FlightGear Newsletter May 2020

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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

2020.1.2 Bugfix released on May 26

2020.1.2 has been released. See changelog.

2020.1.2 also allows selecting the two Work-In-Progress Compositor pipelines from the in-sim launcher. In Windows there is a Compositor shortcut under the Flightgear 2020.1 folder in the startmenu.

To choose pipelines go to Launcher > Settings > Rendering > Renderer and select from the drop down list.

  • Choose Atmospheric Light Scattering to select the new ALS pipeline. This is the pipeline most people should use, and should be attempted first. ALS with shader quality settings turned down can be faster than the low-spec pipeline. Read sections below for how to turn on shadows.
  • Choose Low spec to select the new low-spec pipeline. This replaces the old default renderer. It is for very old hardware. It also serves as a fallback for newer systems that have compatibility problems for whatever reasons.

Note: The 3 commit histories are viewable on sourceforge for the 2020.1.x branch - note 2020.1.2 split points: Flightgear , Simgear, and FGData.

2020.1 released on May 10

2020.1.1 was released. See the changelog for what's new.

2020.1.x is a preview release including new features and infrastructure changes that that will be in the next long term stable release (LTS), but receive less testing and some aircraft maybe incompatible. Please test.

Aircraft developers, as always, if you notice a system that is meant to be working, is buggy or broken in a new release, please report it as a bug instead of working around it. The same input aircraft data working differently is a classic way to detect a problematic change in Flightgear. This applies to performance degradations too. The Sourceforge Tickets or the devel mailing list are options for reporting. The sooner problems are reported the quicker (possibly serious) underlying causes can be identified and fixed. These underlying causes may affect other areas where the symptoms are harder to pick up. One of the strengths of opensource 'release early, release often', needs reporting to work. As a general point, it is less work to make any structural changes needed as a result of problems identified early, compared to structural changes after possibly building on those foundations.

WiP Compositor enabled in 2020.1.x

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 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

The Windows installer will currently place a link for the compositor under the Flightgear 2020.1 folder in Windows start-menu.

Keflavik airport using the Compositor in 2012.1.1 by MrChillstorm. Note shadows by objects ground. Some shader settings may not be maxed as they are not ported. Overlays need 2020.1.2 to work. OSM2City for Iceland is not installed.
Compositor shadows in multiplayer by Wlbragg. The helicopter is a work-in-progress branch of the Aircrane with a lot of improvements that is only compatible with the Compositor.
2020.1.1: Windows Startmenu Compositor link

If you are still using 2020.1.1, the windows startmenu 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 geologically youngest country with overlays as well as several volcanoes including Eyjafjallajökull which caused severe disruption to aviation in 2010.

Iceland, at high settings in Flightgear with overlays on and transparency AA set high. Try overlays in Iceland - the lack of vegetation means there is spare performance in somewhat recent systems with discrete GPUs (laptops may only have integrated GPUs, or much slower mobile GPU variants in GPU series before GTX 10xx)
What's new in FlightGear 2020.1? Video by Parnikaporre

Compositor binary is now bundled in Windows nightlies

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

As of June 1st, several more effects have been ported to the ALS pipeline. Those using nightlies can try experimenting with overlays which are fixed.

The road ahead: 2020.2 LTS Plans

The next long term stable release is 2020.2.x LTS. This replaces 2018.3.x LTS.

Long term releases (LTS) are supported over 1 to 2+ years. Bugfixes are ported back to stable releases. The last number in the version number is incremented for each bugfix release. For example: 1st release: 2020.1.1, 2nd (bugfix) release: 2020.1.2.

The plan is for the next branch and nightlies to build towards 2020.2 by polishing and stabilising. 2020.2 will be split off soon, tentatively around 'mid-june'. 2020.2.1 release candidates should become available sometime after that for extensive testing. The 2020.2 release is planned to be towards the end of the year, tentatively around September. As always dates can change due to plans needing changing for various reasons, or availability of people.

See the mailing list for details.

Compositor is planned to be the default rendering framework

2020.2 LTS will switch to the Compositor as the main rendering framework. The Compositor framework exposes a lot of powerful abilities for pipelines to use as Flightgear evolves in years going forward.

  • The ALS pipeline will be a port of the current version of ALS. It will have a few extra things added. Future versions beyond 2020.2 will add more features.
    • It's planned that 2020.2 will add shadow maps. These shadows maps are for certain cases where there were no shadows before like with buildings, or for use in craft where higher quality ALS shadows are not implemented yet.
    • It's planned that 2020.2 will also add clustered lights - these are not fully implemented yet so it's possible plans may change. It's planned that all lights will use the a similar input format as Rembrandt, including craft landing lights/spotlights/etc currently in ALS format.
  • The low-spec pipeline will replace the default pipeline.
  • The current rendering framework is still planned to be included in 2020.2 as a fallback. 2020.2 LTS should be the last version to support the current rendering framework and renderers.

2020.2 Compositor: Aircraft need to be checked and ported (e.g. lights)

This section is a stub. You can help the wiki by expanding it.

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

Development videos

Test of Supermarine Swift development version, video by MrChillstorm
F-16 tutorial video corresponding to the recent update by Nikolai Verner Christensen
EC130 - FDM test, improvements by FGUK. This uses the Compositor build - note shadows. Video by MrChillstorm


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..

AI traffic

Recent updates to AI Traffic (on 2020.2) include:

  • Liveries and traffic for PIA
  • Rwandair: traffic and liveries updated
  • New DHC-8 model, deprecated one removed
  • Boeing 767: textures improved
  • Tasman Cargo: traffic updated
  • United Airlines fleet updated
  • QantasLink Traffic: traffic and liveries updated
  • Quantas Traffic: traffic and liveries updated, 787-9 added
  • Brussels: Fleet updated, A319 added
  • Rossiya: traffic and liveries updated
  • Virgin Australia: traffic and liveries updated
  • Jambojet: traffic and liveries updated
  • Jetstar Australia: traffic and liveries updated

Scenery corner

New releases

London scenery release

Legoboyvdlp has released a build of london scenery including updated Gatwick Airport. See the forum thread for more details and download.

Community videos

Paju has uploaded a video of Flightgear 2020.1.1 running on GPD Win 2 This is a link to a Wikipedia article under Ubuntu 20.04

Corsica. H130 (EC130 T2). Short hop. LFKG to LFKB, FlightGear 2020.1.2. By StuartC/FGUK (Higher settings video)
Airbus A320 - Direct Law - Touch and gos on a carrier flying the A320. By MrChillstorm (Higher settings video)

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.
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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 May 2020!