FlightGear v2.6.0 Released

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The FlightGear development team is happy to announce the v2.6.0 release of FlightGear, the free, open-source flight simulator. This new version contains many exciting new features, enhancements and bugfixes. Major improvements from v2.4.0 include reduced AI aircraft load times, easier graphics tuning, more sophisticated AI aircraft and improved usability.

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.

FlightGear features more than 400 aircraft, a worldwide scenery database, a worldwide multi-player environment, detailed sky 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.

Start downloading FlightGear v2.6.0 for free from FlightGear.org

FlightGear – Fly Free!

Some of the major changes include:

Aircraft operations:

  • At selected airports, FlightGear can automatically start at an appropriate parking spot based on the size and type of your aircraft.
  • At airports which support this feature, a visual display of the taxi route on the ground guides you to the active runway, while following the correct taxiways.

AI system

  • To reduce stuttering during model loading and take further advantage of multi-core CPUs, MP and AI aircraft models are now loaded in a background thread.
  • To reduce load times still further, only the parts of the aircraft currently visible are loaded from disk.
  • AI and multiplayer aircraft are no longer silent objects, they can produce sounds just like the main aircraft.

AI Traffic

  • Many new and updated AI aircraft and liveries. Over 80 airlines now populate the virtual skies.
  • The range at which AI aircraft are displayed is now configurable, allowing you to tune FlightGear for best performance.
  • AI controlled pilots have received extensive landing training and now make a more realistic approach and vacate the runway when able.
  • The simulator now assigns an available parking position on startup.

Flight dynamics

  • The JSBSim flight dynamics model received a major overhaul.

Environment

  • The Local Weather package has been further integrated with the FlightGear core, and has been renamed “Advanced Weather”. New rendering techniques allow more detailed clouds with no performance impact. High altitude clouds are rendered more realistically, and clouds move with the wind without impacting performance.

Interface

  • New replay system. Video-player like controls, including slow motion and fast forward. Pilots can now take over the aircraft at any time during a replay. Great for training particular flight phases such as approach over and over again.
  • Aircraft status ratings are displayed in the FlightGear launcher, allowing you to see at a glance the FDM, model, systems and cockpit quality for rated aircraft.
  • Multiplayer settings can be accessed in-sim. You can now choose your callsign, select an MP server and connect within the simulator.
  • Automatic scenery download is now even easier to use. Simply select the scenery directory to download to, and switch it on.
  • Individual graphics effects can now be configured from within the Rendering Settings dialog, allowing you to fine-tune the performance of FlightGear within the sim.
  • The simulation of radio signal propagation has started and will make the reception of ATC messages and navigation aids more realistic in the future.
  • A new set of options makes it easier to create seamless and zoomable multi screen setups.
  • A new performance monitor shows the time spent in each subsystem.

Highlighted new and improved aircraft

Project infrastructure

  • CMake is now the official build system on Linux, Mac and Windows.

Visual effects

  • The sea now looks more realistic. Waves align with the wind, and foam appears at high wind speed.
  • Steep slopes now appear rocky.
  • Runways now appear wet during rain showers.
  • To help aircraft developers, a single shader combining bump-map, specular, reflection and light mapping components is now available.

Other

  • Additional joysticks and rudder pedals are supported out-of-the-box, including the Logitech WingMan Interceptor, Saitek Pro Combat Rudder Pedals and Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog.
  • FGPanel, lightweight software to render 2D instrument panels, is now included as part of the release.

Bug fixes

  • See our bugtracker for an extensive list of the bugs fixed in this release.

Windows

  • 64bit version restored and its installation integrated in the main fgsetup installer

FlightGear v2.6 Release Candidates

This is the place to find the v2.6.0 release candidates as they become available.  We would really love for everyone to download these “test” releases and give them a try.  The target date for the official FlightGear v2.6.0 release is February 17.

Download FlightGear v2.6 Release Candidates:

What’s New?

I think I found a bug …

  • Please review the following FlightGear forum topic.  Here you can get some ideas on what to look for and what to test.  And if you do find something wrong, where to post bug reports so they can get properly addressed.

Preparing for a new Release

The FlightGear release team is just warming up to prepare the next release. This will be version 2.6.0 to be made available on February, 17th 2012 and our second release following our release plan. Users can expect a dramatic improvement in the visual system, improved AI traffic at assorted airports, a new video-recorder-style replay system and many, many more great new features.

Follow the progress of release team at the forum.

FlightGear v2.4.0 Released

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Overview

The FlightGear development team is proud to announce the release of version 2.4.0 of its free open source flight simulation program. FlightGear 2.4.0 reflects over one and a half years of development and incorporates several new and exciting features, as well as numerous bug fixes.

One of the hallmark features of this new FlightGear version consists of a completely overhauled weather module. While it was previously already possible to load realistic weather by downloading (or creating custom) METAR weather reports, the current FlightGear 2.4.0 version takes weather generation an order of a magnitude further by applying the laws of physics to the reported conditions and by determining how the atmosphere interacts with the terrain. This results not only in customizable weather, but also in all the exciting phenomena that occur at the boundaries between different weather systems. Among the numerous phenomena included in the weather simulation are fog layers that are limited in altitude, cold fronts, thermals, cloud formation in updraft winds along mountain ridges, and many, many more. In FlightGear 2.4.0 checking the weather is no longer a luxury option, it is essential for flight safety.

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Adding to the improved visual experience, FlightGear 2.4.0 introduces numerous graphical enhancements. By employing state-of-art computer graphic techniques, FlightGear 2.4.0 is capable of rendering highly realistic mountain surfaces, 3-dimensional cityscapes, or shiny metallic surfaces. Through the application of these new computer graphics, water moves realistically and sunlight is reflected from its surface. Many new aircraft models are so realistic and detailed it is almost possible to see oneself reflected in their hull. If that isn’t enough, FlightGear 2.4.0 can draw a full 3D image, through one of the many stereoscopic rendering options.

FlightGear’s user experience is also enhanced through several improvements to the software. New and extended autopilot controllers have resulted in a dramatic improvement in autopilot stability in many aircraft. Additional cockpit systems such as TCAS, and EICAS systems –as well as other realistic aircraft reactions to the environment– provide unique new challenges and opportunities. And if these systems still can’t prevent one from getting lost, it’s always possible to pull up a moving map, or use the new and improved heads up displays.

Under the surface, FlightGear 2.4.0 also introduces several innovations. A brand new experimental HLA interface layer allows for real time communication between several independently operating modules, either running on a single computer, or on a cluster of networked machines. Eventually, HLA allows for a complete modularization of FlightGear, and its integration with professional high-end flight simulator hard- and software components.

Finally, FlightGear 2.4.0 has a built-in option to keep its scenery up to date and download new scenery areas on the fly. While this was already possible by using an external program, this feature is now incorporated in FlightGear itself. The many new and updated scene models all around the world will keep one busy exploring the world of FlightGear. With a choice of nearly 500 different aircraft, from historical to bleeding edge, from ultra-lights to the ultimate flying heavy metal, there is something to cater to each one’s taste. In FlightGear 2.4.0 it’s no longer the sky that is the limit; it’s the imagination.

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FlightGear 2.4.0 Fact sheet

Program enhancements:

Aircraft operations:

  • A new head-up display (HUD) system
  • An in-sim moving map
  • ATC/ATIS improvements
  • EICAS instruments are available on a selected number of aircraft
  • Improved autopilots
  • TCAS, works with AI and multiplayer aircraft, provides aural warnings for conflicting traffic and is also capable of driving a realistic traffic display. AI aircraft also respond to TCAS alerts and take evasive action
  • Updates to the KLN89 GPS.
  • Tankers now refuel with any callsign, and can enable/disable refueling in flight.

AI system

  • A standalone AI flightplan generator program
  • Approaching aircraft now follow realistic approach trajectories
  • Ballistic objects can be slaved to any AI object
  • Improved AI ballistics behavior
  • More communication / interaction between AI aircraft and ground. Support for multiple frequencies for AI/ATC interaction.
  • Speed-up for AI traffic initialization by means of an aircraft usage statistics collection mechanism

AI Traffic

  • General and commercial aviation traffic at LOWI airport
  • Malaysian Airways / Kuala Lumpur based traffic
  • Traffic for Adria (Croatia)

Flight dynamics

  • A new MIL-STD Turbulence model has been added to the JSBSim flight dynamics simulation engine

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Environment

  • A local weather system to simulate physically correct local weather phenomena
  • Discard of outdated METAR weather information sources and improved METAR parsing
  • New Fog layers with limited elevation
  • Scenery can be downloaded and installed on-the-fly via an in-sim TerraSync interface
  • Specific multiplayer pilots can be selectively ignored

Interface

  • Complete overhaul of the autopilot system
    • New digital controllers
    • Flexible use of input and output values
    • Support for mathematical expressions
    • Usable for generic numeric data processing as a “property rule” system
  • Better integration of separate weather systems
  • New support of draggable 3d objects like throttle-levers
  • Support for textures generated from VNC clients
  • Unified runway selection code that is shared between user controlled and AI controlled aircraft
  • New HLA interface for distributed simulations
  • New on demand loading of Nasal modules
  • New support for external (aka real) Garmin 400/500 WAAS Units

Visual effects

  • Various graphics improvements using shaders, including 3D urban effects, reflections, water, rock textures, lightmaps, skydome scattering
  • Easy GUI-based access to a host of stereoscopic 3D rendering effects
  • Panoramic distortion
  • Persistent contrails
  • New standalone 2D-Panel rendering utility
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Bug fixes

  • Fixed METAR live weather (http requests from NOAA)
  • Fixed many sources of the infamous NaN errors
  • Improved stability by fixing many segmentation faults, deadlocks and memory leaks
  • Improved placement of random objects
  • Fixed inconsistencies with scenery tile scheduling
  • The replay system now works again as advertised
  • The ground proximity warning system (GPWS) works reliably now
  • Runway lights also working with ATI graphics cards now (rendering option to disable point-sprites)
  • Many, many more. See our bugtracker for an extensive list

Highlighted new and improved aircraft

  • A new and highly detailed IAR-80 (a Romanian-produced WW2 fighter)
  • A new highly detailed Piper Cub
  • Airbus A320 Family (318/319/320/321)
  • An improved P-51D, completely remodeled and containing improved flight dynamics
  • Boeing 717
  • Boeing 757-200
  • Bombardier CRJ700 Series (700/900/1000)
  • Bombardier CRJ200
  • Douglas A-4F Skyhawk
  • Improvements to the Boeing 787
  • MiG-15bis
  • PZL-Mielec M18B “Dromader”
  • Short S.23 Empire flying boat
  • The Boeing 737NG Series
  • The Boeing 747-400 and 777-200 have received lots of improvements
  • The Douglas DC-8 Series
  • The Eurocopter EC130 B4 Helicopter
  • Tyre smoke effects on many aircraft
  • Zeppelin LZ 121 Nordstern

Start Downloading!

FlightGear on Facebook

If you are a facebook user, we would love to have you visit our facebook page and “like” us: http://www.facebook.com/FlightGear

Periodically we will post important information and announcements, epic screen shots, cool movies, and items of aviation interest.

You can keep track of all the latest and most interesting FlightGear information on facebook and simultaneously let all you friends know about the coolest and free-est flight simulator on the internet!