FlightGear 2020.3.5 Released

The newest release in the 2020.3 stable series, 2020.3.5, was released a few days ago. It contains hundreds of bug-fixes and improvements based on feedback, testing and crash-reports received since 2020.3.0 was released earlier this year.

Download it from the usual place – if you want to see the detailed list of changes, they’re listed here.

The biggest change we’ve made is for Windows: aircraft and scenery which are downloaded automatically, will now be stored in a new folder, instead of one inside ‘Documents’. This is because some optional Windows security features don’t allow us to add new files inside Documents. If you’re upgrading from an older version, you’ll be promoted to move any existing downloads to their new recommended location, so you don’t need to download them again.

We’ve also published a detailed tour of Iceland, to give ideas where to start exploring the new default airport and location for 2020.3 – and show of some of the beautiful scenery, models and effects created by different contributors.

Flight sim community survey: open till November 23

For the first time, FlightGear is taking part in Navigraph’s annual flight sim survey, the largest of its kind (with 17,800 participants in 2019)! By participating, you can help establish a broad overview of the needs and wishes of flight sim users. While the survey is traditionally focused on the big commercial players, we got to help shape some of the questions this year. By participating, you get to show that our open-source flight simulator is a serious alternative (and maybe you learn a bit more about the width of the flight sim world too).

Follow this link to go to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/flightsi … flightgear

The survey closes on November 23 and results will be published on the 10th of December. We receive an extract from the (anonymous) answers of our own FlightGear community, so we can see how our community differs from the general flight sim public and hopefully learn some more about our own users.

Thank you for taking part!

FlightGear 2020.3 Released

After two years of work, the new stable release of the free open-source flight simulator FlightGear is finally here: 2020.3! It replaces 2018.3 as our supported, stable version. There’s many updated aircraft, visual enhancements and a new default airport/region: Keflavík (BIKF) in Iceland.

The Alouette III getting close to a volcanic plume.

As always there’s also internal improvements to the flight models and other simulation systems, bug-fixes, and performance improvements.

We’re going to take a proper tour around Iceland in another post, and detail some of the improved feature and aircraft over the next few months. The full change-log is available here. But we’d like to quickly share some highlights below.

To get started straight away, visit our download page.

Welcome to Iceland

Iceland is the world’s newest country, if you’re speaking geographically: a land of ice and fire. FlightGear models several volcanoes with multiple levels of activity: Eyjafjallajökull which disrupted aviation in 2010, Surtsey, and the brooding, powerful, Katla.

Iceland seen from space (using EarthView imagery)

Keflavík International Airport (BIKF) is the featured airport for the release: due to its remote location in the north Atlantic, the long runways have been used by all kinds of aircraft over the years; especially as stop-over for early transatlantic services, but also patrolling military aircraft and transports.

Aircraft

  • The A320 has been overhauled, with accurate simulation and display of the flight management systems.
  • The C182 gained an excellent integration of the FG1000 glass-cockpit, as did the J3 Cub and the Diamond DA40. More aircraft installations are in development.
  • The SEPCAT Jaguar GR.1, Bombardier Q400 and twenty more aircraft were added.

Feature highlights

There’s been many changes since the last release, but here’s a few particular interesting ones:

  • FlightGear now simulates tides covering and uncovering shallow areas (littoral areas), like tidal flats (mudflats). You can see tides as the day progresses – there are two highs and two lows per day.
Morecambe bay at low tide
  • Textures can be cached & compressed for faster loading and reduced memory use, giving better performance.
  • Connection to the VATSIM network via SWIFT is officially supported.
  • Better translation support, and handling of non-ASCII file names.
  • Many view improvements, including a new Tower-AGL view.

FlightGear 2020.1.2 Released

FlightGear 2020.1.2 contains bug-fixes and improvements to the 2020.1 release. For users experimenting with the Compositor renderer, there’s now clearer information on startup, and a simple interface to select the display settings (performance or higher quality)

Bugs affecting macOS users when updating from an older version were fixed, as well as other bugs in GPX flightplan loading.

As usual, grab the updated files here

FlightGear 2020.1 released

The FlightGear development team is delighted to announce the 2020.1 release of FlightGear, the free, open-source flight simulator. This version is a preview of our next stable release, containing many new features and improvements.

Enhancements since 2019.1 include a developer preview of the upcoming Compositor graphical rendering framework as a separate pre-built binary, better aircraft carrier support, improvements to both the JSBSim and YASim flight dynamics models, better view options, more efficient and improved OpenStreetMap buildings and translation of the UI into Polish and Slovak. Here’s the complete list of changes.

Many aircraft have been updated, including major updates to the Boeing 777, Airbus A320, Antonov AN-24, F-16, Piper J3Cub, Saab JA37 Viggen, Piper PA28 Cherokee, Bombardier Q-400, Space Shuttle.

Founded in 1997, FlightGear is developed by a worldwide group of volunteers, brought together by a shared ambition to create the most realistic flight simulator possible that is free to use, modify and distribute. FlightGear is used all over the world by desktop flight simulator enthusiasts, for research in universities and for interactive exhibits in museums.

New stable release: 2018.3.5

There’s a new stable (long-term supported) release just available on SourceForge : 2018.3.5. This contains some smaller bug-fixes but most importantly, the build now works correctly on macOS 10.15 Catalina. This required updating many internal aspects of how we build the software, which took considerable effort from a whole team of people.

Get the new release while it’s hot: from SourceForge.

A preview of the 2018.3 release

A change to the release philosophy

After introducing the scripted releases four times a year, the FG development team decided to have a discussion to compare this experience with what we had before, and the result of this is that we want

* less changes of the default airport
* make one of the four yearly releases especially stable

This stable release is planned to be the fall release – so you can expect this to be especially well tested.

What else will there be?

The new C-172p

Flightgear’s default aircraft, the C-172p, is now better than ever.

The cockpit has received a lot of improvements, including new recess casings and glass reflection effect to all instruments, previously missing panel parts have now been included, such as alternate static source knob, low voltage LED, lighter hole, a working glove pocket (which holds the GPS device when not in use), sun visors, and PPT cables connected to the yokes. Other improvements include 3D model and textures changes to all levers, toggles, seats, magneto keys, EGT gauge, attitude indicator and ammeter gauge. An ambient occlusion map has been applied to all interior textures, making the cabin look much more realistic.

The plane now makes use of lightmaps, making night flights much more immersive than before. These include post lights, which are installed on individual gauges, a red flood light which can be used during night flights too, and a white dome flight and wing courtesy lights to be used while in the ground during the pre-flight checks. The lightmap illumination responds to the environment light and dims during daylight.

The exterior model has also received some improvements. It now has a much improved vertical stabilizer model, including a retopologized beacon model, and all of the aircraft antennas have been redesigned as to match the gauges in the model P.

The aircraft has also received new sounds: clicking on the checklist in the pocket by the pilot seat, toggling the control lock, mounting and dismounting the GPS from the panel, opening and closing glove pocket, moving the window latches, and toggling the water rudder cable. The flaps lever and flap motor have also received sound improvements.

Other than that, the tutorials and checklists have received much attention, including two new tutorials: take off and landing for float variants. This release also fixes many bugs, among them an adjusted P-factor effect, making the flight model more realistic.

New cloud lighting

In the Atmospheric Light Scattering renderer, an experimental new option for more detailed cloud lighting is now available. This includes diffraction and rainbow effects on high Cirrus clouds as well as more dramatic darkening and silver-lining for lower clouds seen against the sun.

For clouds seen with the sun, Mie scattering is simulated which darkens the fringes of clouds.

(Note that this is an experimental option and may not yet always work as intended.)

Display visuals

Aircraft developers can now use a new effect for displays, which simulates both the eye response to too bright or too dark display settings for the ambient light level and the visuals of dust on the screen surfaces for glancing light angles.

(Note: This needs to be implemented per aircraft and is not available for all.)

Scenery to explore

An exciting new spot to explore is the Arctic island of Jan Mayen, situated north east of Iceland. It received a makeover with corrected elevation data and coastlines, and is now available via TerraSync. The volcano, Beerenberg (2277m) is also now one of the active volcanoes simulated in FlightGear, making for an impressive sight as the snow covered peak belches out smoke and ash.

The island’s airstrip, Jan Mayensfield (ENJA), has a 1600m dirt runway, perfectly suited for the DHC-6 or c172p’s skis.”

Other improved aircraft

Besides the C-172p, several other craft also have received improvements, including

F-14
– Improved low speed handling, flaps aero rework using OpenVSP, spoiler aero added for yaw, adjusted effectivity at higher alpha based on pilot reports and OpenVSP analysis
– APC now holds alpha rather than airspeed.
– Wingsweep (oversweep) now modelled correctly, wing bending (G load, damage), JSBSim systems rather than Nasal.
– alpha indicated has been aligned based on the touchdown geometry of the hook; optimised for 15degrees indicated.
– carrier and tanker now included in replay

F-15
– Exterior model improvements and revised liveries
– added conformal fuel tanks (IAF, AF86-0023),
– MK-84 air to ground support,
– performance improvements (canvas, cockpit model merged with texture atlas), should work better on lower spec. systems.
– more accurately modelled autopilot
– FDM improvements (mass properties for stores corrected, stores drag, correct aero axes)
– FG Fuel&Payload works correctly with aircraft specific stores dialog

Space Shuttle

– Improvements to the visuals, including furry velcro strips
– Improvements to launch guidance and orbital plane targeting
– More realistic OMS burn procedures
– Expanded systems including circuit breaker simulation
– Expanded failure modeling including tank leakage

Other improvements

Lots of other, less visible things are happening behind the scenes:

– improved joystick configuration dialog
– additions to the launcher
– better support for starting aircraft in a certain state
– bugfixes
– and much more…

A preview of new features in the Honolulu release

Discover Hawaii

The first FG release in 2018 will move to the tropical island of Oahu, using Honolulu as the default airport. In preparation, the islands of the Hawaii chain have received a makeover – textures for the typical shrub vegetation has been added, the terrain texturing has been improved and the airport layouts have been re-generated.

There’s now a lot of new things to discover – fly to the ‘garden island’ of Kauai and look for waterfalls, search for the new highly detailed aircraft carrier ‘Harry S. Truman’ cruising close to Oahu, watch a sunrise from the summit of mighty Haleakala on Maui or discover an active lava fountain on the ‘big island’.

Active volcanoes

Have you ever seen a volcano eruption in a flightsim? This is your chance – in the upcoming release, you won’t only be able to see lava pools and volcanic smoke of Puu’Oo on Hawaii, but also see lava fountains of the Italian volcano Stromboli and even the mighty ash plumes blown high into the air by an eruption of Etna on Sicily. The activity of all these volcanoes can be adjusted from the Environment GUI.

The current implementation is still limited, but in the future, volcanic ash might actually interfere with the weather and aircraft operations – just like in reality.

Unprecedented vegetation detail

Using geometry shaders, the Atmospheric Light Scattering rendering framework now offers the option to see dense volumetric grass layers on the airport greenspaces, as well as rendering additional 3d layers of vegetation underneath the regular random trees and shrubs in regions where this is configured. This offers the eye a pleasantly high level of detail even at close range and adds much to the visuals. While this technique might be heavy for older graphics cards, the performance on a modern high-performance graphics card is excellent.

A helpful co-pilot

Have you ever wanted to fly a helicopter, but didn’t manage to get it off the ground? The Alouette-III now comes with a helper (or flight instructor) for you – Amelia.

Amelia (named after aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart) is an animated co-pilot capable of taking off, landing and hovering the helicoper for you, according to your instructions. You can simply ask her to get the craft off the ground for you, then fly it a bit forward and then take over from her. Or, if you’re interested in operating the winch and doing rescue operations, she can hover over a spot and move slowly to the right spot according to your directions.

New and updated aircraft

A lot of development has happened for various aircraft – for instance the Robinson R44 helicopter has received a stunning new 3d model and many systems are now simulated in detail.

Another great addition, both in terms of visuals and systems, is the new Cessna C-182. If you like single prop aircraft and want to see something more modern than the default C-172p, try it out – it makes for a great plane to do sightseeing in Hawaii!

The carrier handling of the F-14b is now much more realistic, with arrestor wire effectivity dependent on speed at touchdown, more realistic low speed aerodynamics during the approach and correct ‘kneeling’ of aircraft when on the catapult – take the F-14 to the ‘Harry S. Truman’, and you won’t be disappointed!

Lots of details have also been added to the Citation-II business jet and bugfixes, gear damage, a correct autopilot and an improved radar to the F-15.

…and much more

Much more work going on behind the scenes:

* improved usability and integration of the Flightgear launcher
* fixes for AMD graphics cards rendering issues
* many other small bugfixes
* improvements to the YaSim flight dynamics engine for better realism

Stay tuned as we launch the next release!

A preview of features for the ‘Barcelona’ release

Join us for a short overview of what the next Flightgear release within the new automated three-month release cycle will bring!

FG goes to Spain

The most visible change to first-time users will be the change of the default airport. For the future, we plan to name every release after the default airport, and thus while the last release has been ‘San Francisco’ (or 2016.1), the next release (2016.2) will go to the beautiful city of Barcelona. Look forward to some impressive scenery and all-new VRF tutorials and suggested flights in the region!

Improvements to scenery

Improvements to scenery rendering are being added on all fronts. Supported by shader developments within the Atmospheric Light Scattering (ALS) framework, runways and airport keep can now be rendered in multiple ways in high resolution, and this has been implemented for different regions all across the world – including the new default airport of Barcelona ‘El Prat’.

Places across the world continue to be populated with 3d models, for instance check out the progress on London Heathrow!

See the FG world through an infrared camera

ALS now includes a whole suite of filtering techniques, which allow to select brightness and gamma-correction in-sim (i.e. affecting screen pixel color values visible in screenshots, not only the appearance on the monitor). Part of this filter suite is also a night vision mode and, possibly most exciting, and infrared camera mode. The IR vision shows contrasts based on relative temperatures, with the daily temperature cycles of the environment modeled by the weather system.

New and improved aircraft

The Piper J3 Cub, a long-time resident of the aircraft repository, has now been fitted with a brand-new JSBSim FDM as well as support for high-end effects, including interior shadow mapping. Water takeoff and landing by selecting floats rather than wheels is also being developerd.

The Boeing 757 has been updated with new versions and winglets dependent on selected airline livery. The Extra 500 received multiple upgrades and now includes a simulation of icing effects and a sophisticated failure system.

Behind the scenes changes

Multiple less visible changes have also been introduced:

* the handling of shared scenery models has now been much streamlined – shared models now reside in a single location and are most easily obtained and updated via the in-sim terrasync option. Alternatively a (daily updated) collection can be obtained here.

* FG now supports the generation and application of GPU specific rendering setting profiles. The idea is to make the experience for first-time users more pleasant by pre-setting the rendering quality level to something which leads to a good experience for the selected graphics card.

* Currently, support for pre-defining aircraft states (such as ‘cold and dark’ or ‘in air’ or ‘cruise’) is formalized and introduced, with the aim of routinely allowing in-air initialization of complex aircraft with all systems set correctly.

Stay tuned as we fly towards our next release!

FlightGear 2016.1 Released

The FlightGear development team is delighted to announce the v2016.1 “San Francisco” release of FlightGear, the free, open-source flight simulator. This new version contains many exciting new features, enhancements and bugfixes. Highlights in this release include an integrated launcher that includes the ability to download aircraft, a reduction in the installation package size, performance improvements and many rendering improvements.
Founded in 1997, FlightGear is developed by a worldwide group of volunteers, brought together by a shared ambition to create the most realistic flight simulator possible that is free to use, modify and distribute. FlightGear is used all over the world by desktop flight simulator enthusiasts, for research in universities and for interactive exhibits in museums.

Qt_launcher_for_FlightGear_3.5_on_Windows_7

FlightGear features more than 500 aircraft, a worldwide scenery database, a multiplayer environment, detailed sky and weather modelling, a flexible and open aircraft modelling system, varied networking options, multiple display support, a powerful scripting language and an open architecture. Best of all, being open-source, the simulator is owned by the community and everyone is encouraged to contribute.

Download FlightGear v2016.1 for free from FlightGear.org/download

FlightGear – Fly Free!

Please continue to our wiki article for all the specific details and new features in the release.