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NL 2000 - The Netherlands 2000 Scenery
For FSX published by NL2000
Reviewed Mikael Stockfors
October 2010

What you are about to read will in most parts sound like a tribute written by someone biased on the subject, but I guarantee that I have no affiliation with the developers, it just really is that good.

The NL2000 V4 scenery is a freeware photo real scenery covering the whole of the Netherlands. The oldest version of the scenery currently found on the web is version 2.0, released back in 2003 for FS2000. A later version, v2.9 for FS2002 and FS2004, has previously been reviews by Mutley’s Hangars own Rob Scott. The current version, version 4, was released on May 28th 2010, and is FSX exclusive. For FS2004 users there is also a version 3 available for download and the latest update, version 3.9, includes the same photo scenery as version 4.

The scenery is based on aerial photography dating back to 2005, so some parts of the scenery will be missing infrastructure development after that point in time. The photographs have a resolution of 1m/pixel, for some airports the resolution is 40 cm/pixel.

In addition to the photo scenery the downloads also include 24 airports, a traffic module, an object library for objects used at provided airports, a 3d object library of placed 3D objects in the area and a module for presenting City and Town names in FSX. If you chose to not download the 3D objects library there is also a module for excluding FSX scenery objects from the covered area to avoid wrongly placed landmarks. An installer needed to install all packages are also provided, this package also includes the manual for the scenery. At the moment of writing three of the provided airports are available in two versions. These are all old air force bases that are no longer in use, but both active and current versions of these airports are provided.

For this review I have chosen to download all of the photo scenery regions, both the 3D objects library for airport objects and other placed objects, and all available airports. For the three airports with two versions I opted for using the current versions over the active versions to get an as real as possible flying environment. The modules not used or up for review are the traffic module, the three active versions of former airbases and the module for presenting town and city names. Since I’m using the placed 3D object library I could also skip the FSX exclusion module.

At the time of writing a few of the larger airports in The Netherlands, that are available in NL2000 v3, are still in development for version 4. Most notably Schiphol (EHAM) is missing. In the release notes Gilze-Rijen (EHGR) and Woensdrecht (EHWO) are also mentioned as still being in development and will be released as soon as the developers feel they meet their expectations.

Downloading and Installing
The complete download is big, and by big I really mean big. The total download was somewhere in the region of 35 Gb. The photo scenery is cut up into 12 regions ranging from 4,2 to 1,1 GB each. Even at this size I managed to get it all downloaded in a few hours! Unzipping and installing everything took another one and a half to two hours.

There are plenty of options on how to download the different parts of the scenery.  All downloads are available via Torrents, and if you don’t have the software for torrent downloading there is also a light weight torrent client available for each of the parts. A word of warning though, once run the provided file will install the torrent client on your computer, and it will run on start up from there on. The only way I could find to remove it was to manually delete the key from the registry and deleting the files, hidden away in your user profile!

If, like me, you aren’t up to date on how to work with torrents, or this method of downloading isn’t possible due to restrictions from your ISP for example, there are other options available to you as well. All object libraries and airports can be downloaded from AVSIM or via links on the download page. The photo scenery in itself is however not supplied via these sites due to file size restrictions. But fear not, the developers have made these parts available as FTP or Direct HTTP downloads with good download speeds in addition to the Torrents.

All downloads are in a non standard format handled by the provided installer. So your first step, after downloading and un-zipping the files, is to get the provided installer up and running. A fairly straight forward procedure without any problems as long as you follow the on screen instructions. The installer is a rather intelligent piece of software that extracts the files from the different downloads, sets up the scenery layers in FSX and copies the files to a folder of your choice. The installer also makes sure that the different layers are put in the correct order in the scenery database, so you can install the airports and other modules while waiting for the photo scenery files to download without running in to problems.

Photoscenery and Placed Landmarks
Once everything is installed just start up FSX at any airport in The Netherlands and you’re almost good to go. But unless you have a really high-end computer you can expect a drop in frame rates, so some tweaking of your FSX settings will most likely be necessary.  Some pointers on settings are provided in the manual, but as the developers points out it’s up to you to find settings that cater to your personal taste.

Standing on the ground, and while flying at low altitudes, the ground looks a little pixilated, but once you get up to about 2.500 – 3.000 feet AGL things start to look really stunning.  At these altitudes the only thing that looks a bit strange are the flat houses and structures in the underlying photos, especially so in areas that have some 3D objects placed. Once you get up to about 5.000 AGL this issue is less of a distraction since you are by then viewing the ground from an angle that gives the images a sense of depth even if they are flat. If you regularly fly airliners at higher altitudes the scenery still looks great, but a lot of the details are lost, and as Rob pointed out in his previous review you sadly won’t have much time to enjoy it before you’re out of the covered area.


Speaking of flat, this is a word is closely connected with the Netherlands. The land is flat (even with FS Global installed), with fields, some forests and cities scattered around the landscape. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Well, with the 3D objects placed on the ground this really never was an issue. While buzzing around in the skies there’s almost always things that pops out at you. Even from a long way away. Houses, trees power lines, wind mills, wind turbines, industrial buildings and boats are spread out in great numbers over the whole country. Most of them placed to cover real life counterparts found in the aerial photography. I even found a few hot air balloons hanging around. Sure, hanging still in the air but that just makes it easier to come really close to them. And with the clarity and detail of the roads and canals on the ground some VFR flying is truly a joy. As an example of the level of detail it was no problem to locate the position of an airfield in Google earth when comparing that with the image from the top-down view in FSX, even when zoomed quite a bit.


And as if this isn’t enough the developers have also gone over the aerial photos with a magnifying glass and added water classes to every body of water present, and with all the canals that run through the country there’s plenty of water present. This means that every body of water will come to life for you, and not just lie there static with the sun reflecting from it at angles that doesn’t correspond to your flying environment. I actually think I saw a swimming pool with moving water while driving around the airports, but I’m not sure. And it was bricked in so I couldn’t try to drive my car into it to see if it would produce a splash or not.

The only parts that look below par to me are the few remaining default FSX airports. These will still have your default, or other add-on, ground textures in the parts not covered by runways, taxiways or other objects, so they really stand out like a polar bear in a flock of penguins. But this is an issue that will be hard to adjust for unless the airports get developed by NL2000.


All this results in an experience that is simply breathtaking with tons of things to discover, and just as many stunning views. However, we must now move on to the one slight downside to the scenery.

Seasonal Variation
As with most photo real sceneries there is no seasonal variation of the ground textures, but considering the download size of just one season it would be a herculean task to actually produce a photo real scenery of this size with seasonal variation. Even high end pay ware add-ons with photo real scenery usually only come with one season. There are a few exceptions, but they only cover smaller areas.

However, since there are plenty of trees present on the ground you will have some sense of seasons since the trees do change colors. In spring and autumn this looks good enough to almost cover the fact that it’s still summer on the ground, but in the wintertime snow covered trees with green fields makes for a strange combination.


Integration With Surrounding Scenery
One thing that can be an issue with photo real scenery is roads and other parts that end in nothing or miss aligned with the surrounding scenery when they reach the edges of the scenery. This is especially obvious if the surrounding scenery is default FSX.

At the moment I have UTX Europe, Aerosoft Mega Airport Amsterdam Schiphol and FSScene X textures for the ground that borders on to this scenery package, so I have checked for alignment issues between them and the NL2000 scenery. The scenery follows the borders of the Netherlands as close as possible with regards to FSX limitations, and the change in ground textures makes it fairly obvious where the border is on screen. As expected there are fields running across the borders that will look like they are cut in half. For the most part this isn’t a big issue, but flying during wintertime will look very strange as the ground in the surrounding areas are part covered in snow.

As for roads and canals the alignment with the placements according to UTX is in most cases flawless, with just minor misalignments visible in some areas. The same is true when looking at the border around the Mega Airport Amsterdam scenery. The airport scenery pops out a bit due to differences in colors in the underlying photo, but alignments of roads and other objects that run through the border are close to perfect.

As stated earlier there are 24 airports to choose from on the download page, ranging from small local grass strips to large regional airports. Details from Wikipedia on the available airports are supplied below. In the following text I will also comment on how good the airports corresponds to their real world counterparts. The comparisons are based on the fact provided on Wikipedia and imagery via Google earth.

ICAO Name IImage Type and Info Runways


Ameland Airport

Small GA & SAR airport

1 Grass + 1 helipad


Kempen Airport – Budel

GA airport

1 Asphalt


Maastricht Aachen Airport

Regional Airport, primarily used as a Cargo Hub

1 Asphalt


De Peel Air Base

Non active Military Airbase

1 Asphalt/Concrete


Airport Drachten

Small GA airport

1 Asphalt/Concrete


Eindhoven Airport

Cargo and Military operations. Serves Ryanair and Cityjet among other airlines

1 Tarmac


Groningen Airport Eelde

Civilian airport with mainly Charter traffic

2 Asphalt


Hoogeveen Airport

Small GA airfield

1 Grass


Hilversum Airport

GA airport

3 Grass


Den Helder Airport De Kooy

Civilian and naval airport

1 Concrete


Lelystad Airport

Largest GA airport in The Netherlands. Home to the Aviodrome aviation museum.

1 Asphalt & 1 Grass


Leeuwarden Air Base

Military Airbase. German airbase during WWII

2 Asphalt


Zeeland Airport

Local airstrip

1 Grass


Noordoostpolder Airport

Small airport, closed in real life today

1  Grass


Oostwold Airport

Small GA airport

1 Grass (part concrete)


Rotterdam The Hauge Airport

3rd largest airport in The Netherlands

1 Asphalt


Soesterberg Air Base

Military airport, closed in 2008.

1 Asphalt


Seppe Airport

Small GA airfield

1 Asphalt


Stadskanaal Airport

Small, ultralight aviation only, airfield

1 Grass


Teuge Airport

Small GA airfield

1Conc/Asphalt  &1 Grass


Enschede Airport

Civilian and military airport

1 Asphalt


Texel Airport

Small airport

2 Grass


Valkenburg Airport

Old naval airbase closed in 2006

2 Concrete/Asphalt


Volkel Air Base

Active Military Airbase

2 Asphalt

 According to the records on Wikipedia this is almost a complete coverage of airports in the regions. Once the 3 airports still in development (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Gilze-Rijen Airbase and Woensdrecht Air Base) are finished there will only be 1 Military Airport and 3 Glider and Ultra-light fields missing from a complete selection. That in itself is rather impressive.

In addition to the large selection of airports there are also a total of 85 helipads included in one of the modules, not sure in which one but most likely the 3D objects module. Most of these are on off-shore platforms in the ocean, but at least 2 of them are located at hospitals. A word of warning regarding these helipads as take-off points is in order though. The ones on off-shore platforms are rather bug-ridden, and will most of the time result in a splash once you get into FSX. This is a known issue but from what I have read on the forums the developers has chosen not to try and find a fix for it. But if, unlike me, you can handle a helicopter they should make for some challenging landing spots over the ocean.


But how does the airports look I hear you wondering? Well, to start off with all airports with a few exceptions have ground textures based on the same aerial photos as the surrounding areas. This means that the airports will blend in perfectly with the ground scenery. The two airports with ground textures that don’t blend in with the rest of the ground textures are still based on photographs, but there are some differences in the colours compared to the surrounding area. This is most likely due to the photographs being in a higher resolution, as mentioned before, thus providing more details on the ground.

In general what you see in FSX at the provided airports will correspond almost perfectly with what you find using Google Earth. Five of the military airfields are unfortunately censored in Google Earth, so in these cases no comparison could be made regarding the placed buildings. But given the accuracy of the other 19 airports I’m confident that these are up to scratch too. There are some minor differences present, with extra buildings at some airports, and missing buildings at other, but no major things. The only airport with substantial differences is Teuge Airport (EHTE) where the runway is extended to the east compared to Google Earth, and the road running past the eastern parts has been diverted along the runway since it would have passed straight through the runway after the extension. The extension of the runway was made in 2007, so the difference is due to outdated images on Google Earth. With UTX installed this unfortunately means that the road traffic for that area follows the road as it was before the extension, and subsequently runs straight over the runway!

At larger airports you will find taxiway and ground markings that correspond well with what you can expect and lighting are present where it should be. The runway lighting are set to be on regardless of the time of day, but if you wish to have them turned off you can set your transponder to squawk 7000, and the tower will turn them off for you.


In some cases I did come across runways, taxiways and aprons that looked a bit strange, with some small parts having a different texture compared to the rest of the scenery. In all cases that I could check this was also present on Google Earth. Also, at some airports I have found service roads that are only presented on the underlying photoscenery.

While the placements of objects at the airfields are very good, the general quality of the 3D objects and their applied textures ranges from very nice to downright awful. Selections of both examples are provided below. Most of the buildings on civilian airports have what I believe are photography based textures, whilst the structures at Military airports looks more handmade. It’s amongst the handmade textures I find most of the once that look really bad. The main issue I have with these are that many of them look completely flat when it’s obvious that the surface should have some sort of texture to it. This is most likely due to the fact that they have the same exact colour, without any variation, over the whole surface. This gives the object at hand a feeling of being more cartoonish than something trying to mimic a real object. But in all honesty this is a problem that is present even in some high end pay ware airports too.

Transparency mask affecting objects
Good models

Bad models - Cartoonish?

Good textures

In addition to the buildings there are plenty of other static objects present at the airfields, ranging from gliders and GA aircrafts to people of varying quality, some even animated. Among some of the more odd things I have found are a Mig 21 standing on a closed military airfield and a peeping tom looking through the window of a hangar. So there’s plenty of things to discover even without leaving the ground.

Within these 24 airports I have only run in to one major bug that is large enough to warrant mentioning in a review. At Groningen Airport Eelde (EHGG) something along the runway edges on runway 5/23 will cause the plane to crash when you get to close to the edge of the runway. Problems have also been reported with objects causing a crash if you take of along the centreline, but if you go slightly right or left of the centreline your fine, until you try to turn on to a taxiway or the crossing runway 1/19. But since there are two runways the airport can still be used. You can land on runway 01 and take off on runway 19, as long as you can do this without utilizing the small parts that lie south of the crossing with runway 5/23. The issue at hand is known to the developers and seems to have something to do with the runway lights. The problem is being looked at and will be amended in a future patch.

Other Scenery Add-ons used in this review
UTX Europe
REX 2 – OverDrive
Mega Airport Amsterdam Schiphol
FSScene X
FSGlobal 2010
Traffic X AI traffic
A selection of aircraft


A stunning piece of scenery with few downsides provided you have the hardware to run it. If I was a professional scenery developer I would pay big bucks to get these guys on to my development team, if for no other reason than their devotion and attention to great details.  But perhaps the stunning level of detail is something that would have to be cut back on if the scenery was being developed for paying customers in order to meet your release dates and development budgets.

The fact that the whole package is provided as Freeware makes it very hard to complain about small issues but the less than functional helipads is a minor drawback, along with some of the really ugly object textures and objects that I feel could have been cut before release to further raise the level of the finished product, especially considering the astonishing attention to details in other parts.

The only major issue isn’t really connected to the scenery but the almost viral behaviour of the provided torrent-client is an issue for me. A warning regarding this on the download page would have been enough to avoid annoying me. However, since downloading is possible from other sources I won’t be deducting many points over this issue. The only reason I used it was that the installer link to AVSIM was dead when I downloaded it, but that has been sorted now.

All in all I award this truly great add-on a 9.5 out of 10 points

Mikael Stockfors
Review machine Spec:
Core i7 860 @ 2.8GGhz | 4 Gb DDR III 1600 |XFX ATI Radeon HD57701GB |Windows 7 64bit Pro

      System Requirements
  • Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or FSX SP2 required)
  • Windows XP / Vista / Windows7 with the latest Service Packs
  • Pentium 2 GHz (Duo2Core Intel or equivalent advised)
  • 1 Gb RAM (2 Gb recommended)
  • 256Mb graphic card (512 MB recommended)