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Bilbao Airport is located 9 KM outside of the Spanish city of Bilbao. It is the largest airport serving Northern Spain and the Basque country, with recent annual passenger numbers reaching 4.6 million. Known for its iconic design by Santiago Calatrava in 2000, it has one of the most iconic terminals to be seen across the globe – its unique spike creates the look of a winged building. However, this design has since been criticized for limiting the potential for expansion if the airport needs to do so in the future. The airport has a variety of routes spread across Europe and Africa, with daily flights from London Heathrow, Zurich, Paris, and Amsterdam.
Orbx took on the task of creating this airport and surrounding area for the first time in a flight simulator in typical Orbx fashion. The scenery comes with a very simple installation process, making use of FTX Central 3, Orbx’s simulator installation and configuration program. Bilbao comes with a range of configuration options allowing you to turn off static traffic, 3D grass, and animated people. The configuration tool used is very simple and is one of the reasons that makes using Orbx products such a sleek experience.
The Bilbao scenery is, of course, impressive but that does not mean it is without its faults. For many years now Orbx has set the bar for scenery development producing some of the best creations to ever come to flight simulation. This means that now they often carry a huge burden on their shoulders that the community expects them to create the most detailed sceneries around. The texturing and modeling of any scenery are what brings it to life, as both help to create a more detailed – and therefore more immersive – experience.
In my honest opinion, there is just something lacking from Bilbao. If I had to pinpoint something down regarding what I thought it was, there just seems to be certain areas lacking in detail. The biggest gripe I have is the low-quality ground textures. The apron and runway textures are fine but it’s the mesh and vegetation surrounding the airport that is very lacking, with the textures looking around 240p quality. I understand that this may not be a problem that Orbx could resolve as satellite image quality is not always reliable. But seeing as Orbx sells this scenery heavily on the fact that it also includes the city, it was rather disappointing to see the low quality of the surrounding area.
Surroundings by day
Surroundings by night
The performance at Bilbao is stellar – I have so far not noticed any massive issues. As always I run a high-end system so performance is not usually a problem for me. This means I am unable to comment on whether or not it performs solidly across the board. Another item I must point out is that my main sim is now P3D v4 which means that I am also unable to comment about VAS (Virtual Address Space). Orbx has commonly optimised their sceneries very well and this scenery certainly lives up to the trend.
Like all Orbx airports, the depth of creation is unparalleled. Orbx has pulled out all the stops to create an in-depth simulation of Bilbao airport, leaving no detail spared. Although I did comment on a couple problem areas earlier in on this review, this does not hinder the depth of this scenery. It’s obvious that when creating this scenery, no stone was left unturned. With Orbx creating the airport and the entire area that surrounds it. Including that large urban sprawl that is the city of Bilbao. The terminal and entire airport both have great depth, including accurate ground markings, terminal interiors, high-quality static aircraft, and much more. The night lighting also adds great depth – and in typical Orbx fashion, it is stunning, as it works well with dynamic lighting in P3D v4 and merges into the night lighting provided by OLC Europe perfectly.
This project was a pioneering scenery for Orbx in a way as it was their first major airport to release into P3D v4. It allowed them to show off the use of ObjectFlow 2, which would then follow on into the opt-in beta available to all Orbx customers across all products. It proved to work well and this product is a testimony to Orbx’s constant hard work.