Review: ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

ORBX continues to release scenery for X-Plane, increasing the level of detail and realism on the sim, with the UK getting a lot of attention lately.

A pretty aerodrome in a very pretty part of the countryside just outside of London. A quick trip from London Heathrow (11.8Nm on the 28 radial from LON) and incredibly close to two of the most iconic Movie Studios in the UK, Leavesden and Elstree Studios, it’s a scenery that I’d long been tempted to get for X-Plane and appears to be a perfect compliment to the already fantastic ORBX TrueEarth Great Britain South.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Sadly the two studios are not modelled to any detail (I checked), the same cannot be said for what is another great product from ORBX as Elstree is beautiful.

With one MASSIVE exception.

Installation

Let me get this out there first of all as I found this a MAJOR annoyance and saw quite a few threads on forums (only 1 on the official ORBX forum) and facebook. Before purchasing this product, go now and add the ORBX Libraries for X-Plane 11 to your ORBX ACCOUNT.

Do NOT pass Go. Do NOT collect $200.

If you don’t do this you will NOT be able to use this scenery. If you try to download the ORBX Library for XP11 in FTX Central without doing this you will get a licencing error.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Reading the manual beforehand would not have helped either since all it says on the matter is:

Once you have purchased EGTR it will be added to your account and you can have FTX Central download and install it for you. The appropriate scenery library entries will also be managed by FTX Central. -pg5 user_guide.pdf

OK, rant aside, this is a pretty major failing on ORBXs’ otherwise simple, easy to use system. When you have an item, in this case a library file, that is required to be installed (but not required to be purchased) then it should not be an optional download.

A very simple solution would be to automatically add this library to the account of any user purchasing a product that requires it. I have quite a few items in my ORBX collection for FSX/P3D and have never experienced this level of frustration before.

Certain library requirements aside, the installation in beyond simple, after purchasing the product, load up FTX Central, click Install and we’re done.

Textures

You can certainly appreciate that Elstree was designed and built after a visit to the aerodrome itself, not only for all of the Buildings, aircraft and car clutter, but also the textures all of which appear to be based on that site visit.

Interesting note for us Heli Pilots is that there are two different Heli operators that operate out of Elstree: Flying Pig Helicopters and CabAir. Sadly CabAir are no longer in business and seem to have been replaced IRL by VVB Aviation.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Elstree Helicopters, better known as Flying Pig Helicopters are based at Elstree and their signs are seen on the buildings.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Quality overall was quite good and if set to Maximum Textures in your graphics settings will show very little artifacting when up close in VR. Elstree looks gorgeous and the scenery has a reasonable installation footprint of 440Mb.. GA and HeliSimmers alike should see nothing but high quality work here, as we have come to expect of ORBX products.

Buildings

Another thing we should expect from an ORBX product are great looking buildings and also an “atmosphere” to the scenery. What do I mean by this? I mean; cars in the car park, aircraft scattered around the scenery, people doing things. And yes, once again, thanks ORBX, we have that at Elstree.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-planeORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Not only that but we also see several helicopters parked on the pad and around the field. Whilst the scenery does come with a Helipad for starting it does not include any other heli starting positions. PLENTLY of GA starts, but it seems we’re relegated to starting on the one pad, which for Heli pilots is a kin to a fixed wing pilot always starting on the runway.

Scenery devs: please have a look at Ramp Starts and the Equipment Type setting. You’ll find that there is an option for Helicopter as well as all the rest. This would also then allow AI Heli’s to spawn and move around the scenery.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Great start ORBX. Here’s hoping we see just that little bit extra.

TrueEarth GB South

ORBX have recently adjusted the wording on their products to now say:

Please note that without purchasing and installing TrueEarth Great Britain South for X-Plane 11, the airport will appear differently as it shown in our promotional screenshots. You may experience one or more of the following issues: Missing or misplaced forests, non-aligned road or motorway traffic, missing or misplaced houses and buildings surrounding the airport, ortho colour matching and blending or other visual anomalies.

Previously they would list their flag ship products like TE GB South, Global Vector etc as being a requirement for their airport sceneries so it’s nice to see the verbage updated. So, how DOES it look without TE GB South?

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Using Ortho4XP and BI as the source it doesn’t look too bad, however as they say in their notes colour matching is off for the Ortho (BI is usually a little wiped out) and the default trees are really out of place.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

After already laying the groundwork with TE GB South you can see how much effort they go to in making their products work seamlessly and beautifully together.

That said, there are a few things I could have done to get my ortho looking as good, with a little auto-processing during the baking and rolling my own OSM data for the roads, buildings and trees. However, that takes time. I already picked up TE GB South on sale, and I recommend you do as well.

My encouraging you to buy their products has nothing to do with me wanting them to do True Earth Australia South. *cough* none at all *cough*

Frame rate impact

Not much to say here really as EGTR is very well optimised and I averaged around 38fps during hover taxi around the aerodrome.

ORBX Elstree Aerodrome (EGTR) for X-plane

Our rating

Positives

  • Excellent ambiance
  • Great textures and Ortho all around
  • PEOPLE

Negatives

  • Very poor installation issues
  • More Heli Starts please, not just on the Helipad

Bottomline

    A pretty little aerodrome that is home to a GA/Heli Flight School, sounds like a winner to me. Just make sure you add the ORBX Lib for X-Plane to your account BEFORE you try install it. An unfortunate oversight that mars an otherwise great little scenery.

Installation 7
Mesh 9
Textures 9
Buildings 9
Frame rate impact 9
Total score
8.9
Click here to purchase/download or more information

Please note: the link above was either provided by the author of the product, the store that sent us the review copy or a personal choice of the article writer. It does not, in any way, indicate an endorsement of HeliSimmer.com to the website hereby linked.

More about this scenery

Location

Characteristics

Terrain type Countryside
Altitude 101m / 331ft
Helipads Yes
Bradley Bristow-Stagg

About Bradley Bristow-Stagg

Bradley has always enjoyed flight sims but previously only flew Beavers and other old/bush planes until he found the 429 and X-Plane which opened up a whole new world. A tinkerer and a fiddler, he’s now trying to make a SA341 Gazelle for X-Plane, and has been known to try resurrect old quality helis and bring them back to life.

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