Aircraft Development Documentation

Plane Maker Manuals

Plane Maker 11

Read the latest version of the manual online.

Plane Maker 10

Read the latest version of the manual online.
Download the PDF manual or read it online.

Airfoil Maker Manual

Airfoil Maker 11


Exterior Aircraft Lighting in X-Plane 92015-12-16 14:47:54This example plane demonstrates some of the airplane exterior lighting features that are possible in X-Plane 9.
Creating Photo-Real Paint Textures2014-12-17 12:33:39This tutorial will walk through overlaying a photo onto an aircraft fuselage in Plane Maker.
Creating Basic Paint Textures2014-12-16 17:02:30A tutorial on how to create a basic paint job and second livery for the Beechcraft Bonanza A36 created in the "Creating a Basic Aircraft in Plane Maker" tutorial.
Creating a Panel in Plane Maker2014-12-16 15:35:35This tutorial will walk through the creation of an aircraft panel for the basic plane built in the "Creating a Basic Aircraft in Plane Maker" tutorial.
Creating a Basic Aircraft in Plane Maker2014-12-16 13:51:19A step-by-step tutorial on making a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza in Plane Maker.


Checklist for Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 112017-03-15 11:55:15This article covers the major areas aircraft developers should review when updating aircraft to be compatible with X-Plane 11.
Aircraft Metadata2016-12-07 11:50:25How to specify aircraft metadata in Plane Maker's Author window for use in X-Plane 11.
Generating Icons for Aircraft2016-12-07 11:41:37
Custom Prop Discs2015-12-16 14:07:29An explanation of how to customize prop discs with datarefs.
2D Panel Lighting2015-09-23 14:11:49Here are a few tips for 2-d panel lighting.
Creating Color-Correct Textures2015-05-27 12:33:33How to ensure texture colors display correctly in X-Plane.
How To Programmatically Locate X-Plane 9 or 102014-12-19 10:07:46Instructions for locating X-Plane installs for developers.
Using Object-Kill Datarefs to Improve Framerate2013-11-10 12:57:41Describes how to use datarefs to disable features in a custom aircraft model. This is useful for improving performance in large, complex aircraft.
Dynamic Exposure in X-Plane 102013-05-09 15:21:08Describes X-Plane's method of altering _LIT textures to simulate the way human eyes adjust the brightness of an individual light depending on the surrounding lighting environment.
Billboard and Spill Lights for OBJs2013-04-07 17:08:51This article explains the concepts behind billboards and spill lights for X-Plane OBJs.
Airplane Parameterized Light Guide2013-04-03 12:26:15This document provides a detailed description of the parameterized lights available in OBJ files for the use on aircraft.
A Checklist for Updating Aircraft to X-Plane 102012-09-16 15:25:34This document lists changes that you may need to make to update an aircraft from X-Plane 9.70 to X-Plane 10.10.
Best Practices for Creating 3-d Virtual Cockpits in X-Plane 102012-04-01 15:46:09This article describes how to create a 3-d cockpit using all of the most modern techniques, while ignoring older legacy features that are only in the sim for backward compatibility.
Understanding Cockpit Prefill2012-01-27 19:17:55An explanation of why using cockpit pre-fill benefits framerate.

Tips & Tricks

Instrument Alignment2015-12-16 15:41:11This article discusses how to position instruments for visual quality.
Creating Generic Instruments2015-12-16 15:08:59Tips for creating generic instruments.
Upgrades to Aircraft for X-Plane 10.402015-10-09 09:39:34This guide is a check-list of updates to make when you re-save your aircraft in Plane-Maker 10.40 or newer.
Propeller Beta & Reverse Models2015-09-02 14:43:53An explanation of PT-6 propeller beta & reverse modes in real planes, and how to set it up correctly in Plane Maker.
Art Controls for Aircraft Performance Tuning2013-11-10 14:24:13Discusses performance optimization when developing aircraft for X-Plane, including how to use datarefs to turn features on and off.
Guidelines for Working with Text-Based .acf File Formats2012-12-13 14:45:22X-Plane 10 switched to a text-based .acf file. This article describes what kinds of operations on the aircraft text file are safe and what are not.
How To Create a Preview Texture for the Panel in a 3-d Cockpit2012-03-13 21:29:00This article describes how to use a screenshot to make a 3-D panel.


X-Plane 11 Material Model2016-11-25 14:27:11Detailed explanation of how the new Physically Based Rendering (PBR) lighting and material model works in X-Plane 11.
Panels For MSFS Developers2015-12-22 14:27:02The X-Plane panel system and virtual cockpit provide similar capabilities to MSFS; this guide explains some of the differences in authoring for authors who are experienced with MSFS.
Non-Monotone Key Frames2015-12-17 16:46:06This article explains how to use non-monotone key frames in Plane Maker.
Manipulators2015-12-17 12:24:35How to set up the six types of manipulators available in X-Plane.
8.33 kHz radios for users and authors 2014-08-27 06:23:14Describes the behavior of radios that are aware of 8.33kHz channel spacing. Explains the different behavior of the new datarefs for 8.33kHz radios.
Old vs. new style FMS/GPS in Plane Maker, screen-only units and pilot vs. copilot side2014-04-22 17:38:36Describes the changes to the FMS and GPS made in Plane Maker v10.30 and X-Plane 10.25, including their use in the panel editor.
NAV/GPS Source Selectors, CDIs, HSIs and the New GPS Navigator2014-04-12 12:42:39Discusses changes to the source selector in X-Plane v10.30 and beyond.
Autopilot Sources2014-04-12 12:36:27Describes where the aircraft's autopilot gets its input data from. Selecting the correct data source is important for a realistic autopilot simulation.
Attached Object Properties in Plane-Maker2012-01-23 12:26:40Describes the properties available to designers when attaching an object (a .obj file) to an aircraft model. Includes info on lighting effects, shadow mode, level of detail (LOD), and more.

File Formats