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Microsoft Flight Simulator – Marrakech Menara Airport Review (PerfectSoft)

todayAugust 25, 2021 14

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Third-party developer PerfectSoft recently released Marrakech Menara Airpor (GMMX) in Morocco for Microsoft Flight Simulator, adding an important airport to a region that is definitely underserved in terms of add-ons.

Serving an important tourist destination, the airport is very active even beyond the summer season, receiving many international airlines including plenty of low-cost flights operated by EasyJet and Ryanair.

It’s currently available on SimMarket for approximately $18 plus applicable VAT and it comes with its own installer. The developer also plans to release it on the official marketplace down the line.

If you’d like an extensive look at the scenery, you can watch an ILS approach and landing on runway 10 in the first video below, and a full flyover in a variety of lighting and weather conditions in the second video.

Published approaches, SIDs, and STARs are all available, and the ILS glideslope (29R is the only runway equipped with it) and localizer are well-calibrated. On the other hand, RNAV approaches to both runways appear to have excessively steep glide angles, causing aircraft to aim too low and short of the thresholds. Luckily, PAPI lights on both runways are calibrated appropriately to help you with visual approaches.

Taxiways are correctly implemented according to the charts, so the default ATC will provide effective guidance to and from the runways.

Parking ramps and gates for airliners are labeled appropriately, but quite a few dedicated to general aviation aircraft aren’t numbered correctly according to the charts, and most ramps of Apron F (which includes the cargo terminal) haven’t been implemented. The same goes for the VIP apron. This shouldn’t influence normal operations too much, but you’re somewhat limited in your options.

The airport doesn’t seem to want to play ball with AI aircraft as they all appear to overshoot the runway on approach. This doesn’t seem to happen with the default airport, so there may be an issue with the configuration. That being said, very few developers pay attention to this nowadays, as the AI traffic in Microsoft Flight Simulator is still rather rough. Yet, with some third-party AI solutions in development, we’re likely coming close to the point in which people will start to consider this aspect relevant.

Most ground services are implemented and active, but the option to call a fuel truck is completely missing. On top of that, the jetways aren’t animated and won’t connect with your aircraft. This is a bit disappointing considering that they have custom models and they look rather good. Gates without a jetway also don’t have working airstairs while parking slots marked as large general aviation ramps do. That’s an odd choice unless it’s simply an oversight.

Runways, taxiways, and aprons reproduce the colors and materials of the real-life airport well, and the detailing and weathering are rather realistic, while some of the asphalt textures can feel slightly repetitive if you zoom out. Markings show a good balance between weathering and definition, but the way they’re shaded often gives them a “3D-like” look, which feels a bit odd. A few aircraft silhouettes are also visible on the ground in areas where those visible on the photographic sources of the textures have been manually canceled, which isn’t ideal.

Another issue I found is that both windsocks are misplaced and don’t sit in the dedicated circles portrayed in the ground imagery. This is, mind you, something the scenery has in common with the default airport.

The high point of this add-on is the main terminal, which certainly looks fetching with its looks inspired by traditional Moroccan architecture. Alongside all the surrounding buildings, it’s well modeled and textured both airside and landside.

An especially laudable aspect of the scenery is that the developers added custom texturing and decor to the whole airside parking area and nearby access streets, which is a lot better than what many studios do, often leaving the ground orthoimagery uncovered.

A great job has also been done with vegetation, with plenty of decorative trees added all over the terminal, contributing to its exotic looks. The rest of the airport buildings are also rather well made, including the scenic VIP Terminal and the many hangars. Beyond the fence, the developers also modeled the Menara Gardens, which give the airport its name. That’s definitely a welcome addition. The overall detail of the buildings is definitely well above average.

Speaking of the fence, the border wall is a bit inconsistent, with several gaps and somewhat rough modeling (but it’s still better than not having one at all, I guess). Personally, if I was the developer, I’d have replaced the default autogen buildings of Marrakech Golf City, which are straight under the approach to runway 28. Not only are they a rather iconic part of the said approach, but the autogen models in Microsoft Flight Simulator are way too tall, getting in the way of landing aircraft (meaning that if you follow the overly-low RNAV glide path, you’ll end up in a building, which certainly isn’t ideal).

Microsoft Flight Simulator Marrakech Airport Review

The developers included static aircraft of adequate quality and sporting appropriate liveries of airlines that would visit the airport, but I’d have appreciated an option to remove them. On the other hand, in peripheric areas of the airport, you can still see aircraft “painted” on the ground imagery, and those always feel a bit disturbing when they’re not canceled or covered by appropriate 3D models.

Incidentally, there is a small incompatibility with Edinburgh Airport by Pyreegue, which causes a couple of texture glitches. If you see parts of the terminal glow purple and have that one installed, uninstalling it until the issue is fixed is a viable workaround.

Most of the airport looks great in the rain (as far as I know it doesn’t actually snow in Marrakech), but certain textures with alpha channels do stand out quite a bit in the mist, which appears to be still more a limitation of the overall engine of Microsoft Flight Simulator than the developers’ fault.

Night lighting is adequate, besides one issue with the dome on top of the terminal, which is fully lit, including the metal frame holding the large glass frame. If the developer lit up only the glass, the effect would have been much more fetching.

In terms of performance, on my PC (RTX 3070, Ryzen 9 3900x, 32 GB RAM) at 1440p resolution and Ultra detail settings, I get about 67-69 FPS with the default airport, which drop to 52-53 with this scenery. This certainly isn’t bad, and the result is still definitely fluid.

Above you can see a comparison, showcasing both the performance difference and the definitely relevant improvement over Microsoft Flight Simulator’s procedural scenery.

Ultimately, PerfectSoft’s Marrakech Menara Airport isn’t perfect, but it has still quite a lot of positive aspects going for it that may make it a worthwhile purchase depending on what is important for you.

If you love to fly in Africa, your options in terms of third-party scenery are still very limited, and it’s always great to see developers paying attention to this underserved region. In that case, you may certainly want to give Marrakech some serious consideration. It is doubtlessly a massive improvement over the default scenery.

Marrakech Menara Airport for Microsoft Flight Simulator

Marrakech Menara Airport for Microsoft Flight Simulator Critic Review

Reviewer: Giuseppe Nelva | Copy provided by Publisher.