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LEAL Alicante International Airport

Introduction

Information taken from Wikipedia states that Alicante–Elche Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto de Alicante-Elche, (IATA: ALC, ICAO: LEAL), originally named El Altet, was, as of 2017, the fifth-busiest airport in Spain based on passenger numbers, and the main airport serving the Valencian Community and the Region of Murcia.

The airport is located in the municipality of Elche, about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of this city and about 9 km (5.6 mi) southwest of Alicante. Its influence area spans other cities in the Valencia province—the city of Valencia is located about 160 km (99 mi) north of the airport.

The airport is a base for Air Nostrum, Evelop Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair and Vueling. Passenger traffic has increased significantly in the last decade, beating its own yearly record since 2013 to date; in 2017 it set its new consecutive record at 13.7 million passengers and 95,322 aircraft movements. Altogether it is one of the 50 busiest in Europe. Up to 80% of all passenger flights are international. The largest numbers of passengers arrive from the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Sweden.

El Altet airport opened on 4 May 1967, replacing the older aerodrome La Rabassa that had served Alicante since 1936. It took its name after the El Altet area (a part of Elche’s countryside) where it was built. In early 1970s passengers’ traffic reached 1 million, which prompted a construction of a new passenger terminal. In 1980 the runway was extended to three kilometres.

The next renovation took place during the 1990s. A new office building together with operation and business centres were constructed. For the first time, five air bridges were installed to facilitate boarding. In 2011, the new terminal was opened at the airport increasing the annual airport capacity to 20 million passengers per year. The original terminals 1 and 2 are currently closed.

The airport is located within Elche’s region and so there had been a historical petition from Elche to include the city’s name in the official name of the airport. This was implemented in July 2013 when the name of the airport was officially changed from “Alicante Airport” to “Alicante–Elche Airport” with the IATA airport code remaining unchanged, ALC.

By 2015 the largest number of passengers was carried by Ryanair (2,992,984), followed by EasyJet (1,285,221) and Vueling (1,093,494). On 23 July 2016 the airport registered its busiest day to date, handling 347 flights—with an average of one flight every 3 minutes—and about 58,000 passengers in a single day.

The runways 10/28 have a length of 9842 ft/3000m with an asphalt/concrete surface and an elevation AMSL of 141ft/43m.

Download and Documentation

The requirements for this airport to run are:
– X-Plane 11
– Windows, Mac or Linux
– 2Gb VRAM Minimum – 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended
– Current version: 1.1 (Sep 12th 2018)
– 1.58 GB on disk

Download speeds may vary but the process is straight forward creating a single download file which can be copied in to the X-Plane custom scenery folder with 13 items including a Config_this_scenery folder. This enables the user to configure the scenery to suit themselves and their system. A text file explains the process. There are three options:

  • Full scenery to use with default mesh X-Plane.
  • Full scenery to use with Spanish UHD mesh.
  • Simplified scenery. Use only with default mesh X-Plane. This option contains only the terminal and the public-parking area. (it is hidden: vegetation, animations, environment, port, etc.)

This scenery folder contains a sub folder for each of the three options and the configuration process involves copying the Earth Nav Data folder in the configuration of the users choice and replacing the one in the LEAL folder. The default is option one so if that is the option required, and it is the most likely, then the user needs to do nothing. The default, full scenery package is the subject of this review.

This process is more simple than it sounds on paper and takes just a few minutes. There is also a flow diagram for those who prefer that form of instruction. The final action once the airport has been loaded once is to make sure that the X-Plane scenery_packs.ini document, found in the Custom Scenery folder, is in the correct order. Guidance to do this can be found in X-Plane support and through a search engine.

Once understood this is also a straight forward process. Once loaded I was initially disappointed as I could not seem to find the moving figures and animations that were part of the promotion information. I reloaded the flight and found everything was in order and working as described. Time to explore the airport.

Impression And Airport Detail

Before viewing the new scenery, I had a quick look at the default Alicante Airport (see screenshots below) scenery within X-Plane 11. The airport has a good level of detail, as we have come to expect from X-Plane default scenery, with numerous parked aircraft and vehicles. The terminal buildings and control tower are present along with other ancillary structures. The road system is visible, though a little limited.

The runways and taxiways are modelled with realistic markings. The wider environment beyond the airport has reduced detail and structures and looking across towards the port area it is modelled but with little additional detail. This is a good standard airport provided with X-Plane itself, certainly detailed enough for a realistic flight in the area.


In case you missed this. The above screenshots shows you how the default X-Plane 11 Alicante airport looks like. It’s better something then nothing, but it’s not really representing the reality, right?

Looking at the new scenery model from similar views taken of the default scenery it is immediately apparent that considerable extra detail has been added with different specific buildings, greater weathering and detail to runways and taxiways, more vegetation and colour and an increased number of buildings and infrastructure beyond the airport boundary. Looking across to the port even from a distance it is possible to see more detail.

To view the scenery more closely I approached the airport initially as a visitor travelling the approach road. Approaching the airport from the coast the buildings and vegetation are modelled and the road and off site airport parking is provided in detail.

There were places where the road disappeared or a structure was slightly out of place across the road but this is a model airport for X-Plane and the initial detail is impressive with other vehicles moving along the road. I passed the boundary fence as I approached the airport itself, getting a first view of detailed passenger gates and aircraft parking areas. I moved in to the modelled car parking area and even here parked cars and empty parking spaces are visible.

Moving through this area I arrived at the front of the passenger terminal and here the detail increases with more parked cars and buses and realistic reflections and light passing over the glass in the terminal building.

On reaching the terminal the first figures appear and looking back from the terminal door the attention to detail on the outside of the building is very clear. Figures and vehicles move around in a realistic fashion and buses come and go to the front of the terminal. On entering the doors to the check-in area the inside does not disappoint and the atmosphere and appearance of a large airport is immediately apparent.

Signage and check in desks are modelled in detail and the light effects and reflections on the internal glass add to the realism. There are more figures within the waiting area and the shop fronts are produced to add to the airport experience. Moving through to the boarding area there are more animated figures and the gate signs and shop fronts are legible. The passenger gates are modelled and the view from the waiting area on to the airside part of the airport is clear and realistic.

I then moved from the impressive interior modelling out to the airside of the airport starting at the east end of the terminal building. This is quite a utilitarian area with tugs and carts with catering and luggage crates as well as refuelling equipment. This is all modelled in detail and adds function to the model.

The animation of moving vehicles continues and the user starts to be drawn in to a busy airport. Viewed from slightly higher the amount of detail becomes clearer and the parched grass areas reinforce the awareness that this airport is in a hot dry area. Some of the modelling, such as passenger gates are set just above ground level so could be described as floating slightly but this does not detract from the quality appearance of the scenery.

I moved around the corner to move down the south side of the buildings. Colours are clear and varied and of the right tone and quality to give the scenery an authentic appearance. Markings and signage are clear and more detailed than the default scenery and shadow and light works well across all areas.

Starting along the south side the full glass facia and signage is eye catching and modelled to a high level of detail. The glass effect is realistic with appropriate reflection and depth and gives the building a large spacious appearance. At the south east corner an Iberian Airways aircraft is being serviced and this includes animated figures carrying out baggage handling duties whilst across the apron further animation shows a passenger bus arrive next to an Easy Jet aircraft and passengers leaving the bus to embark the aircraft, whilst an airport support vehicle waits nearby.

This is all well modelled and again adds to the whole airport experience. Taxiway surfaces and markings are well modelled and with realistic textures. There are some static aircraft though the airport does appear slightly empty and may benefit from one or two more.

Moving further west along the south side of the airport the modern control tower sits mid way along the run way. Looking east from here enables the user to see that the old, unused terminal buildings have been modelled and are in contrast to the modern new terminal. Textures and colours vary to provide contrast between the different building materials.

The modelling here shows the attention to detail as the buildings are not generic representations but closely resemble the airport buildings seen in photographs. The vegetation in the airport consists of the types of trees, bushes and grasses to be expected in this part of Europe.

Car parking is modelled, including areas equipped with sunshades to protect vehicles parked outside. Views towards the sea illustrate the countryside, also created in detail, and housing and structures adding to the realism of the scenery. A police helicopter patrols the area whilst the user experiences the airport.

The control tower itself is modelled in detail with stairs, lights and aerials all clearly visible, Whilst the tower has tinted windows it is possible to view the controllers stations through the glass or venture inside for a closer look. Visibility to most parts of the scenery is good from the tower vantage point.

Views to the west and north west of the control tower show a more commercial area with industrial, office and fuel storage facilities, the new additions to the airport mentioned in the introduction. Just beyond these buildings further construction work is taking place and plant machinery is modelled and animated working in the area.

Beyond that is a radar and communications facility. The airport fire station is also modelled complete with emergency vehicles and beyond the airport boundary there is more car parking and housing, with animated traffic. The view is inland from here and this shows the dry landscape appropriate for this area leading to hills in the back ground. The scenery creates accurate detail in all directions and the activity and movement built in to the model creates life across the whole area.

I finally arrived at the west end of the airport. Here the ground is realistically modelled with different surfaces for taxiways and runways and a sparsity of vegetation due to the climate in the area. Beyond the airport numerous buildings are modelled to create very convincing surroundings.

Scenery From The Air

Having explored the airport itself it is time to view the scenery from an aircraft and experience departure and arrival through the model. I used the default Skyhawk G1000 as it is an aircraft all users have access to and it also affords good all round, and low altitude, visibility.

Lining up on the run way the detail of the run way surface, markings and the airport buildings and infrastructure all remain clear and sharp and the colours and textures maintain their integrity. As the aircraft takes to the air the detail and activity across the airport site can still be seen and creates a very realistic environment. Moving beyond the airport boundary it is clear that the developers have focussed considerable effort on scenery surrounding the airfield itself.

Buildings and infrastructure are modelled in detail with considerable variation, including moving road traffic and trains. Flying to the west the extent of the area modelled can be appreciated and the houses, roads and railways are produced a good distance inland.

The surrounding landscape is created with appropriate colours and vegetation and this sets the airport itself in a convincing environment. Turning back to the east the view extends across the airport complex and out to the sea. The detail of the complex, even at a distance is clear and the airport sits very well in its surroundings.

The contrast between the new terminal and the old ones is evident and the runway and taxiway markings remain clear. Buildings both within and out with the site are appropriate and realistic.

Turning north the town and port of Alicante can be sen in the distance, again demonstrating the extent of the scenery. The scenery package is described as the airport and the port so time to fly over and check out the modelling. Approaching the town of Alicante buildings come in to focus and are modelled in great variety and over a wide area. The first part of the port that appears is the commercial container port complete with cargo ships, containers and cranes.

This looks convincing and certainly adds to the scenery package. The town of Alicante extends down the coast into the distance but maintains its authenticity and gives the user an immersive environment. Moving closer the Santa Bárbara Castle looms in to view and then the marina with its collection of sailing boats and motor cruisers.

This is detailed modelling again both for the castle and marina and really adds atmosphere and credibility to the scenery. The effort put in to these details is very much worthwhile and beyond these particular land marks the town itself maintains its standards even when viewed close up.

The modelling continues quite a way north up the coast including the whole of the Alicante area, again showing the extent of this scenery package. Turning back towards the airport the town and detail can be viewed from a different direction and keeps it quality. Approaching the airport the coastal buildings come in to view and form another detail in the scenery, all of which help VFR flight. Approaching the airport from the air all modelling remains sharp and clear and the complex keeps it detail.

Once on the ground and taxiing the scenery detail remains convincing and adds to the flight experience. Taxiway and apron signage is modelled clearly and realistically and makes flying in to the airport a positive and enjoyable experience. The animation, such as the helicopter, continues and is apparent as soon as the user is at the airport. The airport infrastructure and scenery look as convincing and realistic from an aircraft as they do when touring the site.

The equipment and activity makes the use of the airport a very good experience for the pilot whilst the scenery package is extensive and detailed when viewed from the air. The developers have not only created a detailed and high quality airfield site but have included the surrounding area to great effect ensuring the airport sits well with its surroundings.

I changed aircraft to the default MD80 to check out the custom animated jetways. I approached the stand and the warning signal light came in to operation and recognised my aircraft, indicating where I was on track to park and the distance I had to go. When I reached the correct position the sign showed red lights indicating I should stop.

I applied the parking brakes and switched off the engines and the animated jetway moved out to meet the plane. All very smooth and well presented and adds to the package. I changed aircraft again and started the default Sikorsky S-7C helicopter at the helipad made available in Alicante town itself, just behind the docks.

A dusty experience! This is a quicker way to move the view to Alicante and allows the user to examine the scenery there at ground level. It showed detailed buildings, animated vehicles and realistic store fronts. The castle remains impressively modelled, even up close, and the docks maintain their realism also.

These extra details within the package add even more to the airport for those who like detail and realism across the scenery and also for those who like their visit to an airport to be an interactive experience.

Scenery After Dusk

The sales information describes the scenery as having HDR lighting with custom night textures so this aspect of the model is well worth investigating. I started in the town of Alicante and whether seen from the air or on the ground the lighting is extremely impressive. Vehicles have their own independent lights as do the boats in the marina. The shop fronts are illuminated and the lighting shows the extent of the scenery across the modelled geographical area.

Buildings in the town have appropriate and convincing lighting and the flood lighting of the castle adds real atmosphere. Beyond the lights the hills react well with the natural light. The change of lighting across the town through twilight to darkness is very impressive. Each light is bright and clear regardless of position and colour and the effect of the light on its surroundings, such as extent and direction of illumination, is very good.

Approaching the airport from the air it is very well lit and illuminated with clear run way and taxiway markings and good visibility around the jetway areas. Moving inside the terminal the interior lights are very impressive with seating areas and shop fronts creating the night time atmosphere.

Leaving the airport by the public entrance/exit to the area remains busy and vehicles, road ways and traffic barriers have there own realistic and convincing lighting and the car parking areas are easy to see.

Conclusion

This scenery package is detailed and of high quality throughout. There is something for everyone in that the airside detail, activity and animation is very impressive, with modelled jetways adding more interaction, for those who want the flight experience to be realistic, and to be able to carry out as many functions as near to the real thing as possible whilst the internal modelling and peripheral additions give a great experience for those who want to explore their surroundings with many different aspects to take in.

The scenery covers an extensive area meaning flight on the approach and departure to the airport is detailed and immersive and there are many reference points for VFR flight. The developers have gone further in their detailed approach to Alicante and the port again providing further realism for those who want to view the scenery from flight and those who want to look more closely.

This is a great scenery package for the experienced and inexperienced alike allowing for the user to experience a high level of realism whether through authentic flight activities or close interaction with the surroundings.

More information can be found at the dedicated X-Plane.Org store page. As of this writing, October 15th 2018, the package price is 19.99 USD.

Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach me via email Angelique.van.Campen@gmail.com or to Angelique@X-Plained.com.

With Greetings,
Andy Clarke

 

 

Add-on: Payware VirtualDesign3D
Publisher | Developer: X-Plane.Org | VirtualDesign3D
Description: Accurate reproduction of LEAL Alicante International Airport
Software Source / Size: Download / Approximately 2.63GB (unzipped)
Reviewed by: Andy Clarke
Published: October 15th 2018
Hardware specifications: - iMac Intel i5 27"
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5
- AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB
- 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
- Logitech Force 3D Pro
Software specifications: - macOS macOS Mojave 10.14
- X-Plane 11.26 (64 Bit) Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware airports

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