FlightGear Newsletter June 2014

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Welcome to the FlightGear Newsletter!
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Development news

Note to all contributors: Please also copy your newsletter additions to the changelog for the upcoming release: Next Changelog.

FlightGear 3.2 - Feature Freeze

Cquote1.png Hi all,

this is just a short reminder that yesterday, we entered our scheduled
feature freeze state for the next release.

Please use the next four weeks to improve the existing features, harden
and cleanup the code, edit the ChangeLog
(http://wiki.flightgear.org/Next_Changelog), improve the Manual,
document the undocumented etc. etc.

I'll create the release branches on July 17th to have the release ready
by Aug. 17th.


— Torsten Dreyer (2014-06-18). [Flightgear-devel] Feature Freeze for 3.2.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)

Canvas GUI: MessageBox Support

Thanks to Tom's and James' recent work on the upcoming Aircraft Center for downloading and switching between aircraft without having to exit FlightGear, beginning with FlightGear 3.2, FlightGear's Canvas-based GUI will contain support for so called Message Boxes:

Canvas-MessageBox-demo information.png
canvas.MessageBox.info("Success", "The operation has successfully completed.");
Canvas-MessageBox-demo question.png
  "Do you want it?",
  "The question is: Do you want to get a real question?.",
    if( sel == canvas.MessageBox.Yes )
      print("I only know that the answer is 42.");
      print("Ok, I will not give you a real question.");
Canvas-MessageBox-demo warning dont-show-again.png
  "Have you read this warning? If you want it will not be shown again.",
    if( sel != canvas.MessageBox.Ok )

    print("You have been warned. Let the games begin...");
  | canvas.MessageBox.Cancel
  | canvas.MessageBox.DontShowAgain

Logo Proposal

This is the new logo badge concept proposal for FlightGear designed by Michat.

Fglogo1.png Fglogowiki.png Fglogoforum.png

MapStructure stress-testing

stress-testing MapStructure using the ufo @ KSFO circling at 2000 kts in a climb, see [1]
Cquote1.png Now that Hyde has committed Philosopher's latest changes, I'd be interested in getting some more feedback on performance.
Here, I am using the ufo @ksfo circling in a shuttle climb at >= 2000 kts GS and getting roughly 30 fps and 40-60 ms.

777 EFB Prototype by I-NEMO

777-200ER EFB [2]
777-200 EFB AIRPORT SEARCH, see [3]

I-NEMO has started porting his 777/EFB prototype to Canvas

Cquote1.png As I wrote several times, I finally decided to put hands on the EFB (Reason: No one ever took care of developing an EFB for the 777; a 'working' EFB, though) with two (2) main goals in mind:

1) to do something to compensate for the lacking of an EFB inside the Seattle.
2) to actually try (I repeat it: 'try') to learn some first essentials of nasal.

— I-NEMO (Mon Jun 02). Re: 777 EFB status & plans ?.
Cquote1.png this Seattle EFB is just a 'rude' one: with this term, I mean (as a word's pun) 'unpolite'. I'm perfectly aware that the coding is horrible, clumsy, repetitive, silly and very, very far from what it should be.
My first aim was simply to have a somehow 'working' EFB inside the Seattle's Cockpit.

My second aim was to use EFB.nas as a starting playground for a newbie as I am on 'nasal'.
— I-NEMO (Mon Jun 02). Re: 777 EFB status & plans ?.
Cquote1.png I do not pretend that current 777's EFB.nas is a piece of nice software; but - to my initial purpose - it works. Not completely, not nicely, not properly...but it's a starting point. At least, it works...
— I-NEMO (Mon Jun 02). Re: 777 EFB status & plans ?.

Cquote1.png Current development ('modernisation' phase) of the Boeing 777 Seattle's EFB is going on nicely; the code is shorter, more readable and cleaner.

I have not finished it, yet (I'd say that it's almost 50% done).

— I-NEMO (Sat Jun 21). Re: 777 EFB: initial feedback.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)
Cquote1.png At the moment I have a single Canvas group (i.e., EFB_group), with 5 children: the text-matrix (16 left lines, 16 right lines), a Title line , an Helper line and the Display.

The Display element is then textured with all the various pages' textures, called by the page-handler (see here below).
Currently, I'm using the .jpg textures which I had previously generated through Photoshop; in the future they might be replaced by .svg files, depending from actual interactive use of some graphical objects (a few EFB pages do need interaction with graphical parts). Besides - if i'm not wrong - I've read somewhere on the FGWiki that gradients are not handled by the SVG parser...and I do like to use some gradients effects (antialiasing and such) to achieve a sort of realism on the displays.

— I-NEMO (Sat Jun 21). Re: 777 EFB: initial feedback.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)
Cquote1.png that's the current status of the new 777 Seattle's EFB: it's still far from being perfect, but - as a newbie - I'm quite satisfied for the moment: I need to finish the first version fairly soon, because my to-do-list is long (I have to re-model all the aircraft fuselage [original model has wrong measures, sigh!], produce better gears and flight-control surfaces model & animations in Blender, and then to produce a new Paint-Kit in Photoshop; then all 3D models optimizations...and so forth; of course, we also have to take care of CDU, which will interface with the EFB. So, the job is still very, very long...
— I-NEMO (Sat Jun 21). Re: 777 EFB: initial feedback.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)
Cquote1.png The current EFB code is heavily focused on rendering raster images, which can be retained obviously, but in FG, we have additional means to render airport information that is 100% in sync with the FG side of things (navdb).

For instance, we are going to "port" the airport-selection dialog to move rendering of airports/runways/taxiways/parking spots into dedicated MapStructure layers that can be properly styled and customized: Canvas_MapStructure#Porting_the_airports.xml_dialog


As you can probably tell, these kinds of layers would be very useful for any kind of EFB related application.

As long as the underlying design for a "page"-based MFD framework is sufficiently generic, we can easily replace/augment raster images and procedurally created charts - we could even use the built-in support for fetching via HTTP to download images on-line. In fact, we could then even extend Canvas to directly support rendering PDFs (OSG supports this out-of-the-box), this would make many steps unnecessary, because we could directly access http://airnav.com without having to download/convert/ship any imagery. The code required to pull this off would be very compact in comparison.

— Hooray (Sat Jun 21). Re: 777 EFB: initial feedback.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)

Learn more at Canvas EFB Framework ...

Canvas Garmin GPSMap196 Updates

F-JJTH has updated the SVG file implementing the panel page for the Garmin GPSMap 196

Avidyne Entegra R9

Work has begun to analyze, refactor and generalize useful parts of the Avidyne Entegra R9 to help reuse some code in similar MFD efforts, like the Garmin GPSMap 196 or Canvas EFB Framework

Towards an Aircraft-agnostic MFD Framework

This is an adapted version of the Garmin GPSMap 196 that is currently being developed by F-JJTH. Here, the whole instrument is entirely set up in XML space, including buttons/event handling, but also the embedded canvas region that serves as the 'screen'. The idea is to allow arbitrary MFDs to be specified in an aircraft-agnostic fashion, including displays like a PFD, NavDisplay or EFB. For details, please see Canvas Glass Cockpit Efforts.

Error creating thumbnail: File missing
This demonstrates how a purely XML-based MFD framework can instantiate dynamic MapStructure layers - none of this involves any Nasal coding now, it's just an XML file - to learn more, see Canvas Glass Cockpit Efforts.
This screen shot shows the texture of the hard-coded KLN89 instrument used as a skin/theme for the MFD instrument, with a MapStructure-powered map shown.

Canvas System

Cquote1.png The upcoming FlightGear version (3.2) will contain a canvas-based map dialog, including a modular "plugin" system for creating custom map layers and charts with roughly ~50 lines of code, most of it boilerplate.

This is entirely XML/Nasal based (scripted) - symbols can be pretty much anything, raster or vector images (png or svg), but even animated. Styling can be customized, too.

For more info, I suggest to check out:

http://wiki.flightgear.org/MapStructure ... map_dialog

You can basically create arbitrary layers, even for custom objects/positions:

The same method can be used for creating a "live" radar display:

But maps and layers can be fairly sophisticated, too - all 100% scripted:
http://wiki.flightgear.org/FlightGear_N ... Map_dialog

As long as you use the MapStructure framework, all layers can be easily used in dialogs AND instruments

Coding-wise, there isn't too much involved these days, all the details are covered in the MapStructure article.
— Hooray (Sat Jun 14). Re: Get objects to show up on Map/Radar.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)
Canvas dialog showing the prototype for an Aircraft Center for directly installing/managing aircraft from within FlightGear, an upcoming feature scheduled for FlightGear 3.2, currently being developed by TheTom and Zakalawe

Missions & Adventures


High Level Architecture

Usability Improvements

Release ChangeLog

This section lists changes committed this month that will be available in the next release, these will be copied to the release changelog shortly before a release (for each month), so that we hopefully get a comprehensive list of new features.

Interview with a contributor (NAME)

In each edition we have an interview with a contributor. Suggestions for possible questions are available on interview questions, you are invited to come up with new questions and interview ideas obviously! Anyone is free to write an interview (with him-/herself or others) for next month's newsletter! If you'd like to help interview a contributor or get interviewed, please do consider adding yourself to the list of interview volunteers! To keep this going and less awkward, we are currently trying to come up with the convention that former interviewees become next month's interviewers.

  • How long have you been involved in FlightGear?
  • What are your major interests in FlightGear?
  • What project are you working on right now?
  • What do you plan on doing in the future?
  • Are you happy with the way the FlightGear project is going?
  • What do you enjoy most about developing for FlightGear?
  • Are there any "hidden features" you have worked on in FlightGear that new users may miss?
  • What advice can you give to new developers who want to get started on their first aircraft/new feature/Nasal script?

More questions are being collected here: Interview questions.

Stay tuned for next month's interview, featuring FlightGear contributor XXXXXXXX

Nasal for newbies

New software tools and projects

FlightGear addons and mods

Damage and disintegration

Tomaskom's V-1 used in anger over London
Victor V2.0 damage script causing a catastrophic failure and fire
L-159 disintegration

The development team at FGUK have been experimenting with modelling aircraft damage in a number of different ways. First of all, Tomaskom has used the particle system carefully to produce visually impressive fireballs and smoke columns with very little FPS impact. First seen in his V-1, we hope to adapt this to simulate realistic fireballs for ground impacts (where appropriate). For the moment, it explodes with the full force of a V-1's explosive payload. On the right is a video excerpt from the #FlightNight which Tom organised to debut the V-1, where we all had way too much fun bombing London. As you can see, the smoke is visible from quite a long way away from the impact, and despite two fires burning with huge smoke columns, and over ten multiplayer aircraft within model range, the frame rates are still more than acceptable. StuartC has already integrated the explosion and fireball into several development aircraft, and we expect eventually to combine it with the disintegration code and make the size of the explosion dependent on fuel load etc.

In a separate development, Algernon's work on the Victor V2.0(YASim) now includes modelled damage, a collection of Nasal scripts, some modified from existing FlightGear staples, which detects irregularities such as component failures, birdstrikes and combat weapon damage and adversely affects system performance and reliability accordingly. Unserviceability often follows, using the existing FlightGear failures system, and compatibility will be maintained as the failures system is improved. The damage script also calculates probabilites for chain reaction damage - for instance, an explosion or serious fire in one Victor engine will usually have an effect on the other. In extreme circumstances, an explosion will trigger further explosions and destroy the aircraft. The second video on the right shows a serious induced explosion on the Victor's number one engine at night. Some fine-tuning of the Rembrandt light has been carried out since this video was shot, so apologies for the visible cut-off.

Finally, and most spectacularly, Tomaskom has demonstrated the disintegration capabilities of his L-159, which is under development. Hopefully, he will explain all here before publication date.


Scenesetter is a piece of code by Algernon, very early in development but already quite effective, which can effect changes to the time and weather from an AI scenario synchronously with other MP players. A crude proof of concept was used in the recent FGUK #FlightNight "British Weather", where pilots visited different airfields with various unpleasant flying conditions. Scenesetter pushes METAR strings to the FlightGear weather system based on the location of an associated Navaid, establishing a circular zone of a specified radius around it in which METAR will be changed. Start time can be specified too, either by providing a local start time or a local time offset (useful for Multiplayer use where players will not all start the AI scenario at precisely the same time).

In the hangar

New aircraft

Beechcraft Bonanza

Flyingfisch is building the Beechcraft A35 Bonanza for Flightgear. Some pictures:

Updated aircraft

Saab JA-37 Viggen

The Swedish fighter jet Saab JA-37 Viggen has been updated, since it was included in FlightGear 3.0. More instruments, additional liveries, aerodynamic response to payload and tooltips on instruments. Option for automatic reverse thrust at touchdown, selection of HUD brightness, disabling of structural damage. HUD can now switch to imperial units and show MP and AI aircraft and closest airport. The aircraft now also has multiplayer sounds and better cockpit view helps seeing the landing strip. Support for FG 2.8 by deleting a small section in an xml file. Also worth mentioning is countless bug-fixes and improvements, e.g. better handling at high altitudes and a bug fix in the lift force formula.

Blå Petter Livery for JA-37

Updated P-51D now in git

The new 3D exterior model for the North American P-51D Mustang is now in git and under active development. It is currently in gray primer waiting for the UV map to be finalized. It is now fully integrated into the existing FDM. Extensive new animation work has been done including animated trim tabs and a fully functional canopy. Here are some screen shots taken in sim for your enjoyment.

Balancing the Boeing 747-400

After he started developing the Boeing 747-400 as a hobby project six years ago, Gijs finally managed to get the weight and balancing right. The center of gravity is now within 0.05% MAC (40 cm) of the published values.

Make sure to use the new Fuel and Payload dialog to fill your fuel tanks. There is a slider and button that will nicely distribute a specified amount of fuel, while making sure the CoG stays within the operational limits. Before takeoff, check the Takeoff Reference page on the CDU to find the required stab trim units (your current setting is displayed to the left of the throttle quadrant). When you set your trim properly, you can almost relax your yoke to the neutral position after rotate. There's still some FDM work left to fine-tune this.

The updated 747-400 is already available through Git and will be on the download page when FlightGear 3.2 is released.

Extra500 flying in clouds

Extra500 is updated to Production Status

The Extra500 is updated and has reached "production status"! Just a short list of changes for release 1.1.0:

  • Interactive checklists
  • Interior model
  • Improved Moving Map etc.

A more extensive list can be found in the "version" file.

Cquote1.png Here it is, the latest official version of the Extra500: release 1.1.0!

The Model now has reached "production" status and a small list of changes you can find below:

  • Engine+fuel: realistic flame-out, fuel flow to collector compartment, anti ice influence on TOT, improved oil press and temp model
  • Aerodynamics: flap performance, elevator-30deg-flaps authority improvement
  • User interface: interactive checklists
  • Sounds: corrected sounds for test, CWS and AP disc
  • Model: added interior, yokes
  • Avionics: IFD moving map, automatic NAV tuning, automatic NAV switching, magnetic variation fixes
  • Autopilot: added OBS and fly vectors mode, significant improvement of coupled ILS performance

This version does perform a bit better on my computer, but this has to do with improvements to FGFS, not of the aircraft model. So if your computer was struggling with the initial version, we recommend to use current FGFS git/nightly builds or wait until 3.2 comes out!

— D-EKEW (Sun Jun 22). Re: New Aircraft: the Extra500.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)

Please checkout the Extra500 wiki for download instructions and lots of more info.


Scenery corner

There is a project to add all the USA state capital buildings into FG. It is discussed in this scenery forum thread. There is also a wiki page: State Capitol Buildings in the United States. So far, Idaho, Louisiana & Nebraska have been completed. Hawaii and New York are currently in progress. Please feel free to join in with any other state that has not been done yet. Just let us know through the forum and we will add it to the in progress list.


LIPY, a scenery conversion from MSFS

This month saw the second "preview" release of the conversion of a scenery for MS Flight Simulator, Falconara Airport (ICAO code: LIPY), a small Italian international airport halfway down the Adriatic coast. The original author granted the permission to the conversion and even allowed for it to be included in the FlightGear official World Scenery, at least the GPL compatible parts. This is not a huge limitation though, because most of the material was created from scratch, included pictures taken on purpose at the real airport, with the authorities' collaboration. Copyrighted aerial imagery only include the (unsuable) photoreal ground and some roofs.

LIPY structures landscape.jpg

The conversion was made with ModelConverterX, which makes the job partially easier than by the Blender method, yet it's still needing fixes because of some misunderstandings with the coordinates axes. The author of the tool, though, seems not very concerned and anyway, it's so rare to have a freeware scenery author allow conversions, that the usefulness of this tool would be greatly reduced anyhow, especially if you plan to upload the models to the FlightGear Scenery Database.

The conversion itself, moreover, sure is not the matter of a button press. MSFS scenery are often packed and "compiled" in *.BGL files such that independent, far objects with the same materials and same LOD level (Level Of Detail) are bound together. This is clearly against FG's way, in which each new scenery generation could change the relative heights, and however MSFS airports are flat, while in FG they're all sloped. A similar thing happens with the texture maps. This basically means that you'll have to join all these objects and split them again based on the model they belong to (e.g. tower, terminal, hangars...)

Another issue with textures is that in FG it's good practice - recommended if not mandatory - to have 2 separate texture maps for the same object, if some parts are translucent. This means that without rebuilding all the texture maps you'll likely get artifacts. Then, you'd have to add the Rembrandt lights if you want, and also the lightmaps (MSFS uses night textures, but Gimp can easily convert them). This whole experience can be summed up in the following quote:

Cquote1.png I really wanted to have this scenery in FG because it's my home base, and seeing it ready and so well done just made me want it. However, even if still easier than making it from scratch (even if reusing the textures), I'd have to think well if I had to do this again.
— bigstones, maintainer of the conversion

Reshaping Leipzig/Halle Airport

2014 new-layout-EDDP 05.jpg

In FlightGear Germany's second largest cargo airport EDDP is well known as a detailed model accessible for everybody via TerraSync. Until 2013 it was famous for its regular ATC-events. It has been updated several times, at least 2012 by users D-STHO and August. When FlightGear 3.0 was published the airport layout changed from the old 810-standard to the new 850-standard. But the update (based on a taxiway layout modelled for X-Plane) turned out to be very imperfect. Many aprons and taxiways did not exist, dimensions did not appear to be correct and many new facilities which had been added at the real-world airport had not been taken into account. So maintainer August decided to redesign the whole airport from the scratch using WorldEditor. Pilots and developers are now invited to test the new airport model which includes further improvements like predefined STAR-, -SID and Transition procedures and hundreds of replaced Static- and Shared Models. The project will be published on TerraSync as soon as all defects are discovered remedied.

Developer Version:

  git clone https://gitorious.org/eddp-custom-scenery/eddp-custom-scenery/

Feedback is welcome at August's wiki page.

Aircraft of the month

Airport of the month

Screenshot of the month

Suggested flights

Aircraft reviews

Wiki updates

An updated Weather article

The Weather wiki article went through a wide extension. Although Advanced Weather was released quite a while ago, its usage has never been explained in the wiki, and some thorough instructions were available only in a readme in the "docs" folder of the base package which is not commonly explored by users, while the wiki article Advanced weather is more about the project than the usage.

AW's advanced configuration is known to be not easy. So, if you always only used the weather selection menu and want to know more, or want to understand what the options actually do and how you can combine them, the Weather article has now been updated with some hints and basic notions extracted from experience and the original documentation, and quality checked by the author of the AW weather engine.

Translators required

En.gif The FlightGear Wiki still needs help for translating it into various languages. If you are interested in making the FlightGear Wiki multi-language then start at Help:Translate.
De.gif Das FlightGear Wiki benötigt immer noch Hilfe bei der Übersetzung in verschiedene Sprachen. Wenn Du Interesse daran hast, das FlightGear Wiki Mehrsprachig zu machen, dann fang doch mit Help:Übersetzen an.
Nl.gif De FlightGear Wiki kan nog steed hulp gebruiken bij het vertalen van artikelen. Als je interesse hebt om de wiki meertalig te maken, raden we je aan om een kijkje te nemen bij Help:Vertalen.
Es.gif La FlightGear wiki todavía necesita ayuda para traducirla a varios lenguajes. Si estás interesado en hacer la FlightGear wiki multilingüe, entonces comienza en Help:Traducir.

Community news

FlightGear on YouTube

New tutorials and screencasts

Forum news


Virtual airlines

FlightGear events

Useful links

And finally ...


Call for volunteers

  • The Terragear maintainers are looking for volunteers to help with development on the next world scenery project. If you've ever wondered how a full 3D model of earth can be generated from raw data, now is your chance. See the plan at World Scenery 3.0 roadmap.

Did you know