The Burj Al Arab hotel helipad, the artificial islands and the Burj Khalifa make Dubai an amazing region to fly at. Especially with a helicopter.
Let's get the elephant out of the rooms first; at the moment Dubai City Airports is not a VFR package like Seattle City, instead it offers a very detailed rendition of Dubai International plus a couple of extras. But it’s not a bad thing, and I’ll tell you why.
Aviotek Software is a relatively new scenery producer for X-Plane and their previous releases for Skiathos Island and Venice Marco Polo have both been well received with great ortho scenery and surrounding areas well fleshed out with appropriate buildings and such.
I mention all of this at the beginning as without this, someone might look at Dubai and think that it’s just the airport and quite bare at the moment, and it is, however we have been assured by Vittorio at Aviotek that they already have an update planned for November that will flesh the area out a bit more as well as some additional helipads.
This planned update coupled with their previous releases should leave any prospective buyer much more at ease.
Not having purchased anything from X-Aviation before it was quite a simple process to download the installer from my invoice email, extract and run the installer. The installer requires you to login to your X-Aviation account in order to download the scenery and is a nice way of handling the copy protection.
Three folders are installed, one for each airport; Dubai International and Dubai Skydive as well as a third for the custom ground mesh for the surrounding area. The installer will also handle updating the scenery pack for you, but since I use xOrganiser and organize scenery by area (speeds up your load times dramatically) this was a nice simple process.
NOTE: There is a small issue with Skydive Dubai that I’ll cover later.
Landing on the Burj
OK, so I was pretty tired of seeing all of those great photos and videos of DCS folks landing their helicopters on the Burj and this may have been the number one reason why I purchased this scenery.
The Bruj Al Arab hotel (if you didn’t know) has a rather large “floating” helipad cantilevered out over the eastern side of the hotel. Guests arriving at the hotel can purchase a helicopter transfer from Dubai International for a megar AED 10,500 (USD$2858.70) for one person up to AED 15,225 (USD$4145.11) for four persons.
This is a fun approach and the pad is quite spacious so looking forward to seeing an updated Mi-8 landing there sometime soon.
You need to check that the Dubai Skydive folder is loaded BEFORE the Dubai International for this to work. I’ve raised this issue with Aviotek and they’re going to look at this for their update. In the meantime I just renamed my folder and we’re good to go.
Called The Palm DZ, like everything else in Dubai, it’s kind of unique. It’s runway is 770m (2526ft) and extends 550m (1804ft) into the Arabian Gulf, and it’s construction contains some 26,000sq metres of specially treated concrete. Skydivers are taken to around 4000m (~13,000ft) for their jumps above Palm Jumeirah.
Skydive Duabi also operate Gyrocopter Tours from The Palm DZ, so those of you who like a reason to fly this could be something a little out of the ordinary for you. Hopefully though we’ll get more of Dubai’s busy skyline in the next update as the sight seeing is limited somewhat.
Apparently Dubai International is the busiest airport in the world operating with only two runways and the busiest overall for international travel moving some 88 million passengers annually. And you can see looking at the overall layout of the airport that there are taxiways crossing every which way to accommodate all of those tubeliners.
Realistically airports don’t do much for us as it’s usually the journey not the destination, however there is a lot of work put into this airport and the animated transfer trains, baggage carts and passenger buses does add to the general life of the area. It also seems like the guys at Aviotek do like helicopter as there are a couple 412’s and a 222 parked out front of their hangar.
Aviotek have gone to town with the lighting here and like most busy airports it’s lit up like a Christmas tree in the evenings.
Initially I was a little underwhelmed with Downtown as whilst there were a few buildings down there only one of them seemed to be modelled after the real world skyline and the rest just seemed to be placeholders.
Until I was actually flying through the city on the way to the Burj when I caught a flash of light out the corner of my eye as I passed by the towers. Quickly trying to turn around I almost lost control, but when I did I laughed out loud as laid out before me were several downtown skyscrapers with helipads.
I quickly landed and moved to the free camera and counted around 9 different helipads in the downtown skyline. A quick check with Vittorio from Aviotek and yes, they are default buildings but they were all hand placed with us HeliSimmer’s in mind [Sérgio Costa's note: while at Cosford, Vittorio has told me he has made the helipad at the Burj Al Arab landable precisely because he thought about HeliSimmer and its readers -- an amazing proof that he cares about the community. Thank you so much, Vittorio.].
I am now pretty darn excited for the update planned for November which should bring us a few more unique buildings and helipads to the downtown skyline.
Want to land on the Burj? Yea you do don’t you? Well, this scenery will certainly deliver for you.
Whilst it may seem a little under baked due to the missing skyline in Downtown I can certainly appreciate why Aviotek would release this at Cosford as Dubai International is wonderfully done and for 80% of Flight Simmers out there (those flying GA or Tubes according to the X-Plane usage data) provides a great scenery to arrive or depart from. That’s a great opportunity to get the scenery in front of a lot of people and get people talking about it.
That said, we were not an afterthought in this scenery. There are no throw-away helipads with just a landing circle on the ground. We have at least 10 different pads we can land at throughout the city and one dedicated start point on the Burj itself. We’ve also been assured that we’ll be getting an update in November that will also have us in mind.
A quick note on FPS: there was almost no impact on my FPS whilst cruising around at max settings with my GTX1080.
Wait, wait, wait! That livery looks cool! Where can I get it?
Well, you are in luck! David Erard made that livery and he's making it available right here! Enjoy!
- Lots of Helipads in downtown plus, The Burj!
- Great ortho scenery for the city and immediate surrounds
- Downtown dubai is lacking a lot of it’s unique skyline, though will be updated in November
- Some of the Ortho could be better colour graded to be more seamless
- Currently need to rename Skydive folder so it’s above Dubai International in scenery_packs
Please note: the link above was either provided by the author of the product, the store that sent us the review copy or a personal choice of the article writer. It does not, in any way, indicate an endorsement of HeliSimmer.com to the website hereby linked.
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