My previous post describes some of the new tech behind the airport system.  It’s important to remember that we can provide a single “lego brick” in the airport system that places multiple OBJs (e.g. an .agp scene or a .fac facade with attached objects), and it’s also important to remember that simple OBJs are reasonably fast in X-Plane 10, so using a bunch of small, simple objects can be a win.

With that in mind, our current plan for gates and jetways is:

  1. Provide a lego brick to create a parking spot.  This lego brick would be located at the same place and heading as the apt.dat start location – it would be an .agp mini-scene that would bring in the ground markings (via an OBJ with draped geometry) as well as any other nearby equipment that we want to populate and align relative to the airplane.
  2. Provide a lego brick jetway that has an anchor point on the terminal facade wall.  The jetway will be static in 10.0 – we’ll address animation in a patch.
  3. Provide wall type rules that control where there are (and are not) windows, so that you can ensure that there aren’t windows underneath the jetway.

Thus, placing each gate in WED should be three clicks: jetway, ramp start, parking scene. The ramp start and parking scene will be colocated.  (We could probably create a function in WED to make ramp starts for every parking scene to make this even easier.)

The jetways will align with the facades by locating the point location of the OBJ (that is, the single point where you tell X-Plane to put the OBJ) with a point on the facade wall.  First, you’ll split the facade wall at the point where the jetway belongs, then you’ll place the OBJ.

Why split the wall?  Splitting the wall guarantees there won’t be windows underneath the jetway.  The facade wall definitions are set up to have non-glass at the end of each side.  so by dividing a side in half (for example), you ensure that there will be a few meters of non-glass right where you need them.  The art definitions will be set up to ensure at least enough “jetway-friendly” wall for half a jetway on either side of a segment.

We considered attaching the jetways and parking scenes directly to the facade wall, so placing a facade terminal would “auto-gen” the parking spots, but ultimately we rejected this for a few reasons:

  • The facades can’t spawn ramp starts – you’d have to place those by hand anyway.
  • The ramp starts might not align very well with the facade, which would look bad.
  • Users who fly online or care about realism care about having real-world gate locations.  Autogen gates and jetways wouldn’t provide enough precision.
  • We looked at a number of proposals to autogen gates with exact precision but they were all insanely complicated.

About Ben Supnik

Ben is a software engineer who works on X-Plane; he spends most of his days drinking coffee and swearing at the computer -- sometimes at the same time.

16 comments on “Placing Jetways

  1. Hi Ben,

    Sounds really interesting.. I was wondering, wouldn’t it be nice if one had the choice of placing a terminal with or without autogen gates? That way you can have the best of both worlds, i guess..

    I kindof imagine people placing quick and dirty details on airports, which get added to the database and included in the updates, so at least there’s something to look at and work with on most airports.. and as time progresses, people can add more and more details, and modify things to reflect reality more and more.

    1. See the reasons given in the post for why we will not provide autogen gates. Since real gate positions are already part of the apt.dat spec, I think we need to continue having a system based on real world parking spots.

  2. Sounds like making airport terminals in WED 1.2 could actually be quicker than making instant Ramen.

  3. “Provide a lego brick jetway that has an anchor point on the terminal facade wall. The jetway will be static in 10.0 – we’ll address animation in a patch.”

    will this likely be an early patch? or will we have to wait a long time, thus getting new nice looking scenery/ airports yet with non functions.. just bothered with a great v-10 release yet now finding out that jetways wont even move right away, also that most airports wont have buildings still!! even with lego bricks by default dvd.*( I do take note and agree, yes there are way too many airports to add buildings too. Great way for users to add and tweak their local apt. What is bothersome is that major US and world airports won’t be “new” feature filled again….”
    x-plane 10 seems to be more of an add on/ end user add on sim vs giving us a solid feature filled sim right out of the gate. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll buy it right away, can’t wait will be amazing, but worried this will turn into a call of duty black ops repeat, meaning users waiting for a functional, regular patches to add / make features work.

    1. Relax man, they don’t necessarily move even in Level D sims. There are far more important features to a flight sim than moving gates.

      1. I’m relaxed, just wondering how much functional /newer features will be in v-10 on mass scale. jetways that don’t move, minus the plugin auto gate ( which is a pain) is rather un realistic and annoying. i’ll fold on that, fine.. but to get most major airports( even just US) empty again is very disappointing. After over a year of delays and waiting/ slow put out of information, I’d expect v-10 to be full blast amazing; hence ‘realistic” airport.

  4. Just wondering how granular LOD control will be on the .agp and .fac elements? Can the objects attached to either have independent LOD thresholds from their parent?

  5. Awesome features! Every post in this blog double my satisfaction of having switch from FSX to Xplane. XP9 is awesome, V10 will get us the true experience.

    Have you planned any default pushback for the full Airline experience?

    Picky question: Are jetways objects same as other objects, meaning we can modify them? Many airports have custom jetways with ads on them…

      1. “Have you planned any default pushback for the full Airline experience?”

        can you answer this inquiry too?

  6. X-Plane 7 was fine for flying but the scenery stank. However we *could* edit quite a bit with World Maker. X-Plane 8 was better for flying and the scenery was vastly improved, but we *couldn’t* edit it as World Maker was depreciated (and beaches were missing in the Southern Hemisphere!). X-Plane 9 is great for flying, has great scenery and the editing tools are getting there. X-Plane 10 will no doubt also be great for flying, have great scenery and it looks like it’ll have some great editing tools too. While perhaps calling it the Holy Grail is over the top, it sure is getting close. This is fantastic work Ben. It looks like your years of hard graft are really paying off.

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