Aerosoft Gibraltar X - 10 Years On
By Michael Hayward
Gibraltar is well-known within theflying world as a rather dangerous airport. Heavy coastal windsspurred on by a mountain beside the runway, a dual-carriageway whichcrossed the runway in its center; there's a lot that could gowrong!
Developed by Sim-wings and published by Aerosoft, for years it hasbeen the go-to add-on for Gibraltar in FSX and P3D, being seen by manyas the premier scenery for this region. Having initially been releasedin 2010, it has now had a decade to mature and age, meaning now hasnever been a better time to look back and see if it still lives up totoday's standards!
Where Is It?
Gibraltar is an overseas territory of Britain on the southernpeninsula of Spain, 14 km north of Point Cires in Morocco. It featuresa monolithic limestone promontory known as the Rock of Gibraltar whichholds the bulk of the peninsular, with the airport to its immediatenorth and the border to Spain beyond.
Surrounded by the Strait of Gibraltar and Bay of Algeciras, strongcoastal winds are known to cause some discomfort while flying in andout of the area. The airport has also garnished a fair amount ofcontroversy due to the disputed sovereignty of the land it sitson.
Installation for Gibraltar X is simple and follows the same stepsas all other Aerosoft installer packages.
When downloading from the FlightSim.Com Store, extract the zip fileand run the installer. You are prompted to add your installer key andemail address. Once you have done this, the installer will completethe rest of the setup process. When running the simulator, it is alsoworth checking to ensure that the airport has been added to theScenery Manager. This is done in two parts, the terrain and theairport. These are numbered for their required order.
You are provided with a 17-page read me document which talks aboutthe history of the airport and some information about the scenery,both in German and English. You also have a tool called LXDBTrafficwhich lets you modify the locations of ground vehicles and times themto aircraft approaches and departures. This I find especially usefulfor both realism as well as giving those with lower-spec systems achance to deactivate some systems that may affect frames.
Structures And Facilities
Gibraltar X features the (then new) commercial terminal and RAFbase on the opposite side of the runway.
The airport terminal at Gibraltar opened in 2011, replacing theoriginal that had been in action since commercial flights began at theairport. It features glass panelling across all sides and five standsfor aircraft; four medium-sized and one large one.
Gibraltar Airport terminal and facilities are not large by anystretch of the imagination. Given its proximity to the runway andSpanish border, a lot of it was squeezed together to create afunctional airport that operates both international and 'domestic' UKflights. Aircraft do benefit however by the short taxi times betweenthe terminal and runway.
The RAF base features a series of buildings, presumably that houseair force crews and maintenance teams. One thing you do notice howeveris a lack of hangars. All of Gibraltar's facilities are open-air withno sheltered facilities for aircraft available.
Textures across all buildings and objects are all only 1024x1024 pxin size with smaller details such as ground markings only being512x512 px, which is generally low-resolution by modernstandards. Unlike a lot of sceneries however where a lot of differentobjects are squeezed onto a single sheet then picked out where needed,there are several sheets for individual items which means regardlessof texture resolution, you can still enjoy a crisp and detailedtexture throughout!
Taxiways And Runway
The airport at Gibraltar is not massive, given the limited space ithas perched on the southern tip of Spain. The western portion of therunway leads out on reclaimed land while a dual-carriageway splits therunway down the middle with road traffic crossing when there is no airtraffic!
In Gibraltar, the border checkpoint to Spain sits beside theairport, but the majority of tourists and residents live south ofthis, meaning the airport crossing is the only way to get from onehalf of the island to the other. Road traffic stops two minutes beforean aircraft lands giving time for roads to clear, while armed guardsmonitor traffic crossing the airport at all times.
One thing I love about this add-on is the ability to control theroad traffic that crosses the runway on Winston Churchill Avenue. Aswith the real airport, cars will stop when an aircraft is on approachor about to depart but will continue as normal when no aircraft areabout. This is a fantastic addition to the scenery, and especiallygiven the age of the add-on, it's a level of detail that most modernsceneries don't include! Then again, how many airports have busyhighways passing through the center of them?
Gibraltar X features the main runway 09/27 as well as taxiwayswhich lead to the commercial and RAF sections of the airport. Thesefollow their real-world paths and have a fair amount of detailing inmarkings and signage. The entire area of the airport is essentiallypaved over with taxiways and the runway painted into the ground, someareas being darker in color where the concrete has been reinforced tohold the weight of aircraft.
The night environment in and around Gibraltar is nice, but lackingin some areas. Bearing in mind the age of the add-on, it's a given,but I certainly cannot call is bad. There are no 3D lights other thanthose on the airport grounds and the immediate surrounding such as theVictoria Stadium and border crossing, but streets and buildings dolight up, giving you a glow that follows the real-world road network.Airport lights are clear and bright, and are very reminiscent of thereal-world airport. Rather than bright white lights, the runway edgesglow orange which is certainly lifelike. These lights are bright anddo stand out, certainly looking good when compared to real-life.
This method of night lighting was long used by developers to createa night view of their scenery, but new technologies are certainlyavailable now which would be nice to see integrated!
Other Structures And The Surrounding Area
Gibraltar X excels when it comes to the surrounding scenery! Itincludes full VFR satellite imagery for the entire Gibraltarpeninsular as well as a large section of La Linea de la Concepcion,the city bordering Gibraltar on the Spanish mainland.
The VFR scenery also has full autogen matching the locations ofbuildings in the area, giving you a realistic rendition of the citywhen flying in and out of the area. This is a very nice way of addinga level of realism not just to the airport, but also for the scenerythat surrounds it too. Other than some minor texture stretching up theside of the rock, 10 years on, it very much keeps up with modernscenery standards!
The scenery pack also includes an all-new ground mesh, which is ahigher resolution than the default scenery. This means the size andshape of the Rock of Gibraltar is very close to its real-lifecounterpart, as is the coastline and runway which extends acrossthe water to its west.
Opinion And Closing Remarks
Overall, I am still impressed with the level of detail thatGibraltar X holds! Given the age of the scenery package, Sim-wingshave done a fantastic job in creating something that stands tallagainst the test of time and to this day creates some fantastic sceneryworldwide.
Last year, the scenery also saw a port over to P3D v4/v5 throughAerosoft's Professional series, giving it an extra lease of life tothose that fly in and out of this airport regularly.
The scenery looks fantastic with high-quality textures usedthroughout and the ability to control road traffic is a great feature,especially for a product as old as this! Ten years ago, we didn't seemuch from the likes of aircraft developers such as PMDG andCaptainSim, the two leaders of FS2004, given that a lot of theirhigher fidelity add-ons were still a couple of years away. FSX hadbeen out for four years at this point with only scenery add-onsstanding out against the crowd.
Gibraltar X was groundbreaking back then, and still absolutelykills it to this day!
- Processor with 2.8 GHz or faster (Dual-core recommended)
- 920 MB free space on your hard disk (FSX version)
- 1024 MB RAM
- 3D graphics card with at least 512 MB
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Review PC Spec
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition
- Windows 10 Professional
- 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 6700K Processor
- 16 GB RAM
- NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1660
Purchase Aerosoft - Gibraltar X for FS2004/FSX
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