FlightGear Newsletter May 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.
2020.1.2 Bugfix released on May 26
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.
2020.1 released on May 10
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: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.
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.
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)
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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
- Include ffmpeg libraries in Windows and Mac builds, to enable built-in video encoding.
- 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 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 
In the hangar
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
London scenery release
Paju has uploaded a video of Flightgear 2020.1.1 running on under Ubuntu 20.04
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 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.
|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.|
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|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 . 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!