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Scenery Review : LXGB - Gibraltar International Airport by Skyline Simulations


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Gibraltar LXGB_Header.jpg

 

Scenery Review : LXGB - Gibraltar International Airport by Skyline Simulations

 

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory that is located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, which home to over 32,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.

 

In 1462 Gibraltar was captured by Juan Alonso de Guzmán, 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia, from the Emirate of Granada and then switched back and too until In 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession, that a combined Anglo-Dutch fleet, representing the Grand Alliance, captured the town of Gibraltar on behalf of the Archduke Charles of Austria in his campaign to become King of Spain. As the Alliance's campaign faltered, the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht was negotiated, which ceded control of Gibraltar to the United Kingdom to secure Britain's withdrawal from the war. There was more unsuccessful attempts by Spanish monarchs to regain Gibraltar were made with the siege of 1727, and again with the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779 to 1783), during the American War of Independence and the territory has been in constant dispute by the Spanish ever since.

 

To understand Gibraltar is to understand it's extremely important strategic position on the western entrance to the Mediterranean Sea in the pincer shape of the Straits of Gibraltar (also known as the "Pillars of Hercules") that separates the Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, it is also the closest point to the African Continent at 14.3 kilometres (8.9 miles; 7.7 nautical miles) of ocean at the Strait's narrowest point. So Gibraltar is a military base in succession with a supporting commonwealth community.

 

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Skyline Simulations are more well known as the creators of the SAM (Scenery Animation Manager) Suite of tools with seasons and other clever plugin addons. But they do scenery as well with the excellent Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (KCVG), Billy Bishop City Airport CYTZ (Toronto), KLGB – Long Beach Airport and John Wayne Airport - KSNA...  I reviewed their MKJS – Montego Bay Jamaica in co-operation with LatinVFR but I wasn't that impressed.

 

Gibraltar

First of all the install is quite complex in that Skyline use the dreaded RAR compression file format, and worse every folder is in a separate RAR folder and all have to be un(RAPT!) or unzipped into working file folders. That said there are three main folders with the main scenery folder (Skyline Simulations LXGB Gibraltar), Ortho4XP (yOrtho4XP_Overlays) and the Main mesh (zSkylineLXGBMesh) and the folders are to be set in this load order and that the mMain mesh is set below all the other LXGB files. There is another Ortho4XP "Patch" folder if you want to use another custom Ortho4XP mesh. The full installation is a very heavy 10.51Gb!

 

First impressions are very good, however I quickly picked up the repetitive pattern in the main east facing wall of the "Rock", it is highly, highly noticeable on the 27 approach...

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Rock 1.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Rock 2.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Rock 3.jpg

 

...  close up the formations are not as bad and even look quite good, but you still tend to look for the patterns in the rock and you can easily find them. Sadly I have been looking at the glorious mountain work of Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini over the last six months with their Dolomite sceneries. To be fair you can't expect that sort of skill here, but it does show up the older style to the more expert work, maybe Skyline should exported this area to Dainese and Bellini to get a more accurate realistic representation of the rock face?

 

The underlying mesh is very Low Resolution and not colour corrected, and that aspect is also noticeable, and you see far too much of the mesh in a poor focus, and the trees are also very cheap and 2d.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Rock 4.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Rock 5.jpg

 

Too harsh, maybe, because in context the "Rock" is not overall that bad as it should be and from certain aspects it looks very good as in the classic postcard views....

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Rock 6.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Rock 7.jpg

 

The shape of the "Rock" is also very good, and you get that realism of the area correctly, also really well done is the cable car, and it is fully animated as well.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Rock 8.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Rock 9.jpg

 

No monkeys though...  the Barbary macaque population in Gibraltar is the only wild monkey population on the European continent, and known locally as Barbary apes or rock apes.  The most popular troop is that of Queen's Gate at the Ape's Den, where people can get especially close to the monkeys. They will often approach and sometimes climb onto people, as they are used to human interaction. Nevertheless, they are still wild animals and will bite if frightened or annoyed.

 

A popular belief holds that, as long as Gibraltar Barbary macaques exist on Gibraltar, the territory will remain under British rule. In 1942 (during World War II), after the population dwindled to just a handful of individuals (just seven monkeys), British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered their numbers be replenished immediately from forest fragments in both Morocco and Algeria because of this traditional belief.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Rock 10.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Rock 11.jpg

 

The peak radar tower is there, but the images show that it sits higher and is more visible than shown here. The 8th century Moorish tower is there (which was the Gibraltar Prison until 2010) and so is the Princess Anne's Battery of four guns overlooking the airport. The Europa Point Lighthouse is visible, but the huge King Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Mosques with a massive minaret is missing that was set behind, and it is an important VFR reference on transversing the straits

 

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LXGB - Gibraltar International Airport

You only get one tight runway here at Gibraltar with RWY 08/27 creating the border between Gibraltar and Spain...

 

Gibraltar International Airport

North Front Airport

IATA: GIB - ICAO: LXGB

 

Navigraph Charts.jpg

09/27 - 1,777m (5,830ft) Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 15 ft / 5 m

 

....   which consequently the runway has to be closed every time a plane lands or departs. LXGB is noted as one of the "Most Extreme Airports" and is ranked the airport the fifth most extreme airport in the world, as the approach is heavily exposed to strong cross winds around the rock and from across the Bay of Algeciras combined with a very short runway, and so making landings in winter particularly uncomfortable.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 1.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 2.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 3.jpg

 

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The old terminal at the airport was built in 1959 and refurbished in the late 1990s, and for many years it had been too small to cope with the number of passengers when two flights were scheduled to arrive/depart within a short space of time. Permission was announced in 2007 for the construction of a new terminal beginning in 2009 and it was completed in 2011. The new terminal is 35,000 m2 (380,000 sq ft), which is 15,000 m2 (160,000 sq ft) bigger than the old terminal. It has two baggage carousels and three departure gates, none of which are equipped with airbridges and only has five stands. It has a passenger capacity of up to 1.5 million passengers per year. The old terminal building was then demolished in February 2014.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 8.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 9.jpg

 

Skyline's modeling of the new terminal is excellent, it feels modern and the detailing is very well done. Glass is see-through and could have used a bit more tint as it looks a little too open and that no glass is visible, but otherwise it is a very if perfect rendition of the building.

 

Internal detailing is available as well, and although Lo-Res the internal detail is very good and totally walk-through from landside to airside.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 10.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 11.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 12.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 13.jpg

 

Passengers are also thankfully social-distancing and greeting each other elbows out, as per current health regulations... so all is currently correct. Ramps are actually really nice and great to use, you would think space here would be tight but it isn't, note the General Aviation parking area front.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 14.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 15.jpg

 

As this is a Skyline Simulations scenery, then their SAM (Scenery Animation Manager) is going to be represented. And as there are no airbridges you only get a Marshaller and a Visual Docking Guidance System (VDGS) set behind each stand.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 27.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 28.jpg

 

Control Tower is sensational...  Opened in 1939 it is still a real working military style control tower, and reproduced here in great detail, the facility also has a built in Fire Station.

 

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Glass here is perfect (so why not on the terminal?) and the spiral staircase rear is excellent. Even better is the tower view which is set inside the tower correctly...  views out at the ramps and approaches are fabulous, even if one of the map's is the wrong way around...

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 20.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 21.jpg

 

One distinctive elements of the Gibraltar airport is the traffic that crosses the runway from Spain into Gibraltar.... 6 minutes are required to close the runway for aircraft activity, and the usual closure time is for 10 minutes and so that makes for a slow journey into or out of Gibraltar.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 22.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 23.jpg

 

Skyline have created an authentic animation in that move the aircraft onto the runway or fly into the approach and the lights will go red and barriers will come down and the traffic will stop...   clever. To note there is no ILS here (another aspect of extreme airport conditions).

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 24.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Airport 25.jpg

 

There is being built a new runway tunnel to reduce these delays and tailbacks caused by aircraft taking off and landing. Construction of the new road was due to begin in January 2008 and be completed by the beginning of 2009, but as of 2016 it still remained incomplete. Although the road across the runway is to remain in place, for exceptional, specific, or emergency use, it will not be available for routine day-to-day use by private vehicular traffic. Pedestrians will not be required to travel via the new road/tunnel, and will continue to cross the runway at the present location. This construction phase is also shown at the threshold of RWY 27

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Airport 26.jpg

 

RAF Gibraltar

It was originally only an emergency airfield for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. But Gibraltar's position would make for a presence here. On 25 September 1939, No. 200 (Coastal) Group RAF was formed as a subordinate formation to HQ RAF Mediterranean in control of No. 202 Squadron RAF. The Group's function was the control of Royal Air Force units operating from Gibraltar. In late 1940 the Group was transferred to Coastal Command. Later a joint RN/RAF Area Combined Headquarters was formed which commenced operations in early 1942.

The airfield played a major part in Operation Torch, the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa (French colonial possessions in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) in November 1942. On 29 May 1945 the Area Combined Headquarters was shut down and most of the personnel sent home.... The station officially became "RAF Gibraltar" in 1966.

 

The RAF camp, now known as "Devil's Tower Camp", which was increasingly used by the British Army in the 1960s and 1970s, became the home of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment. By the 1980s RAF Gibraltar was increasingly still being used as a Forward Operating Base for middle east operations. The new RAF headquarters in Gibraltar was officially opened in February 2011.

 

The area is split into two zones, the main barracks, administration and the single RAF ramp. The buildings are nicely done, but the area is dominated by the parade ground/football field.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_RAF Gibraltar 2.jpgGibraltar LXGB_RAF Gibraltar 1.jpg

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The area of interest is the RAF Gibraltar ramp, and it is well done here... if a bit small.

 

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The two zones are separated by a huge graveyard called the North Front Cemetery.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_RAF Gibraltar 7.jpgGibraltar LXGB_RAF Gibraltar 8.jpg

 

Which is quite creepily accurate.

 

Gibraltar

The town itself is now more high-rise buildings than a colonial outpost it once used to be. Oddly the old town is not Spanish or English in style but Italian by a certain Giovanni Maria Boschetti, who arrived in Gibraltar in 1784 as a 25-year-old from Milan, where he is thought to have been a stonemason or engineer, he built the Victualling Yard (completed in 1812) and many other buildings to create the township, Gibraltar is named after the "Mount of Tariq" (named after the 8th century Moorish military leader Tariq ibn Ziyad).

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 1.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 2.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 3.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 4.jpg

 

Most of the buildings are really generic and there is no really town centre? Most of the old town is just a Lo-Res flat ortho-texture? and there are also few other blank flat areas within the Gibraltar area. So this scenery is not a real detailed representation of the township.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 7.jpg

Gibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 6.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 5.jpg

 

The important "Port of Gibraltar" is very well done with some very nice detailed ships in port, there are a few marinas like the new Mid Harbours Small Boat Marina set out within the main Gibraltar harbour and one large marina the Spanish side.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 11.jpg

Gibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 9.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 8.jpg

 

A few of the ships (and boats) are animated, so slowly creep around the Bay of Gibraltar or Bahía de Algeciras.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 10.jpg

 

The huge Port Algeciras is also repesented across the Bahía de Algeciras, it is a basic layout of the port, but a required visual filler for approaches to RWY 09

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 12.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Gibraltar 13.jpg

 

Spain

La Línea de la Concepción is the Spanish city set behind north of Gibraltar, and Skyline have used the X-Plane autogen with their own custom buildings to create a very realistic city scenario. As a realistic representation it is extremely good and even to VFR standards with the OpenStreetMap layouts.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Spain 1.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Spain 4.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Spain 2.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Spain 3.jpg

 

This custom autogen is combined with the urban industrial default autogen and I am also is running the ShortFinal's Global SFD plugin that changes the default autogen housing into Spanish designs...  put the three autogen elements together and you get a very wide scope of autogen set completely around the Bahía de Algeciras with the city of Algeciras also incorporated into this very large represented area.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Spain 5.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Spain 6.jpg

Gibraltar LXGB_Spain 7.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Spain 8.jpg

 

Ground Texures

Airport runway, taxiway and ramp textures are excellent. Nice detail and has great grunge, oil and rubber dirt in all areas, I particularly liked the heavier landing rubber marks and there is no grass here as the whole area is covered. Burnt-in ambient occlusion effects are also present.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Textures 1.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Textures 2.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Textures 3.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Textures 4.jpg

 

Lighting

Overall the lighting is excellent, there are no approach lighting systems to guide you into runway 09/27, but it is well lit.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Lighting 1.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 2.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 3.jpg

 

Any arrival at LXGB in the dawn or dusk is always going to be spectacular, it is very, very dynamic in lighting visually.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Lighting 5.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 4.jpg

 

Terminal and ramp lighting is excellent, and I get a sort of mini Hong Kong feel standing here with the lit high-rise buildings in the background...

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Lighting 7.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 6.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 8.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 9.jpg

 

Surrounding Gibraltar is a little hit and miss, it looks really good, but the custom autogen locks out the street lighting so most custom autogen areas are darker, the lighting pops up here and there, but overall all it works.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Lighting 10.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 11.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 12.jpgGibraltar LXGB_Lighting 13.jpg

 

Old town Gibraltar is actually quite good as is the lit High-Rise buildings, but the highlight of the scenery is that extraordinary lighting on the "Rock" face, the rock face lighting towers over and dominates the scenery.

 

Gibraltar LXGB_Lighting 14.jpg

 

Summary

Some scenery puts you into two very separate places, and the Skyline Simulations representation of Gibraltar really does that. On the one hand it is extremely well done scenery of this significant British Overseas Territory that is located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. On the other hand a few areas are wanting...  the line here is somewhere in the middle.

 

The scenery has a full reproduction of the famous "Rock" of Gibraltar on the Straits of Gibraltar. But the design of the peninsula and the famous rock face is a bit average with repetitive patterns, certainly at a distance but thankfully okay to fine close up, the situation is not helped by using very low-resolution non-colour graded orthophoto mesh on the terrain and under the scenery, thankfully the peninsula's proportions and shape is excellent. In areas the flatness of the orthophoto comes through and the significant old town of Gibraltar is not represented.

 

To counter this is the excellent reproduction of Gibraltar's only airport in LXGB. The new terminal is really good with great external modeling and a fully represented internal detailing. RAF control tower is also excellent and the famous "Cross runway traffic" is animated and also animated to stop flowing when you use the runway...  excellent Spanish autogen that covers the whole Gibraltar bay to the port of Algeciras is also very well represented in the scenery. Lighting is also very, very good as are the very good ground textures.

 

So the scenery comes down to the experience of using LXGB and in that aspect it delivers a big simulation of realism. The airport has one of the most challenging runways in the world, and there is no ILS either to hold your hand, so this is virtually a carrier landing with a big jet, visually it works extremely well as well (as long as you don't look too hard hard at the Rock on the eastern approach), but twilight and dawn arrival and departures are quite simply sensational... so overall the benefits totally out weigh the negatives, this is absolutely a great scenery to add into your collection and routings...

_____________________________________

 

X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! LXGB - Gibraltar International Airport by Skyline Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


LXGB - Gibraltar International Airport

 

Price is US$23.90

 

Features:
  • UHD Custom Textures using the latest painting techniques
  • Super Detailed 3D modeling
  • Handcrafted solid Rock of Gibraltar with custom night lights and important buildings
  • Animated road traffic crossing the runway for takeoff and landing
  • PBR Materials on buildings
  • XPEco-subsystem
  • XPLCity with Hard surface and lighting system
  • Animated Marshallers
  • Animated Radar
  • Detailed UHD Ground with PBR and decals
  • Ultra High resolution custom orthoimagery for the airport
  • Thousands of 3D custom static objects
  • Accurate Gibraltar area using original imagery and OSM data
  • Amazing and detailed Night Textures
  • Animated cargo boats
  • FPS Friendly
  • Including LXGB Charts
  • Full Ground Traffic

 

WT3:  WorldTraffic GroundRoutes are not provided but Traffic Global operates perfectly with limited traffic.

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11
Windows , Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimum. 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download size: 7 GB
Current and Review version: 1.0 (September 18th 2020)
 
Installation
Download scenery files required are in one very large RAR 7z folder download 6.45Gb
 
Three RAR 7z folders then have to be uncompressed into the three folders below and placed in the correct order below in your .INI list
 
  • Skyline Simulations LXGB Gibraltar (8.20Gb)
  • yOrtho4XP_Overlays (5.56Mb)
  • zSkylineLXGBMesh (1.76Gb)

 

Total scenery install is: 10.51 Gb

 

There is another Ortho4XP "Patch" folder if you want to use another custom Ortho4XP mesh.

 

SAM Plugin - Scenery Animation Manager - Suite 2.0 is required for this scenery

ShortFinal Global SFD plugin is highly recommended with this scenery.

 

Documents

One extensive manual in English with notes (8 pages) and Charts

 

  • Denver International Airport Manual.pdf

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton

23rd September 2020

Copyright©2020 : X-Plane Reviews

 

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1Tb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane v11.50

Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini 

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Scenery Animation Manager - Suite 2.0 - Free

Scenery or Aircraft

- Default Boeing 737-800 by Laminar Research
 

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