Third-party developer Drzewiecki Design recently released Moscow Sheremetyevo Alexander S. Pushkin International Airport (UUEE) in Russia for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
As the busiest airport in Russia and the fifth-busiest in Europe, UUEE is certainly relevant if you want to simulate airline or cargo operations in the country.
It’s currently available on Orbx Direct for approximately $23, which means that you can use the handy Orbx Central client to install the airport and keep it updated.
If you want to take a good look at what the scenery looks like, you can watch an ILS approach and landing on runway 24R in the first video below, and a full flyover in a variety of lighting and weather conditions in the second video.
Incidentally, if you’d like to make your approaches and departures more scenic, Drzewiecki Design itself created an excellent city pack for Moscow for Microsoft Flight Simulator, which works very well with the airport.
Published approaches, SIDs, and STARs are all available, and the ILS glideslopes and localizers are well-calibrated. The same can be said about the PAPI lights if you prefer visual approaches.
Taxiways are correctly labeled and true to the charts, so navigating the airport isn’t an issue. The only (relatively small) problem is in the way some of the ramps are named at a software level. Visually, they have the right label, but functionally, some are partly misnumbered. For instance, you’ll be told by the default ATC to park at gate B115, when the correct numbering would be 115A. This isn’t a massive issue considering that the indications painted on the ground are correct, but it’d be worth fixing.
I’ve also noticed that AI aircraft often have issues navigating the more complex intersections of the runways and taxiways, but that’s likely a problem on Microsoft Flight Simulator’s side and not the scenery’s fault.
All ground services are available and functional, and this includes the fuel trucks that developers so often neglect.
The ortho imagery used for the base of the airport is adequate in its resolution and detail, and runways, aprons, and taxiways are generally well-textured. A downside is that the concrete tiling pattern feels a little bit too repetitive for my taste, but you won’t notice this during normal operations.
On the other hand, colors and weathering are generally spot-on especially considering that the concrete is relatively new in most areas. The markings are basically perfect, not too faded and not too bright, blending nicely with the surrounding concrete.
One of the coolest detail of Sheremetyevo is that the newest runway (06L/24R) is considerably displaced away from the rest of the airport, which means you’ll have to taxi for a few minutes across the countryside and a bridge to and from it. Incidentally, the bridge is solid and well modeled, so you won’t fall through it as it happens in several other Microsoft Flight Simulator airports (I really, really, hate when that happens).
Judging from the visual sources I could find on the real airport, the aiming zone of 06L is relatively clean, while 24R already shows the usual rubber smudges due to repeated landings. Both aiming zones are clean in this scenery, which is a small issue.
This may be unsurprising considering the level of quality Drzewiecki Design has been providing, but the terminals are absolutely fantastic. Nearly all of the buildings feature richly detailed interiors. Only Terminal F has its interiors simulated with parallax shaders, but that’s fine since its windows are much smaller than the rest.
The other terminals, including the two iconic “flying saucers” of Terminals B and C, are meticulously designed with their full interiors on display. Not only they’re beautiful, but the developer even used parallax shaders cleverly to add a further level of depth to the shops inside. The overall effect is very pleasant. The detailing work is absolutely fantastic and can certainly be considered industry-leading even thanks to the beautiful skylights and realistic structural beams and trusses.
Of course, the exteriors aren’t any less beautiful, and combine masterful modeling with great texturing and skillfully use of physically-based rendering for a very realistic look. The custom animated jetways are just as awesome and represent pretty much the (many) cherries on top of this delicious cake. Only the models of the passengers are a bit rough, but this is likely to save resources and hardly noticeable from the aprons.
Impressively, the landside parts of the terminals are also very well detailed, with the appropriate signage, vehicles, parking equipment, and more. One thing I’d like to see improved is the ground landside, as it’s just the naked ortho imagery, which doesn’t do the area justice. Bespoke and higher-resolution textures at least at the entrances of the terminals would have worked a lot better.
There are plenty more additional buildings within and outside the border fence (and yes, this airport is fully fenced, which isn’t exactly commonplace in addons of this size for Microsoft Flight Simulator), including fire stations, hotels, industrial buildings, warehouses, and offices. All are great with the exclusion of the satellite fire station near runway 06L, part of which is floating. This is likely due to a small oversight.
Another highlight is certainly the train station with its animated trains. It’s beautiful and just as detailed as the terminals, all the way down to the 3D-modeled tracks.
There are plenty of airport vehicles all over the place, and a decent amount of clutter on the aprons. All have the appropriate liveries and markings, contributing greatly to the overall atmosphere.
Speaking of clutter, I feel that this time Drzewiecki Design went a bit overboard with the static aircraft. There are about a hundred all over the airport. While I understand that Sheremetyevo is an extremely busy hub, I’d argue that this can be excessive, especially if you fly online on networks like VATSIM, where you may easily be assigned a ramp already occupied by a static airliner.
Unfortunately, they cannot be disabled on Orbx, but I’ve heard reports that you can with the less handy installer on other vendors like Simmarket. Since Orbx Central does provide the UI for options, it’d have been advisable for this to be available across all vendors. As a matter of fact, I’d have included an additional option with only a certain number of static aircraft for flavor purposes in addition to the all-or-nothing options.
That being said, we have to recognize that the quality of Drzewiecki Design’s static aircraft is industry-leading, so that’s certainly a plus. On top of the many Aeroflot Sukhoi Superjet 100 that you won’t find in many areas of the world, there are quite a few exotic visitors including an Air Koryo Ilyushin Il-76, an Ilyushin Il-114 turboprop, and an Antonov An-72.
There are also vintage aircraft on static display including the iconic Il-62 monument near Terminal B and more. There certainly is a lot to explore in this scenery.
The airport reacts nicely to the weather. The texture work looks great in the rain, and snow coverage is almost perfect. While this should be a no-brainer in Russia, there are so many add-ons in which snow coverage is poorly designed that I definitely appreciate when it’s good. On top of that, snow doesn’t accumulate inside the terminals, which is a detail very much neglected by most airport developers.
Lighting is fantastic across the board, with the only small issue being some of these stray emissive globes above Runways 06L/24R and its parallel taxiway. As usual, this isn’t something we can blame this add-on for. It’s a known issue in Microsoft Flight Simulator that Asobo has not yet fixed.
Now, let’s talk about performance: this is an extremely extensive and complex airport, which adds a metric ton of details to the (frankly terrible and massively outdated) default scenery, so a framerate loss is to be expected.
On my PC (RTX 3070, Ryzen 9 3900x, 32 GB RAM) at 1440p resolution and Ultra detail settings, I lose about 12-13 FPS compared to the default scenery in most areas of the airport.
That being said, when looking directly at Terminal B and C, performance drops radically under 20 FPS at most times without an apparent cause. This does not affect the rest of the airport, which is odd, considering that the rest of the terminals are just as detailed. Apparently, the developer is aware and is investigating what may be causing this. Hopefully, it’ll be fixed soon.
Ultimately, Moscow Sheremetyevo Alexander S. Pushkin International Airport is another feat of great craftsmanship by Drzewiecki Design and one of the best available for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Despite the few small flaws and the framerate issue, it’s impossible not to recognize that we’re looking at a beautiful, extremely detailed, and spectacularly modeled airport, which is easy to recommend unless you’re already at the lower edge of the hardware requirements.
- Extremely high detail across the board, with beautiful texturing and modeling.
- Fantastic terminal interiors.
- Beautiful static aircraft.
- Good snow coverage and night lighting.
- Interesting runway layout.
- Great ground markings.
- Wonky performance in a localized area.
- Possibly too many static aircraft and the option to deactivate them isn’t available everywhere.
July 10, 2021