• Review: Maldives X The Male Atolls By Aerosoft

    Review: Maldives X The Male Atolls By Aerosoft

    By Bill Stack
    November 19, 2011

    Screen shots by Aerosoft



    The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean southwest of India. The total land area of about 78 square miles is spread over roughly 35,000 square miles of ocean, stretching about 450 nautical miles from north to south. This area makes the Maldives one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries. Two hundred of its 1,192 islands are inhabited, and its total population is 313,920 as of 2010. Its capital and largest city is Malé, with a population of 103,693 as of 2006. Its major industry is tourism.

    Microsoft Flight Simulator X ® depicts more than 70 airports scattered about these islands, all but five of which are seaplane bases. The busiest is Malé International Airport (VRMM), which is on the island of Hulhulin the east section of the island group. It is served by more than 30 commercial airlines with service to major world cities such as Moscow, London, Beijing, and Singapore. The closest scheduled-airline destinations are Bangalore, India, and Colombo, Sri Lanka. The other four airports are Hanimaadhoo (VRMH) to the north and Kadhdhoo (VRMK), Kaadedhdhoo (VRMT), and Gan (VRMG) to the south. This means that most flights among these islands are by seaplane.

    The Maldives' climate is tropical. Average temperatures range from 75F (24C) to 91F (33C) throughout the year, and air is humid. Constant sea breezes keep the islands comfortable. June to August is a rainy season.

    With an average ground level of 5 feet (1.5 meters) above mean sea level, the Maldives is the lowest country on the planet, according to Wikipedia. It is also the country with the lowest highest point in the world at 7 feet 7 inches (2.3 meters).

    Aerosoft's rendition of the Maldives features the following:

    • All tourist locations
    • Malé International airport
    • High definition chart
    • Hundreds of lagoons and islands to explore
    SCENERY LOCATION

    Bill Stack

    Aerosoft

    World Atlas




    The Scenery

    Aerosoft's depiction of the Maldives is as realistic and detailed as could be expected. Resort facilities on numerous minor islands are realistic compared with satellite photos. To depict the dense urbanization of the main island of Malé, Aerosoft used a mixture of unique and autogenerated buildings even though each building isn't absolutely accurate. This method is typical of most simulation scenery.

    Malé International Airport (VRMM) is very true to the satellite photos I found in all respects. All buildings, facilities, and movement areas are true to the photos. Details are reasonable without diminishing frame rates.

    Numerous atolls and islands north, east, south, and west of Malé are enhanced. Aerosoft's coverage area appears to reach about 35 nautical miles north of Malé and about 25 NM south of Malé, which means it covers a small portion of the Maldives total area. Even though it doesn't include all the islands, it covers a larger area than many add-on sceneries cover, and what it does cover is very realistic. The Maldives cover such a huge area that including all its atolls wasn't feasible, developer Thorsten Reichert explained. These islands are all flat, so there isn't any terrain variation to evaluate. But vegetation, beaches, and reefs seem to be realistic. Three sets of scenery landclass files were used to ensure that the scenery looks the same on every computer, no matter what setup or what other sceneries a user has, the developer said.

    Aerosoft says it collected lots of material from different sources, with priority being the international airport, the seaplane base next to the airport, and the prominent resorts and water bungalows on the small islands. Aerosoft concedes that not every island looks exactly like its real counterpart: "To us it was more important to reproduce the feeling of this special place," the developer said. "To achieve this we use special methods of merging autogen and custom objects as well as merging photorealistic and landclass scenery."

    My comparative screen shots were made as follows: I made a series of shots with Aerosoft's scenery activated. Then I went to precisely the same vantage points with Aerosoft's scenery deactivated (FSX default). Any differences in positions of objects results from differences in the depictions, not from faults in the viewpoints of my screenshots.

    I did not make as many comparative photos as usual because of the sparsity of FSX scenery in this area. Other than Malé Island and islands close to it, there aren't many other islands in FSX, and those islands are depicted like other remote areas in FSX.




    SCENERY COMPARISONS

    FSX Default

    Aerosoft

    FSX Default

    Aerosoft

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Using the Scenery

    This scenery is suitable for local and international simulations. It's ideal for sea planing around dozens of islands and atolls. Microsoft Flight Simulator ® shows almost 70 seaplane bases, and an infinite number of other locations could be used at the pilot's discretion. The entire area is ideal for pilotage and dead reckoning. Pilots can simulate flight from island to island, or they can head in the direction of an island and arrive there eventually. If they get lost, they can fall back on their radio-navigation instruments. The Maldives' two VOR/DMEs and five NDBs are available, even though only one VOR, one NDB, and one ILS at Malé International Airport are within Aerosoft's enhancement areas. Of course GPS can be used throughout these islands, but flying visually or with old-fashioned navaids presents unique and rewarding experiences.

    Malé International Airport can be used for simulating real-world flights to and from international cities such as Moscow, London, Beijing, and Singapore. Satellite photos of Malé International Airport show large airliners resembling Boeing 747s, so wide-body flights to and from those cities would definitely be realistic. A list of airlines and destinations can be found on Wikipedia.

    The only other ground-based airport in the Maldives that is capable of handling jet airliners is Gan, about 300 NM to the south of Malé. It is included in FSX but not in Aerosoft's scenery. The four ground-based airports and various islands that are outside Aerosoft's scenery can be used, but they appear as default FSX sceneries.

    AIRPORT DETAILS

    Malé International Airport (VRMM)

    Malé International Airport (VRMM)

    Malé Seaplane Base (VRMS)


    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    AI Traffic

    Aerosoft with other developers created AI seaplane traffic for the entire Maldives. Twin Otter AI aircraft were adjusted to "drive" on water, which I saw in action at the Malé Seaplane Base. "A lot of thinking and trying went into this," Thorsten Reichert said. This AI traffic extends throughout the whole Maldives, not only the Male Atolls that are scenery enhanced. Aerosoft says the AI traffic is very realistic because they created realistic schedules with all destinations of the two seaplane airlines. These AI aircraft are described in the manual.


    SCENERY DETAILS

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Night Views

    Aerosoft's night effects are as realistic as can be expected. Light casting and shadows are realistic. The "moonlit" waters surrounding the islands are FSX default, which doesn't make water at night appear realistic.




    NIGHT VIEWS


    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Documents

    An eight-page manual with text and photos describes system requirements, autogenerated scenery, and performance and display settings. It also provides contact information, frequently asked questions, airport data, and other information about this scenery package.

    The "high-definition chart" included in the package show locations of popular seaplane bases and the international airport, but it is not an official aviation chart.




    THE MANUAL


    Screen shot by Bill Stack



    Technical Features

    This product is for FSX, and SP2 is required. It is compatible with Windows XP and Windows 7. It requires 600 MB of hard-disk space.

    Other technical requirements are specified on the Pilot Shop's product description.

    Purchase and installation from the Pilot Shop are very easy. Downloading and installation are quick.

    The installation program installs the scenery files into the FSX Addon Scenery folder and activates the scenery in the FSX library. No further adjustments are needed.

    No special settings are required. The manual says the most realistic display results from the highest setting, but it cautions that performance could suffer. The scenery looked good enough to me using default FSX settings.

    Frame rates are good. They are a bit slower near scenery objects, such as when taxiing near airport buildings, but they are never jerky.

    Technical support is available through an email address on the Flight Sim Pilot Shop's description of this product. Response was prompt and to the point.

    Readers with technical questions not answered in this review should ask the developer. Using the links below, go to the Pilot Shop page where the product is listed and described, then click on "Manufacturer Tech Support" in the right column.




    PURCHASE FEATURES

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    Yes

    Installation program

    Yes

    License key

    Yes

    Copyright acknowledgment

    Yes

    Manual included

    Yes

    Uninstall program included

    No

    TECHNICAL FEATURES

    MSFS Version

    FSX with SP2

    Operating System

    Windows XP, Vista, 7

    Special Settings

    None

    Frame Rates

    Good

    Tech Support

    Prompt

    Price

    $19.20 US




    More Information

    Information about the Maldives and Malé International Airport is available from several sources:

    Aerosoft makes scenery and aircraft addons for Microsoft Flight Simulator ®. Other products include London Brighton Express, Tramway Berlin Koepenick, and A10 Warthog.

    The Maldives were chosen for development because there was no FSX addon for the Maldives on the market, neither freeware nor payware. "After Tahiti X was a big success," developer Thorsten Reichert explained, "it was an obvious choice to do an addon for the Maldives, even more as it combines an international airport with a highly detailed VFR scenery and a paradise for amphibian and water aircraft."

    Summary

    Aerosoft's Maldives scenery enables realistic visits to an enchanting part of the world that attracts tourists from several continents. The enhanced islands are significantly true to real-world photos. These islands are ideal for sea planing about with or without radio navaids or simulating long-range commercial flights to and from Asia, Europe, and other destinations.

    Bill Stack
    [email protected]


    Learn More About Aerosoft's Maldives scenery for FSX.


    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com


    2 Comments
    1. سامی's Avatar
      سامی -
      hi,how to download??
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      If you wish to purchase it, links are available at the end of the article.

      Either click on the product box image or the "Learn More About Aerosoft's Maldives scenery for FSX." link.
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