I promise this will be the last time I cover anything related to Bristol Airport for the foreseeable future. I have already reviewed Pilot Plus’ Bristol Airport on X-Plane and also UK2000 Scenery’s rendition on Prepar3D. Suffice to say neither really blew me out of the water, but both provided a solid experience for their respective platforms. Now, we have the airport on the same platform by both developers. When this happened, I had a huge number of requests to make a head to head comparison of them both. These requests have brought me back to my home airport yet again, pitting relatively new developer Pilot Plus against the established UK2000 Scenery on Prepar3D only.
Release date: 15th May 2020
Price: $34.95 AUD (approximately £19.24)
Release date: December 4th 2019
Store: UK2000 Scenery
Both airports are fully compatible with Prepar3D v5 through their installer. However, as Pilot Plus is now a partner of Orbx, you get the advantage of using their incredible Orbx Central to download, update and install the product. It’s a huge breath of fresh air compared to the archaic process of installing UK2000 Scenery. With Orbx Central, you can simply install with one-click, UK2000 Scenery on the other hand, requires you to install the airport, along with a common objects library and other files.
In normal circumstances, the tried and tested method of installing products isn’t all that bad, but when directly comparing it to the system Orbx has in place for their partner products, it just reminds you how good it could be. This makes me hope that more developers join the Orbx partnership program just to pass on the ease of installation to the customer.
With regards to installation, Pilot Plus wins hands down. There is no comparison here.
Whilst not part of the installation process, uninstalling a UK2000 Scenery product is really unclear. The manual says to use the Add/Remove functionality of Windows, whilst the actual method is to simply delete the folder. I’m always uneasy about just deleting folders, so again, Orbx’s solution here for Pilot Plus is much easier and more convenient.
Looking at the terminal, the modelling for both is a mixed bag. I wasn’t hugely impressed by either when they came out originally, and nothing much has changed for the Prepar3D version of this airport by Pilot Plus. I understand that Bristol Airport isn’t the most complex and visually appealing airport in the world, but the modelling work feels very uninspired sticking to a lot of straight edges and very few details to make the airport standout. Arguably, UK2000 Scenery doesn’t offer much more either, however, they do at least offer a more compelling use of shapes and object design especially around gates 5 and 6.
Even more common objects such as the fuel tanks have been incorrectly modelled in the Pilot Plus version, which is something pretty basic when it comes to creating these airports. UK2000 has done a much better job at placing relevant airport clutter. Pilot Plus seems to have done a ground handler’s worst nightmare and dumped equipment wherever there is space. Right in the middle of the ramp in some cases. I know it may be petty, but this type of thing should be ironed out before a release. Whilst it doesn’t impact where you can park your aircraft, it’s just unrealistic for those looking for detail.
An area Pilot Plus beats UK2000 Scenery’s efforts is interior modelling. Whilst Pilot Plus has included it, the actual result is less than impressive. The modelling is lacking in quality and the texture work is mediocre at best. That said, it’s a step up from UK2000 Scenery, who doesn’t appear to be remotely interested in that aspect of scenery design.
Speaking of texture work, this is an area that I found inconsistent across both developers. Sticking with the terminal building, Pilot Plus has opted for a grainy look and feel. I think it’s meant to be some kind of environmental effect or texturing, but frankly, it makes the whole terminal look pixelated and just messy. The UK2000 Scenery is lacking any kind of texturing detail and their rendition shows the airport is a brand spanking new with not a spec of dirt anywhere. I would much prefer a happy medium between the two, but the more I look at the Pilot Plus texturing, the more I think the effect is overdone and detracts from the quality.
Both airport products don’t focus on much of the outskirts of the scenery with both using photo imagery for areas of the airport beyond the perimeter fence. Neither work very well with both being quite blurry. That said, Pilot Plus has more updated imagery and includes a good number of roads and important links around the airport which make for some nice detail.
Looking closer at the ground textures, again, this is an area which neither developer really excels at. Starting with the runway, I can safely say that Pilot Plus’ version has more in common with the real world airport than UK2000 Scenery’s rendition (complete with curved number 9). This is clear from some footage of Bristol Airport which was taken just a few weeks ago (you can check it out here).
Pilot Plus has also done a better job with regards to the texturing of ground markings for entering runway areas and the runway itself. However, that weird texture quality to demonstrate dirt and grime starts to show again if you get too close. UK2000 Scenery’s looks cleaner, but still not great.
Where UK2000 Scenery really does a better job compared to Pilot Plus is with the ground markings at gates and near the terminal building. Here you can see markings for gate 26S, which is completely missing from the Pilot Plus version. Also, some of the markings are inaccurate such as the dashed markings and the stop signage.
I wouldn’t usually dedicate an entire section to static aircraft, but they are currently playing a big part in how I view the value of each of these products. As you can see, both versions have a number of static models included in their scenery. Both products allow you to enable/disable them at your will, which is perfect if you fly with AI traffic or online.
However, there are some stark differences in the quality of the static models between the two products. Clearly using assets from the Orbx library, Pilot Plus has included a handful of models for easyJet, Lufthansa and Ryanair. Sadly all the models are really lacking in any kind of quality for both the texturing and modelling. The easyJet model in particular (an airline close to my heart) is rather lacklustre with no real attention given. I’m not expecting super high-quality for static modelling, but they really are dated at this point.
Compare that to the somewhat decent models found in the UK2000 Scenery and its night and day. Alongside easyJet, UK2000 Scenery has included a Boeing 787 and 757 from TUI and also 737’s from Ryanair. They aren’t amazing models, but a huge step up from the Pilot Plus models.
Finally, in the general aviation areas, UK2000 Scenery has included a number of generic business jets and also a greater number of propeller aircraft. However, Pilot Plus has done a better job at modelling these small static aircraft, it’s just a shame there aren’t a few more in the area to make it feel a bit more alive.
Both airport products also feature a number of other key components that make up the airport products. Both airports make great use of animated vehicles throughout the airport, but Pilot Plus went the extra mile and included several cars around the car parks themselves for that added immersion.
One thing I did like more so about the Pilot Plus version is the inclusion of some VFR objects around the airport. In particular, the iconic Mendip Transmitting Station is fully modelled near the airport and included in the scenery package. It’s also worth noting that unlike the UK2000 Scenery version, Pilot Plus’ Bristol blends in seamlessly with Orbx’s TrueEarth Great Britain South.
These smaller features are where Pilot Plus’ version surpasses what UK2000 Scenery has to offer.
I personally think that Pilot Plus has done a better job at night lighting than what UK2000 Scenery has. I really like the use of dynamic lighting much more and looks more akin to the real-world airport, from my experience. UK2000 Scenery’s lighting isn’t bad, per se, it’s just less visually appealing than Pilot Plus’.
That being said, I think the use of runway and taxiway lighting is better in the UK2000 Scenery version. I don’t recall there being so many edge lights throughout the airport and Pilot Plus is distinctly missing green taxiway lighting from the yellow line.
Pricing for both of these products falls within my expectation for a regional airport of this size. The UK2000 Scenery airport is sold via their website for £18.48, whereas Pilot Plus’ is sold through Orbx Central for $34.95 AUD, which is approximately £19.24. However, where UK2000 Scenery really comes out the winner here is that buying the Prepar3D version gives you access to the X-Plane 11 version free of charge.
Whilst Pilot Plus does indeed have a Bristol Airport for X-Plane 11, it’s a separate purchase with no cross-platform pricing structure in place.
For me, the pricing makes very little difference as to which I would recommend. They’re both within £1 of one another and on a good exchange rate day, you may be able to get the Pilot Plus version the same, if not cheaper, than UK2000 Scenery’s version.
Both products perform well, but UK2000 Scenery performs better by around 10% on frames compared to Pilot Plus’ version. Not to say either is bad, but there is a noticeable difference when going between the two versions.
To sum up, neither airport really stood out from the other. Neither airport products are must-haves, and they don’t really reach the levels I would expect from today’s scenery development. It’s really hard for me to say which is better as they each come with their own pros and cons. It’s a shame that neither really reach the standard of which they should be in today’s era, but hopefully pitting them both side by side, one of the two will take this all on board and release an update to really make their version stand out far above the other.
If you want to know which one remains installed in my simulator, then I can tell you that UK2000 Scenery’s Bristol Airport is my current go-to. As for why? I prefer the textures on the terminal buildings, the improved accuracy of the ground layout and the improved performance.