FlightGear Newsletter April 2020

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April 2020

We would like to emphasize that the monthly newsletter can not live without the contributions of FlightGear users and developers. Everyone with a wiki account (free to register) is welcome to contribute to the newsletter. If you know about any FlightGear related news or projects such as for example updated scenery or aircraft, please do feel invited to add such news to the newsletter.

Development news

Update: 2020.1.1 released on May 10

2020.1.1 has been released. See the changelog for what's new.

2020.1.x is a preview release including new features that that will be in the next stable release, but receive less testing and some aircraft maybe incompatible.

WiP Compositor enabled in 2020.1

The work-in-progress state of the Compositor is bundled as an additional binary for testing on a wide range of systems. Read sections below for more info and how to turn on shadow mapping in the ALS pipeline.

The Windows installer will currently place a link for the compositor under the Flightgear 2020.1.1 folder in Windows start-menu. This link will activate the low-spec pipleline that replaces the old default renderer. To specify the pipeline, for example to get the ALS pipeline, use the following command-line options:

  • --compositor=Compositor/ALS. Specify ALS pipeline.
  • --compositor=Compositor/low-spec. Specify low-spec pipeline.

These command-line options can be set in the settings page > additional settings section of the in-sim launcher. In Windows, they can also be set in the shortcut properties > target accessible by right-clicking the shortcut - you can copy/paste an existing shortcut.

Keflavík is the featured airport for 2020.x

Keflavík International Airport, ICAO code: BIKF, is the largest airport in Iceland, located in Keflavík near the capital Reykjavík in the south of the island. The release includes the terrain for Iceland.

Vanosten has released OSM2City output for Iceland in the form of buildings, roads, pylons, etc. This can be downloaded and installed. There are two types of Buildings included with separate folders that can be renamed to select building type:

  • 2020.x and later: rename the "Buildings_list" folder to "Buildings". This uses the new, fast, buildings.
  • 2019.1 and earlier: rename the "Buldings_mesh" folder to "Buildings". This uses the older, slow, buildings.

Iceland is one of the more developed regions of Flightgear currently, and features detailed depiction of the striking volcanic terrain of the world's youngest country with overlays as well as several volcanoes including Eyjafjallajökull which caused severe disruption to aviation in 2010.

Bell 412 in Iceland (Flightgear 2019.x).jpg

Compositor binary is now bundled in Windows nightlies

The compositor build is available as a second binary: bin/fgfs-compositor.exe.

Nighties will now build towards the stable release planned for sometime towards the end of the year, 2020.2.

(Out-of-date) 2020.1 release preparations

The release candidate for the 2020.1 release has been tagged. Release candidate builds should become available for testing at download.flightgear.org sometime in the future.

Nightlies, available now at download.flightgear.org, will build towards the release after 2020.1, which is planned to be sometime towards the end of the year.

Compositor video

Tim/MrChillstorm has made a video showing progress so far on porting ALS effects and shaders to the ALS pipeline of the Compositor. The ALS pipeline has new shadows for objects like buildings via shadow mapping. There are default shadow maps for cockpits that are slightly slower and lower quality than the ALS version. There are similarly slower shadows for aircraft, that do not have the faster versions implemented.

For now you can control shadows and map quality by the following command-line options:

  • --prop:bool:/sim/rendering/als/shadows/enabled=true
  • --prop:int:/sim/rendering/als/shadows/sun-atlas-size=2048. Higher map size (sun-atlas-size) means crisper, slower, shadows. Power of 2 values to try: 2048, 4096, 8192.

These options can be also be set in the settings page > additional settings section of the in-sim launcher.

Work in progress state of the Compositor ALS pipeline. The shadows on the aircraft, and aircraft shadows near the ground at 11:47 are done at by the compositor. Not all effects & shaders at all quality settings have been ported yet, causing somethings to not render. If you are testing the compositor builds you can try to find a combination of shader quality settings for the aircraft and terrain you are in.

New software tools and projects

Red Griffin ATC release

Red Griffin ATC is a speaking Air Traffic Controller addon for FlightGear using NASAL. It uses existing Text To Speech (TTS) functionality to produce speech. Newer versions of Flightgear (later than 2018.3) support addon installation from the launcher (try nightlies if 2019.1 doesn't have addon support).

The addon is being developed by Red Griffin (Antonello Biancalana). It's a candidate for eventual integration as part of the base install of FlightGear.

Visual approach demo
ILS approach demo

See the article for more demonstration videos.

See the Red Griffin ATC - Speaking ATC addon for Flightgear topic on the forum This is a link to the FlightGear forum. for feedback and download.

Cargo Towing Addon release

The Cargo Towing Addon adds cargo towing capability to any aircraft with some XML editing if load points are not present.

The addon is developed by wlbragg (Wayne Bragg) and uses the soft-body rope physics simulation created by Thorsten Renk.

How to use the Cargo Towing Addon, video tutorial by StuartC
Short demonstration by wlbragg
Soft-body rope physics in Flightgear (Alouette III)

See the Cargo Towing Addon topic on the forum This is a link to the FlightGear forum. for feedback, github repository and download.

Help wanted

Post LTS work

After the 2020.2 release, some work lies ahead to improve the LTS and to help us pave the way for migrating to the OpenGL Core profile - any help would be greatly appreciated.

This may for example include:

Please get in touch via the developers mailing list to learn more. See Post FlightGear 2020.2 LTS changes and 2022.X Release Plan for more details.

World Scenery 3.0

The FlightGear project is in the process of exploring how Virtual Planet Builder can be adopted. For details, see: World Scenery 3.0 roadmap

Aerial (drone) photos for Terrain textures

Wanted: good top-down aerial photos to create textures from to use with the procedural Regional Texturing system. Drones This is a link to a Wikipedia article with cameras are ideal. People with access to drones are in a good position to take high-quality photographs.

A particular need as of 2020 is photos of agriculture (farm lands) from different parts of the world.

Good GPLv2 compatible photos suitable for textures are hard to find, and an easy way is for people to take photos of their region. Flightgear's procedural systems can do a lot with less art content, so photo contributions can strongly improve visuals.

See: How to: take photos of terrain for textures. For examples of final textures: see /data/Textures/Terrain. e.g. UK countryside.

You can get in touch via the Scenery forum or the flightgear-devel mailing list

Photos of trees for textures

Wanted: good quality photos of different trees and vegetation from various parts of the world. Flightgear's vegetation system can handle multiple layers of trees and bushes.

Strong shadows should be avoided. Each tree should be against a background of a different colour: sky (preferably) , clouds , or buildings. This allows the tree to be separated from the background in a photo-editor like GIMP.

See: How to: take photos of vegetation. For examples of final textures: see /data/Textures/Trees. e.g. Coniferous.

You can get in touch via the Scenery forum or the flightgear-devel mailing list.

Submissions of labels for craft

Wanted: Submissions of labels (tags) giving a rough description of aircraft - Metadata tags. A quick read of a craft's Wikipedia page will normally be enough to set labels. This info will be searchable from the launcher GUI. For example, filtering craft by propulsion like single-propeller or 4-engine jet craft, or by a manufacturer like Airbus or Grumman, or by speed like supersonic craft, or craft by era like WW2. A list of tags is here - more can be added if needed. To add tags to craft yourself, the tags are stored in the set-xml file.

A list of FGAddon craft needing tags is here. See this forum thread to submit tags. The flightgear-devel mailing list or the craft's maintainer can also be contacted.

Windows Package Maintainer

The core team needs help from Windows users able to maintain a good working Windows build. This process already exists to support our Nightly and Release builds, but we are seeking additional help to keep it in good working order. The ability to compile FG from source and some Windows batch scripting is a required skill. If you are willing and able to take up this role, please reach out to James Turner (mailing list), or get in touch via the forum [1]

In the hangar

Aircraft models given to Flightgear by KAITO

KAITO has graciously released aircraft models in various stages of completeness for use by the Flightgear project. Erik has added some of them to FGAddon with a stub FDM to assist discovery by aircraft developers.

See the related forum thread for more info and screenshots.

Models released:

New aircraft

Westland Sea King HAR3 - Public Alpha

StuartC and Flightgear UK have released a public alpha of the Westland Sea king HAR3 This is a link to a Wikipedia article. The Sea King is originally a Sikorsky helicopter licensed to be built by Westland Helicopters that was further developed by Westland.

See the Westland Sea king HAR3 "Corona" Public Alpha topic on the forum This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

SOTM 2020-03 Waiting, by StuartC.jpg


Tim/MrChillstorm's 4k 60FPS WiP development videos

(mostly at high-ish or max settings)

At high graphics settings/resolutions the bottleneck is the almost always the GPU. A 4k (3,840 x 2160) resolution is the equivalent of trying to run four standard 1080p (1920x 1080) monitors with one GPU. Recording videos also slows down performance. The reason why around 60 FPS at 4k resolution (on a top end GPU from the last ~4 years) is even possible is the surgical way ALS creates custom strategies for different cases based on the needs of a flightsim, and the way ALS prioritises GPU cost of features based on overall visual impact, spending a greater proportion of GPU time for features that have more impact generally.

These videos are mostly in WiP scenery missing something things, and don't necessarily have the most busy weather settings (unlike this 4k/60 FPS video showing FPS is mostly unaffected), but the general observation holds.

Attempting to land the C172P with bushtires on the back of a Frigate that is moving about
Work on improved sounds for the F-16 (WiP alpha scenery missing somethings if you were wondering why it looks different)
Robinson R-22 autorotation test, Hawaii
ASK 21 glider sound update (still WiP) and aerotow

Paju's videos on lbry.com

Highlighting updates of FG1000, recently updated craft, and available OSM2City scenery (maybe slow to load)

FGUK's videos showcasing developed helicopters

LIMW Aosta to LFHZ Mt Blanc. Impromptu Flight
Bell 430 helicopter release video
Westland Merlin HM-1 update video

SurferTim showing the new ALS landing lights on Twin Otter

Updated ALS landing lights on DHC-6 Twin Otter (FGAddon update)


The AI team makes FlightGear more realistic, colorful and lively every month. You can support the important development of Interactive Traffic and contribute at the FlightGear AI subforum This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Scenery corner

Australian Scenery Project Queensland release

Merspieler has released a test build of the state of Queensland (QLD).

The Australian Scenery Project is coordinated through gitlab.

See the forum thread for feedback and download (3.5 GB).

Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and DC custom scenery release (USA)

Montagdude has released custom scenery for the states of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington DC in the USA. The scenery includes terrain elevation, landcover, rivers and waterbodies, some custom regional definitions and some textures, as well as OSM2City output. This custom scenery is a significant improvement in resolution as the USA does not have the high-res CORINE data that Europe does.

See the article on Using QGIS to process NLCD data by Montagdude for a tutorial on how to use new data sources to create US scenery that is on par with the existing European scenery.

KSHD to KRIC flight (Virginia)

See the forum thread for more info, screenshots, and download.

Community news

FlightGear on YouTube

A new promotional video for 2020.1 has been released!

FlightGear on Facebook

Since early December 2010, FlightGear has an official Facebook page. If you have a Facebook account please feel free to join the page.

FlightGear on Instagram

In January 2018 the @flightgear_sim Instagram account was brought back to life. If you've got nice screenshots to be featured, feel free to contact the maintainer This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

FlightGear on FlightSim.com

Flightgear has also a sub-forum on flightsim.com - just like the commercial flightsims. It is an opportunity to showcase what FG can do, get people curious and answer any questions they may have with regard to the software or the project.

Multiplayer events


Translators needed

En.gif The FlightGear Wiki still needs help for translating it into various languages. If you are interested in making the FlightGear Wiki multilingual, you can start by looking at Help:Translate.
Fr.gif Le wiki de FlightGear a toujours besoin d'aide pour être traduit en différentes langues. Si vous êtes intéressé par le rendre multilingue, commencez par lire Help:Traduire.
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 mit dem 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 wiki de FlightGear todavía necesita ayuda para traducirla a varios lenguajes. Si estás interesado en hacer la FlightGear wiki multilingüe, entonces comienza en Help:Traducir.
Cat.gif La wiki de FlightGear encara necessita ajuda per traduir-la a diverses llengües. Si esteu interessat en fer la wiki de FlightGear multilingüe, llavors comenceu a Help:Traduir.
Pt.gif A wiki de FlightGear ainda necessita de ajuda para traduzi-la em vários idiomas. Se estás interessado em tornar a wiki de FlightGear multi-lingual, por favor começa em Help:Traduzir.
Zh.gif FlightGear 百科仍然需要志愿者将其翻译为各种语言。如果你有兴趣让FlightGear百科支持更多语言, 你可以查看 Help:Translate.

FlightGear logos

If you want some graphic elements for your FlightGear-related site (such as a hangar or YouTube channel), please feel free to visit FlightGear logos for a repository of logos. And if you have some art skills, please don't hesitate to contribute with your own design creations.


The FlightGear project always needs screenshots, which show features that were added since the last release. These should be of good quality, especially in content and technical image properties. It is therefore recommended to use the best viable filter settings (anti-aliasing, texture sharpening, etc.). More info at Howto:Make nice screenshots.

Screenshot of the Month

If you want to participate in the screenshot contest , you can submit your candidate to this subforum This is a link to the FlightGear forum.. Be sure to see the first post for participation rules. For purposes of convenience and organization, after all the entries have been submitted, a new forum topic will be started containing all shots in an easy-to-view layout. The voting will then take place there. Once the voting has finished, the best screenshot will be presented in the Newsletter.

Thanks for reading FlightGear Newsletter April 2020!