It's definitely a favourite of many tourists looking to escape somewhere very different yet very affordable.
Bali is part of the archipelago that is Indonesia, and is possibly the most well-known of all the islands for a variety of reasons. So, it was exciting when I heard that new scenery developer A-Flight had taken up the challenge and was bringing the bustling hub that is Ngurah Rai International Airport to simulated skies. Although produced for FSX and P3D as well, we will be looking today at the X-Plane 11 version.
Before we start on the review let’s reflect on what the developers tell us about the product:
The international airport of Bali has been modelled for X-Plane 11 based on recent aerial imagery with a resolution of 0.4 m/pixel. The custom airport environment with highly detailed airport buildings and high-resolution textures conveys the true Bali look and feel which you can see in the surroundings of this holiday destination. Airport Bali was created with an eye for the details and offers virtual pilots a unique experience!
The international airport Ngurah Rai is the airport of Denpasar, the capital of the province Cali. A daily service of 40 national and 40 international flights with 30,000 passengers make this a busy airport. The extension of the runway reaching right into the sea, now sees big airliners such as the Airbus A330, Boeing 747 and 777 fly to this dream destination.
So, with an intro like that, it had a lot to live up to.
Installation was incredibly simple with a straight drag and drop from two zip files into the custom scenery folder of my X-Plane 11 installation directory. One is for the airport scenery itself and the other is for the static aircraft it introduces into the scenery.
I did not have to edit the scenery packs file at all, the required entries were added automatically when I started XP11. The manual is very light, covering the basics and that is about it.
The area in real life is an exotic mix of contemporary and classic South East Asian architecture. The airport terminal combines old elements with a very modern International terminal concourse finished in 2015. The layout of the airport appears to be as it was at the end of 2016 with all the major elements of the airport present including the impressive entry gates to airside and the front of the domestic terminal. However, on closer inspection it begins to lose a lot of the initial feel.
The textures on the buildings are very bland and repeated, and individual companies buildings and signs are not replicated in this scenery. It really breaks down the feeling of the immersion when a freight terminal has none of its customers / building operators logos on it, just Technical Centre. There is a scattering of ground service equipment around but it cannot be used by you in sim (to be fair it’s not available in the default airport either). Most of the buildings are in their correct places, except for mysteriously missing hangars on the southside of the airfield and the loss of a couple of parking spots. Despite this though there is a lack of what I call “the living feel” of an airport. There is none of the scattered detritus (cones, baggage carts, fire trucks) around the airport leaving it with a very clinically dead feel.
The airport itself has not only had its buildings updated to their correct positions and basic architecture, but also the runways and taxiways have been corrected. One of the things that did impress me was the high quality of the taxi and runway textures that really did improve the look and feel of these elements.
As the sun set and I tested the night textures I was hopeful of a very impressive lighting suite and use of the dynamic lighting in XP11, alas though I was to be disappointed. The lighting textures for the buildings are simple bakes with no ambient glow onto the scenery other than the lights on the ramp.
Outside the airport perimeter the hopefulness in what could be done was once again brought low by the result. There is an engineering oddity (or marvel depending on your perspective) feeding traffic from Denpesar to the airport of a toll highway in the middle of the sea. A tridirectional highway crossing with toll booths is just east of the airport in the middle of the sea (the approach into 27 takes you right over it).
This to me is a golden opportunity to really show off something unique about this area and an excellent talking point to get a virtual aviator to fly here. But alas it is still the same stock XP11 highways. Only a few square kilometres of ground is covered by photoreal, and again a depressingly limited amount of custom regionalized autogen has been put in to cover it. The beach shows the outlines of boats, yet no 3D boat has been put on top to add that little extra depth to the scenery.
Despite the gripes I have, this is where this product shines. Regarding FPS, there was no impact (in fact I dare say an improvement) on frame rates. The modelling is very simple and because of the extensive reuse of simple textures loading times are negligible and performance is crisp. Installation wise, the airport itself is quite light, coming in at less than 700MB. Ironically the shared Aerosoft Static Aircraft library is bigger at 1GB. There is no customization options specific to the airport for you to worry about.
This is a massive improvement on the default version of Ngurah Rai International Airport, updated taxiways and runway dimensions along with updated parking and gate information (sorry helicopter fans you lost all your helipads just like the real airport did). Yet this feels unfinished, a case of extensive missed opportunities. As if someone got started on a masterpiece and then got bored or ran into some form of technical issue and pushed out what they had to save face. I cannot recommend it at the standard price point of US$25, maybe on a special for US$15 yep, so unless this airport is particularly important to you, wait for a sale or find another exotic paradise to explore.
Check out Tristan's video!
Tristan has also a video about this scenery on his YouTube channel. Check it out here!