I remember that just a few years ago, the flight sim world lacked any decent payware Italian airports. We had some airports covered, including Bologna and Bergamo – and while they were great, they are some of the lesser used and known airports in the region. A few years ago, the awful DreamFlight Studio Rome Fiumicino was released. While it is a popular airport, the scenery was dreadful. Fast forward a few years, and Italy is now full of high quality payware products. Naples was recently released, Milan is now fully covered and finally, and with the release of Aerosoft’s Rome Ciampino X, Rome airports are now complete.
Ciampino is Fiumicino’s little brother, but don’t let that defer you from looking into investing into the airport. It’s still hugely popular, especially with the low-cost European airlines, specifically Ryanair. The airport is littered with the Irish carrier, so if you’re a fan of the 737, this is an excellent airport for you. Wizz Air also haw a decent sized operation as well, so there’s something for the Airbus fans too. Because of the sheer quantity of flights these two operate, Ciampino is one of the fastest growing airports in Italy. If you’re into flying real-world schedules, but have no business flying low-cost, then you’re out of luck here. It does make for a nice alternative to Fiumicino, however.
The airport itself has some interesting characteristics. Firstly, it has a pretty cool approach on runway 33. Due to the terrain, you’ll have to look at your charts to see that it has an offset RNAV and VOR approach. This means you’ll have to pay close attention to your surroundings during the descent. What I really liked about the approach is that the development team deliberately ensured that the scenery loads smoothly into the sim so as to not disturb you. Further to that, the airport blends in really nicely to FTX Global meaning your vista views are unspoiled as your approach from the south. In fact, the team used SODE to offset the PAPI, as per the real-world lights.
As you admire the approach, you’ll probably notice that the area around the airport has been faithfully modelled also. The town of Ciampino is there with autogen, and the texture work is clear. I encountered no blurry scenery or stutters on my machine, even with speedy approaches in my blue and yellow 737. The industrial area is complete too, with factories, housing and equipment – all of which makes the product feel like a complete package.
Once on the ground, the detail continues to surpass my expectations of this relatively new development group. I whizzed past a bunch of 3D cars and animated ground traffic, which were nicely modelled, but had some sub-par textures. Clearly done in mind for performance saving, but compared to other work out there, this is definitely an area for improvement. When the wheels touched down on the tarmac, the detail was crisp and nicely done. There were a few tyre marks here and there, as well as weather elements which made the airport feel used. The same high accuracy was used for the taxiway signage and ground markings. During my testing, I didn’t notice any imprecisions in the representation of the airport, and the markings aligned quite nicely.
As the airport is also used for military purposes, there’s some beautiful modelling work representing this type of aviation. There are plenty of old-fashioned aircraft maintenance hangers with have a very rustic look and feel. They are full of detail including pipework, windows and signage – all reminding you that aviation isn’t just for commercial flying. With all this attention given to detail, it would have been nice to have seen more effort concentrated on interior modelling. Some developers are really grabbing that bull by the horns, so it would be great to see the trend continue.
Down at the other end of the airport, you have the passenger terminal buildings, which again look great. Each building is distinct and has little impact on the performance of the sim. Whilst the design of the buildings is good, there are some weak areas in the more minor places. The tops of the buildings have blurry textures and some of the roofing disappoints with the choice in colouring. Whilst accurate to real life, it looks out of place in the sim and more texture blending could have been done to achieve a more realistic effect.
As for night lighting, some areas look good, yet there is a lot of room for development. The buildings look nicely lit with some good use of baked textures to enhance the shadow effect. However, the glow from the lights has a strange pixelated glow. Far away, it was tolerable, but up close it’s quite off putting.
As you may expect from a smaller airport, the performance is pretty good. There are lots of nice touches scattered around such as 3D volumetric grass, an array of static aircraft and the aforementioned airport cars. All of this has minimal impact on the sim, but if you want to, you can use the simple configurator to adjust them to your needs. Whilst somewhat unrelated to the review, the product does install into your Ecosystem folder of your P3Dv4 directory. It doesn’t bother me personally, but we’re going to start mentioning it more as Lockheed Martin have made it quite clear that this is the way forward for installing add-on content.