As many people will be aware, there is a new flight simulator product that is being widely and actively marketed at the moment - FlightProSim (also promoted as ProFlightSimulator, FlightSimPro). As it is almost entirely based on FlightGear, there is some confusion between the two. To help provide some clarity, and answer some common questions, we (the core FlightGear development team) felt it was appropriate to make a statement, and provide a FAQ.
FlightGear is an open-source flight simulator that was started in 1996. It is released under the GNU General Public License v2, and as such, it is free to use, modify and distribute with few restrictions. It has been developed with the collaboration of a large number of individuals over the last 12 years. FlightGear can be downloaded at no cost from http://www.flightgear.org.
FlightProSim is a commercial product very heavily based on FlightGear. Investigation by a number of the FlightGear developers has found no difference between this and the FlightGear v1.9.1 release other than a change of name. FlightProSim is in no way endorsed or supported by the core FlightGear development team.
Given the similarities between FlightProSim and FlightGear, we would recommend that prospective buyers download FlightGear for free and satisfy themselves that FlightProSim provides worthwhile value for money before purchasing it.
What are the differences between the two?
As far as we have been able to make out, the only difference between FlightGear v1.9.1 and FlightProSim is a change in name throughout the software, and the fact that you have to pay for it.
Legal or illegal?
The GNU GPL license, under which FlightGear is released, allows reselling under certain terms. The main issue that FlightGear developers have is the misleading marketing tactics used by pro flight sim that target unsuspecting users who aren't yet familiar with FlightGear. This is primarily an ethical, not a legal issue.
Is it legal to sell a copy of FlightGear, whether re-branded or not?
Yes, provided the seller is in compliance with a number of conditions detailed in the GPL. In fact, those interested in receiving a DVD containing FlightGear may do so through the main FlightGear website, and directly contribute to the project (though they may want to wait for the upcoming release in the new year).
Has FlightProSim paid any money to FlightGear for the rights to the program?
No. No such payment is required, as FlightGear is GPL software. No such payment has been offered, no such payment has been made. Any claims by FlightProSim that they support the FlightGear project are entirely wishful thinking on their part.
Why do the FlightGear developers allow this?
The freedom to modify and enhance FlightGear is a core part of the project, and of open-source in general. Restricting the modifications that are allowed and what people can do with the software goes against that ethos.
Is there any relationship between the makers of FlightProSim and the FlightGear Project?
Has Flight Pro Sim contributed to the FlightGear project at all?
I have purchased Flight Pro Sim. Can I get a refund?
That is something you will have to take up with the distributors of FlightProSim. They guarentee a 60 day money back trial period, so this should be no problem if you react quickly.
This whole situation makes me upset! What can I do?
First of all, the main problem here is the marketing tactics used by FlightProSim which exhibit very dubious ethical values. The FlightGear development teams feels the best way to combat this problem is through positive FlightGear marketing and by honestly pointing out that FlightProSim is simply a rebranding of an already free flight sim called FlightGear.
We want all of you to stay positive, to be honest and to be fair!
If you want to help combat misleading marketing, lets all get the word out about FlightGear. FlightGear doesn't have the kind of advertising budget that the FlightProSim guys do. We need you!!! Please post where ever you can on web sites, forums, blogs, facebook, etc. We don't mind if someone chooses to buy FlightProSim, in fact that's great, as long as they have complete information in advance and aren't being misled by a slimy sales pitch that sounds too good to be true.
So let's get the word out and try to make sure that FlightProSim has to market to an "educated" audience!