Trees. I hated the trees in Svalbard – in the default FSX and P3D scenery. Aerosoft cut them out, and that is the reason enough to buy this scenery.
Why the trees bother me, you’ll ask. They do not grow in the Svalbard archipelago! Even the bushes are hard to find. If you want to make a bonfire – do it near the beach, the Arctic Ocean throws driftwood. It originates in Siberia where they cut trees and float them towards the ocean – to process and sell. Some get lost on their way.
Spitsbergen fascinates me, so it’s clear I visited it often in virtual flights. And I think I was not the only one fascinated. There were several freeware scenes, of which at least one was quite successful. However, it was impossible to ignore the trees that grew over the hills surrounding the airport. Approach loses its charm among the trees. With Aerosoft‘s scenery, this problem has disappeared. And even the best freeware scenery Longyearbyen cannot compare with the details of the Aerosoft product.
Pros and cons
What do I like about Svalbard?
- no trees! (as you’ve probably noticed)
- winter scenery (this is a rarity for me)
- photoscenery of the vicinity of the airport
- the airport
- the town that reflects its cold, makeshift character
- distinctive objects
- the seed bank
What I dislike?
They could improve…
- the textures of the town – it is a pity that the photoscenery covers only a part of the area
Svalbard, Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen
Svalbard is the name of the Norwegian province and the geographical name of the archipelago. It is also the name of Svalbard Lufthavn (Airport). Some sometimes confuse Spitsbergen Island with Svalbard. That somehow makes sense – is the largest and only large island of the archipelago.
Longyearbyen is the capital and the largest city of Spitsbergen and Svalbard. It means the city of Longyear – named after an American mining entrepreneur who founded the city when the Arctic Coal Company was extracting coal here (over 100 years ago). Initially, they called it Longyear City and its English name reflects the complex political nature of the area.
Svalbard is part of Norway, but under the Spitsbergen Treaty Norway has no right to maintain military forces in this area, and natural deposits are available to all Treaty signatories. Apart from Norway, only the Soviet Union (and now Russia) used its rights. Russians still own a small mining town of Barentsburg in a short distance from Longyearbyen, but they had also Pyramiden – another mining colony in the area. It was closed years ago.
I omit here the Swedes who created Sveagruva in the 1920s although the site has survived to this day and has a small airport. That was never brought to the sim.
Mines are still operating and have a significant share in maintaining Longyearbyen. When flying near the airport, pay attention to the coal quay near the airport and mine buildings on the slopes above the city.
Despite the horrendous prices, tourism is a growing branch of the local industry. Science has a significant role too. Taking advantage of the location in the far north and good infrastructure, i.e. the airport whose scenery I am discussing, scientists from all over the world come to Spitsbergen. In Ny Alesund in the north a dozen research stations house by scientists from various institutions (unfortunately, the scenery does not reach beyond Longyearbyen).
The University Center in Longyearbyen specializes in Arctic research. Aerosoft recreated the characteristic model of the campus. Make sure you look for this place.
At the Platåberget massif above the airport, several domes belonging to the Svalbard satellittstasjon mark the landscape. It is worth going there by helicopter. The station maintains communication with satellites in low polar orbit. Svalbard is the only place from which you can receive data coming from all the satellites in this orbit on each pass. The only one with proper infrastructure where one would build such a communication center. When choosing a trip to the station, keep in mind that Platåberget was the place of a deadly polar bears attack. One of the two unarmed women did not survive meeting a bear back in 1995. Now it is obligatory to carry a long gun while out of town.
Returning to the airport, fly over the Global Seed Bank. As part of the unprecedented project of the “Ark”, the Norwegian government created a repository for plant seeds found on earth to protect species from extinction. Look for an unusual enterance in the slope.
The airport uses a single runway (10/28) with a length of 2,484 meters (8,146ft) built on a narrow stretch of coastline, only 28 meters above the water level in the fjord. In case of bad weather (frequent here), use ILS, LOC, and RNAV approaches for 10 or LOC and RNAV for 28. To have fun – try the approaches to runway 28 and the non-runway specific RNAV-A approach with 27 degrees offset and a 4.4-degree descent path. RNAV-A is only available for category A and B aircraft.
If you use the static planes provided by Aerosoft (turn them on and off in the configuration tool) – two turboprop Dorniers will appear at the airport – these machines fly here in the real world. “Posten” truck and “Avinor” tanker truck show how much attention to detail the developers showed.
What to fly and where?
I already mentioned the Dornier 228 which serves as a static aircraft. Sadly, its main destination – Ny Alesund – looks terrible in both FSX and P3D and Sveagruva is unavailable.
Several airlines fly to Svalbard (SAS, Norwegian) from Oslo and Tromso. There are also direct flights from Copenhagen in the tourist season. Airplanes no bigger than Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 will be suitable for such flights.
Various operators provide connections with Moscow (irregular charters) flying assortment of planes, including Antonov An-74 – check it out – a little curiosity.
The airport is also a base or a stop for helicopters. With the harsh climate and inaccessible terrain, large machines equipped with turbine engines dominate here. The Russians use Mi-8 and Lufttransport flies Super Pumas, among others.
The largest plane ever to visit Svalbard was the Boeing 777 during its Arctic conditions tests.
Aerosoft Svalbard-Longyear X
The scenery has been developed by Joakim Tychesen who also made Torp, which I reviewed.
Scenery supports FSX and P3D versions 1 and 2 but I had no problem with it in P3Dv4.
Svalbard-Longyear X is the scenery of the airport (made at the highest level) with a lighter scenery of the surrounding area. I have already praised the buildings, but the textures of the town leave me a little unsatisfied. Among the positives, I will also mention the care for distinctive objects from the real world – like models of satellite communication stations, facilities in the port, or the Bank of Seeds.
I started this review with the comments about trees. Aerosoft did what the creators of the free scenery did not (for incomprehensible reasons for me). They cut all the trees in the area down.
The range of deforestation allows for short helicopter flights around the airport. Further away trees are again visible. That is a limited problem. There is nowhere to fly. With Svalbard in the default version, there is nothing around – it is one of the worst areas in default FSX and P3D scenery (I think P3D has improved the coastline but there are no differences I would notice). The original mesh has a low resolution. This kind of limits the possible uses of the scenery to commercial flights to and from Longyearbyen and some local helicopter flights around the town. It is worth having fun in smaller aircraft, but only for the quality of the Aerosoft scenery, not for what you can see next to it.
Purchase, installation, configuration
I bought Svalbard at the Aerosoft store. At the price of PLN 15.45, it is one of the cheaper. The installer is the Aerosoft’s standard – it requires entering the email address and product key and then installs everything.
After installation, be sure to enter the configuration tool to select the textures (you have adjusted them to current season). In addition, the program allows you to set (or remove) static planes and repaint the airport lines in yellow. Norway departed from the yellow markings of runways a few years ago, but if someone considers yellow to be attractive – one can put them back. I did.
In the installation folder (simulation path / Aerosoft / Svalbard – Longyear X) there is also a manual (it is worth reading – configuration wise).
Aerosoft provided charts in LIDO format. It’s a nice gesture.
Performance – good
It’s one of the lighter scenery I have. I suspect that this is because of the lack of autogen (one of the few sceneries where trees were removed, not added) and from the sparse arrangement of scenery objects (in fact, they rarely stand in the scenery also – it‘s not a complaint). In effect, the scenery works well even with aircraft that are famously heavy (like PMDG 777).
I do not see the defects of Svalbard by Aerosoft. It is beautiful scenery. An airport at the edge of the world.