FlightGear Newsletter August 2021
We would like to emphasize that the monthly newsletter cannot 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.
The new Visual Editor makes editing the wiki as simple as using a Word-processor, and even easier than using the forum as you don't even need to know the syntax for a url. Just hit the 'edit' link and start.
|Note FlightGear is currently undergoing a lot of huge changes. More importantly: Adopting OSG 3.6+, moving to the OpenGL core profile, WS 3.0, Osm2city buildings, Photoscenery and Compositor shadows & lights.
Also, as part of the CompositeViewer effort, Canvas FBO rendering is in the process of being moved out of the scene graph into dedicated viewer-level cameras, which provides better support/integration with OSG threading and fixes the long-standing issue where Canvas textures were being rendered twice per view unnecessarily due to the original new/far camera scheme.
It is likely the non-shader code path (fixed-function pipeline) will also go away in the next twelve months (~ early/mid 2022). We tried to communicate this: 2020.3 is the last release that will work on really old hardware: 'next' and future releases will need a more modern machine with an OpenGL 4 / DX12 class GPU. 'next' is work-in-progress: likely 12 or 18 months before it becomes a release. In that time the build dependencies, minimum system requirements, performance baseline and basically everything else are going to change (and keep changing). Of course, we'll try to make it work on as wide a range of hardware as possible, but right now we don't know, and it would be incorrect to speculate or promise anything. (Eg, we cannot say 'an Intel 4000 will work but an Intel 3000 won't - we have no idea!)
If 'next' works for someone, that is great, but if you want stability, stable FPS and compatibility with older hardware, there is an easy answer: use 2020.3. That's what we recommend for everyone who wants to fly and enjoy flying.  The macOS and Windows nightly builds are now running OSG 3.6.5, so people can hopefully start testing WS3.0  Also, be aware that the binary builds also switched to OSG 3.6, so that may have an FPS impact as well (either higher or lower…)
There is now a web-installer for Windows that will update existing installations and will download only changed and new files. This installer is available since 2020.3.9. See the July newsletter for more information and plans.
Upcoming content for 2020.3 LTS
James Hester (frtps) has merged the 1st iteration of improved regional definitions for Australia into branch for upcoming point releases in the 2020.3 branch - that is, a 2020.3.12+ point release. These regional definitions improve the visuals of different types of terrain and vegetation.
The new regional definitions are not available in the next branch as of early September (i.e. nightly builds), as they need a bit of adaptation to account for new changes.
The regional definitions are part of the Australia scenery project. To go with the regional definitions there is also a new detailed terrain (higher resolutions elevation data including cliffs, water, and land classifications). The new terrain is intended to be added to the current TerraSync scenery (i.e. WS2 format) that is downloaded automatically as you fly. The new terrain has been submitted to be added to TerraSync at a future point. The terrain integrates multiple data-sources, and has high resolution water bodies like rivers. The terrain has land classifications that call new visual effects from new engine features frtps has worked on like cliffs and plantations.
To see the full impact of the new regional definitions you also need the new terrain - the current terrain is less detailed, and some land class types will not be visible.
The forum thread has some Terrain available for testing and manual download.
When this scenery is integrated Katoomba Airfield (YKAT) will likely be one of the nice small airports to visit in FlightGear, as it is a convenient gateway to the Australian version of the grand canyon situated in the in the state of New South Wales - sort of like KCGN in the Grand Canyon of the USA.
The road ahead
See Help Wanted.
There are a lot of big projects that are currently under way - see the January newsletter for details for some of these projects. A lot of work (but not all) is already on the next branch (i.e. nightly builds). See the July newsletter for info on an experimental rendering pipeline that has just been added to the next branch, as well as a new project to add Virtual Reality headset support to FlightGear.
There is a lot to check out if you are curious - power users can run multiple installs of FlightGear in parallel. To contribute to any aspect of these projects, get in touch via the "fg-devel" mailing list.
Nightly builds with some of the big changes are available at download.flightgear.org as usual.
Nightly builds and the "next" branch are building towards a "development preview" release currently planned for sometime in the 2nd half of 2021 - see the April newsletter. As usual, plans can change and progress depends on the availability of contributors (including testing).
Please report bugs and issues via the sourceforge tickets system if you come across any on the next branch, or LTS.
New scenery lights
Fahim has merged the 2nd part of work on new lights for use with scenery into the next branch (i.e. nightly builds). See post on mailing-list.
These lights are extremely fast allowing a lot of them to be displayed. This makes them ideal for scenery lights along roads or at airports. The new lights support a lot of features: directionality, size, intensity, automatic activation based on time or visibility, and fading based on haze - as well as diffraction effects due to the eye. They are based on ALS lights. These lights will not illuminate nearby surfaces - that's handled by lightmaps, shader based light-maps, or Compositor light sources.
World Scenery 3.0 Update
StuartB has a 1st prototype of scenery lights along roads based on Fahim's work - see this screenshot for an example. Note a lot of the road light comes from the light bouncing off the road surface, which is not active yet in WS3.
World Scenery 3.0 (WS3) is FlightGear's next generation scenery - see the January newsletter for an introduction, and newsletters since then for updates. See the April newsletter for details on how the prototype will be fleshed out.
WS3 development is coordinated via the "fg-devel" mailinglist, and you can use it to contribute, provide feedback on performance on your hardware as the prototype is fleshed out, or report bugs.
Virtual reality (VR) support project
There is now a wiki page for the Virtual reality support project by James Hogan (a new contributor, not to be confused with James Turner or James Hester). See the July newsletter for a description. There is now a roadmap showing how tasks are progressing and what is left to do. FlightGear development is coordinated via the "fg-devel" mailing-list and people who want to get involved with any aspect of the VR project should get in touch via the mailing lists.
For people compiling from FlightGear from source, the experimental VR branch is available - see the references to git repos in the source code section of the project page. This branch builds from the FlightGear next branch, and VR support requires the Compositor. See the thread (multiple pages) on the sourceforge mailing-list archive for more information.
In the hangar
New Pro.Mecc Freccia project
SDeAstis, a new contributor with a software/simulation background, has started a project to develop the , a competitive ultra light aircraft manufactured in Italy. The manufacturer Pro.Mecc Aerospace has been very positive towards the project, and has invited him to visit their manufacturing facility. See the forum thread for more information.
Cessna 172s Skyhawk SP (172p FG1000 retrofit)
Updates: Aircrane, Wildfire simulation
Wayne has made a video demonstrating his updates to the Compositor version of the Aircrane, as well as his improvements to FlightGear's wildfire simulation. This version of the aircrane needs the next branch (i.e. nightly builds) - the Aircrane on the 2020.3 LTS branch is very outdated now.
MD-11 autoland test
Octal has made a video demonstrating work on the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 autoland feature. This MD-11 is a massive overhaul done over many years and the version available in the launcher is outdated - the MD-11 is available on github and will be released when it's quite complete like the A320 was. See the Github page for downloads (direct download link) and the forum thread for info/feedback.
EC135 sound development
Eurocopter_EC135 sound development by MrChillstorm.
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:
- Switching to the OpenGL Core profile
- Checking that aircraft work with the LTS and documenting any major problems
- Porting the legacy HUD system to become Canvas based
- Cppunit effort and FlightGear Headless (see Testing)
- Deboosting FlightGear
World Scenery 3.0
Aerial (drone) photos for Terrain textures
Wanted: good top-down aerial photos to create textures from to use with the procedural Regional Texturing system. 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.
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.
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.
Windows Package Maintainer
The core team needs help from Windows users able to maintain a good working Window 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 
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 .
FlightGear on FlightSim.com
FlightGear has also a sub-forum on flightsim.com - just like the commercial flight sims. 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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
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 the . Be sure to see the first post for participation rules. For purposes of convenience and organization, at the end of the month or after 20 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.
Thanks for reading FlightGear Newsletter August 2021!