Howto:Install aircraft

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Space Shuttle cockpit at night (Flightgear 2017.x). There are variants that start you directly in orbit to enjoy the view, on approach for training, or in piggyback mode on a carrier aircraft. The Space Shuttle uses a JSBSim FDM with a 3d model of gravity used by the space industry, and gravity that changes across the shuttle. The FDM is based on detailed NASA windtunnel data. The Shuttle contains the most extensive systems in FG, and is the most detailed simulation outside NASA's internal ones. It can be flown by the NASA crew operations manual.
Eurocopter EC135 around "weeping wall" waterfalls at Mount Waialeale on the lush island of Kauai, near PHLI. Some helicopters in FGAddon to see: EC130, Alouette-III, and R-44. (FG 2017).
Airbus A320 cockpit on a rainy night. The A320 is the glass cockpit airliner with the most detailed systems available through FGAddon as of August 2020. It features a JSBSim FDM with some offline Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Needs Flightgear 2020.1 or later. The 777 is a Boeing glass cockpit airliner (YaSim FDM) that is well developed. (FG 2020)
Grumman F-14 Tomcat on the carrier Harry S. Truman. The carrier list can be viewed by clicking the ship icon next to the search bar in location tab in the launcher. The F-14 features a JSBSim FDM with windtunnel data. Fighters with windtunnel data include Saab Viggen , F-15, and F-16. (FG 2018)
Cessna 172P Skyahwk with internal lighting. The C172P is included in the base package, and doesn't have to be installed. C172p has float plane, amphibious, ski, and bush tire variants. The C172p has autostart, and the startup state is determined by start position. The C172p features detailed checklists, and guided tutorials in picturesque Hawaii. Well developed single-prop learning planes: Piper PA 28 with G1000, J3 Cub with G1000, C182S with G1000, and the easy to fly Ercoupe. (FG 2018)
Pterosaur over the Blue Mountains in Australia, near YKAT. Scenery from: Australia scenery project. The Pterosaur has a JSBSim FDM is based on research papers, and windtunnel data. The blueness in the screenshot is from organic smog due to Eucalyptus trees. To model blue haze increase the smog slider in: menu > Environment > Weather > Detailed weather > Advanced settings. (FG 2020)
Cessna 182S Skylane at dawn. The C182T variant features the G1000 glass cockpit. (FG 2016)
Space Shuttle (FG 2018)

The preferred option to install the latest official aircraft is through the aircraft tab in the built-in launcher, as explained in the following video. The remainder of this article describes the manual process, only to be performed when not using the launcher.

Manual installation process

Aircraft packages are available on Aircraft. These require unzipping software to extract from a compressed file format. Then these must be manually installed in a FlightGear software installation to use. The details depend on the method of download, operating system, and user setup.

Alternatively if you are using the nightly builds or a version controlled copy of FlightGear, or you wish to manage your aircraft collection using version control tools, the aircraft can be obtained directly from the official FlightGear aircraft repository - FGAddon.


(Ubuntu 12.04)

  1. Download the aircraft
  2. Create a directory to store your aircraft if you have not already done so. Make sure this directory is outside /usr/share/games/flightgear/. For example, use /home/{YourUserName}/FlightGear/Aircraft.
  3. Extract your aircraft file into the folder (the one you created above)
  4. Start up FlightGear. Append the root aircraft folder (/home/{YourUserName}/FlightGear/Aircraft in our example) to the $FG_AIRCRAFT list on the first page (previous to aircraft selection) of the launcher. Your aircraft should now show up in the list.

Macintosh OS X

First, We need to make sure that the FG application is in the application folder which can be done by simply dragging it into the applications folder from wherever it is currently located. Now let's get down to actually adding aircraft:

  1. Go to applications in folder
  2. Control+Click FlightGear
  3. Click the second option which reads "Show Package Contents"
  4. Then click on the following folders: "Contents >> Resources >> data >> Aircraft"
  5. Now just click and drag the aircraft data downloaded from the FG website in the Aircraft folder

(Works on MacOS Sierra)


  1. Download an aircraft and save it on your desktop.
  2. Unzip the file using a file archiver, for example the open source file archiver 7-Zip.
  3. Create a directory to store your aircraft if you have not already done so. Make sure this directory is outside your $FG_ROOT directory. For example, use C:\Users\{YourUserName}\Documents\FlightGear\Aircraft.
  4. Move the unzipped folder (usually the aircraft's name) to your that aircraft directory.
  5. Start up FlightGear. Append the root aircraft folder (C:\Users\{YourUserName}\Documents\FlightGear\Aircraft in our example) to the $FG_AIRCRAFT list on the first page (previous to aircraft selection) of the launcher. Your aircraft should now show up in the list.

When installing an aircraft fails

Rename aircraft folder

If FlightGear fails to start with the new aircraft you have installed, or if it starts but the aircraft is invisible you might have to rename the folder where the aircraft files are. This issue is most often encountered when downloading a .zip file from some online git repository. In those cases you will most likely end up with a folder name of the following form MyZippedRepo-[branch]. In this case you should rename the folder to be just MyZippedRepo.

If the above doesn't work, or for other cases, check for a readme file and have a look there for instructions.

Otherwise open the aircraft-set.xml file and search in it for paths containing Aircraft/AircraftFolderName. The name of the folder should match AircraftFolderName.

For instance if in the imaginary-set.xml you would find an instance like this:


that means that you should rename the folder where imaginary-set.xml is to MyCreation.

XML files with wrong encoding

If you start FlightGear with the new plane you installed and there is no cockpit or exterior, this may be because the XML files are in the wrong encoding.

To fix this on Linux try this:

 $ cd path/to/aircraft/directory/
 $ find . -name "*.xml" -print | xargs sed -i 's/<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>/<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>/g'

If any of the methods above do not work, ask around on the multiplayer chat, IRC or on the forum This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Choosing aircraft

If you are looking for information to decide what aircraft to download, try:

External links to third party aircraft can be found at FlightGear hangars. Remember that the latest aircraft may not load with previous versions. If you happen to use an older version of FlightGear, look for older aircraft in the links section.

Video tutorial by the community

Tutorial on downloading and installing aircraft from Github pages by PINTO. Adding manually downloaded aircraft folders in the qt-launcher is pretty much the same for non-github downloads too. Aircraft are often developed on Github. This shows you to the download Github versions of aircraft that are not in FGAddon yet for whatever reason, and the latest work-in-progress state of some aircraft in FGAddon for testing and feedback. (September 2019)

Gallery (2017+)

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