This was an add-on that has had me intrigued right from the start: A fictitious airfield and air-park designed with something for everyone, and one that would grow over time like a real airfield. In some respects this might have been one of the easiest airport sceneries that Aerosoft have done as they could start with a blank canvas and put in whatever they wanted. Usually they will have photos and maps from real world airports to go on, and if they don’t get it spot on the product won’t sell. On the other side of the coin however, it was probably one of the hardest airport sceneries they have done to date. Unless the add-on captures people’s imagination, it won’t sell and Aerosoft will have a poor product on their hands.
What Is Andras
Andras Field is a fictitious airfield located at the foot of the Alps in Southern Bavaria, near the German/Swiss/Austrian border. Within an hour you can be in Milan or Berlin. The airfield as a 5,000 foot runway which is suitable for heavier aircraft, a 6,000 foot water runway, helicopter landing sites and a long grass strip for gliders.
As you can see, this add-on is targeting all types of flying. Not only do you get the airfield and the seaplane base, but Aerosoft have also included and air-park. Air-Parks are communities specifically designed around an airport where the residents each would own their own airplane which they park in their hangar which is usually attached to their home or integrated into their it.
Air-parks are quite rare in Europe, but are quite common in America. The air-park is the part of the project which has intrigued me most; rather than fully populate it to start with, Aerosoft are offing up the plots for sale to the public. Basically, you can own your own plot of land at Andras Field Air-Park where you can park your aircraft. You have to pay for the privilege, but it's somewhere that you can call home; ideal for the Air Haulers amongst us.
Andras Field can be purchased directly from the Aerosoft website and comes as a small 180mb download (285mb installed). The installation process is very simple: run the installer, enter your serial number and the installer does it's work. Not only do you get the airfield, seaplane base and air-park, but the surrounding area has been populated with new buildings and lots of animations. Aerosoft say that Andras Field is used by their testers to try out new ideas and technologies, so expect to see some new and different things as you explore the area.
As previously mentioned, the airport can handle heavier aircraft due to it's 5,000 foot runway. Aerosoft have created charts and maps of the area for the different approaches (an ILS approach is available) which can be downloaded from the website free of charge. The airport features extensive and innovative animations and sound effects, such as people arguing, cars driving around and people just chilling out having a drink.
Even with the scenery settings quite high I managed to achieve respectable frame rates (see system spec at the end), and after applying the suggested scenery settings from the manual the fps increased even more. It's worth noting that to start with my FPS were not getting above 2, after re-starting my PC this problem was solved.
Whilst the seaplane base may not be an immediate attraction for some, it's well worth exploring and trying to taxi up the ramps. There is also a taxiway from the air-park leading down to the water for people who have purchased a plot in the air-park. Whilst I do not fly seaplanes too often, it was fun to practice landing and manoeuvring around the seaplane base and taxing up the ramps and onto dry land. A word of warning though, make sure you apply plenty of throttle to get up the ramp! My poor PBY Catalina got stranded half way up.
The air-park is a great little homely area of the airfield. As you move around you'll see rabbits crossing the taxiway, swings moving in the play ground and also try to sneak a peak into everyone's house. Not surprisingly Aerosoft have the biggest and most impressive plot, but there are still some nice houses to see and buy.
It would seem that the idea of having your own space at Andras Field Air-Park has caught the imagination of the
commercial FS developers as the likes of PC Pilot, Flight Sim
Labs and Sim Market already have plots there. Some of the plots
even have their own helicopter landing pad on the roof – should
be good challenge for the DoDo Sim owners.
Due to it's location there are quite a lot of larger airports nearby, as well as smaller airports and strips. It's quite possible to be in Milan in just over an hour – not bad if you want to take your VLJ and treat the missus to some shopping. The scenery in the immediate vicinity has been changed to include new objects and animations such as a working cable car at one end of the runway (don't worry you should be well above it by the time you get to it) and a working wind farm just off the airport boundary.
I spent a lot of time just flying circuits around the airfield, and nearly every time I noticed something new. You will need to pay attention on approach as there is a big hill at one end of the runway and the cable cars at the other end. If you get a little low on approach it could spell disaster.
Thankfully there are lots of visual landmarks that you can use to make sure that you get the approach right – don't forget that there are navaids to use too if you get really lost. As there aren't any other airports in the immediate area, it's not too hard to find your way to Andras Field, it's certainly a lot of fun picking your way through the mountains and flying a tight curving final approach.
All money raised by auctioning off the plots at Andras Airpark is used to either pay the developer to maintain the scenery files or to expand the project. This is not a project Aerosoft considers important from a financial point of view, it is very much an experiment. As far as I am aware this is the first time a project like this has been attempted, and the initial indications are that it is proving popular with the owners of Andras Field. Already the Andras Field Flight School and Aviation Club have been formed by the members of the community.
The Aviation Club has an aim of creating a warm and friendly place for all the users of Andras Field to chat and have some fun. Tasks will be posted on the board for people to try their hand at, these are not compulsory and are just for fun.
The Andras Field Flight School has been set up to help people gain virtual pilot licenses and to each people how to fly by using the shared cockpit feature of FSX. The aircraft used are mainly the default FSX aircraft, but special tuition is available for the PBY Catalina and I-39 Albatros.
Andras Field users will also be eligible for discounts on other Aerosoft titles in the future.
As you can see from all of the above, Aerosoft are really looking after the FS Community with this product, I can only see it gathering momentum and improving over time and becoming a fantastic place to fly from in FSX.
The simple conclusion is to say that I love
this add-on. Aerosoft have set about creating something new and
innovative and have pulled it off superbly. Only time will tell
how successful the project will be, but the early signs are all
By following the set-up instructions in the manual the impact on fps is minimal.
I like how the add-on has not just been cast aside after it's release to the community, the product is being allowed to evolve with the creation of a flight school and flying club.
Where else in FSX can you have a commercial add-on with your name outside one of the buildings? Aerosoft have once again developed and outstanding product, which is why I am pleased to award it a score of 10/10 and the Mutley's Hangar Award For Excellence.
Review machine Spec: Intel Core2 Quad 2.40ghz | 4gb DDR2 RAM |Nvidia GForce 880GTX |Windows 7 64bit Home Premium