Checklist for Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 11

Modeling Updates

Adopt sRGB Color Space for All Textures

X-Plane no longer supports non-sRGB color space images or gammas. This goes for DDS and PNG images. You must create sRGB color space artwork for X-Plane 11. If you have DDS files in 1.8 gamma, re-grind them with the latest X-Grinder. If your PNG files are not saved in the sRGB color space, please convert their color space.

Motivation: non-sRGB color spaces with non-sRGB gamma were supported historically in X-Plane to support authoring on very old versions of Mac OS X. However, since 2009 OS X has supported sRGB as its default gamma, making this unnecessary.

Furthermore, determining gamma from DDS and PNG files has proven to be very difficult; X-Plane’s gamma tag in DDS is non-standard, causing interoperability problems with many standard DDS tools; color space tagging in PNG is unreliable, including PNGs saved by photoshop.

By removing gamma conversion and simply assuming sRGB, we make it more likely that modern content is interpreted with its correct intent; this eliminates all bugs where incorrectly tagged modern sRGB content is treated as a non-standard gamma and processed incorrectly by X-Plane.

Color Correct Translucent Glass Textures

You may need to retune the color and alpha of your translucent glass.  In almost all cases the right thing to do is to:

– Make the RGB of the window darker – the real window does not add light to the scene, it absorbs some small amount of it.  It is not crazy for a tinted window to have a black RGB, with the alpha being more transparent to ‘lighten’ it.  Think of a cross fade between a truly clear piece of glass and a black piece of paper.

– Make the alpha of the window more opaque – the linear blending looks like it lets more light through, so once your window is dark enough you may find you need heavier tinting.

See the “X-Plane 11 Material Model” article for a detailed explanation of how the new lighting and material model works.

Plane Maker Updates

Categorizing Reflective Surfaces

All reflective surfaces must be marked inside or outside to reflect the correct part of the world. This includes glass for the first time in v11.

You should update the lighting mode of all attached objects in Plane-Maker. Objects marked “glass” in X-Plane 10 will have been auto-updated to “glass exterior” in X-Plane 11; if the glass object is inside the airplane, change it to “glass interior.”

GPS

The old v9 GNS430 GPS is gone for good. If you open a plane using it in Plane Maker 11, it is force-upgraded to the new 430 we’ve had since X-Plane 10.30.

For integrating with your panel, you can use the rad_GPS_430_screen or rad_GPS_530_screen instrument depending on your size requirements, or you can drop in the complete G430 or G530 with bezels and buttons and resize as needed. Then refer to the commands.txt and search for the string “g430” to find all commands for the buttons on the GPS bezel. Note that these commands for bezel buttons will work regardless whether you are using the 430 or 530 size instrument. Note also that the commands with “n1” in the name go to the designated “pilot” or “NAV1” unit, and the commands with “n2” in the name go to the designated “copilot” or “NAV2” unit.

FMS

The old v9 FMS instrument is also gone for good. If you open a plane using it in Plane Maker 11, you will receive error messages or the panel accordingly. To use the new FMS, drop in the 2d FMS instrument or rad_CDU739 screen instrument for the screen of the new FMS. Refer to the commands.txt and search for the string “FMS” to find all keys and buttons to wire up to your bezel. Note that commands with “FMS2” in the description will go to the designated “copilot” side unit.

Fuel Flow

Now, the specific fuel consumption values you enter in Plane-Maker at various altitudes for fractional power settings are defined to be the power output fraction compared to max available power or thrust AT THAT ALTITUDE.

So, if you have an 850 hp turboprop engine, even if it is flat-rated so that it has a thermodynamic output well above 850 hp, and can carry 850 hp to well above sea level,

if you are at, say, 28,000 feet and the engine can only GIVE you 600 hp, the SFC for full power will be used when the engine is putting out 600 hp.

This is because 600 hp is, indeed, full throttle at that altitude!

If you reduce power to 300 hp of output at that altitude, then the half-power SFC will be used, because the engine is at half power for that altitude!

So, simply put, look at the power or thrust that the engine is actually putting out, divide that by the max power that it COULD put out, and THAT is the power fraction that is meant for the various SFCs.

NOTE: If the engine is flat-rated to some power setting, then you do, indeed, need to use that flat-rated power as the maximum in the division above.

So if you have a flat-rated engine allowed to only output 850 hp, even though it is thermodynamically good for 1,200 hp, if you are spinning out 850 hp, then that is indeed the max allowable power, and the full-power sfc will indeed be used. So simply divide the current power by the max achievable (and allowable) power at a given altitude, and that is the power fraction for the SFC.

Engine Idle & Engine-Driven Generators

PT-6 engine idle logic is different in X-Plane 11. X-Plane will try to get close with idle ratios, but fine tuning is needed in Plane Maker to get the same numbers as in X-Plane 10. In version 10, the high idle was automatically boosted inside of X-Plane, but now it is not: You have to boost that high idle manually by entering a higher value for high idle in Plane-Maker. You will need to revisit ALL idle ratios for all of your aircraft.

The turbine idle is now floating point like everything in a real PT-6. Move the red knob to move smoothly from low to idle, or hold it partway if you want to keep the engine temps where you want, as you would in reality. For turbines, you will want to enter a higher high idle than low idle now… X-Plane does not do this for you any more, since you can now tune those fuel flows at idle as you like for yourself!

For example, for a king air you probably want 55% ng for lo idle, 70% for hi idle, which works out to about:

HI idle: 1.70

LO idle: 1.00

In other words, our lo idle is just enough to run the engine, at the lowest Ng recommended, and we bump that up by 70% at high idle to spin the generators and air conditioning compressors.

Each real PT-6 is set up differently based on the settings of the engine driven generators!

Jet Engines

The jet engine flight model has been modified. Low/high jet engine bypass is gone and we only go off the bypass ratio you enter. Check your aircraft’s thrust curve values in Plane-Maker in the ENGINE window, DESCRIPTION tab, right side of the screen, where we have “thrust power curves with N1”, which you can enter.Then go to the engines window, and then the Jet Curves tab on the right. Set the reference Mach number on the lower left for the inlet on your plane to get the thrust peak right around the top speed for your airplane.

Gear Doors

Gear doors options are gone in Plane Maker 11. Add the gear additional frontal area as needed to get the same effect without the hassle

Want VISIBLE gear doors? Then make an OBJ to do them properly for sure!

Transition speed for steering

Transition speed for steering option was intentionally removed from Plane Maker 11. Real airplanes that have two levels of steering don’t have a transition speed at all – they have two controls:

  • the tiller turns the wheels a LOT and is used for low speed tight turns around the apron and parking.
  • the rudder pedals turns the wheels a little (and the rudder, of course) and can be used on takeoff and landing.

The behavior to transition from wide (tiller) to narrow (rudder) steering based on speed is a hack to allow users with a SINGLE “heading” axis to be able to drive on the ground without tiller hardware, by changing whether the twist axis acts as rudder or tiller based on speed. This transition is no longer part of the aircraft because it’s a hack to allow the user’s particular joystick hardware to work – it’s not aircraft specific at all, it’s USB-hardware specific.

Panel system

_LIT panel backgrounds are no longer supported. This feature dates back to X-Plane 6 and was deprecated in X-Plane 8. Replacement techniques:

  • In 2d: Use the -2, -3, and -4 overlay layers of a 2-d to create 2-d “spill” lights, and use per-instrument lighting for instruments.
  • In 3d: Use 3-d lights from Plane-Maker or OBJs to light the panel with spill, and instrument lights (and ATTR_light_level) for instruments.

All panels used for 3-d cockpits are rendered as two separate textures, always; a single unlit texture is no longer supported. Panels rendered in two textures has been supported since X-Plane 9. If you use ATTR_cockpit_region or GLOBAL_cockpit_lit, your add-on needs no changes.

If your add-on is using ATTR_cockpit without GLOBAL_cockpit_lit, you will find the lighting on your panel has changed. You will need to:

  1. Use real 3-d lights to light the panel externally (e.g. post lights, etc.)
  2. If you have plugin code that renders to the panel, use sim/graphics/view/panel_render_type to draw only albedo to the day panel and only lit graphics to the lit panel. If your panel is all glass, you can use this dataref to skip drawing.

Plugins that were drawing to a single-texture panel and ignored panel_render_type may see a serious performance problem until they are updated.

2-D overlay panel lighting layers (full panel backgrounds in the 2-d folder with the suffix -2, -3, -4) are no longer supported in 3-d cockpits. You can continue to use these lighting layers to create dynamic 2-d light effects for 2-d panels, but they have no affect on the 3-d cockpit.

3-d cockpits should always use real 3-d lights, either from Plane-Maker or OBJ-based spill lights to achieve spill lighting effects.

APU

In X-Plane 11, the existence of the APU must be specifically marked in Plane Maker’s systems window. Previously we would make a guess based on whether or not the default instrument was used, but X-Plane 11 will not guess.

Updating aircraft for the new UI

X-Plane 11 makes extensive use of the metadata filled out in Plane Maker’s author window. Make sure to update these fields following the instructions here.

The new UI also uses icons that can be generated from within X-Plane or by hand following these instructions.

Supporting Auto-Start

X-Plane 11 supports commands that allow a user to start and shut down the engines automatically. Besides simplifying operation of complex aircraft, these commands are used by X-Plane’s AI to fly complex aircraft.

Supporting Convenience Features

Some common features of third party aircraft are now built into X-Plane. This just means that X-Plane provides standard, canonical datarefs and commands. By using the standard commands and datarefs, you allow users to share keyboard shortcuts and menu items with all aircraft.

Aircraft Doors

X-Plane 11 provides simulation of up to ten animated aircraft doors – if your aircraft needs more than ten doors, please contact us.

Commands to open and close the doors

sim/flight_controls/door_open_1

sim/flight_controls/door_open_2

sim/flight_controls/door_open_10

sim/flight_controls/door_close_1

sim/flight_controls/door_open_2

sim/flight_controls/door_open_10

Datarefs:

sim/cockpit2/switches/door_open[10]  – int, writeable, opens/closes the door

sim/flightmodel2/misc/door_open_ratio[10] – float, read-only, shows its current, animated position.

Yoke show-hide

X-Plane 11 allows the user to hide the yoke in the 3-d cockpit to more easily see the panel.

sim/operation/toggle_yoke – command to toggle yoke visibility

sim/graphics/view/hide_yoke (int, writeable) – indicates yoke visibility, can be edited.

Navdata

The Navdata files Airports.txt, Navaids.txt, Waypoints.txt and ATS.txt as well as the Proc/ICAO.txt files no longer ship with X-Plane. If your aircraft requires those files, please make sure to notify Navigraph/Aerosoft so they can make a package for you. The default data for X-Plane will no longer contain those files.

You can find information about the default data that ships with X-Plane 11 here: http://developer.x-plane.com/?article=navdata-in-x-plane-11

Weapons

The weapons SDK is the one area where we have moved temporarily backward from X-Plane 10. X-Plane 11 features a new unified weapons system that takes technology from both X-Plane 10 desktop (for physics) and X-Plane 10 mobile (for multiplayer simulation). Unfortunately, we haven’t had time to create an appropriate dataref interface to these weapons.

Getting the interface to weapons finished is on our short list for after 11.0 ships; expect that the list of datarefs may be different for 11.xx than it was for X-Plane 10. The new system has new capabilities that make the old “fixed index of weapons” model not a great fit.

Unfortunately, this means that if your add-on depends on plugin-controlled weapons, you’re stuck in a holding pattern until we can post a new interface that we can maintain.

Sound

FMOD documentation is still pending. There are a lot of details to get right in making an FMOD-enhanced aircraft; please do not ship an FMOD-enhanced aircraft before the docs come out – there’s a very high chance of doing something wrong if you’re just trying to guess how the system works.

What you can do now is learn how to use FMOD!  Download the FMOD studio editor (it’s a free download) and start working with its sound design tools.

Service Vehicles

Pushback trucks and ground service vehicles are new in X-Plane 11. Now, for ground traffic to swirl all about your airplane and service it, you will want to set up the docking ports on your airplane!

For any old V10 airplane or other airplane not yet set up to handle ground traffic, fire up Plane-Maker and go to the STANDARD menu, then VIEWPOINT window.

In there, go over to the last tab on the right, labelled “Location” or more recently “Docking Ports”. There, enter the lat, long, and vertical arm of the docking ports for the various types of service trucks! (Ports should be based on what the plane actually has.) Make the window super-wide to see the airplane on the right side of the screen with the docking ports drawn as little spheres to help you position the docking ports quickly.

Once you have entered a docking port location for, say, a fuel truck, then whenever you ask for service or set “AI Flies Your Plane”, the fuel trucks will go to that location to give service.

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