LIEO Olbia Costa Smeralda – ORBX – Review 5*

Olbia Costa Smeralda (LIEO) – Sardinian airport in Prepar3d v4. The airport of the Emerald Coast charmed me with airside details and lovely surroundings.

5* review – LIEO Olbia Costa Smeralda – ORBX

Let me make something clear. I cannot say that I was waiting for this scenery. On the contrary. Half a year ago I was utterly indifferent to Olbia Costa Smeralda. I saw the announcement and thought it is just another holiday resort and its unremarkable airport. When I flew here – it was for convenience’ sake. The Innsbruck – Olbia route fits nicely into my family and professional life. I would take this one hour flight instead of making a 2,5-hour trip from Stockholm to Dubrovnik. So I flew. And again. And again. I have visited Olbia more often and even chose it as one of the test sites for the DC-6 I am learning. The airport of the Costa Smeralda (literally Emerald Coast) impressed me. I am hooked. Since I first flew here – it never occurred to me that Olbia can get anything below 5-star rating.

Buy LIEO Olbia Costa Smeralda – ORBX Direct
(Prepar3d v4 compatible)

Pros and cons

I like

  • the airport that is full of life
  • detailed general aviation aprons
  • Olbia harbor
  • Faro dell’isola Bocca lighthouse
  • the passenger side of the airport (parking lots, terminal)
  • landmarks
  • photoscenery (though with exceptions)
  • mesh

I dislike

  • nothing to report in this section

I thing … could be improved

  • hospital helipad surroundings
  • photoscenery brightness in some places
  • photoscenery range (runway 05 approach)
  • diversity of objects (airport clutter)

Private jets

When I first taxied to the general aviation parking (Apron 2), its size and the size of the stands surprised me. Accustomed to small airports in the US, where I park Cessna on a designated place, wing to wing with other planes, I felt the vast area here. And then I looked at the aircraft beside me – they too differed from the usual Piper I park next to. Among them, there are four business jets. And one of those is parked partly under the roof. I have never seen an airport that provides protection against rain (and sun) for general aviation passengers. Well – not for everyone – you need to bring your Gulfstream or Global Express to get this treatment.

Such planes make an essential share of the traffic arriving at Olbia. It is hardly surprising – Costa Smeralda is the most exclusive part of Sardinia. The resorts did not make it into the scenery, as the idyllic beaches and hotels lay some 20 kilometers north – far enough from the noise of the airport. One does not fly a bizjet to listen to such planes during your holidays.

I was interested in the surroundings of the GA apron. Aprons, because there are two. West (Apron 2), described above can accommodate several Gulfstream G650s. There are also two stands for airliner size jets – up to the size of Boeing 767 (stands 201 and 202).

Here, I park between the threshold of runway 23 and a small building of the GA terminal. The place under the roof is already occupied (static plane), but if you really want to park there – you can remove current occupant (unfortunately together with other aircraft) using ORBX Central. Going outside of the GA terminal, I find a parking lot filled with cars, several benches, and well-maintained vegetation.

Apron 3

The scenery is populated by a dozen static aircraft, which leaves a lot of vacancies at the airport which offers several dozen aircraft stands. It looks like off-season in Olbia. If you are not interested in the GA terminal – you can use the central part of the airport. Apron 3 provides more parking space – ideal for a small Cessna. Even with the yellow firefighting Canadair restricting movements of twin-engined planes, there are several spots you can take.

In most flights, I favored the previously mentioned general aviation apron, choosing Apron 3 only once attracted by the vegetation – high grass and shrubs growing near the aircraft’s parking.

The main apron & terminal

The main apron of the airport comprises 19 large parking spaces, including 5 by the jetways, of which 737s of Transavia and Air Italy occupy three in the scenery. There are also 8 stands for small aircraft.

You can park your Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 at the terminal. With a 767 – select one of two stands in the south-west corner. Most stands (except those at jetways) do not require pushback – just turn your plane around under its own power, and you are ready to go.

I like how the terminal was designed (in the scenery). There are details on the outside, the quality of textures is good (I could even read IDRANTE on the fireman’s box) and I noticed clutter between the jetways – fire extinguishers, luggage containers, waste bins, containers for FOD. Jetways are SODE compatible.

What I like even more is the ground texturing. You can see worn paint. In places, it looks fresher, elsewhere should be called to put a new layer.

3d interiors aficionados will not find one here. I did not mention it among the flaws as I am not an enthusiast of this solution and I disable this feature where possible.

On the other hand – the surroundings of the terminal have exceeded my expectations. You will find some construction equipment, water storage tanks, and another parking lot where the passengers and rental car companies keep their cars. The level of detail here exceeds what would be sufficient for a pilot. I looked at this place while flying patterns and from the standard altitude of 1000 ft; I noticed flower pots, parking lot exit barriers, and even high curbs. Looking closely, I saw even more elements. Though unnecessary to the pilot of the plane, helicopter pilots will enjoy this.

Air Italy hangars are surrounded with airline equipment. Containers, tractors and cargo trailers were left or parked here. And then someone added even more containers and more trailers. And that’s what I mentioned among the elements that could be improved. There are too many, and they lack diversity. It is evident to the observer that it is the same container copied dozens of times. And right beside there is another with dozens of copies. I tried to find a similar accumulation in the real-world photos of the airport – I could not.


The runway in Olbia is currently 2,445 meters long and will be extended this year. The scenery already takes this change into account. Taxiing along the taxiway F, we will pass taxiway A, which led to the old threshold and go a little further to F and the new (future) threshold of runway 23.

I enjoy using the future airport layout for the scenery. With changes coming soon updating before 2019 ends would be a waste. And the longer runway should please the owners of large aircraft.

What to fly and where?

You already should have some idea. Common species include business jets, and 737s and Airbus 320s family. In addition, various general aviation aircraft were observed in Olbia (you may fly a cirrus or a King Air before you can afford Gulfstream). There are firefighting aircraft too – the Mediterranean climate makes them useful.

If you are interested in the big game, then you have probably noticed I mentioned the 767. Spotters shoot some of those here. If you want to go even bigger (let’s drop the animal analogy) – the biggest aircraft that landed here (and took off again) was Boeing 747, but this was an exception rather than a rule.

Where? During the high season, the airport has regular connections with many airports in Italy and with major airports in Europe.

Olbia Smeralda in the world of P3D

I think an airport should fit into the world of P3D. With Olbia, ORBX chose the perfect spot by adding another airport in Southern Europe. In an hour (give or take) a 737 can reach Innsbruck, Pula, and Dubrovnik. Bilbao is not much further. These airports are within an easy reach (in a reasonable time) in any general aviation aircraft. For longer flights, you have plenty of destinations – especially in Great Britain and Scandinavia. And this is only the world of ORBX. Other developers also contributed to this world covering Europe with quality airport add-ons.

The airport itself fits into a wide variety of operations. We can fly Cessna 172, and land a Boeing 747. 737 suits Olbia just as a Beechcraft Duke does.

Do not forget about helicopters – when arriving in a Global Express one can choose a helicopter instead of a taxi. Carabinieri bases their helicopters near the airport.

Airport surroundings

The base of the gendarmerie itself and the nearby Olbia-Venafiorita Airport was made so we would be happy to watch it when overflying the area, but I would not recommend landings. Although the police building matches the real-world in shape, color, and general ugliness, the resolution has been optimized for viewing from a certain height. The ground is covered with the photoscenery. 30cm / px is an excellent resolution for flying even at very low altitudes, but it is not the best texture for ground ops.

The hospital helipad is only slightly more attractive. Although the buildings were modeled in a higher resolution – I would love to see better surroundings. Helicopter flights give me a lot of time to enjoy the views. This economical rendition (of the hospital) does not invite me to pay a visit.

A moment ago I focused on the helicopter pilot’s impressions. Leave helicopters aside and look at the airport surroundings from the plane’s perspective – the impressions will be great! All the objects I mentioned earlier make enjoyable flights. And there are more. Some really arouse my curiosity – for example, the open pit mine I discovered between the airport and Olbia-Venafiorita. Even its depth has been correctly rendered in the scenery.

The city and harbor spread on the other (north-western), side of the airport. Here, ships and ferries make the biggest impression. It is partly because of their size, partly because of colorful cartoon characters on the sides of Moby. There is such a ferry cruising this waters in the real-world. I also found other landmarks known to me from the photos of Olbia – including the beautiful lighthouse at the entrance to the bay.

A good impression of the city is complemented by a precise mesh and photoscenery of the hills in the north. On the other hand – choosing the shape and surface of the photoscenery was a little surprising. From the approach to runway 05 the photoscenery covers only a small part of the approach. On takeoff (rwy 05) – I noticed a vast area covered with aerial photographs to the right of my flight route, but on the other side, all I found was the usual texture of ORBX Global / openLC. I would like to see a bit more of the photoscenery in places that are really important to my flying. I do not mean they should add more of the (expensive) aerial photos. I just think that some locations could be left without it to add photoscenery in other places – like the nearest neighborhood of the airport in the west.

However, the sum of impressions from the airport area is very positive. ORBX and the developer of this scenery, Matteo Veneziani, managed to reflect the character of this place and the historic, tourist and industrial specificity of Olbia.

Summary – 5*****

I’m hooked. I visit Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (LIEO) often.

Buy LIEO Olbia Costa Smeralda – ORBX Direct
(Prepar3d v4 compatible)