• Review: Boundless Simulations - Birmingham Airport

    EGBB - Birmingham Airport

    Publisher: Boundless Simulations

    Review Author:
    Andrew Parish

    Suggested Price:

    Buy Here

    A Bit Of History

    If you've read any of my previously published reviews, whether it's a scenery package, an airport, an aircraft or even a utility you'll know by now that I like to get a feel for the background of what it is that I'm reviewing. I find that it gives me a better feel for something that I might not have a whole lot of first-hand experience of and puts me in a better position to appreciate it. Not that Birmingham Airport is totally unfamiliar to me as will become apparent!

    So, treading a familiar path through Google (other search engines are available), once I'd started digging it wasn't that much of a surprise to discover that the airport we know of today as 'Birmingham Airport' has quite a history behind it.

    As long ago as 1928, the Birmingham City Council decided that the city needed an airport, and a site just north of the village of Elmdon, just over 6 miles to the southeast of the city, was one of those that was shortlisted. The Great Depression put paid to plans for some time, but over 10 years later in July 1939, the iconic 'Elmdon Terminal' on the west side of the airfield was opened by the Duchess of Kent and Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister at the time.

    Shortly after its official opening in September 1939 (flights to various UK destinations had commenced in May that year), World War 2 broke out and the airport was subsequently requisitioned by the Air Ministry for use by both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy as RAF Elmdon. It was used as an Elementary Flying School for both the RAF and the Navy, and as a flight testing and delivery base for the Stirling and Lancaster bombers that were transported there by road together with their detached wings from Cofton Hackett, some 15 miles away, as they were unable to take off from the short runways of the much nearer Longbridge airport. It was during this period that the original grass strip was replaced by two paved runways: a ~1270m runway 15/33 which is the forerunner of the single runway which remains in use today, and a ~750m perpendicular runway 06/24 which was decommissioned in 2008 and which nowadays forms taxiways Tango and Lima on the east and west side of the current runway.

    Boundless - EGBB Birmingham Airport
    Figure 1 - A 1950's chart of Elmdon Airfield
    (courtesy of https://www.mil-airfields.de)

    In July 1946, civilian operations resumed at the airport, and in 1949 the first scheduled services to Paris commenced with services to other European destinations being added over the years to 1960. It was only then that control of the airport was handed back to the City of Birmingham by the government and soon afterwards in 1961 a new terminal, the 'International Building', was built alongside the Elmdon Terminal to handle the ever-increasing number of passengers. The demands of turboprop and jet aircraft dictated that a longer runway was required, and an extended 2 1/4 km runway 15/33 saw the commencement of VC-10 airliner operations to New York. By the early 1970s, the airport was handling around one million passengers per year and in 1974 management of the airport was assumed by the newly formed West Midlands Metropolitan County Council.

    With the construction in 1984 of a new, larger terminal to the east of the main runway, the original Elmdon Terminal was no longer needed by Birmingham Airport's passengers. The nearby International Building was demolished, but the Elmdon Terminal remained in use as staff offices and a private flight terminal until flood damage in early 2018 forced its closure.

    The site to the east of the runway has continued to expand into the Birmingham Airport terminal we know today. In 1991 a second terminal was added and in 2009 a new three storey 'International Pier' was added to service the wide-bodied Airbus A380, and Boeing 747-8 and 777X aircraft. The two terminals were merged into one and raised to three stories in 2011, and a new 400m runway extension, requiring the rerouting of the A45 to the south of the airfield, was opened in 2014. The new, full length of 3052m was first used by China Southern Airlines flights to Beijing.

    Today's Birmingham Airport sits adjacent to Birmingham International railway station on the line between London and Birmingham, and just beyond that to the UK's National Exhibition Centre.

    Boundless includes amongst its list of the package's main features, the inclusion of the NEC Resorts World Arena and nearby offices and warehouses, an animated monorail (Air Rail Link) between the airport and Birmingham International railway station, and the modelling of all nearby hotels. Having spent a good 18 months of my life living out of hotels on and around the NEC whilst working in an office block a stone's throw away, I was, given Boundless' description, rather looking forward to seeing how well my limited landside experience of the airport and its environs had been reproduced. Similarly, my occasional jaunts to the airport concessions to find something more substantial than a vending machine chocolate bar lunch was making me hungry for a trip down memory lane!

    1 Comment
    1. Badl4ndz's Avatar
      Badl4ndz -
      Good review Andrew. I know the airport very well and I was always going to purchase it but I am a little disappointed in it. I use TrueEarth and I much prefer the ground textures and animated surrounding roads that come with TrueEarth. I would much prefer just the buildings contained in this package (which I am pleased with) to sit on the TrueEarth scenery replacing the Orbx/Gateway buildings. Regarding the NEC etc. It does make this product much bigger than just an airport and thus a lot of work for the developer but, If you are going to have the rail station, it makes no sense without the entire NEC and the Metropole Hotel and Pendigo Lake.
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