FlightGear Newsletter November 2021

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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.

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.

Development news

Note  FlightGear is currently undergoing a lot of huge changes. More importantly: Adopting OSG 3.6+[1], moving to the OpenGL core profile, WS 3.0, Osm2city buildings, Photoscenery and Compositor shadows & lights.

In addition, adopting OSG 3.6 means that the experimental CompositeViewer Support can be more widely enabled and tested[2] (it is already enabled by default on next).

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.

Furthermore, to support Canvas (actually CanvasPath/all SVG handling) on Core profile, the plan is to migrate our Canvas Path backend from Shiva to ‘something else’ (see Shiva Alternatives) which implements the required drawing operations, unlike Shiva, ShaderVG or NanoVG can target Core-profile OpenGL.[3]

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.[4] '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. [5] The macOS and Windows nightly builds are now running OSG 3.6.5, so people can hopefully start testing WS3.0 [6] 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…)[7]


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 1st half of 2022 - 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 features on next

World Scenery 3.0 Update

Scenery generation for world-build

The scenery generation part of World Scenery 3.0 (WS30) is at an advanced stage.

StuartB has written a guide on how to build WS30 scenery - see the Virtual Planet Builder (VPB) page. See this download for a sample of the latest quality scenery from mid October - covering most of the United Kingdom (you can start at EGPH).

People interested in generating WS3 scenery for the WS30 world build should start learning the process of using Virtual Planet Builder. There are no Windows binaries at this stage, so VPB needs to be compiled. This includes people who are working on custom landclass and elevation data for their home regions, and areas of interest. The resolution or output format may change for the final world-build, but the process of getting/preparing/cleaning data, and putting it into the tool chain is roughly the same.

Building scenery with VPB is extremely fast compared to the old TerraGear. Scott was able to build the whole of UK in a matter of hours - see his post. A group of volunteers should be able to to do the entire worldbuild.

There is a vast improvement in the general availability of terrain elevation and landcover data in 2021, compared to the very old WS2 build.

Virtual reality (VR) support project

James Hogan has added visibility mask support, and has started working on basic VR controller support - see the mailing list thread. See the Virtual Reality status page for the latest information. Using VR requires compiling from source currently, and is not available in Windows/Mac nightly builds yet.

As always with volunteer projects, progress depends on the availability of volunteers including testing, and plans can change in various ways - so there is no timeline. 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.

Video rendering support

Julian Smith is working on the ability to natively render and output videos, without using 3rd party software - see the video encoding wiki page. He has created the functionality to add a timestamp to each rendered frame so that FlightGear's exact frame rates and spacing are reproduced - this will help with performance profiling and debugging. He has also created a 'fixed dt' mode which changes simulation times so the time between frames is constant, so that videos can be rendered perfectly even on an extremely old machine. See the mailinglist thread for more information.

C172SP with FG1000

Wayne has created a video of the Compositor lighting in the C172 SP retrofit with FG1000 glass cockpit. This needs the next branch of FlightGear. The C172 is the aircraft shipped with the base package of FlightGear - over 900 aircraft are available with a 1 click install in the launcher from the FGAddon hangar, and a lot more are available in other hangars or git repos.

C172 SP lighting test.

In the hangar

Boeing 777 update

Franck has been doing a overhaul focusing on modelling and animation, with the intention of getting it out by Christmas 2021. He has already released a version on sourceforge - as an early Christmas present for those wanting to test the in-development version. See the forum thread for more information and downloads.

This is a large overhaul done over a long time, and you can see updates and progress with time in his youtube channel.

Boeing 777 update. By Franck VMD
Boeing 777 update. By Franck VMD
Boeing 777 update - view manager. By Franck VMD
Boeing 777 update - cockpit clickables
Boeing 777 update - Ground services, aircraft maintenance access

Lazarus Mk2

Wayne has created some videos showing improvements to the work-in-progress Lazarus Mk2, a human powered aircraft. This is on the FlightGear "next" branch. The aircraft is being used to train pilots [1] - this includes tournaments and challenges for human powered aircraft (like the Kremer prize This is a link to a Wikipedia article). This is similar to how the FlightGear virtual environment and the JSBSim driven Zivko Edge 540 is used to introduce pilots to the Red Bull Air Race track, as well as planning and preparing the races. There is some work being done on interfacing the Lazarus Mk2 with consumer exercise bikes as these types of aircraft are pedal powered - this can be used by people at home wanting a visualisation as they exercise.

See the forum thread for more information on the project.

You can see videos of the real version on the Human Powered Aircraft Society youtube channel.

Lazarus Mk2 wingflex in FlightGear. By Wayne Bragg
Lazarus Mk2 multiplayer demo in FlightGear. by Wayne Bragg.

Millesime 1

Wayne has created a video of the Millesime 1 from Bordeaux University, another human powered aircraft.

Millesime 1 a human powered aircraft from Bordeaux University, initial simulation test in FlightGear. By Wayne Bragg.

G91R1B Compositor lighting

Adriano has a video of the latest development on the FIAT G91R1B, showing Compositor lighting at night:

G91R1B for Flightgear: Take-Off and Landing in the Dublin airport from to rw 10. By Adriano Bassignana.
G91R1B for FlightGear: Showing a test of automated external illuminators, which can track the aircraft as it moves. These will be part of the ground accessories.

FGUK website updated

FGUK have finished updating their website, including the hangar which hosts a lot of aircraft. The website was offline while the new one was being worked on.

The new website is available https://www.fguk.me/ .

The hangar is available at: https://www.fguk.me/hangar-main/

Boeing 727-200 Available again

The Boeing 727-200 is once again available to use.

C-17 Rediscovered

The C-17 that has been lost in the Bermuda Triangle hangar has been found and rediscovered!!!!! - C-17 Globemaster III for the latest version (direct link to hangar)

C-5 Available

The C-5 Galaxy is now available. According to the repository comments and commit descriptions as well as the README, the aircraft should be able to fly.

Aircrafts updated

Awaiting approval for main hangar availability

  • 757-200 PF and SF are now completed, and are awaiting approval to be uploaded to the main FlightGear hangar. (Updated 757-200)

Aircrafts in Development

  • There are two different development groups making their own version of the 757 Freighter. One group is making the 757-F while the other is making both (757-Production Frieghter and 757-Passenger Converted Freighter). The later group's aircrafts are different in performance.
  • Doorknob747 is making the Boeing 727-200 Advanced Frieghter.
  • Doorknob747 is creating the 737-800 Freighters. There are two versions, Bleing's Passenger Converted To Freighter and a Special Frieghter variant. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_Next_Generation#737-800

Scenery corner

Detailed Gregorio Luperon International Airport

flc972 has released a detailed version of Gregorio Luperon International Airport / Puerto Plata Airport (MDPP) as a custom scenery . This airport features detailed modeling of interiors, night lightmaps, ground net and animated jetways. It is located in the Dominican republic on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean.

See the forum thread for more information and download.

Frankfurt Airports update

D-Sven has released an update Frankfurt am Main (EDDF) and other airports around Frankfurt including Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (EDFH) and Kassel Airport (EDVK) - see forum thread for more information and github download (direct link). EDDF includes modelling of buildings surrounding the main terminal, which are lacking in TerraSync. It's part of his ongoing project.

Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (EDFH) update by D-Sven.





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 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 [8]

Growth in new landmark wish list

There has been a lot of growth since the last wish list object had been added to FlightGear. The list is available here. Landmark Wish List

AI

The AI team makes FlightGear more realistic, colorful and lively every month. You can support the development of Interactive Traffic and contribute at the FlightGear AI subforum This is a link to the FlightGear forum..


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 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.

Multiplayer events

The Wednesday-GA flying is still alive! Everyone welcome! Info in the multiplayer section in the forums :)



Contributing

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.
Fr.gif 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.
De.gif 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.
Nl.gif 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.
Es.gif 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.
Cat.gif 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.
Pt.gif 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.
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.

Screenshots

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 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, 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 November 2021!

References