X-Plane can load a information from a flight data recorder (FDR). This is useful primarily in accident investigation and re-creation. In that case, you would need to take the data from the “black box” of the aircraft you’re interested in and put it in a format that X‑Plane can read: the Flight Data Recorder (or ‘.fdr’) format. This is plain text file formatted in a particular way.

This document explains what fields are permitted and a brief explanation of each. Note that even if your instantaneous “snapshots” of the aircraft do not use a given parameter, your data file must use a dummy value as a placeholder.

Once you have formatted the information and saved the file, open it in X-Plane by going to the File menu, selecting “Load Flight” and picking your file from the list. You can show only .fdr files by clicking the Flight Data Recorder button or find it in another location on your hard drive by using the “Open Saved Flight Not Listed” button.

Creating a .fdr file

Fields permitted (in any order):

  • COMM: any comment
  • ACFT: the aircraft file to use, with full directory path from the X-Plane folder (ex: Aircraft/Laminar Research/Boeing B747-400/747-400.acf).
  • TAIL: tail number of the aircraft (ex: N12345). Must come immediately after the ACFT line.
  • TIME: ZULU time of the beginning of the flight (ex: 18:00:00).
  • DATE: date of the flight (ex: 08/10/2004).
  • PRES: sea-level pressure during the flight in inches HG (ex: 29.83).
  • TEMP: sea-level temperature during the flight in degrees Fahrenheit (ex: 65).
  • WIND: wind during the flight in degrees then knots (ex: 230,16).
  • CALI: the actual takeoff or touchdown longitude, latitude, and elevation in feet for calibration to X-Plane scenery. (ex: -118.34, 34.57, 456).
  • WARN: time to play a warning sound file, with full directory path from X-Plane itself to the .wav file (ex: 5,Resources/sounds/alert/1000ft.WAV).
  • TEXT: time & text to be read aloud by computer speech synthesis software (5,This is a test of the spoken text.).
  • MARK: time at which a text marker will appear in the time slider (ex: 5,Marker at 5 seconds).
  • EVNT: highlights the flight path at the specified time, for a specified duration (ex: 10.5).
  • DATA: comma-delimited floating-point numbers that make up the bulk of the .fdr data (ex: 5,10 & see explanation table below)

Table of examples

*Note: Examples are from the “Example FDR file.fdr” found in the Instructions folder of X-Plane 11.

Data must be entered in this order to display in the correct columns in X-Plane. Use a dummy value (such as 0) if your data does not include a particular field.

Column HeaderExplanationExample
time secontime in seconds from the beginning of the recording1.0
temp deg Ctemp in degrees celsius of the ambient air near the airplane at current altitude45
lon degrelongitude in degrees–117.20
lat degrelatitude in degrees34.000
h msl ftheight above mean sea level in TRUE feet, regardless of any barometric pressure setting or other errors4010
radio altftradio altimeter indication0
ailn ratioaileron deflection in ratio –1.0 (left) to +1.0 (right)0
elev ratioelevator deflection in ratio –1.- (nose down) to +1.0 (nose up)0
rudd ratiorudder deflection in ratio –1.- (left) to +1.0 (right)0
ptch degpitch in degrees, positive indicating up0
roll degroll in degrees, positive indicating right0
hdng TRUEheading in degrees TRUE0
speed KIASspeed in knots250.1
VVI ft/mnindicated vertical speed in feet per minute.2
slip degindicated slip in degrees, positive indicating nose right0
turn degturn-slip indicator deflection, positive indicating right.4
mach #Indicated Mach number.5
AOA degIndicated Angle of Attack1
stall warnStall warning on, 1 or 00
flap rqstFlap handle position, 0.0 (retracted) to 1.0 (extended)0
flap actulFlap–1 deflection ratio, 0.0 (retracted) to 1.0 (extended)0
slat ratioSlat–1 deflection ratio, 0.0 (retracted) to 1.0 (extended)0
sbrk ratioSpeedbrake deflection ratio, 0.0 (retracted), (1.0 extended), 1.5 (ground-deployed)0
gear handlGear handle, 0 (up) to 1 (down)1
Ngear downGear #1 (nose?) deployment ratio, 0.0 (retracted) to 1.0 (down)1
Lgear downGear #2 (left?) deployment ratio, 0.0 (retracted) to 1.0 (down)1
Rgear downGear #3 (right?) deployment ratio, 0.0 (retracted) to 1.0 (down)1
elev trimElevator trim, –1.0 (nose down) to 1.0 (nose up)0
NAV–1 frqNav–1 frequency in a 5-digit integer form with no decimal11010
NAV–2 frqNav–2 frequency in a 5-digit integer form with no decimal10930
NAV–1 typeNav–1 type (NONE=0, NDB=2, VOR=3, LOC=5, ILS=10)4
NAV–2 typeNav–2 type (NONE=0, NDB=2, VOR=3, LOC=5, ILS=10)4
OBS–1 degOBS–1 in degrees 0 to 36090
OBS–2 degOBS–2 in degrees 0 to 360270
DME–1 nm0.0 means no DME found, any positive value means we are getting DME data0
DME–2 nm0.0 means no DME found, any positive value means we are getting DME data0
NAV–1 h-defHorizontal (localizer) deflection, –2.5 to 2.5 dots, positive fly right2.5
NAV–2 h-defHorizontal (localizer) deflection, –2.5 to 2.5 dots, positive fly right2.5
NAV–1 n/t/fNav–1 NAV/TO/FROM (nav=0, to=1, from=2)1
NAV–2 n/t/fNav–1 NAV/TO/FROM (nav=0, to=1, from=2)1
NAV–1 v-defVertical (glideslope) deflection, –2.5 to 2.5 dots, positive fly up2.5
NAV–2 v-defVertical (glideslope) deflection, –2.5 to 2.5 dots, positive fly up2.5
OM overOver marker 0 or 10
MM overOver marker 0 or 10
IM overOver marker 0 or 10
f-dir 0/1Flight director on, 0 or 10
f-dir ptchFlight director pitch in degrees, positive indicating up10
f-dir rollFlight director roll in degrees, positive indicating right10
ktmac 0/1Autopilot is holding knots or mach number (knots=0, mach=1)0
throt modeAuto-throttle mode (off=0, on=1)0
hdg modeAutopilot heading mode (0=wing-level, 1=heading, 2=localizer or other CDI)0
alt modeAutopilot altitude mode (3=pitch sync, 4=vvi, 5=airspeed, 6=airspeed with alt arm, 7=alt hold, 8=terrain-follow, 9=glideslope hold)0
hnav modeLocalizer CDI is ARMED for capture 0 or 10
glslp modeGlideslope CDI is ARMED for capture 0 or 10
back modeBack-course on 0 or 10
speed selecAutopilot speed selection, knots or Mach number0
hdg selecAutopilot heading selection, degrees magnetic0
vvi selecAutopilot vertical speed selection, feet per minute0
alt selecAutopilot altitude selection, feet MSL indicated500
baro in hgBarometric pressure dialed into the altimeter, inches HG29.9
DH ftDecision height dialed into the radio alt, feet AGL0
Mcaut 0/1Master Caution alerting 0 to 10
Mwarn 0/1Master Warning alerting 0 to 10
GPWS 0/1Ground Proximity Warning 0 to 10
Mmode 0–4Map mode: 0 through 4 can give different map results0
Mrang 0–6Map range: 0 through 6 will give different map ranges0
throt ratioThrottle ratio 0.0 to 1.0 (emergency settings can actually exceed 1.0)1
prop cntrlPropeller RPM command, per engine2005.4
prop rpmPropeller RPM actual, per engine2005.4
prop degPropeller pitch in degrees, per engine30
N1 %N1, per engine100.1
N2 %N2, per engine100.1
MPR inchEngine Manifold Pressure, per engine0
EPR indEngine Pressure Ratio, per engine0
torq ft*lbEngine torque, per engine584.1
FF lb/hrFuel Flow, per engine400
ITT deg CTurbine Inlet Temperature, per engine1000
EGT deg CExhaust Gas Temperature, per engine1000
CHT deg CCylinder Head Temperature, per engine0

Additional information

Spaces are ignored.

We only support the format as shown in our example FDR file (DATE,08/10/2004,), not the format preferred by ISO 8601.

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