FlightGear Newsletter April 2010

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Welcome to the FlightGear Newsletter!
Please help us write the next edition!
Enjoy reading the latest edition!


We would like to emphasize that the monthly newsletter can not live without the contributions of FlightGear users and developers (thanks to everyone that contributed this time!). Everyone (with a wiki account, free to register) can edit the newsletter of next month and every contribution is welcome.

In the hangar

Aircraft

An enormous amount of aircraft has been created or updated in the past month. So huge, that we will just name a few.

Airbus A318

The A318 is being modeled from the A319. Read more about this project at the forum.

ASK-13 Glider

The ASK-13 by Patrice Poly.

The gliders fleet is growing, with this Schleicher twin seat glider. It has a accurate fdm based on real experiences of the author. It contains the new bumbspec shader, detailled interior with AmbientShadows baked, DualCockpit over MP and many things more. See this thread for details and download. It is available in CVS as well now!

B-29 Superfortress

The original author of the B-29 model is not active in FlightGear at the moment due to the pressures of real-life work. So Vivian Meazza has been busy with bringing the B-29 model up-to-date. The ambient light levels have been brought into line with current practice and the YASim FDM has been lightly worked over. Some effects have been added: the reflective effect, exhaust staining, and contrails.

Boeing 717

The Boeing 717 is still at a pre-alpha stage; updates are being released and shown at the forum.

Boeing 747SP

The Boeing 747SP, a special ultra-long-haul version of the B747, is being developed by shervin88 on the forum. It is still at an alpha stage.

Boeing 747-8I

The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental is being modeled by MOJO.

C-17

The awesome C-17 has been in work by jonbourg for a while now and it looks great. The model is fantastic and it includes a working cargo door, animation and now fully operating thrust reverse. Upcoming updates will include an airdrop feature and 3D cockpit instrumentation. Also in the works is DATCOM information for a realistic flying experience.

C-5

The C-5 Galaxy is being modeled by jonbourg.

Fokker 50

One of the new liveries (SkyWest) for the Fokker 50.

The F50 hasn't got totally new functions, but Gijs spotted a problem with the .xml files in the plane, thus making it unusable on version 2.0. The .xml files have been patched and are available at the forum. Behind the scenes, Charlie has been improving the Fokker and a new version could be released any time.

In the mean time both Gijs and gooneybird have created a bunch of excellent new liveries which can be found in the forum and downloaded from the livery database. All of these are based on aircraft that actually fly (or flew) somewhere out there.

IAR80

The IAR80 prop is near completion.

IL-96-400

The IL-96-400 was released on 06 Apr 2010, and is downloadable from UnitedFreeWorld. It is available in two versions, Passenger and Cargo. It also features a 3D cockpit, Particle animations and a Startup Procedure.

North American P-51D

The P-51D, a legendary fighter, was remodeled under JSBSim only by hvengel.

P-47N

Jon Bourgeois (jonbourg) also is currently working on the P-47N from Dave Culp's hangar.

Piper J3 Cub

New Piper J3 Cub by Don Lavelle. Custom Scenery "France" in the background.

This taildragger has been now completly remodelled in Blender by Don Lavelle. It features an accurate 3d-model, high resolution textures, a paintkit, pilot model, smoke effects and a detailled interior. The new Piper J3 Cub is now available in the forum and through CVS.

Quest Kodiak 100

The Quest Kodiak is a modern STOL turboprop single built to be a back-country aircraft to help in areas in which humanitarian help is needed. At the moment only a basic FDM and outside 3D model with animations exists. We are currently working on the cockpit. If you want to help developing please write a mail to not.everyone.lives [at] googlemail [dot] com. You can download the Kodiak from here. Also a forum thread represents the project.

VMX22 Osprey

The Osprey is being revamped by ot-666, with a totally new model and FDM.

Liveries

Just two months after its (re)launch, the livery database has been visited by more than 1300 unique visitors, from 84 different countries. Together they have viewed over 32.000 pages. As of April, more than 215 liveries are available and the database is still expanding rapidly.

New liveries are continously being accepted, through the contribute page.

CVS news

New and improved shaders

New Reflection Shader applied to the B-29. It shows a shiny, high-reflective blank metal, which can be achieved now with the new shader.
New Reflection Shader applied to the EC135 for testing. It is here controlled by a greymap, but could be controlled by the materials setting as well

Frederic Bouvier improved the Urban Shader - it now supports nightlighting and snow as well. He improved the landmass-shader too, which gives us a more realistic 3d-look to the forest. There is also a new slider in the rendering settings to adjust the level of eye-candy to the available hardware power.

Vivian Meazza added a Reflection Shader. This now gives us shiny surfaces on any object. So you can now have shiny blank metals, or a glossy coating like we can see on cars and modern aircraft, or shiny windows, which even show a nice rainbow effect (like the Airbus shows). These effects are completely configurable and can be controlled in many ways.

It support Cubemaps as well, and as this influences the look of the shader effect a lot, people are invited to create as many and different as we could need.

Finally, there is a new wiki article (Howto: Use The Normal Map Effect in Aircraft) on using the normal mapping shader, which is very useful for adding bump maps to aircraft. The standard Cessna 172p already uses this effect to show the rivets on the wings and fuselage.

If you are interested in doing some shader development yourself, e.g. by customizing existing shaders or creating completely new ones, make sure to take a look at Howto: Shader Programming in FlightGear which aims to provide an introduction about shader programming for FlightGear.

AI traffic becomes more interactive

Early April, a patch was was committed to TaxiDraw, FlightGear's airport design program, which allows a more thorough checking of AI ground networks for internal consistency. This patch, and the consequential improvement in ground network quality serves as a lead-up to a batch of new functionality in the Interactive Traffic code. Communication between taxiing AI aircraft and and ground control can be tracked by tuning your comm radios to the appropriate ground frequency. Although the system is designed to work at any airport, best chances of for witnessing this ground activity is at EHAM, by tuning into 121.7 for startup clearance procedures or 121.8 for push back approval, taxi clearance and all hold position / resume taxi instructions.

New dogfighting scenarios available!

Developers been interested in developing dogfighting scenarios over the month. Some AI balloon experiments have been released too.

Weather development very active

In the end of March and start of April, lots of developers have released contributions to a local weather system, at the forum.

The aim of a local weather system is to simulate weather phenomena tied to specific locations. Examples for this are a thunderstorm, a rainfront or thermal development. In the case of the thunderstorm, severe rain and turbulence occur in a location a few kilometers in scale, i.e. one can easily view it 'from outside' or fly in and out of this region. Similarly, the development of thermal convection clouds is strongly tied to features of the terrain - thermal development does not occur easily over open water or snow, but it is strong over rock or similar surfaces which heat in the sun. Finally, a rainfront is a phenomenon like a thunderstorm that divides the sky into two regions - one with essentially good visibility and clear sky, the other with severe clouds and rain, and both are visible at the same time.

Clouds-nimbostratus.jpg

This is in contrast to the current standard weather system of FlightGear where weather changes affect the weather everywhere in the simulated world and are (with few exceptions) not tied to specific locations. In such a system, it is impossible to observe e.g. the approach of a rainfront while flying in sunshine. In contrast, the local weather system allows for visual impressions such as the one shown on the right.

The current release (v0.51) is still limited to simulating weather in a 40x40 km tile, but supports placement of regions in which visibility, rain, snow and thermal lift are set, as well as interpolation of visibility, pressure, temperature and dewpoint between preset weather stations. The system also automatically creates thermals below convective clouds which can be utilized by gliders using a CVS patch, thus providing greatly enhanced soaring capability. More details in the forum or in the Wiki article A local weather system.

Help with texturing cloud models, developing and improving shader effects, testing, merging with the C++ code or increasing the library of available weather tiles is highly appreciated!

The data and source code for these clouds are now in CVS.

Scenery Corner

Malpensa being developed

The Milan/Malpensa airport is being developed by brisa; following it's progress here.

Multiplayer news

TransGear Airways: the new way

As announced in last months edition, the monthly TransGear events' format has been completely redrawn. In total, 12 pilots and four controllers showed up. Apart from the (unfortunately) usual problems, resulting in a few dropouts, it can be considered as a "decent turnout for a first 'new' event" according to organiser Rob (MD-Terp).

Solicitation for the May event will soon start. Watch the website for the latest news.

Atlas Virtual Airlines debuts!

FlightGear's new, unified, Virtual Airline, Atlas Virtual Airlines (AVA), finally opened its doors to the public in early April. AVA offers numerous pioneering aspects for its pilots, such as a fully functional Pilot Report page for flights completed. The Airline's debut, after months of waiting, sparked a major recruitment, and Atlas is approaching the 30-member mark! Other achievements include its own forum, a sophisticated aircraft tracking system, and the addition of the newly designed IL-96, which was added to the airlines fleet to serve under a separate section, Atlas Virtual Cargo (AVC). The Airline has also received liveries for all of its aircraft, minus the IL-96. These are available only to registered pilots.

So far, the airline has been a success, and Atlas thanks all of its devoted members for a great start! Those interested can check it out here[1]. Remember, most discussion is held off of the FlightGear forums, and you need to be a member to get involved!

FlightGear Flying Club

There is a new FlightGear flying club, located at: flightgearfans.wordpress.com

Piloter, Trennor, Gargleflump, and Reeed are all looking forward to seeing anyone who might want to connect for a few hours flying, organize virtual fly-ins, and other fun stuff on an irregular basis. There is a channel on the FG IRC net, "#fg_flying_club," where you can come and connect with those of us who've so far committed. The current channel topic states, "Fly Together - Organize Fly-Ins - Suggest New Areas to Fly - Helping Each Other Learn by Having Fun." This might sound like a rehash of the multi-player forum, but it's designed more for the spur-of-the-moment flights one might like to make with a friend (or a new friend!) or to get together to organize something more substantial.

One or two requests: please take FG programming or technical discussions to their respective channels, rather than get into them in the FC. And, please be willing to share and help other pilots with their flying skills, sharing yours, and helping others. This is meant to be light-hearted, happy and FUN! So come join us, leave your cares, worries and problems at the door, and just hook up with someone, pick a locale, plan your flight, and GO. See you in the air.

From the community

FlightGear on YouTube

Watch the FlightGear PlayList for a collection of all (somewhat) quality FlightGear videos ever uploaded to YouTube.

And finally...

Did you know?

...that the visibility of FlightGear's menubar can be toggled by hitting the F10 key or by starting your FlightGear with --prop:/sim/menubar/autovisibility/enabled=1 once. The menubar automatically pops up when your mouse is near the top edge of the FlightGear window. A click with the left mouse button hides the menubar again. If you have autosave on (which is on by default), this feature will be enabled every time you start FlightGear. This nice little utility can also be selected using the checkbox in the latest version of FGRun.