X-Plane 10.50 beta 7 is out. There are a few fixes that I hope make this finally a “solid beta”: no more flashing airport lights during the day, normal maps back on aircraft, and liveries should work correctly.
We have a fix in the works for tall buildings blocking the approach path at KLAX; I’m hoping to get that into beta 8 some time next week.
Creating New Apt.Dat Layouts
WED 1.5 beta 1 is out; please do not upload revised airports with WED 1.5 yet. If there are still bugs in X-Plane’s handling of the new apt.dat data, then you have no way of knowing what your airport will look like after we fix those bugs.
X-Plane 10.50 adds a new rule: AI aircraft will not be born or land at airports where there isn’t a parking spot wide enough for the aircraft to park. So if you have an airport with a 11,000 foot runway and no size-E or F parking spots, the 747 would have landed in 10.45 but will not land in 10.50.
AI aircraft will land even if the parking spots don’t match the needed aircraft type – in other words, if you have a size E parking spot for helicopters only, the 747 will still land (and try to park there). Here’s why I didn’t stop this case: without static aircraft, the equipment codes on parking spots is likely to have errors; it’s hard to know you get everything right. So if we start requiring equipment code matches to land an aircraft, we may end up with no AI aircraft at lots of airports.
Once static aircraft have been deployed and authors update their airports to use them, the equipment codes should become much more accurate, and at that point we can prevent the AI from landing if it can’t find an equipment code match on a parking spot.
We also do not limit landing by taxi route width; the assumption is that if you have a width-E parking spot, you have a width-E route to the active runway somewhere on your layout.
Starting with beta 7, you can now debug ATC AI placement decisions by setting the art control atc/debug/log_spawn to 1. After it is set, future spawning decisions will be heavily logged under the “ATC” log tag. If an AI isn’t placed at an airport, you’ll see exactly why.
Note that currently the takeoff/landing requirements for the aircraft tend to be inaccurate. (They are computed from some properties of the aircraft, not flight testing.)
From my examination of the small set of airports that I run across while debugging (with something like 3000 airports, I am at best “sampling” the gateway airports), it appears that authors don’t understand how ATC flows work. We’re working on new documentation to try to explain this, and I’m thinking that some very basic flow errors could be caught by WED. For example, I saw one airport that had this in WED:
Runway Use: 9 (arrivals, departures)
Runway use: 27 (arrivals, departures)
This is almost certainly a mistake. This is a single flow for the airport that says “when this airport is in east/west mode, aircraft may take off or depart from either runway 9 or 27!” In other words, airplanes can use the runway from either direction at the same time.
I know of no real-world example where this actually happens, and if there is one, it has to be super-rare. The author probably meant to do this:
Wind rule: wind must be coming from the east
Runway rule: 9 (arrivals, departures)
Wind rule: wind must becoming from the west
Runway rule: 27 (arrivals, departures)
In this case, the airport is using either 9 or 27, but not both at the same time. A few things to remember about flows:
- Only one flow is ever in use at a single time. That’s why a flow can have more than one runway.
- All of the runways within a flow are in use at the same time when that flow is in use. So never put conflicting runways in a flow!
- X-Plane picks the flow by looking at your flows in the order you put in WED. It takes the first flow where all of the restriction rules (time, wind, visibility) can be met. So put the ‘preferred’ operations for your airport first in the list.
- If you have more than one rule of a type, only one must be passed. So for example, you can have a “rush hour” flow with two time rules, and it will be picked if either is picked. So you can make morning and evening. Similarly, you can make a wind rule for “strong from the east” and “calm wind” and if either is picked, the flow is picked.
- If you provide no rule for a category, the flow is never disqualified by that rule. So if you have no time rule, the flow can be picked at any time.
Here’s two more art controls: atc/debug/rwy_flow debugs how X-Plane picks its flow – turn it on and then go to your airport and you can see in the Log why the flow was picked. atc/debug/rwy_selection shows how a runway was picked for an airplane given an existing flow.