Preview: Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini's Mont Blanc Group for X-Plane

The most recent project by Frank and Fabio is almost here. And it’s starting to get hard to review their work.

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11Whenever Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini mention a new project, it’s no longer a matter of “will it be good?” but rather of “where will it be?”.

Frank and Fabio found a formula. They found a niche in which they are very, very good and they keep on developing scenery based on that formula. Eiger Park, Cerro Torre, Everest Park, the Matterhorn and other products such as these are all masterpieces from the duo that keep on focusing themselves on (usually) mountain areas, which is their passion.

This, of course, leaves a lot for us, rotorheads to do, as these areas are a playground for helicopters, so our community tends to love it.

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

And Frank and Fabio love to keep on doing these for us.

But what can we say of different from everything we have already tried and reviewed? Honestly? Not a lot, really. Other than describing the scenery so that you know what’s coming and pointing out some curiosities (or perhaps some small details) there’s not a lot to say that’s different from all the other previews and reviews.

Let’s see…

The scenery

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

Frank and Fabio decided to present us with the highest peak in Europe: Mont Blanc, which is located in the Alpine chain between Italy and France and it rises to 4.810 meters (15,780 feet).

Their scenery covers an extension of around 900 square kilometers (around 350 square miles).

As with other products, the duo decided not to place orthophotos but rather handcraft the textures. You read it right: they did the textures by hand, in order to capture the essence of the place and remove any shadows and other artifacts. Talk about dedication.

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

The vegetation, as well as the houses were also mapped and reproduced in 3D. There are a few generic “Alpine-themed” buildings but also a few landmarks that should be recognizable on the cities of Courmayuer, Chamonix, Pre Saint Didier and La Thuille.

Mont Blanc was also built from scratch, as is normal with the mountains present in the team’s scenery. The whole group of mountains include nine sub-groups: Mont Blanc, Mont Maudit, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Aiguille du Midi, Tour Rond, Aiguille Verte, Dente del Gigante and Les Grandes Jorasses. All textured in glorious 4K.

According to the team, “Almost all textures based on 4K (4096x4096) are derived from HD photographs and positioned respecting the real position. This long and laborious procedure has required considerable effort, but has made the 3D model of the mountains very realistic, so as to allow a close flight to the walls without significant loss of quality, setting the graphic configuration always at the high quality.

Talk about commitment.

Airports and heliports

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

Yes, it has helipads. It has to, right???

There’s something that Frank and Fabio do sometimes on their scenery. They use a bit of creativity or “artistic freedom” and do some tweaks or add something to the scenery that’s usually not there.

That’s what they did on this scenery as well. They have included 2 fictional grass airfields.

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

3 heliports were also added as well as a set of helipads, scattered around the scenery, all at a short hop from each other. I find the one at the Goûter Refuge (LFGTH) particularly interesting. Perhaps because the building itself is really cool and looks like something that could have been put on Mars.

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

Here’s the full list of airfields and helipads included:

  • LICRM - grass Airfields - 45.7915680 06.9659261 – COURMAYUER
  • LFCX - grass Airfields - 45.9422909 06.8863832 – CHAMONIX
  • LICRH - HELIPAD - 45.7854745 06.9658675 - COURMAYEUR Airport
  • LFCXH - HELIPAD - 45.9457938 06.8913300 - CHAMONIX Airport
  • LICYH - HELIPAD 45.8145595 06.9559658 – COURMAYUER
  • LIDRH - HELIPAD 45.7855850 06.9658598 – COURMAYUER
  • LISYH - HELIPAD 45.8460183 06.9316868 – HELBRONNER
  • LIPSD - HELIPAD 45.7621219 06.9865320 - PRE SAINT DIDIER
  • LITUH - HELIPAD 45.7073415 06.9547088 - LA THUILE
  • LFCMBH - HELIPAD 45.9785849 06.9371710 – ARGENTIERE
  • LFDZ - HELIPAD 45.9389673 06.8957794 – CHAMONIX
  • LFTMB - HELIPAD 45.8512984 06.8306420 - TUNNEL FR
  • LFTRH - HELIPAD 45.8560369 06.8178259 - REF.TETE ROUSSES
  • LFGTH - HELIPAD 45.8512984 06.8306420 - REF.GOUTER

Follow the cables

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

One thing that I have started doing on these types of scenery is to follow the cables of the cable carts around the map. I found they can lead you to interesting findings and I didn’t get wrong on this scenery either. I found out a few interesting places and even how some parts of the real world scenery connect with each other, which was a lot of fun.

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

What to do, what to do

One of the things we always wonder about when looking into a new scenery (well I do, at least) is “what can I do there”?

Considering we fly helicopters, there’s always a lot we can do. We can land pretty much anywhere, hover pretty much anywhere and do pretty much everything we want, right?

Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini Mont Blanc for X-Plane 11

But sometimes, we want a bit more. And thus, I looked at the scenery and thought “what is it that Mont Blanc brings that can be cool for me?”. Well that’s a trick question. I’m a sucker for mountainous regions. I love the harsh environments, huge mountains, vertigo-inducing cliffs and, since the Mont Blanc region is a touristic place, there will be lots of air taxi jobs, mountain rescues and supply deliveries to do for sure.

This will be my playground for a while for sure.

Framerate

As usual, Frank and Fabio are kind to us and to our machines. There are a few buildings that could look more detailed, but I know for a fact that they decide to keep the polygon count lower (which is something I am addressing at the end of this preview).

Framerates are solid. I notice no major difference from the default scenery so I could fly around in VR nicely.

Conclusion

Some developers get to a stage where we know they will deliver. Frank and Fabio are on that stage (they have been for quite some time already, to be honest) and they are constantly delivering great scenery.

My only complaint would be that in the quest for delivering the product with little to no impact on framerate, some of the buildings seem to lack a bit of detail which is only noticeable when you are very close to them. But that’s how we fly a lot, right?

Other than that, Mont Blanc is another great quality, fun, stunning place to fly at, coming from the hands of the great Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini.

If you are a fan of mountains, you’ll want to grab this one for sure.

Release date

Mont Blanc Group is slated for release on November 22nd (one week away from the date this preview was published).

It's out!

Our rating

Positives

  • Great scenery for the mountain lovers
  • Plenty of helipads and heliports
  • The usual quality to which Frank and Fabio already got us used to

Negatives

  • I would like to see a bit more of detail on some of the models. I feel like the fact that the duo wants to keep the project FPS-friendly may be hurting some of the most charismatic landmarks.

Bottomline

    A great scenery by a team that is always bringing us beautifully crafted locations. Getting this scenery is a no-brainer.

Installation 10
Mesh 9
Textures 9
Buildings 8
Visual impact and quality 9
Frame rate impact 10
Total score
9.4
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More about this scenery

Location

Characteristics

Terrain type Mountains
Altitude 4,000m / 13,123ft
Helipads Yes
Sérgio Costa

About Sérgio Costa

Sérgio has been a flight simulation enthusiast for nearly 25 years. His passion with helicopters developed during MSFS 2000 when he discovered the complexity of these aircraft and the challenge it was to control them. Since then he has been primarily a helicopter flight simmer, trying his best not to crash and kill all his virtual passengers. Sérgio is HeliSimmer.com's editor and writer and one of the Three Grumpy Simmers, a YouTube series and Podcast produced together with YouTubers Bel Geode and NovaWing24, obviously dedicated to flight simulation.

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