There are many things the Swiss are famous for. From cheeses to cuckoo clocks, chocolates to banks, Switzerland is a complex and interesting country. Perhaps its biggest claim to fame is its natural beauty. The Alps run through the whole country, making for some of the best GA flying adventures around. Away from the short fields and snowy mountain passes though, is the city of Zurich. Whilst Zurich is not the Swiss capital, it is the country’s biggest city, home to all the big banks, the largest rail connections and the country’s main airport, Zurich International.
Work on the airport began just as World War II was wrapping up. Replacing the original airbase that served Zurich since 1921, the first aircraft left from the new airport in 1946. Over the years, the airport grew, with the biggest change coming in 2003 with the completion of the first new terminal since 1975. Terminal E sits a fair distance from the original terminals and is connected by a very long set of moving walkways.
Today Zurich sees over 26 million passengers to nearly 200 destinations worldwide. It is by far and wide, Switzerland's biggest airport, but is it worth a visit, and Aerosoft seem to think so too.
Airports are constantly changing and the previous Aerosoft Zurich was based on the airport sometime around 2012. Zurich has been under near constant works since then, so the minimum V2.0 brings is an up to date layout of Zurich around the end of 2015. Being X-Plane though, there are few areas that have seen improvements. There are 2K textures for some buildings, custom airport mesh for smooth landings, and the obligatory HDR night lighting effects. All of this is squeezed into a fairly small 447MB download size. Installation is simple and soon enough you are ready to go.
Installing is a matter of copy and paste. There are three main folders that copy to the ‘Custom Scenery’, all marked Aerosoft Zurich V2.0, but finished with a suffix of either A, B, or C. That will help keep the various scenery layers in the right place. The airport should be on top of your Scenery.ini for best results. If it is not, just delete the file and start X-Plane to generate a new one. Included in the download is a very simple manual, in both German and English. It is basic, outlines the various features and, well, that is about it. Of perhaps more use is the included PDF charts. The charts will help with both heavy metal flying and GA VFR routes as well.
The new version of Airport Zurich benefits from the following features:Completely recreated scenery of Airport Zurich as of late 2015;
Starting off airside, the first thing that is obvious is the scale of the airport. The main bulk of the passenger terminals sit to the south, nestled between Runways 28 and 34. Terminal B/D is the smaller of the two main terminals. Terminal A is bigger and is used solely for intra Schengen travel. It is busy here. Several gates have aircraft waiting at them. They are pretty good quality for static models. If you wish to remove the static models, simply tune your NAV radio to 108.00 and poof, the aircraft are gone. Of more interest is the ground traffic. It is everywhere, or so it seems. Baggage carts, passenger buses, and plenty of trucks and other service vehicles drive around following the proper routes around the airport. At night the vehicle’s lights illuminate their path as they drive along. Nothing gives an airport a feeling of being alive than seeing activity on the apron.
Texture wise, this part of the airport is superb. The 2k textures around the main buildings are crisp and clear. A nice touch is that the three main terminals all have 3D interiors. With the modern, glass covered terminals found at Zurich, the ability to see right through the terminal is another feature that adds realism and genuine depth. The standard of modelling is extremely high. All the main terminals have areas and places for vehicles to pass under, and even these have been modelled nicely.
Ground textures for the taxiways and runways are nothing short of perfect. The taxiway lines are crisp and clear and gate listings on the tarmac are readable from a fair distance away. That is more than handy when you are taxiing in with a 747. Photo scenery fills in the infield areas, with a great resolution of 0.5m/pixel. So pretty nice really. At the gate, and like the terminals, the jet bridges are all see through. If you are parking at Gates A44, A47-A49, and A55, these gates are compatible with the Autogate plugin available at x-plane.org.
Moving up to Terminal E, there are a few animated de-icing trucks to help clear your wings on a cold day, but they only appear if you use the radio to tune to a specific frequency.
Getting out the front of the airport, the same standard of modelling is found here as airside. There is a cracking park found between the terminals and the main motorway. It is on a bit of a hill and the underlying mesh is spot on, producing a great area to sit and watch from. It is also a great spot to view the landside roads. The terminal arrivals and departure drop off zones are great and cars can be seen coming and going. The vast advertising hoardings found at most airports these days are all high quality textures, and feature the odd cheeky advert for an Aerosoft product or two. All in all, the landside area is fairly nicely modelled.
One of the curious little additions to the Zurich scenery is the inclusion of the VFR Helper. This handy little gadget is activated by tuning the NAV radio 118.05. A little set of VFR points pop up along several routes around Zurich, pointing your way to the airport. It is a cool little feature that proves quite helpful at night. The VFR points are accurate to the real world charts and it is a great way to improve on your VFR skills. Who says Zurich is just for the big boys.
With the arrival of an update. Zurich V2.0 now also features seasonal textures. These are not so much seasonal as just winter textures, but it is nice to have - kind of. Changing the textures is just a matter of copying the textures from one folder to another. As nice as it is to have these textures though, implementing them in X-Plane’s ‘summer only’ world makes the airport stand out like a sore thumb. Until the arrival of seasonal textures for the whole world, the textures will hold little interest for me. Shame really, as snow happens a lot in Switzerland - so I believe!
Aerosoft Airport Zurich V2.0 is a great airport and at €21.81, it is a great price. Version 1 owners can upgrade for just €10.90.
Performance for this larger than large airport is surprisingly good, with my system giving a consistent 25+ FPS on a single 1920 x 1080 monitor and that is with HDR running and all of X-plane’s scenery options turned up to maximum. Heavier aircraft, like the JarDesign Airbus series saw the rate drop, but those aircraft are notoriously heavy on frame rates anyway.
This version of Aerosoft’s Airport Zurich V2.0 is for X-Plane only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:Windows Vista / 7 / 8 / 10, Mac, or Linux;
Aerosoft’s Airport Zurich V2.0 is a fantastic airport to visit, with very little to complain about. However there are a few areas that could do with improvement. There are a very small number of buildings which are just off when it comes to placement. We are talking just a nudge to the left or right really, but with a photo scenery base, it is very obvious when a building does not quite fit the image underneath. The other thing that does irritate me is landside. Around the airport perimeter runs the train/tramway link. The station disappears underground once it reaches the terminal, but it sits above ground as it heads to the city. Along the route is a single station that, for some reason, has not been modelled. It stands out, especially as the station after that stop has been modelled.
The other bug was with the de-icing trucks. Like the VFR Helper and the command to hide the static airport, the radio controls the de-icing truck. However, according to the manual, the frequency to operate it is 121.635. I will be damned if I could tune that to any radio I had on board. So for now, that feature does not work for me.
Zurich makes for a perfect European base to explore the Alps or just enjoy a few airline routes around Europe itself. The quality of the add-on is superb, the general standard of modelling very good, and with the animated extras to bring the place to life, Zurich is a great place to fly from and to. If you are using photo scenery for the area as a background, then the blending is excellent, whilst using UHD mesh, V3 also blends well, though there is a performance drop if you do use it. It is an airport which shows off what X-Plane 10 can do.