Ultra-Realistic Flight Simulation

X-Plane 10 Global Digital Download Edition Now Available

Today Laminar Research unveiled the digital download version of the X-Plane 10 Global flight simulator. The X-Plane 10 Global Digital Download is the full Global X-Plane 10 product, containing all of the same features and scenery areas as the DVD version. The digital version allows new purchasers the convenience of downloading the simulator without having to leave the X-Plane website or wait for DVDs to arrive via mail. It is safe, secure, and the same price as the original DVD product.

X-Plane 10 Global digital download is only available for new orders here on X-Plane.com. Please visit the store page to purchase your copy, or read the Knowledge Base article, X-Plane Digital Download, for more information.

Free Scenery for Oshkosh AirVenture

We have a special X-Plane 10 scenery package for the Oshkosh Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH),  enhanced with buildings, custom objects, and aircraft, all designed around the annual  AirVenture Expo.  Each year sees thousands of fly-in aircraft, campers, and visitors to this huge aviation event sponsored by the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association). This year’s event is taking place this week, from July 20 to 26.

The scenery was created by X-Plane scenery contributor Jan Vogel and is now available for free download on both X-Plane 10 Steam (automatically through your Steam client) and here on the X-Plane website. Get your copy now and take part in the fun in X-Plane!

AirVenture 2015 Scenery

 

The State of X-Plane July 2015

Hello! Austin Meyer here.

We are cranking madly on X-Plane 10.40, adding tons of new features that you have been asking for, but also re-organizing the code from the inside out to be cleaner and better organized. THIS is what will allow us to have faster load-times, better frame-rates, and fewer bugs in the future (which is an ever-present goal that simply never goes away)!

In addition to the new features for X-Plane 10.40, I have also been working on Xavion, continuing to flight-test it in real airplanes. I use Xavion not just for guidance, but actually hook it up to the autopilot in real airplanes and watch as the iPad guides the airplane down after engine failure. This is fun, to say the least. We are currently working with TruTrak (the autopilot that Xavion can hook up to via an iLevil ADS-B receiver) to make the protocol between the devices as robust as possible, so that signal and GPS interruptions in flight have a minimum impact on the flight. Don’t forget you can grab a free copy Xavion on iTunes.

I continue to toy just a bit with Stradale–MY idea of what a driving sim should be, with what I believe are the most realistic physics I have seen in an driving simulation. Stradale is free on iTunes as well.

Finally, more important than all of my other work combined, I continue with my documentary on that absolute INSANITY of the United States Patent System, which is a far worse disaster than you can imagine, and does far more harm to innovation and business in this country than you could possibly believe. We are AWASH in an un-measurably huge sea of nonsensical patents, and the lawyers that own these patents are constantly suing companies that produce goods and services for “Patent Infringement.” Since the cost to the person or company being sued is about three MILLION dollars to defend themselves and untangle the mess, almost everyone settles with the lawyer, just giving them the extortion-money to go away. The documentary that I am making on the subject will begin to expose the tip of the iceberg of the problem, as I travel around the country interviewing the people affected. Head on over to my blog to see the latest amazing things that I have learned about flying from my Evolution, and the sea of absurdity that I have discovered from researching the disaster of incompetence and extortion that is our Patent System.

As well as the new stuff with X-Plane, Xavion, and Stradale, there are also two interesting projects going on now that you can be a part of!

Check out this Kickstarter! Here, some really accomplished documentary makers are making an incredible documentary about Burt Rutan’s latest airplane. Many of us helped get this funded and off the ground!

As well, check out this film. THIS one is interesting. Imagine a company is sued by patent trolls, and then takes out a patent to troll the trolls! This will be an indie-film comedy, and I have a feeling it might wind up being hilarious. They need funding to bring this timely comedy to life, and the awareness that it could bring about patent trolling is significant. Could you consider helping fund these people? I already have, and I am really excited to see the results!

X-Plane at FlightSimCon 2015

Members of the X-Plane team will be attending FlightSimCon 2015 in Hartford, CT on June 13-14. You can learn more about X-Plane in person when creator Austin Meyer gives a presentation on Sunday, June 14 at 12:15pm. In general, our developers are a friendly lot, so please stop by and say hello!

Scenery Creation with Jan Vogel

Laminar Research: Can you provide a little background on yourself and your interest in aviation?

Jan Vogel: My interest in aviation started in childhood, probably when I clenched my fingers around the chainlink fence of the Kiel-Holtenau Airport at age 5. It culminated with getting my Airline Transport Pilots License at age 26, flying jet airliners for a major German airline ever since.

LR: Why did you decide to start making scenery & how long have you been creating X-Plane scenery?

JV: I have always had a vivid interest in personal computer based flight simulation, ever since flying FSII in 1984 on my Commodore 64. Back in those times, the flying areas were very limited, you often had a few airports to fly to. That always bothered me, and I guess it planted the seed for scenery design later on.

In the late 1980s we had “scenery disks” that would expand those areas, but still didn’t contain all airports in the enclosed area. I ended up marking the aiports on my flying maps with a coloured pen.

Needless to say that I still had to go to any airport I passed by, and I was intrigued by the special architecture and layouts of airports. The markings, lighting, the signs, terminals, airside and landside structures. All very clean and functional, yet every airport is different and has a special character! (more…)

Interview with Chris Serio on X-Plane 10 Mobile

This week FlightSim.com published a new interview with Chris Serio, X-Plane 10 Mobile Product Manager. In it he goes into a lot of detail about the differences (and similarities) on developing mobile and desktop applications, and the challenges of Android and iOS. Below is an excerpt from the interview. (more…)

Q & A with Ben Supnik, X-Plane Developer

Ben Supnik is X-Plane’s graphics lead and most seasoned developer. You might already know him from his writings on the X-Plane Developer site, but here we discuss the details of how he got started with X-Plane and more.

Question: Can you provide a little background on yourself? What was your first experience that got you into aviation or X-Plane?

Ben: I have been working for Laminar Research for over a decade, but my involvement with X-Plane dates all the way back to about the year 2000 and X-Plane 6.

In my past life I was a software engineer working on multimedia software, and for my job, I was flying between Boston and San Francisco for work.  I started by trying to research air traffic control in Boston (to understand why my flights to SF always took that crazy hard left turn right after takeoff – turns out it’s a noise abatement route), and that brought me to VATSIM.

I became a virtual air traffic controller on VATSIM and (being a programmer by trade) wrote client software for the network.  I went looking for a flight simulator so I could fly online too and discovered both Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 and X-Plane 6.  X-Plane 6 had great framerate and looked good on my Mac laptop, while my PC couldn’t really handle MSFS2k, and with that I was hooked on X-Plane.

My first interaction with Austin was when I tried to write a VATSIM client for X-Plane.  At the time there was no plugin SDK, and no way to do local UDP, so I couldn’t complete the project.  I emailed back and forth with Austin and one thing became clear: there were about a thousand of us asking Austin for changes and mods to X-Plane and only one of him.

(This is literal – at the time Austin was running the business, doing all of the coding, and providing tech support.  Sergio was the only other developer involved, doing art-work part time while holding down a full-time day job.  It is still amazing to me that the two of them put so much -stuff- into X-Plane 6 with so little resources.)

So instead of asking Austin for changes to get a VATSIM client working with X-Plane, I pitched something crazier: I’d create a complete plugin system for X-Plane; he’d just have to wire the system into X-Plane’s guts and I’d take care of the rest.  From then on, third party developers wouldn’t have to queue in line to mod the sim – they’d have a plugin system they could use to accomplish all sorts of things.

Austin agreed to this, and I finally met him in person one year at the Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference.  He was there for Laminar Research, and I was there for my employer; we sat down in the lobby of the Fairmont with our laptops and dumped the plugin code into X-Plane itself – it worked the first time!  By this time Sandy Barbour was working with me on the plugin system – he was doing commercial software contracting by day and had offered to “take a look” when I put out an email asking for help on the Windows side of the plugin system.  He got the entire thing working in less than two weeks.

So for a few years and a few X-Plane versions, I was a third party developer, working on XSquawkBox for VATSIM, maintaining the plugin system with Sandy, and using X-Plane.  I had also gotten involved in the scenery generation process, mostly fixing bugs in the global scenery.

The big change came when I decided to quit my day job and become an air traffic controller.  I left DigiDesign and enrolled in the Aviation Sciences program at Mt San Antonio community college – this was the nearest program approved by the FAA as part of theCTI (college training initiative) – the path for civilians without military ATC experience to become air traffic controllers.

Since the program was basically part time I made a pitch to Austin: hire me for a limited time as a contractor to go and fix some problems with the scenery system that I hadn’t been able to address in spare moments as a hobbiest.  Up to this point, X-Plane had been a hobby; I figured if my goal was to really advance flight simulation I needed to apply more hours to the coding part of things.

The resulting work that I completed during school was the DSF file format that we are still using now and the first global scenery.  When I graduated, it was clear that there was a lot more work to be done to get X-Plane 8 ready with the new scenery, and the FAA was horribly back-logged in employing people due to the increased post-911 security screening process.  So I ended up working full time for Laminar Research.  By the time the FAA called, I was already full time and made the decision to stick with flight simulation.

The aviation sciences training I got in school turned out to be useful – the course material included (among other things) the equivalent of ground school for a PPL and IFR ticket, as well as a bit about aviation safety and human factors, among other things.  A lot of people working for LR have their pilots license; I came via the flight simulation route without being a real pilot first, so school was a bit of a crash course in things that are useful to know if you work on a flight simulator.  I do hope to get my pilot’s license some day, but with two little kids and X-Plane it’s not going to be for a while.

What type of computer set up do you use?

Because I work on X-Plane’s graphics, I tend to have “one of each.” Right now my three computers are:

  1. An 8-core Mac Pro from 2008. This is my main machine and it’s pretty close to the end of it’s life. It’s a testament to what a monster this machine was in its day that I’m still using it as my primary development machine seven (!) years later. Right now there’s an AMD 4870 installed. It runs Snow Leopard and dual boots to Mavericks.
  2. A Haswell PC that boots to both Windows 7-64 and Linux (Ubuntu 12.04 LTS). It takes a full size gaming card, so I swap between a GeForce 680, an AMD Radeon HD 7900 and the built-in Intel HD motherboard graphics. It’s crucial to test X-Plane on all of these configurations, so I end up leaving the case open.
  3. A Mac retina-book laptop with an NV GPU, running Yosemite.

I have people ask me “what machine do YOU use” with the intent of getting the best machine for X-Plane, but my machines are picked for variety and an attempt to have one of everything, and definitely not to have the fastest hardware; I want hardware such that if X-Plane runs decently, it’ll be good for most users.

What’s the most exciting part of working on X-Plane for you?

My favorite part of working with X-Plane is seeing the graphics -after- the artists have had a chance to work with the code I write. There’s something I find very rewarding about creating a good rendering algorithm and then having it be pushed to the limit of what it can look like by good artwork. I’m lucky that we’ve been able to find top-tier artists.

Do you have a favorite aircraft to fly, or a favorite location?

I like to fly around the Boston area (i.e. my home area in real life); when I had more time to fly online and take real flights, I flew a mix of the King Air and the x737 (a much earlier version). The King Air is a great plane for short hops like from Boston to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vinyard – it’s a flight that can be flown with steam gauges or VFR and it’s short enough to fly one or two complete hops in real time in an evening.

Do you have a favorite plug in or add on?

Not right now – unfortunately as X-Plane has grown I really don’t get time to use the product as much as I used to. Every now and then I’ll take a real flight and be reminded of what X-Plane really is after weeks of viewing it in various debug modes.

During the X-Plane 10 run I got to know both Javier Rollon’s CRJ200 and JAR Design’s A320 Neo, and it was cool to dig into fully functional airliners; that kind of detail wasn’t possible in X-Plane 6. Austin would cringe to hear me say this, but I found the A320 Neo’s fly-by-wire simulation really entertaining. I’m a lousy pilot with stick & rudder but the A320 just goes where you tell it. :-)

Largest X-Plane 10 Airport Add-On Published

Simulation add-on publisher Aerosoft has released London Heathrow Airport, the largest payware airport ever made for X-plane 10. London Heathrow (EGLL) is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest in the world. Sim-Wings has modeled about 42 square kilometers in careful detail in this custom scenery package.

For purchase information and additional details, visit the Aerosoft Airport London-Heathrow webpage.

Watch for a Steam version to be released in the coming weeks.

Free Sun ‘n Fun Scenery Download

In honor of this year’s Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In & Expo, we’re offering a free download of Lakeland Linder Airport (KLAL) scenery enhanced with buildings, custom objects and aircraft! Each year sees thousands of fly-in aircraft, campers, and visitors to this huge aviation event sponsored by the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association).

The scenery was created by X-Plane scenery contributor Jan Vogel and is now available for free download on both the X-Plane 10 Steam page (for users with a Steam copy) and here on our website. Download yours today!

X-Plane 10 Mobile 10.1 Update

The first major update for X-Plane 10 mobile has been released! This update includes two new airliners and additional challenges, a map available during Freeflight, two navigation tutorials, bug fixes, and more.

Here’s a rundown of the highlights: (more…)