FlightGear Newsletter December 2010

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FlightGear Newsletter December 2010

2010 annual

2010 was the year in which:

  • FlightGear 2.0 was released.
  • most of the existing virtual airlines were merged into Atlas Virtual Airlines, making it the largest and by far most active FlightGear based airline.
  • shaders started to be used all over the sim, introducing some new graphical eye candy as semi-realistic water reflections, 3D cities.
  • the CVS servers broke down after a hardware failure, leading to our move to Git.
  • detailed landclassing was created for various locations around the world.
  • anaglyphic (3D) was introduced; making FlightGear the first flightsim with built-in 3D support.

Call for volunteers

The OpenRadar project is looking for a new maintainer.

The TerraGear GUI project is looking for programmers to help create a GUI frontend for TerraGear [1] This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

The FGFSPM (FlightGear Package Manager) is looking for a new maintainer.

Development news

Torsten improved the handling of reduced visibility due to fog, mist or haze. The global weather now interprets weather phenomena causing reduced visibility. The code places a cloud layer starting at the ground and reaching up to a certain altitude. After climbing through this layer, visibility increases rapidly, just like in real life. As a side effect, the opacity of 2d cloud layers are now settable via the property tree. Also accessible at the property tree are the decoded weather phenomena from METAR reports along with its descriptions and intensity.

New aircraft

Pilatus PC-9M

PJedvaj made a brand new Pilatus PC-9M with a detailed 3D model, livery and animations. Airbrake and canopy toggle are also implemeted. It shares a FDM and instruments with an older version of PC-9M. Aircraft is based on David Culp's and Erik Hoffman's PC-7.

Bell AH-1 Cobra

Cobra in action.

The Developers at Alpha-J's Hangar have started making the Bell AH-1 Cobra. Development is going well and can be tracked here. This is a link to the FlightGear forum. The Bell AH-1 Cobra is a two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It shares a common engine, transmission and rotor system with the older UH-1 Iroquois. The AH-1 is also referred to as the HueyCobra or Snake.

AgustaWestland AW139

AW139-here in the LongNose-version

HHS started to make the AW139, an italian midclass helicopter in use in many countries like the Netherlands, Spain, Italia, Ireland and Japan.

This work has been started due to the fact that above-average number of datas about the flightdynamic has been found, and the systems are very similar like to other new helicopters like the EC130 B4.

So you can expect another accurate helicopter next year. As special feature it is planned to simulate the 4-axis autopilot as accurate as possible. People who would like to follow the developement can watch it at: http://www.gitorious.org/aw139

MBB/Eurocopter BK117 B2/C1

Also definitly planned for 2011 is the official release of the BK117 B2/C1. It will feature a 3d-cockpit, accurate fdm in the same qualitity like the Bo105, and many things more. This one will be dedicated to heliflyer, who was a medical doctor on this helicopter in north germany.

Ec135/ Ec635

Definitly planned for 2011 will be the finishing of the Ec135 with their variants: lowskid&analog cockpit; lowskid with option of emergfloat&glascockpit and highskid&glascockpit as described here already 05/29/2009 This is a link to the FlightGear forum.. With that there will come the military version as well: the Ec635.

Updated aircraft

F5E Tiger II

F5E Tiger II.

Has many updated aspects, please follow the link : [2] This is a link to the FlightGear forum.. For direct download: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16442048/F-5Ev20101220.rar

Short S.23 Empire flying boat

The control unit of the Sperry A-2 automatic pilot in a Short S.23 Empire flying boat.

The Short Empire flying boat has been updated with a Sperry A-2 automatic pilot by Anders, filling one of the remaining empty spots on the dashboard.

Lockheed L-1011 Tristar

Fresh off a 1/10 rating, the TriStar is closer to having a working cockpit. Currently there are three working photorealistic instruments. A full cockpit update is planned to be sent to the repository soon.

Eurocopter EC130 B4

EC130 B4- latest development version

Not for beginners anymore- the EC130 has been updated and the latest developement is now available in Git. This includes a better and more accurate 3d-model with customized reflection effects, detailed mainrotor, 3d-cockpit and a more accurate fdm. More interesting is the systems simulation: FADEC, FLI (FirstLimitIndicator) in the work, electrical systems, fuel, Force Trim Release.... This is all based on the original flight manual, and as there is no Autostart you have to follow the checklist to get this bird started. A first simple flightmanual is included.

There are still a lot of things left to do, which will be done in the next weeks and months:

  • lighting
  • bug fixing
  • sound config
  • paintkit with high detailed liveries
  • completing the 3d-work
  • failures
  • better flightmanual

and some things more.

Airbus A300

A few users on the FlightGear Forums have decided to develop this historic airplane and bring it the latest features that FlightGear has to offer. So far, the following have been implemented:

  • Pushback
  • Gear (tyre) smoke
  • Thrust reversal
  • Livery select (livery over MP)

A new cockpit is being worked on. You can check for the latest progress at the development thread This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Airbus A320

The 3d cockpit of the Airbus A320, under development

Skyop has restarted development of the popular Airbus A320 aircraft. The latest new features include:

  • Improved UV map
  • Ability to select the -111, -131, -211, or -231 series with different livery sets for each
  • Improved door animations
  • Improved flap and gear animations
  • Improved autostart script

...and last but certainly not least, a drastically improved cockpit (see the screenshot on the right). In time, the A320 will be equipped with an overhead panel and a more advanced startup procedure; it is also hoped that fly-by-wire controls will be available at some point.

To keep up-to-date on the progress of this bird, see the FlightGear Forum development topic This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Airbus A380

After several months of remodelling and coding, the A380 has been updated and committed to the general FGdata Git repository ready for the next release of FlightGear.

The A380 comes with three liveries

  • Airbus House
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Qantas Airways

There are too many changes since the last "Milestone" release twelve months ago to list here. The Airbus A380 wiki page details the list of items that have been completed or are still on the "To Do" list. The aircraft requires the latest Git build of FlightGear as it uses many features in the up coming release including digital filters in the autopilot, OSG Text animations and James Turners new GPS code.

IAR 80

The new IAR-80 Splash screen

In anticipation of the new release, and the holidays season, the IAR-80 was updated, and brought out of "beta" and given the 1.0 version number. It has many improvements and tweaks in the FDM and systems, and also a lot of eye-candy. For more information check the wiki page or the development thread This is a link to the FlightGear forum. on the forums This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Scenery corner

Scenery Models

New additions to the scenery model database this month include models of Wimbledon, a handful of skyscrapers from New York City and Montréal, the Great Orme lighthouse, and Trento and Asiago airports (discussed further below).

The database now has 1983 distinct models. Please consider contributing a model to the FlightGear scenery model database!

Land cover

Eastern Europe

Detailed scenery is under development for the E20N40 area, with the following countries partly or fully covered:

  • Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • Hungary
  • Kosovo
  • FYR Macedonia
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Turkey

The scenery is using Corine land classification data, road and railroad data from OpenStreetMap and SRTM v4 elevation data from CGIAR.


New England

More New England coverage as western Massachusetts has been added to the map server and therefore has been made part of the default scenery package. The next scenery release will allow users to fly from New York John F. Kennedy Int'l to Burlington, Vermont without having to pass over any vmap0 (current) scenery. More coverage is planned as well. Also, at least four of the five boroughs of New York City should have land cover in the database by the start of the new year with the only other missing borough, Manhattan, to come in the very near future.

Republic of Ireland

Detailed scenery made from CORINE land cover data is now available for the Republic of Ireland. Road and railroad data is from OpenStreetMap, elevation data is SRTM v3. A nice feature of this scenery is that the coastline is rendered using the Corine shapes, so flying along the coast looks a lot prettier than the in the default vmap0 scenery. The scenery pack also contains a terminal building for Knock Ireland West Airport (EIKN) not previously seen.

See some screenshots here This is a link to the FlightGear forum. and for further details see the forum announcement This is a link to the FlightGear forum..


Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (KCHO)

KCHO under development

I (Catchatyou) am currently working on making a new airport for FlightGear! It is Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (KCHO). I must say that I am new to Blender and FlightGear, but I am excited to be a part of it. I hope that my creation will eventually sprout into a beautiful product as time goes by. I have no set date on when this should be completed, but I hope that I can make it as soon as possible.

Development version of EDDM tower

I am not just making the airport building. I'm hoping to eventually add in the parking lot and other various objects.

Thank you for making contributing so easy.

Franz Josef Strauss Airport Munich (EDDM)

D-79 started modelling EDDM in October and is dedicated to make this the most detailed airport in Germany. So far, both terminals have been modelled, as well as most of the additional buildings on the aprons. One of the most difficult tasks proved to be setting up ground vehicles. But now they're running as an AI scenario of eight busses and trucks. As soon as work is finished, the airport will be sent to Martin of the FlightGear Scenery Database.

Aeroporto "Gianni Caproni", Mattarello, Trento (Northern Italy) (LIDT)


LIDT is a small touristic airport located in Mattarello, very close to Trento (Trentino Alto Adige-Sued Tyrol), and is dedicated to Giovanni Caproni, an Italian pioneer of aviation, born in Arco, near Trento.

Beside the terminal building there is an Aviation Museum containing some aircrafts built by the Caproni Factory in early XX century.

The LIDT airport is home to the "Gruppo Elicotteri Vigili del Fuoco Trento" (Trento Fire Dept Helicopter Group), involved in many rescue operations on the Alps.

Scighera has modeled the Main Building (Air Terminal, Tower and Aerhotel), the Caproni Aviation Museum and various hangars, including the one of the Fire Dept Helicopter Group.

The 3D models are available for download at scighera's Homepage and are already available on TerraSync.

Aeroporto "Romeo Sartori", Asiago (LIDA)


LIDA Asiago (Veneto, Italy) is another small touristic airport at the edge between the Po River Plains and the Eastern Alps, populated with a lot of gliders.

Scighera has modelled the few buildings there, including the "fancy" Terminal.

The few 3D models are avilable for download at scighera's Homepage and have been issued to Martin for inclusion in the FlightGear Scenery Database.(It has been included on Dec 13th 2010)

Engiadina Airport, Semaden St.Murezzan (Svizra)(LSZS)

LSZS Semaden Terminal

Or ... Engadiner Flughafen Samedan St. Moritz (Schweiz) claims to be the highest airport in Europe; in any case is strategically located in the middle of Raethian Alps !

Scighera has started the modelling of the buildings, beginning with the terminal 1 (actually the only one !)... in the meanwhile HHS provided the untextured .blend files of the south building, including the Terminal, the Tower and HeliBernina Hangar and Offices.

Wiki updates

Developed Airports

So far we never had a list of all developed airports in FlightGear. This has now been changed. The developed airports article lists all aerodromes where at least one building has been placed, be it a static (unique) models or a shared model, but only if the objects are available from the FlightGear Scenery Database. This new list is meant to become the central site where we maintain an up-to-date list of all developed airports. For setting up this list, D-79 used the forum discussion List of Improved Airports in FlightGear This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Video Tutorials

Over the past year, more and more video tutorials have been produced for FlightGear, so that it seemed sensible to set up a special wiki site for them, sorted by categories. Feel free to 1) make more video tutorials and 2) add them to the list. When making a video tutorial, please try to keep a certain standard: Video tutorials should have a good video resolution so that users can see what's happening on the screen, and they should have text or voice comment so that users understand what's being done.

Airspeed indicator

More Hangars

The wiki article FlightGear Hangars has been extended by longfly. Now there are over 47 hangars with interesting aircraft, liveries and scenery. Longfly's german hangar for example has begun to create a list of all aircrafts available for FlightGear. There are currently 412, which must be insert. see also the forum This is a link to the FlightGear forum.

Instrument glass reflection tutorial

Horacio has written an excellent short tutorial to show how to add glass reflection effect to instruments, using graphic tools, so that the reflection effect is already contained in the main instrument image, and not depending on shaders meaning less CPU load. The result is widely satisfactory and very realistic.

Howto: Glass reflection effect for instruments

Helipad category

We have a new wiki category for helipads, as a sub-category of the airports category. So far, only the oil platforms can be found there, but others could be added, like hospital helipads or ANWB/ADAC/ÖAMTC heliports.

New tutorials and screencasts

Check out Zexe's video Tips and Tricks for Flightgear. Tips include how to Target-track, overlay instrument numbers, and so on. You can find them here on the wiki at video tutorials (advanced options) and on the forum This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Community news

FlightGear on YouTube


  • Papabear is currently hosting an "event", where he is navigating the USS Vinson around the world! Visit here to find out how to activate the MP Carrier mode, and here This is a link to the FlightGear forum. for the FG Forum Topic regarding this post. As of Dec. 26 at 12:00AM UTC, the Vinson is near the former Kai Tak airport of Hong Kong. All aircraft are welcome, even ones that usually should not land on carriers in reality. Enjoy landing and talking to other pilots that are present!

And finally ...


One of the regular thoughts expressed on the FlightGear forums is "I'd like to contribute but I don't know how to program, and I don't have the time". Unfortunately, there is a common mis-conception that contributing requires programming and lots of free time. In fact, there are a huge range of ways to contribute to the project without needing to write code or spending days working on something.

For ideas on starting to contribute to FlightGear, you may want to check out: Volunteer.

Reminder: Google's Summer of Code 2011

We would like to remind all readers that the FlightGear project is planning to participate in GSoC 2011. However, doing that really requires a fair amount of work, planning and organizing. This is not something that can be done by a single person. It really needs a coordinated team effort, or otherwise FlightGear won't be able to apply/participate at all.

So all users are invited to help us progress further with our preparations for GSoC 2011. If you have any questions or other feedback, please use the forum to get in touch This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Did you know

... that you can easily set anti-aliasing to improve FlightGear's graphic display?