Microsoft Flight Simulator – Helsinki Airport Add-On Review (JustSim)

3 years 6 months ago

Nordic countries already received a sizable share of payware Microsoft Flight Simulator airports, but this time it’s Finland’s turn to shine with Helsinki-Vantaa (EFHK).

The add-on has just been released by JustSim and can be found for about $22 plus VAT on SimMarket.

It comes with its own installer so getting things ready is fairly straightforward, and you’ll be ready to visit Finland’s capital in no time at all.

Helsinki-Vantaa sees a lot of airline traffic and is the home of Finnair, so it’s a great base of operation in the Nordic countries if you fancy flying Boeings and Airbusses.

If you’d like to see what the airport looks like in detail, you can check out the in-depth flyover video below, showing Helsinki-Vantaa under every angle, lighting, and weather condition. The second video showcases an ILS approach to runway 15 with low visibility.

The airport has seen a lot of renovation work over the past few years, which is still ongoing. That being said, JustSim did a good job in framing a current snapshot, including the new expansion of Terminal 2. It’s quite apparent that they did their research and didn’t simply go on Google Maps (which isn’t unheard of, believe me).

The airport is built on a custom orthographic texture, but unfortunately, it’s a bit on the low-resolution side. It also isn’t color-matched with the surrounding scenery, meaning that you’ll see a stark contrast at the border.

The texture work on runways and taxiway is competent, with a very good representation of the real-life markings and materials (which vary considerably and realistically across the airport) as far as my research could go.

Some parts are blurrier than I would like (including the cracks on the main apron) and there are some compression artifacts, but the precision of the markings more than makes up for it.

The terminal buildings are rather nicely modeled, but the texture colors seem to be slightly off in some areas compared to recent footage. The windows also look a bit too green-ish.

That being said, the jet bridges are a highlight. They come in different configurations depending on their age, and they’re very, very nicely modeled.

The older models feature a rather iconic fixed setup and they do a valiant job of connecting to the aircraft despite the lack of articulation.

That being said, they require some finesse when you taxi to the gate, just like the real ones. Unfortunately, the stand guidance system isn’t functional, but this seems more the norm than an exception as Microsoft Flight Simulator’s SDK matures.

A rather visible issue is the apparently random switching between solid and see-through windows, which don’t fit vert well together. This isn’t an issue unique to this airport, but it’s worsened by the fact that areas with transparent windows are completely empty inside.

At this point, I would have preferred a fully-opaque setup, even more so due to the fact that the developers did a very good job of taking advantage of physically-based materials (PBR) on solid surfaces across all buildings.

Weathering is well-done overall, with good contrast between older and newer areas of the terminals.

While the airside areas are nicely detailed (albeit just a bit on the empty-side in terms of additional vehicles, clutter, and signage), the landside areas are partly-underdetailed, relying a bit too much on the blurry aerial images, meaning that you’ll see a lot of vehicles and items simply painted on the ground.

The very welcome exception to this is the abundant presence (and very well-done modeling and textures) of additional buildings like hotels, offices, parking silos, and road freight terminals, with the familiar DHL and DB Schenker ones nicely visible from the air.

It’s great to see that JustSim didn’t just portray the airport, but expanded a bit into the surrounding areas, creating a more lively environment.

There are no static aircraft, but as usual, it’s a matter of taste. Some people love them, while some hate them. Personally, I prefer their complete absence to not having the option to remove them. Yet, your mileage may vary on this.

The airport looks mostly great in the rain, but the see-through windows are once more a bit problematic due to how they stand out against misty or foggy weather.

Snow is also well-done in most areas with the exception of part of the Terminal 2 apron and some additional tidbits here and there. It isn’t perfect, but I’ve certainly seen worse.

Giuseppe Nelva