Stephen Dutton has done a fantastic review of this superb aircraft and only work has prevented me from doing a review on this beautiful aircraft. Flightfactor have in my opinion raised the bar so high now in Xplane that the next step up is going to be so hard that it really is gong to take some doing.
Roman and Phillip have excelled themselves and all the lessons learned on the Triple 7 have been put to good use here and have allowed them to make incredible strides forward. We all know this is the one that a lot of people have been waiting for this one and I tell you now this is it.
It is very hard to pick fault and I think I might have to do a lot of flying to see what if anything needs adjusting. I have one comment and that is the passenger bus, You can't see the wheels lol.
I have been a simmer for about 20 years and I never thought I would see this level of complexity in a desktop simulator but here we are. Simmers across the world keep talking about PMDG and Xplane, well Mr Randazzo you will need to pull your socks up, there is a new kid on the block and they have again knocked you out of the park.
Well Done Phillip and Roman for putting to gether an outstanding world class team for the full development of this aircraft we all look forward to the next one, but first take a day or two off and have a beer.
The airport Lugano is a small international Swiss airport in the canton Tecino. Its location is between the three towns of Agno, Muzzano and Bioggio. The fascinating part of this airport is surely the breathtaking approach, probably one of the most beautiful approaches in the world. Landing on 01 takes you across the picturesque Lake of Lugano where you get the most out of the reflection and shadowing techniques in X-Plane 10 Global.
The most frequent aircraft in Lugano is the Saab 2000 operated by Darwin Airlines offering Code-Share flights with Alitalia to destinations like Rome, Cagliari and Olbia. The most important route though is the flight to Zurich for Swiss International Airlines.
2010 saw the airport handling more than 170.000 passengers taking off from the 1.350 m long runway.
I love flying at 38,000ft in a chunk of heavy metal, there can be no greater satisfaction as when you land your aircraft after completing an IFR flight from one airport to another, having programmed your FMC with SIDS route and STAR.
Sometimes though I yearn to fly close to the ground and look at the scenery, but the world is a big place so how do I choose where I want to fly. VFR means visual flight rules which also means if you do it old style looking out of the window. I tend to gravitate towards mountains and valleys, perhaps because I live in South Wales only a few short miles from the South Wales valleys.
So where better to go than Switzerland, Xplane's terrain mesh is astounding just in the default vanilla installation but when you add a better mesh and some good scenery well it comes alive and it is no better represented than with the Aerosoft Lugano Airport in Switzerland. So lets Load up and take a VFR flight around the valleys and lakes of the area departing from the beautifully located airport by the lake.
Lugano Airport is a regional airport located 4 km west of the Swiss city of Lugano, in the municipalities of Agno, Bioggio and Muzzano. It lies closer to the village of Agno than to Lugano itself, and is sometimes known as Lugano-Agno.
All Approaches into Lugano are from the south to rwy 019 and has one of the steepest glideslopes I have ever come across at 6.65 deg which is due to the terrain and the ILS approach chart advise you start your descent at 6000ft.
On final approach you will be flying over the lake for approx 3 miles so make sure you have your life jacket on just in case.
Aerosoft have begun to use installers for many of their Xplane products and whilst I prefer the extract to Custom scenery folder method from a zip file using Aerosoft's installer presents no hardship whatsoever and Lugano Installs itself by just locating your Xplane custom scenery folder.
When you purchase the software you can opt for instant download or have the CD shipped to you. There is even an option to purchase the download and have a disk back up for an extra $4.95. whichever you choose the file is approx 245mb zipped.
When installed it creates two folders one for the airport 282mb on disk and the other is the Lugano Scenery 31mb on disk, which is not a huge amount of space being used. As with all Aerosoft airports you get a PDF manual in English and German and a set of high quality PDF charts as well.
One great aspect of the manual is a screen shot of the settings screen in Xplane with some recommended settings I can see this being of great help to some Xplane users.
The one thing I didn't like is that the main picture of the manual shows the main building and tower of Lugano with snow on the ground and on the hills behind and as we well know winter textures are not depicted in Xplane well not yet anyway. You can get an add on that gives you winter wonderland but I haven't tried it so I have no idea to how effective it is.
Airport and Surroundings
One of the main aspects of payware scenery for me is how well the orthophoto's blend in with the surrounding default scenery, some developers can get this wrong and the orthophoto work can look out of place and in some cases as if the image has just been dropped on top without any consideration as to how it looks. Get it right and it can make all the difference between poor and excellent.
This orthophoto work at Lugano blends in almost seamlessly and I found it difficult to spot where the orthophoto ended and the default ground texture started, I think the addition of the Lugano treeline by the canal that runs the length of the airfield really helps in masking the join.
The market garden opposite the terminals and on the other side of the canal are really well done with some pretty spectacular buildings including greenhouses and long sheds.
There are a number of businesses all along this side of the airfield and I suspect they are doing good business in these very pleasant surroundings. The elevated road which is beyond the market gardens and other businesses is a little overdone
Looking towards the ends of the runways it's hard to tell whether the broken and cracked concrete is orthophoto work or drawn by the developer, what ever it looks very good as do the ground markings. I especially like the stand numbering which is all cracked and chipped as you would expect
There are over 20,000 grass polygons and I have to say this is some of the best grass I have ever seen in any scenery, as you can see from the images it does look quite something.
Coming back to the terminal side of the airport all the buildings have been really well built (modelled) I particularly like the World Trade Centre with the sign around the top of the central part of the building very well done indeed and when we move into darkness the lighting looks spectacular.
The main terminal area and control tower are brilliant, as a 3rd party dev myself I have always tried to get the airport clutter just right sadly here its just a little to bare but what it lacks in clutter it more than makes up for in the myriad of little details. I really like all the blue steel work just below and up the tower. The guard rail on the outside of the ATC room at the top of the tower is fantastic work and looks just right.
The buildings in the main terminal area look as if they have been built over a number of years with additions being made to the airport at various times, I must admit to being a little confused as to why the tennis courts are inside the airport boundary, must be terrible playing tennis there when a an ATR is coming into land, we all know how noisy they can be.
The one thing that is lacking from the airport, and can make it look a little sterile is the lack of any people, I have had a good walk around and considering the number of cars that are parked all over the place, I would have thought I would see at least one person wandering about. well I can tell you there is not a one. It reminds me of a post apocalyptic film where everybody has gone.
Even the playground at the front of the airport is empty and believe me where there are swings and slides there will be children and parents watching them. I even had a look through the restaurant windows and couldn't see anybody. That ok it means more cake for me, lol
So lets do a quick flight around the area and see what it looks like from the air. The charts soon tell you there is only one way in and one way out so lining up on rwy 19, I open the throttle and start off down the runway looking forward to a nice quick flight around the lake.
Almost as soon as you take off and leave the end of the runway everything changes and your flying over default scenery, whilst the surrounding hills look great and the water of the lake looks pretty there is something missing. I fly down the lake for a few miles and then turn right to fly around a hill that juts into the lake creating a small harbour where the village of Ponte Tresa is dissected by the Italian Swiss Border, here the default scenery tries it's best but to be honest it doesn't look that convincing, turning right I head north back towards the airport flying over Caslano heading to wards the middle of the lake in preperation for lining up on the centre line. The approach to runway 01 is lovely and as you reach the mouth of the canal you can see a football field and the Via Lugano, a few more yards and your over the threshold all very nice.
Night lighting throughout the airport is excellent and of course the Global lighting system and HDR setting is used to full effect. The lighting of the interior of the terminal restaurant is good but I have seen better in some freeware that is available.
Lugano is a beautiful area of the world and this airport is very good. The work on the main terminal and ATC tower looks fabulous I especially like the World Trade Centre and the market gardens on the opposite side to the main terminal. I do have some reservations and that is for your money your not getting a lot and by comparison the freeware version of Lugano has far more to offer with details like people around the airport, sail boats on the lake, and even the smaller villages I mentioned on my flight being depicted to some degree.
I also have to say that fps was slightly better in the more detailed freeware than the payware version of Lugano.
the orthophoto of Lugano in the Aerosoft version is better and the market gardens green houses and other buildings opposite the main terminal are excellent. I think I would be hard pressed to say which one you should get.
Perhaps an update to the Aerosoft version could be forthcoming with some extra attention paid to those areas I mentioned, if this was the case it would be a simple recomendation, the cost makes it a viable option at only 19:99 euros. So I might say make a decision on that basis at that price it is actually good value for money.
Aerosoft : Airport Lugano is Available in the X-Plane.Orgshop now : Airport Lugano
Price is US$21.34
X-Plane 10 Global
Windows XP/Vista/7, MAC, Linux
Processor (CPU): 2,6 GHz Core 2 Duo
RAM: min. 2048 MB RAM
Video card: 3D Video Card min. 512 MB
Optionally: DirectX: 9.0c or better
Download-Size: 100 MB
Installations-Size: 330 MB
Aircraft Review Avro RJ100 and RJ 70 XP9.61r and X10.22
Developer Andreas Much
The RJ aircraft are available from The ORG store and the Avroliner Project website http://x-plane.andreasbenjamin.com/, I love this aircraft for several reasons the main one being that it was the most successful British commercial airliner made and of course a small fleet of them was used as the Royal Flight for Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth ll.
Although only 387 where made to production and production finished in 2001 many of the aircraft can still be seen around the world and as a regional jet with short airstrip capabilities has remained extremely popular. Go to London City airport on any given day and you will see a large number flying in and out.
Installation of the aircraft is as always with Xplane simplicity itself and whilst there is no auto installer it is a simple case of dropping the folder into the appropriate aircraft folder within your xplane directory.
I have gotten into the habit of creating folders in my aircraft folder for specific aircraft so I have a Military folder a GA folder and one for Commercial Airliners. You can create as many folders as you wish and place your aircraft as you prefer. Once installed you will find approx 18 liveries for the RJ100 and 26 for the RJ70
Aer Lingus 1995
Air New Zealand
BA CityFlyer Animals and Trees
Wings of the City
Swiss International Shopping Paradise
Eastern China Airlines
Northwest Jet Airlink
This number of liveries should keep any pilot happy for a long time without having to look for anymore. All of the liveries are of the same standard and I really like the way that the liveries look a bit dirty and grubby. A good example of this is the British Airways livery, Just take a look at the doorway and look at the dirty streaks, very well done and the dirt from the exhaust of the APU, simply brilliant.
The real problem with all the paint jobs is that they don't stand up well, to close scrutiny and the lines become a little blurry. So I think its best to view the aircraft externally from about 50 ft away at this distance its hard to pick fault.
Continuing with a walk around of the aircraft once again the same thing holds true as for the liveries, basically don't get to close or the model begins to look a little poor in places.
I always like to look at landing gear, not that I am an expert but I like to see how they look and do they convey mass. The landing gear on the RJ's look great until once again you get to close and they just los their credibility a bit for me. As you can see in the screen shot of a close up of the gear there is something lacking, as if they have just dropped down from the bay unattached to anything. They look good and the sun reflection on the main gear is very impressive but everything from there upwards just doesn't look right.
The tyres look great and so do the wheels with the nuts on but once again to close and they lose sharpness. Walking around the aircraft one notices the engines and how close to each other they are but they are what seem feet above the ground unlike a a 737 where there is only 13 inches clearance. The main airfoil spar is well modelled and the curves of the mouldings to the main body are quite impressive.
Moving to the back of the plane quite high up by the tail section you come across the APU outlet which seems to be a very dirty area no matter which livery you have. it would seem no airline cleans that area to well.
When the APU is running the exhaust blur can be seen coming from there which is an effect that is very well done. You have to be careful around this part of the plane because if someone on the flight deck was to operate the airbreaks as you walk by you would be in hospital for sure. The airbrakes on the RJ are huge or so they seem. The back end of the aircraft opens up to 90deg to the body and when they are deployed in flight your speed drops as if you have hit a brick wall in the sky. This animation is very good and having seen many an RJ land at City Airport London I can testify to the effectiveness of these what look like barn doors opening.
The cockpit is where we spend nearly all our time when in sims and so this can be the most important aspect of any aircraft payware or freeware. The cockpit in the RJ across all models is exactly the same and there is a 2d panel and a VC. The 2d panel is far better than the VC (3d panel).
The 2d panel is almost photo realistic and as you can see it looks nice and sharp all the way across, I really like the mix of analogue and glass displays and when you look at the glareshield looking at all the scratches in the paintwork really gives it a feel of age and usage, there is even a piece of paper stuck on a clip with some hand written notes on it.
Whilst it looks sharp and in focus because of the lack of aging on it in other places it looks as if it has been put together from different bits and loses that believeability aspect.
Where this aircraft is really let down is in the VC. We may well have been spoilt by other developers but we are now aware what xplane 10 is capable of if you are willing to spend time on your build. Which seemingly has not been donw with the VC. Although I am assured that an update is imminent.
I found that when one zooms in on certain displays they lose focus and become quite blurry where as other such as the speed indicator remain n sharp focus through the range of zoom, what is even more stark is that at a normal zoom range you can see the differences between some of the displays, some being bright sharp and in focus whilst others are blurry.
The best example of this is the Primary flight display next to the airspeed indicator as you can see below. Moving down towards the default FMC's this begins to look worse and the blurriness is such that it becomes hard to read.
Now when we move to the overhead we are once again back in sharpness world, its all a little confusing and detracts from some of the better aspects of the aircraft. Finally regarding the cockpit no matter where you click be it on a switch a bulb bulkhead or even the cockpit windows you hear the same switch click sound.
I have never flown a real RJ I'm not sure I have ever been in one but the flight model feels about right and sure enough you can take a steep approach angle down to your runway so making it ideal for that famous London city 5.5deg approach. That said it just feels a little twitchy when in the air and you can quickly get out of shape if your inputs are a little on the heavy handed side. The flap animations are really well done and the airbrake as mentioned earlier is superb.
I really want to like this aircraft as it is one of my personal favourites and I think this has a lot going for it but it is in desperate need of an update which I believe Andreas is doing and was due to be released at the end of the summer. I know that Andrea almost works on his own and what he has achieved here is quite remarkable apart from the few items that I have highlighted.
The whole Avroliner package is $39:95 and for this you get all three variations of the RJ The RJ70, RJ85 and the RJ100 that is good value for money and a really good addition to any hangar as long as you keep in mind some of my comments, but as I said I believe a free update to owners is imminent which I hope will get rid of some of those concerns..