Ingo Voigt has reviewed the sceneries of Billund & Sindal from the FS Dream Factory stable. These sceneries are both in Denmark, and include flying options for both civil and GA aircraft, depending on your preferences. Find out more about the sceneries, and what Ingo thought of it by reading the full review. Don't forget that you can enlarge the images in the review by clicking on them!
You might have come across the FS Dream Factory team before due to their previous MSFS add-on, Scandinavian Airports, which was published by Aerosoft. Now they have provided us with sceneries of Billund and Sindal in Denmark. If you have never heard of either of these places, then let's start by finding out a little bit about them.
Billund is located in the south of Denmark and is one of the largest airports in Denmark. The airport caters for normal airline operation, charter flights and private flights on a 3100m runway, which is certified for CAT III landing operations. At the end of May 2002 a new passenger terminal capable of serving 3.5 million passengers annually was opened, and was part of a major building project that also included the provision of a new apron, taxiways and other facilities.
The other airport, Sindal, is to be found in the north of Denmark, and caters for mostly private & GA traffic. Sindal even includes an ILS system in one direction of the runway, which is unusual considering the main type of traffic that uses it. The region of Skagen, where Sindal is situated, is commonly referred to as "the land of light", as this is the region of Denmark that receives most light because of it's position in relation to the Artic Circle.
Now we know a bit about where we are going to fly, let's look at the software package itself.
To download the software you have to undertake a 36Mb zip file download, but if you feel that your modem might not be able to manage this, then a CD-Version is also offered for convenience. Once the download or CD delivery is complete you will have to expand the zip file to find 4 files contained within it. These consist of
EKBI_EKSN2003.exe, EKBI_EKSN_AFD.exe, EKBI_EKSN_STAT.exe, & DENCLASS.exe
A Readme file is not included for some odd reason, so you have to guess that the installation is started with the file EKBI_EKSN2003.exe. The installer unzips the scenery in the directory specified during the installation, but beware as the scenery is not included automatically in the scenery.cfg of MSFS! FS Dream Factory really should consider including some sort of basic readme in the package for MSFS users who are not that experienced and manual installation. I contacted FS Dream Factory about this and was told this possibility will be thought about for the future. This manual process of adding the scenery might not be easy for some people, so take caution! During the installation the documentation is installed in the same directory as the scenery files, although no links or shortcuts to the documentation are provided anywhere in the Windows environment - you will clearly have to know how to navigate to the installation folder yourself if you want to read this!
The documentation provides an introduction, with a short historical overview for both Billund and Sindall. Furthermore, an overview of the communication and navigation facilities is included for reference. The documentation also provides information for the installation and optimizing the performance - pity this wasn't in the zip file!. Looking for included charts in the documentation resulted in me only finding an overview of Billund airport. FS Dream Factory told me that they could not get printing permission for any charts, which explained their absence. With the help of a search engine like Google, one can easily find some relevant charts for Sindal and Billund if needed.
After finishing the installation (in my case this included the scenery, the landclass, the AI traffic fix and the static scenery), I started my flying session at Sindal. My feelings about the installation where quite mixed up to this point, but my mood changed rapidly when loading the scenery in MSFS had finished and I saw it!
You can feel the "small" atmosphere of some airports, and this is exactly what I felt when I looked at Sindal. I think the atmosphere has been captured perfectly and is enhanced by the fact that the airport "fits" in well with the default scenery provided by Microsoft. FS Dream Factory also offers a landclass option, which I installed for this review, and the good thing was that I could not find any abrupt transitions between the scenery provided by FS Dream Factory and the original scenery by Microsoft. To me the scenery with the landclass installed looks Danish - lots of green areas and the odd city here and there!!
As you can see in the screenshot below, FS Dream Factory have created some very accurate scenery - the taxiway, which can be seen in the right half of the picture, which looks incomplete, is in fact accurate, as I compared this with some airport charts that I found for Sindal on the web. One of the more famous landmarks in this part of Denmark is an old lighthouse at Skagen, so I decided to try and spot it from the air, also allowing myself an opportunity to check out this scenery at both night and day time, which you can see below
After 10 minutes of flight time heading in a northeasterly direction, I found the old lighthouse! During the flight I enjoyed the scenery provided, and in my opinion FS Dream Factory created a real “land of light” for MSFS here! I then decided to fly a few circuits over the lighthouse before returning to Sindal. To find the light house, I can recommend flying over the sea en route, whilst flying overland on the return leg, as you will be able to view the large number of little villages, roads, and rolling meadows!
During the approach to Sindal I noticed that the area behind the airport has not been forgotten, as you can see a car park, some parked cars (only textures to save the framerates and not 3d objects) and some flags! Whilst taxiing past the terminal building you can read the signs on it, again showing the effort that has been put in by FS Dream Factory. When parking my aircraft, I also noticed that a marshaller has been included in the scenery to help you park in the right spot! Regarding the framerates, I never encountered any problems, which was great news. Normally the detail levels in MSFS are not maxed out due to my aging PC, but even altering the scenery density to very dense did not lead to a drop a in framerates. Big bonus there ! I also flew around Sindal with different types of aircraft to check for any altering of framerates - I flew with the standard Cessna, the Piper Archer by Dreamfleet, the Dash 8 by Phoenix and the Piper Meridian by Flight1. Of course I had to reduce the detail a little, but I could easily enjoy the scenery all of the time, with no frame rates reductions that could have turned MSFS into a slideshow! During my flights around Sindal I never encountered any AI traffic at all - I don't know whether any is included by default or whether I flew at times when there simply was no traffic generated. Keep an eye out if you like!
I then decided to try out the Billund scenery and flew there with the PSS Dash 8 from Sindal. I used a SAS repaint by Stefan Leppek for that authentic touch! During taxiing to the runway, you can clearly see the wig-wags which show the stop short points en route to the runway.
After 50 Minutes of flying time heading south, I reached Billund at last, and was eager to see how it looked in comparison with Sindal. During one approach with the Piper Meridian from Flight 1, I took a screenshot of the approach lightning system in Billund, as the real lighting system was individually created for the airport at Billund - the MSFS version looks superb in my opinion.
Upon arrival I got a bit confused by the taxiway signs, as they were not as clear as they could have been, but apparently this is the case in real life so I felt better finding that out! You will not find any docking aids or marshallers here, although I was told by FS Dream Factory that this is planned for the future, and is not included at the moment. There were also some problems with the AI traffic which I was told again by FS Dream Factory that they will fix it at a later date. It should be noted that the support from FS Dream Factory was always very quick and friendly. In my case the response time was even inside one hour on several occasions. Bear in mind that FS Dream factory is more or less a one-man-show, so you cannot always expect such rapid turn arounds on support if needed.
Again, a quick look for a Billund chart revealed that the airport layout is very accurate so top marks again for accuracy.
The dynamic scenery included (some buses, fuel trucks etc.) all worked well and used the roads dedicated to them and even stop to let the virtual pilot pass by when required! The fact that the dynamic scenery is programmed as a loop does not disturb the “feel” of the airport at all, because you only recognise the loop only when you stare at the dynamic scenery for a while.
The following screenshots show the Billund apron both during day and night times.
Now for a closer look at the terminal building:
A fly-by north of the airport shows that in Billund, the rear areas outside the airport are modelled as well.
In a similar way to the Sindal scenery, I had no problems with performance and frame rates in Billund. Sometimes I encountered the odd few stutters, but never had any real problems with performance, which was great news.
During the installation I was quite sceptical of this package due to the fact that you have to manually add it into MSFS. This is not something you should really be expected to do with payware scenery. Furthermore I was puzzled because the documentation described an automatic installation! On the other hand, one has to keep in mind that collections like the Scandinavian Airports are distributed by larger companies such as Aerosoft, who have more input in terms of testing, development, and distribution than a one man company, so we can't be too harsh and expect everything!
My opinion is that this scenery is amazing, as the atmosphere of such small airports has been captured perfectly, and has encouraged me to take up GA flying once more! My recommendation to you would be to undertake a flight from Billund to Sindal with the Piper Meridian by Flight1, as you can enjoy the scenery and take it all in whilst in a gentle cruise. To extend the life of this scenery you should keep an eye out for upcoming patches from FS Dream Factory that will include issues such as the docking aids in Billund, and the general problems with the AI traffic in this package.