FlightGear Newsletter April 2013

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Welcome to the FlightGear Newsletter!
Please help us write the next edition!
Enjoy reading the latest edition!

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) can edit the newsletter and every contribution is welcome. So 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. At the end of each month, it's generally a good idea to get in touch with other contributors to ask them to add news about their contributions to the newsletter. Core developers are encouraged to add news about their latest work to the newsletter's development section and the changelog of the upcoming release.

Development news

Note to all contributors: Please also copy your newsletter additions to the changelog for the upcoming release: Next Changelog.

Release-candidate builds for the 2.10.1 (bug-fix) release available

As previously mentioned on the devel list[1], James is now attempting a 2.10.1 release, to see if this improves our perceived quality. There's some bug fixes we already aware of, including a Windows path-handling one which is quite significant.

Now, the great news is that thanks to James' work, we are now able to crank out full installers right from the Jenkins build server. That will save us a bunch of downloading and hours of uploading for every new release candidate.

Continuing with the experimental creation of a bug fix release for 2.10:

These are the first Windows releases produced automatically (the Jenkins build server creates the installer) instead of via Curt, so please be on the look-out for anything that seems messed up / omitted. Based on very limited testing via a Windows VM everything seems sane and the apps run.

The intention is that the quality of these builds is 'at least as good' as 2.10.0. We would be happy for them to replace 2.10.0 on the web sites as soon as they pass a collective sanity check from people here.

If you find new bugs, that's fine, but unless they are regressions since 2.10.0 (which is unlikely, hopefully) then they should not block releasing; they can be fixed in a (hypothetical!) 2.10.2 or wait until 2.12.

In particular the Windows builds include the UTF-8 pathname fix which is significant for various people.

In general we're looking for 'yes the build works' or 'you've forgotten to include XYZ' feedback, not 'random shader bug 123 is still not fixed. So if there's a bug that is (still) troubling you, update its entry in the issue tracker, help with finding a test case, or fire up an editor and fix it.

Advanced Weather

Advanced Weather's cloud placement algorithms are currently receiving a major overhaul. In reality, many scattered cloud layers form rather complex patterns on the sky. One strategy is to simply take pictures of these and project them as 2d clouds layers into the scene, which looks fine from the ground, but fails from close-up. Advanced Weather has always preferred to model as 3d clouds whatever can be modelled in 3d. However, this means that the intricate patterns need to be created by a suitable algorithm.

So far, the first generation of placement algorithms have utilized rather simple geometries like grid patterns and random clusters. While this is usually not a major issue from the ground, it is quite apparent from high altitude - here is an example of a cloud distribution based on multiple clusters:

Old algorithm results from 80.000 ft

Second generation placement algorithms are based on more intricate semi-random patterns. These distribute clouds just in a different way (i.e. the result does not require higher rendering performance) and the placement algorithms are not even significantly more expensive computationally (perhaps 10% - the advantage all comes from smarter design) - yet they work much better approximating real cloud distributions.

Here are the results for the same weather situation from 'stick bundle' and 'domains' - two of the new placement methods:

New algorithm results from 80.000 ft New algorithm results from the ground

Cloud distributions appear much more natural and appealing, especially from high altitude. Work is in progress to replace 1st generation by 2nd generation algorithms in both the online and offline weather models of Advanced Weather.

Random Buildings

Project Rembrandt

A number of Mac users have been reporting issues related to running Project Rembrandt (deferred rendering/shadows) on Mac OSX with ATI/AMD GPUS, we are now looking for Mac users to provide feedback on running Rembrandt on Mac OSX, required information includes errors and warnings shown during startup/runtime, but also screen shots showing any issues. Please see: Project Rembrandt#Mac Issues.

Canvas System

High Level Architecture

FlightGear an Android

Usability Improvements

Air-to-Air Refueling Improvements

AI air-to-air refueling has been improved by Stuart and now offers increased realism and improved useability:

  • You can now select from a range of refueling tankers. In addition to the previous KA6-D Intruder and KC-135 Stratotanker, you can now use a A-4F buddy tanker or the A330-MMRT tanker.
  • The refuelling "envelope" (e.g. how close you need to get to the tanker to refuel) is now configurable.
  • As many aircraft don't have an easy to see fuel gauge (particularly if you're concentrating hard on keeping right up to the tanker!), you can now ask your virtual co-pilot to tell you when you engage/disengage.
  • Finally, aircraft can now define the exact position of the refuelling point.

Mailing list digest

(by far the easiest option to populate the newsletter with contents is copying/pasting stuff from the forum and the mailing list or the git logs)

Forum digest

Git digest

Getting involved as a programmer

Please see Howto:Start core development

Release ChangeLog

This section lists changes committed this month that will be available in the next release, these will be copied to the release changelog shortly before a release (for each month), so that we hopefully get a comprehensive list of new features.

Interview with a contributor (NAME)

In each edition we have an interview with a contributor. Suggestions for possible questions are available on interview questions, you are invited to come up with new questions and interview ideas obviously! Anyone is free to write an interview (with him-/herself or others) for next month's newsletter! If you'd like to help interview a contributor or get interviewed, please do consider adding yourself to the list of interview volunteers! To keep this going and less awkward, we are currently trying to come up with the convention that former interviewees become next month's interviewers.

  • How long have you been involved in FlightGear?
  • What are your major interests in FlightGear?
  • What project are you working on right now?
  • What do you plan on doing in the future?
  • Are you happy with the way the FlightGear project is going?
  • What do you enjoy most about developing for FlightGear?
  • Are there any "hidden features" you have worked on in FlightGear that new users may miss?
  • What advice can you give to new developers who want to get started on their first aircraft/new feature/Nasal script?

More questions are being collected here: Interview questions.

Stay tuned for next month's interview, featuring FlightGear contributor XXXXXXXX

Snapshot releases

Every now and then, easy-to-install development snapshots are created (usually, twice montlhy). These snapshos depict a recent state of the development version of FlightGear. By using them users can test out features that will be included in the upcoming release. Testers are encouraged to file bugs at the issue tracker.

The snapshot can be download via the links at the bottom of this page: http://www.flightgear.org/download/. Updates and feedback can be found at the forum.

Translators required

En.gif The FlightGear Wiki still needs help for translating it into various languages. If you are interested in making the FlightGear Wiki multi-language then start at Help:Translate.
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 doch mit 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 FlightGear wiki todavía necesita ayuda para traducirla a varios lenguajes. Si estás interesado en hacer la FlightGear wiki multilingüe, entonces comienza en Help:Traducir.

Nasal for newbies

New software tools and projects

FlightGear addons and mods

In the hangar

All the way back in May 2011, we addopted a new status-rating system for aircraft. So far, only a few have actually been rated, as can be seen in the list 'hockenberry' set up at Google Docs. If you're an aircraft developer and your aircraft is/are not on the list, please consider rating their status. All you'll need to know/do is described at Formalizing Aircraft Status. If you'd just like to get started contributing to FlightGear, this would also seem like an excellent way to get started.

New aircraft

Updated aircraft


Scenery corner


Regional textures Madagascar

Regional texturing for Madagascar has now arrived on GIT. The scheme is a full overlay texture scheme compatible with the high-quality terrain shaders of Atmospheric Light Scattering and offers tropical trees in the forest zones as well as red earth and grasslands in the central high plateau of Madagascar. Agriculture textures have specifically been adapted to reflect the same color of soil as shown in the other landclasses.

Central plateau of Madagascar Re-painted agriculture Madagascar

Aircraft of the month

Airport of the month

Screenshot of the month

Suggested flights

Aircraft reviews

Wiki updates

New articles




New aircraft articles




Most popular newsletters


 categoryRoot=FlightGear Newsletter


Community news

FlightGear on YouTube

New tutorials and screencasts

Cross-Country Tutorial II - a VFR guide

the cover

This is a new tutorial and guide for V.F.R. opperations.
Get the download link for the latest version from the forum post under the "Documentation" tab.

Forum news


Virtual airlines

FlightGear events

Useful links

And finally ...


One of the regular thoughts expressed on the FlightGear forums is "I'd like to contribute but I don't know how to program, and I don't have the time". Unfortunately, there is a common mis-conception that contributing requires programming and lots of free time. In fact, there are a huge range of ways to contribute to the project without needing to write code or spending days working on something.

For ideas on starting to contribute to FlightGear, you may want to check out: Volunteer.

To learn more about how the project works, please see this short essay written by Thorsten, for a more detailed article see How the FlightGear project works.

Call for volunteers

  • The Flightgear On Android team is looking for testers
  • The Target4Today team is looking for volunteers to help improving FlightGear's combat support
  • The FGFSPM (FlightGear Package Manager) is looking for a new maintainer.

Did you know