Sandane Airport – ORBX – review (5*)

Sandane (ENSD) – tiny airport in Norway which is becoming more and more interesting in FSX and P3D. Should you come to Sandane? Yes. For couple of reasons.

ensd

Pros and cons

What I like in Sandane?

  • idyllic landscape of Nordfjord and Sandane town
  • interesting over-water approaches
  • photoscenery
  • models of buildings and small objects on airport
  • static planes
  • sounds (for example – sound of a hammer drill near the construction site)
  • people
  • runway lighting and models of lamps
  • tunnel
  • ferry pier
  • runway and apron textures

What I do not like

  • soft terrain mismatch with texture mismatch at the end of the runway (it’s hard to turn a plane at the very end of the runway)

What can be improved?

  • collisions between static planes and AI (also collisions between starting spots and static planes)
  • almost black photoscenery on northern slopes of two hills
  • wear and dirt

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Summary – 5*****

Sandane – a tiny airport in western Norway that was created for FSX and P3D in a typical for ORBX high quality and in superb details. Scenery renders an unusually located airport – its runway cuts a narrow peninsula from one shore to the other. It is surrounded with hills and cliffs and there is a road tunnel passing below the runway. All of this makes approaches to this airport very interesting and the scenery itself makes a great place for a short scenic flight.

Sandane Airport (ENSD)

Sandane is one of Avinor’s airports that is kept running thanks to public grants and flights operated as a public service obligation. This a way Norway supports smaller communities in a similar fashion to how railways are supported in other European countries. As a result a village of just two thousand people has an airport, and a county which population is a little over hundred thousand has three airports.

The only airline serving Sandane is Wideroe which flies a Dash 8-100 four times a day to Oslo (some of this flights land in nearby Florø or Songdal on their way to Norway’s capital). On weekends there are only two scheduled flights a day.

Airport is also visited by general aviation planes – there is a flying club (Volda Ørsta Flyklubb) on an airport just 20 miles north. I could not find any information about charter flights. There was also no indication of any planes permanently based in Sandane but I can not rule this out.

Both 100LL avgas and JET-A1 are available.

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What to fly and where?

Florø and Songdal nearby, Bergen and Oslo a little further away are good and realistic destinations for small airliners. On departure you are restricted by a runway that is only 1km long (actual takeoff distance is even smaller). When you are flying general aviation planes or simulating charter flights you have plenty airports available in 100-200 distance.

I often fly to Sandane in a Twin Otter (Wideroe used Twin Otters before they switched to Dash 8s). I also like to visit ENSD in a King Air to practice IFR approaches. The biggest plane I landed here was the Jetstreamem 41. And the smallest was Piper Cub which – a perfect plane for a local flight to Sandane and back.

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Sandane Airport – ORBX

The airport was created by Andreas Hegi – who worked on Concrete Muni and Orcas Island (I have this scenery and I am delighted – a review will follow). Photoscenery, mesh and autogen was created by Turbulent Designs (a well known developer who created Cloverdale that I recently reviewed).

Scenery features (ORBX):

  • Incredibly detailed, high-definition rendition of ENSD Sandane Airport
  • 30cm coverage of the airport and town of Sandane
  • Coverage includes Nordfjorden and Gloppefjorden.
  • Modelled from hundreds of on-site photographs
  • Hand placed autogen
  • Custom terrain mesh
  • PeopleFlow, ObjectFlow, TextureFlow
  • Modeling and groundpoly by Andreas Hegi
  • Photoreal area by Turbulent Designs

Scenery coverage

The scenery covers the airport and the peninsula where it is located. It extends south to Sandane town and stretches to the other side of Gloppefjorden.

ensd-coverage

Requirements

You need FTX EU Norway to enjoy all features of this scenery.

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Purchase, installation, manual and configuration

You can buy this scenery at FlightSimStore for 34.95 Australian Dollars (23 Euro or 26 USD at current rates – May 2016).

Installation is no different from other sceneries by ORBX – if you do not know the procedure – check one of my previous reviews.

The manual is also no different from the usual ORBX layout. There is a short description of the scenery and the real world location. You will also find credits and suggested settings for your FSX. Unlike some other manuals – this includes a set of charts which can be quite useful if you do not like looking for them in AIPs. Unfortunately there is no information about FSX stand numbers.

Config tool allows you to enable or disable:

  • 3d grass
  • static planes
  • people

I wrote this scenery with all three options enabled.

First impressions – the terrain is so steep!

As I approached the airport (for runway 27) I noticed a cliff on my left side. It is almost vertical and I had to descend so low that I was flying just next to it. This rocky wall is a cause of serious turbulence that threaten traffic in Sandane. Unfortunately (or fortunately) turbulence caused by terrain is not simulated in FSX so this is no as dangerous as it could be.

The runway itself is just a short stretch of asphalt running perpendicular to the peninsula from one side to the other. It seems like it was built in the only place where they could find a level area of this length. When I checked the history of this airport I noticed that parts of this runway were constructed later. Originally the runway was even shorter.

I also noticed how well the runway lights are modeled.

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Airport buildings

I could have written “as always in ORBX sceneries”… because this is something I got used to. But for those of you who do not have any ORBX sceneries I will say that the buildings are very similar to those I saw on location photos. Both their shape and colors are correct and I am pretty sure it has something to do with hundreds of real-world photos they used when this scenery was made.

If you are looking for some small details that make this scenery extraordinary, then you should look at the workshop, where you will find a mechanic cleaning something that looks like a part of an engine. I already know this guy – he had the same job in Palm Springs and in some other scenery by ORBX, but I like him still. I think it is a good idea to add an advanced animations to the airport even if they already appeared in other products. And this is an advanced animation – he does his work for some time and then he gets something to drink. In the world of FSX, where static people are still missing from some pay-ware sceneries, such animations are a pleasant surprise.

People and small objects

The other animated man, one who works the hammer drill on the construction site, was not known to me before. Actually I heard him before I noticed him next to my plane – the drill sounds can be heard when someone is parked close to the scene.

There are more people here. The ones I like most are the couple waiting for boarding and two plane spotters standing by the fence. I should also mention the man who stands in the tower and provides AFIS (Airport Flight Information Service – this is uncontrolled airport).

I like small airports in FSX because they allow developers to place all the small objects they can imagine without worrying for performance. And here the developer placed as many objects as I could dream for. There are railings, warning cones, a container, fuel tank, aircraft tug and many, many more. Judging by the number of objects and comparing them to real world photos – the choice of objects and their number were very, very good.

Fjord and Sandane village (photoscenery and autogen)

Large area around the airport is covered with photoscenery which makes flying patterns much more pleasant. Actually the scenery extends so far south that you can make a short flight and stay above the photoscenery for the whole time (keep in mind that you will still see some landclass-covered mountains outside of the scenery).

When I wrote about the patterns I meant something a little different from a normal four turn flying pattern. Here you need to fly around some hills north of the airport to get to the runway again. On the way you will overfly a ferry pier (there is a model in this scenery).

From this pier a road leads to the airport, passes under the runway and follows to Sandane. You can fly in this direction and admire the autogen (very dense trees and correctly placed buildings) to the village (or a town).

Technically – this is a 30cm/px photoscenery which makes it more than adequate for flight. When I look from the ground level (at airport – from taxiing plane) the resolution could be a bit higher.

 

There is one small flaw to this photoscenery – a northern side of the hill you can see on my screenshot below was shaded when the images were taken. In the photoscenery it looks like a black spot and I think it might have been replaced with some other images of forest. Fortunately – it is a forest so the black area is partly covered with trees.

One bug and small issues

There is one bug – textures and terrain data are mismatched at both ends of runway (runway afcad seems to be shorter than the asphalt texture). This causes the FSX to think that I am on a soft ground when I am still on the paved area (according to the textures). Some planes turn with difficulty on a soft terrain – it makes turning the aircraft harder when I follow the runway markings. I know that this sometimes happens in the sceneries that use custom ground textures (I commented on the same issue in Aerosoft’s Kilimanjaro).

I noticed an issue with static planes. They are placed on FSX starting spots so you can choose to be placed… inside of the King Air or Dash 8. Also AI planes collide with static planes. This is unfortunate.

What else caught my eye?

Details on the ground. For example this drain between runway and the taxiway. I know that this is just a simple texture… but such details are so often left out in the sceneries… I really like that it was placed here.

Clean textures. I have the feeling that I am watching photos in a travel magazine. The scenery looks a bit too clean. A bit too nice. I know it is Norway, and it is supposed to be clean… but it is just too perfect (based on my real trips to Norway). I would never say this if I was judging a worse product. So do not treat this as a flaw of this product. It is just that the better the scenery is (and this is very good!) the more sensitive I am for such small details.

Night lighting. The same applies here. Usually I would not notice this. But the buildings are too evenly lit – there are no shades in places that are far from lamps. On the other hand – light spots on the ground match lamps very well.

Did I enjoy flying over Sandane?

I made most of my flights in a King Air flying charter flights to various Norwegian airports. The size of this plane and its performance makes it perfect for flights to Sandane and I had fun flying instrument approaches in bad weather. Flying the Jetstream was similar to the experience in King Air although it is larger and more demanding. For such planes I recommend a trip to Ørsta (ENOV) and its LOC-A approach.

This was also a good scenery to practice my flying skills – this is why I took the Cub and both my Cessnas (172 and 182) for several flights around the scenery in different weather conditions. This unusual visual approach is especially challenging in strong crosswind situations. Try it!

Performance – great

I did not expect any problems from a seasoned developer and a small airport. I was not mistaken – this scenery performs very well and I can recommend it even to users who have older PCs.

Summary – 5*****

Sandane – a tiny airport in western Norway that was created for FSX and P3D in a typical for ORBX high quality and in superb details. Scenery renders an unusually located airport – its runway cuts a narrow peninsula from one shore to the other. It is surrounded with hills and cliffs and there is a road tunnel passing below the runway. All of this makes approaches to this airport very interesting and the scenery itself makes a great place for a short scenic flight.

Quality to price ratio – ok

23 Euro or 27 USD for a small airport may be considered a little too pricey but it is adequate to the quality. Considering what other options there are – I will say that this price is ok. It may not be a great deal but it should not be considered overpriced.

Add-ons featured in this review:

Sandane Airport (ENSD) – ORBX

and:

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sandane Airport (ENSD) - ORBX
Author Rating
5

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