departure or arrivals they are very challenging to the skills of only the master pilots of the simulator.

A few quirks still remain in that static aircraft are obviously noticeable by their absence, a few GA's or Private jets would help, and a few LCC airlines on the ramps would certainly help in with the overall view, the airport is of course ready for X-Plane static arrangements, but really anything would help in with the cause. The lighting overall is good but not above average, with a few more different varieties of light tones would add into the general feel at night. And a fix for that "Tower" view?

I am certainly a big fan of (JustSim) Digital Design's scenery, as they give you a lot of quality scenery (and not only just the airport, but a large spread of the local environs) and all at a great price. All their scenery are great investments and are highly usable, and LOWS Salzburg is their best yet.

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Yes! LOWS W. A. Mozart - Salzburg Airport by Digital Design are NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

LOWS- Salzburg Airport W. A. Mozart

Price is US$19.50

Features Include:

  • Shading and occlusion (texture baking) effects on terminal and other airport buildings
  • High resolution photo scenery near airport and city
  • All autogen objects are manually placed
  • High resolution ground textures / Custom runway textures
  • Runway reflection effect
  • Custom apron and runway lights
  • High resolution building textures
  • Optimized for excellent performance
  • Animated custom ground vehicles
  • X-Life traffic compatible

Requirements:
X-Plane 10.40 + (any edition)
Windows, Mac, Linux
600Mb HD Space Available
1Gb VRAM Video Card

Installation and documents:

Download for LOWS - Salzburg is 428.70meg and the scenery is deposited in the "Custom Scenery" X-Plane folder at 934.40mb.

Just deposit into your X-Plane Custom Scenery Folder

A basic manual (3 pages) is provided.

There are no charts, but a good LOWS download charts package is available here: VACC LOWS_Package_Complete Package

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Reviews by Stephen Dutton
 
17th June 2016
 
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 8 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: JARDesign Ground Handling Deluxe plugin - US$14.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- CRJ-200 by JRollon Planes (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$49.95 (sale specials are always available on the CRJ-200, so watch out for them!)

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