FlightGear Newsletter June 2020

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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.

Development news

Updated dependencies

James has pushed some configuration changes to next (SG+FG) to raise various required versions of things.

If you’re developing on ‘something fairly recent’, you shouldn’t see any difference except it would be a wise time to wipe your build dirs and re-CMake from clean. If you’re on a ‘somewhat older’ Linux, the baselines being Ubuntu 18.04 (their previous LTS) and CentOS 7 (which our Jenkins runs), you should also be fine except for GCC, where you will need a version supporting C++14: in practice this means GCC 5.x or higher. (Or use Clang…) For both of these distros there are officially supported ways to get newer GCCs (we’re actually using GCC 9 on Jenkins now..), so I don’t expect this to be a problem.

As part of this we now require CMake 3.10, Qt 5.9 and OSG 3.4.1, and James started removing various legacy pieces from next around this. There are plenty more cleanups that can be done based on this : especially on the CMake and C++ sides. Things like Boost -> Std stuff, Cmake targets-as-objects support (eg, target_compile_features can be used now).

Windows and macOS should be unaffected BTW - because on those platforms you're always running something you downloaded which is fairly up to date. If you choose to go and download an ancient version of CMake or Qt, on either platform that’s your problem to fix - but you’ll get a configuration error at least.

The idea of doing this /now/ is that the build deps won’t change again during the next two years, barring any surprises.

None of this affects the release branches of course: they continue to work with OSG 3.2, GCC 4.x, Qt 5.4 and CMake 3.0. And you shouldn’t see any behavioural changes because of this either.[1]

James suggests it is *not* in your interest to be running next at the moment, or for a few months. (Wild guess : October) If you aren't planning to be contributing C++ changes, don’t run next, don’t worry about next, don’t look at next.

This is a bit of an exaggeration (people can be curious), but the focus for anyone /other/ than C++ development should be on the release branches, testing and flying there. That’s the reason the nightlies are building from the branch.[2]

The rationale behind all of this being, we need a period of time when we (as C++ developers) are actually allowed to make breaking changes. Especially some key ones are replacing 2D panels and the 2D HUD with Canvas based approaches, which will break aircraft compat (or might do), and various things like that. What I don’t want is non-developers wasting their time reporting that the HUD is broken in FooAircraft, when we’re in the middle of replacing the HUD :)

We might also replace the Canvas backend with a faster one, which again will surely cause some disruption. And so on with other changes.[3]

New Instruments in FGData

As of commit 71b66d there are a variety of new (glider) instruments available in FGData to be included by aircraft.
This includes the Becker AR-6201 (manufacturer's website), a VHF comm radio, the Becker BXP-6401 (manufacturer's website), a mode-S transponder as well as a modern-style electronic variometer, the LX S3 (manufacturer's website (de)) and a first version of FLARM (short for Flight Alarm), a collission-avoidance system specifically developed for gliders and motor gliders (more information on the manufacturer's website)

New software tools and projects

FGCom-mumble: first prototype

At the forums some talk about FGcom alternatives lead to a prototype effort of B. Hallinger to develop a Mumble based FGCom plugin. Mumble will offer a new plugin system with the coming version 1.4, which is still in development. The idea of the plugin is, that it governs sending and receiving voice depending on a radio model. The plugin gets hooked up to flightgear using the generic protocol (like FGCom standalone did) and should work out of the box with the new FGCom-mumble protocol (add --generic=socket,out,2,,16661,udp,fgcom-mumble to launcher).

This enables us to have any frequency that can be tuned in the radio, and also support virtual ones like landlines for Tower intercomms.

For testing this, one needs a compiled murmurd and mumble client from the github Krzmbrzl:plugin-API branch, as well as a compiled fgcom-mumble.so to load with.

The current state of the code is a working basic plugin (as of commit 8a06719) that handles radio frequencies and distance separation, so radio communication/ATC'ing should already be possible! It even features static/noise based on signal quality.

OpenRadar was tested and did work; however one needs to use the "control external FGCom instance" and bind each radio to a separate mumble-plugin instance (`mumble -m`). Reusing the same port twice does not work properly.

ATC-Pie seems to work when using the "external FGCom" option at adding radios and providing "localhost:16661". Only one radio is supported per fgcom-mumble instance tough.

Testers welcome :) For instructions see the forum thread and the projects github readme.

In the hangar

Updated aircraft

  • The Cessna 182S (git master version) got some improvements
    • regarding the audio stack: it optionally (switch it on in aircraft-options) integrates with FGCom now, so the active radio can be selected from the GMA-340 audio panel. If it's not operable, it will realistically fall back to COM-1, but when it is, it also gives a feedback when transmitting (blinking LED for used COM+MIC button).
    • A damage model analogous to the Cessna 172P now lets the gears collapse if you make a too hard landing. Overspeeding or touching things will make the wings break. This is currently just in the FDM model and not represented from the 3D-Level, but the pilot will get a text hint that something did break. Damage handling must be turned on manually in the aircraft options.
    • The Davtron clock was converted to Canvas and Nasal, which fixes the "white text" problem.
  • The Scheibe Bergfalke II/55 received a major overhaul and is now back in FGAddon:
    • new JSBSim FDM
    • updated 3d model with updated instruments and visual effects (interior shadow, interior glass reflection, exterior normalmap)
The Bergfalke preparing for winch launch at a typical glider airfield

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 [4]


See above: we need your help as c++ / lua developer and tester!


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

Community news

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

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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 June 2020!