Review by Rick Desjardins
Il Caravaggio International Airport also known as Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport; ICAO, LIME is located about 4 kms southeast of Bergamo, Italy which is in north central Italy approximately 50 kms from the Swiss border. To give you an idea of just where that is, for those of you who like me didn’t know, here is a map showing the city’s location.
It is the fourth busiest airport in Italy serving just under 9 million passengers in 2012. The airport which is popular with many low cost airlines is also located just 45 kms from the city of Milan and along with Milan’s two actual airports, Linate Airport and Malpensa Airport, helps to serve the area. The airport has one terminal and two runways; 10/28 @ 9,630ft and 12/30 @ 2,552ft.
Installation of Aerosoft products is extremely simple and Bergamo X is no different. The installer is the typical Aerosoft installer except that it’s been updated so you now have the option to install in; FSX, P3DV1.x or P3DV2.x. Making your selection you will need to add your email address and serial number provided at the time of purchase to complete the process; the rest is straightforward and self-explanatory. If you look in the Windows menu you will see an Aerosoft program group and in there a sub group titled: Bergamo X. Here you can access the product manual, charts, config tool and the uninstaller.
The product is configurable via the “Config Tool”. As the screenshot shows, you can choose to enable or disable the 3D grass and approach lights. By default both were disabled, I chose to enable them. By the way, changes must be made when FSX is not running with the changes take effect the next time you run your simulator. There is no mention of the tool in the manual.
With the product you get an English manual, German manual and a Charts manual. The English manual is 12 pages, subtract the advertising and credits and you actually end up with seven pages of pertinent information.
The first couple of pages deal with the airport and include some general information, scenery features and specific technical information about Bergamo airport including such things as airport frequencies. The last two pages deal with installing, uninstalling and recommended settings in FSX.
As I read through the manual it occurred to me that there is no mention of P3DV1 or v2 anywhere in the manual even though they are now being included as supported simulator platforms in most if not all newly released products. How long will it take for developers to include the same type of install, uninstall and recommended settings information as they often do for FSX?
The Charts manual is a nice feature because they’ve compiled all of the relevant charts you’ll need to plan any VFR or IFR flight in or out of Bergamo in one neat package. Uploading it to your tablet in one file is simple and easy to use.
The way the airport is laid out there are two aprons. The larger of the two, the main apron is on the south side of runway 10/28 and is quite long extending over half the runway’s length. It is along here that we find the terminal, tower, cargo area and fire station. The western end of the apron is for general aviation parking. The other smaller North apron is located to the north of runway 10 and has a maintenance hangar as well as some military structures.
The northern edge of the airfield is where we find the much shorter runway 12/30. At only 2552ft it caters to the GA pilot and is home to the Bergamo Aeroclub . Next to the end of runway 12 is a grass apron and several buildings. Probably the most prominent feature in this part of Bergamo airport is the very large vehicle parking lot that extends almost the entire length of runway 12/30. The other thing to note is that there is no direct connection between the two runways, it is like two separate airports.
Looking down on runway 12 30
North apron area
Overlooking main apron
The scenery coverage extends goes beyond the airport’s perimeter to include some of the surrounding residential neighbourhoods and commercial/industrial developments. The techniques used to render these areas are the same as those used for the airport.
Ente Fiera Promoberg - Bergamo Exhibition Center
Orio Center Shopping Plaza
Typical Cluster of Homes Near the Airport
From the product page here is a listing of some of the features:
· All buildings and airport institutions
· The Aeroclub
· Accurate AFCAD
· Moving Gate (ctrl J)
· Animated airport vehicles
· Animated radar station
· Seasonal ground textures (50cm per pixel)
· All taxiways with signs
· All navigational aids
· Manual and up to date charts
Hi resolution (50cm per pixel) photo image ground textures are used throughout the entire scenery coverage area. With these textures we get a nice detailed base with plenty of details that remain clear and crisp even when viewed at ground level. This works quite well at Bergamo for the most part as they’ve populated most of the nearby area with lots of buildings, however it isn’t without some issues.
I noticed that some buildings didn’t quite line up with the underlying ground images and there were also other areas where objects such as parked cars were clearly visible but none had been added.
Fortunately these occurrences are minimal and generally confined to a fairly small area. It should also be mentioned that those areas within the airport that are covered in grass are also further enhanced with the addition of volumetric grasses giving a much more realistic visual sensation while on the ground.
The apron, runway and taxiway textures were very realistic as they use hi resolution textures that clearly show the tell-tale signs of the repeated movements of aircraft traffic.
Main Apron Hard Surface Textures
PAPI Lights and Volumetric Grass
Painted markings were also very good except there was a spelling error, “RWY AHED” instead of “RWY AHEAD”.
RWY AHED Mispelled
Pretty much every building within the scenery coverage area has been included which says something to the dedication of the developers who made this product.
To recreate the structures they used a combination of hi quality imagery plus the addition of some extra 3D details. Using these techniques the results were pretty good however the quality could have been taken up a step or two if the developers had paid more attention to colouring and shading. With the techniques used many of the buildings tended to have a flat clean one dimensional look. Even when details were clearly visible in the images there was no depth to them.
Another thing I noticed was that not many buildings displayed any signs of aging or weathering. Some hangars with sheet metal roofs showed rust but overall not much was done in this regard.
The passenger terminal is the main building at Bergamo airport and it was given more attention than most other buildings here. From the ground up the big thing was the extra detailing. External staircases, detailed jet ways and the large glassed walls that appear to be transparent are a few examples of features they’ve included. The terminal’s roof top was also detailed. Being the predominant structure and the focal point, that was nice to see.
Terminal Interior Visible Through the Large Glassed Walls
Arrivals Side of the Terminal
Detailed Terminal Roof Top
A number of other structures populate the airport grounds. Hangars, control tower, cargo buildings, etc. Many have their own unique features and we are able to see that with the work they’ve put into the product. Here are screenshots of other buildings found at the airport.
Buildings Near the North Apron
Cluster of Buildings at the End of Runway 10
DHL Building with Misplaced Trucks
The control tower as an example stood out for the odd shaped controller’s pod as well as several other visual features. They did a nice job in recreating its look. Like the passenger terminal they also modelled some of its interior, mainly the controller’s pod. Again a nice extra but not something you will normally get to appreciate from a pilot’s perspective.
Controller's View from the Tower
The area surrounding the airport has also been populated with many different structures. There was actually quite a variety in building types which was interesting to take in. They ranged from residential houses to larger more complex commercial/light industrial buildings. The same techniques used in recreating airport structures were used here.
Objects and Vehicles
They’ve included a decent variety of objects and vehicles throughout. Key areas where you have the majority of activities taking place are of course near the aprons. Aircraft servicing, passenger movements and cargo handling are probably the most obvious activities that benefit from all of the objects/vehicles. They’ve included fuel trucks, buses, mobile stairs, and ground power units to name a few.
Baggage Tug and Trailers
Fire Station and Trucks
Tug and Food Service Truck
Every airport also needs other types of infrastructure associated with such things as lighting, physical site security and navigational aids. These have also been taken care of as you can see in the screenshots.
Radar Station with Rotating Antenna
Transparent Blast Fence
Visual Assist Parking
As you look through the screenshots you’ll notice that quality wise they rank somewhere in the middle. From a distance there were no visible compromises but when viewed up close you start to see that there were some. Vehicles tended to be blocky and lacked details.
I will give them some credit for filling the airport parking lots with vehicles. All too often this is forgotten for some reason. What they’ve done here pays off in helping to make the airport look like a busy place. This goes for both sides of the airport.
Buses Parked Near Terminal
Busy Parking Facilities
As I explored the airport I noticed a problem with the runway 28 approach lights, they were incomplete and lacked the actual light fixtures.
Incomplete Approach Lights
In addition to everything mentioned above they’ve also added some static aircraft. There are several twin engine aircraft next to the large maintenance hangar on the north apron plus a few small GA aircraft inside one of the other open hangars.
Open Hangar with Static Aircraft
Static Aircraft with Maintenance Stairs
There are a number of animations that have been included to help in making the airport look more alive. The most obvious being vehicular traffic that can be seen moving along the nearby roadways and on the airport apron and service roads.
The other animations that can be experienced at the airport are: flags by the terminal that appear to move with the wind, multiple radar dishes rotating, moveable jet ways and finally a visual docking guidance system. Each is effective in helping to enhance your experience at the airport.
Detailed Animated Jetways
The area can sometimes get snow and the ground textures show the partially snow covered ground very nicely. Some other aspects of the winter seasons however were less realistic looking. As an example, there were hedgerows that remained a bright green all year round. Roof tops also showed no signs of any snow cover and some of the hard surface edges, in particular along the runway, were straight which to me was unrealistic, drifting snow generally isn’t that exact.
Overall I thought the quality of the wintertime rendition was marginal.
Green Hedges in Winter
Winter Ground Textures but Nothing on the Building’s Textures
I was happy with the overall night time experience at Bergamo X. The various types of lighting you expect to see at an airport of this size were all there. I noticed a few minor issues such as the approach lighting to runway 28, the visible light was being projected from the ground rather than from the light fixtures and secondly some of the airport buildings had that ghostlike grey appearance which made them stand out but for the wrong reason.
Approach Light Problem
How Some of the Buildings Look Grey at Night
Looking West Along the Main Apron
Some of the Surrounding Area Lit Up
Taxiway and Apron Ground Lighting
In terms of quality I’d classify this as a mid-range product. It has some nice, interesting visual features however there were also a few areas where I felt that things could have been improved.
For those of you looking to add a new detailed Italian airport to your list of destinations this is one is reasonably priced and worth some serious consideration.
What I like about Bergamo X
· High-resolution photo imagery ground textures.
· Up to date charts.
· Animated jet ways.
What I don't like about Bergamo X
· Some minor modelling issues.
Intel i7 960 OC @ 4.2 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, Gigabyte GTX780 w3Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, DX9, UT2, REX Overdrive, GEXn, UTX, AES, GSX, FSUIPC.