Plane Customization

Navigation Display Scaling

Starting with X-Plane 12 it is possible to independently scale symbols and text of the navdisplay, and also change the relative locations of symbols and labels. Customization of the map display is possible by editing the map_s_HM-1.png, map_s_HM-2.png, map_s_HM-2.png and map_s_HM-4.png graphics and supplying the graphics specific for your aircraft through the library system (the path is cockpit/EFIS/EFIS_maps). These png files can supply alternate symbols, colors or fonts to generate the style of the nav display. Learn more: Navigation Display Scaling


X-plane 12 contains a new 3-d HUD system. This system is unrelated to existing tech for a HUD in 2-d panels or in the “forward with HUD” view.

The new HUD works by projecting a region of the 3-d panel in front of the aircraft in the distance, but only drawing it where it intersects a 3-d modeled HUD glass.  This simulates the real-world HUD experience of the HUD being focused at infinity (and aligning with the horizon), while only being visible when the pilot’s head is within a specific 3-d box in the aircraft.

To use the new HUD you will need to do three things:

  1. Specify the geometry of the HUD in the Plane-Maker viewpoint screen, cockpit tab, 3-d HUD section. You specify both:
  1. The panel texture area to be used as the HUD (in pixels) and
  2. The angle of the HUD from the pilot’s view (as field of view ratios).
  1. Build the HUD image in your 3-d panel in the appropriate area.
  2. In one of your objects marked interior glass, use the new ATTR_hud_glass to mark the glass that the HUD “appears on” and make sure that that OBJ is in the “glass reflective” light group in X-Plane.

To calculate the FOV ratios, use the trigonometric tangent function for the angle from center for each side.  So for example, a HUD with 20 degrees below the horizon and 10 degrees above would have an FOV ratio of tan(-20) and tan(10) or -0.364 for the bottom and 0.176 for the top.

For an example of the 3-d HUD, see the F14.

OPEN ISSUE: as of this writing, the HUD light levels are not correctly set.  Future guidance will come when this issue is resolved.

Plane Maker Updates

Airframe and Tail Anti-Ice and De-Icing boots

X-Plane 12 treats the tail surfaces different from the wing surfaces when it comes to ice accumulation and anti- or de-ice measures. Learn more: Airframe and Tail Anti-Ice and De-Icing boots


Navigation Source

This article summarizes X-Plane’s capabilities when it comes to modern integrated approach navigation and sheds light on the new datarefs: Autopilot Navigation Source

Autopilot VNAV modes

X-Plane knows two different types of VNAV, which can be described as “GA” and “Airliner”-type VNAV. The main difference is the availability of auto-throttle. “GA” without auto throttle can only do geometric descents – the vertical path is controlled by the autopilot, while the pilot controls the speed by the throttle (or speedbrakes). “Airliner” with auto-throttle uses the auto-throttle to set climb power in climb, hold the selected cruise speed in cruise, and comply with speed restrictions (if physically achievable) in descend.

For a detailed explanation and examples see the article Autopilot VNAV modes and PlaneMaker settings.


If your aircraft requires rudder pedal input to operate realistically (especially single engine propeller aircraft and light twins) consider configuring the constants for the new auto-coordination to improve the experience for users with no rudder hardware.

Directional Gyro

X-Plane 12 changes the way directional gyro drift is calculated and the behavior of the directional gyro drift data refs. If your aircraft or plugin adjusts or watches these datarefs, you will want to check whether your code still works with the new drift. Learn more: Directional gyro drift and adjustment datarefs

FADEC Controlled Engines

X-Plane can limit the power output of altitude engines (or flat-rated engines) in order to not overtemp or overtorque them. In addition to thrust or torque limiting, X-Plane 12 can also limit to N1 or EPR values. Learn more: FADEC controlled engines

Flight Control Trim

If your aircraft is configured to have a trimmable horizontal stabilizer, there is no change in behavior from X-Plane 11. X-Plane 12 allows for three distinct ways of trimming the flight controls, and allows assigning different types of trim to different axes, so it is possible to have a trim tab on the elevator, but a pre-loaded centering spring on the rudder, as is common with many general aviation aircraft like the Cessna 182. Learn more: Types of flight control trim

Flight Control Splits

In case of a flight control malfunction where a jam occurs in one system, it is usually possible to split the controls, in some aircraft by pulling a flight control disconnect handle, in others the torque tube shears when a certain (high) load is applied to it. X-Plane simulates both the type of failure and the flight control split to deal with it. Learn more: Flight Control Splits

Helicopter Governors

X-Plane 12 revises the interaction of collective and throttle control in helicopters. Existing helicopters retain the default behavior of X-Plane 11 until modified in Plane Maker 12 to opt into one of the new governor systems. The joystick control assignments for collective and throttle don’t change, but there’s a new joystick curve available for Robinson-style throttle control. Learn more: Helicopter governor and correlator configuration

Hydraulic systems

X-Plane has three hydraulic systems per aircraft that can power a variety of actuators. Most notably, each flight control surface can be powered by any combination of hydraulic actuators. Learn more: Hydraulic systems and flight controls

Gear systems

If you have a three-position gear switch (Up-Off-Down) that you are using custom scripting/animation for, consider checking the new default option: Hydraulic gear systems

Moment of Inertia/Radii of Gyration

If you have customised the radii of gyration to achieve a “more heavy/stable” feel for your aircraft, consider switching to actual payload stations instead to achieve dynamic moment of inertia calculation based on actual load-out: Weight & Balance and Load Stations

Idle speeds

Setting up idle speed is a three-step process:

1. Getting the internal friction right

2. Setting the right amount of throttle to overcome the internal friction

3. Setting the fuel flow for that idle throttle

Learn more: Tuning Idle Speeds.

Pilot and Copilot Flight Control Inputs

X-Plane 12 differentiates between pilot & copilot sides for cockpit animations, joystick hardware, and plugins. Learn more: Pilot and Copilot Flight Control Inputs

Propeller overrides

X-Plane features datarefs that let you override parts of the flightmodel. While these datarefs are often named for the dataref whose value you control when the override is enabled, they really act by removing logic blocks from X-Plane’s flight model and systems simulation. Learn more: override_prop_pitch and override_prop_mode

Single Spool Engines

Aircraft that were using single spool engine types and relying on X-Plane to convert these to double spool engines should correct the engine type to “jet 2 spool” in Engines Specs > Engines 2 tab, then double check performance.

Stabilizer Trim and Servo

X-Plane provides two ways to trim the elevator or stabilizer of a plane: Mechanical or with an electric servo. The presence of an electric servo has consequences to the type of commands you can use to move the trim, and the commands you want to set up for hardware. This article explains the interaction of the commands and X-Plane systems code: Stabilizer Trim and Servo

Windshield ice and rain protection

X-Plane 12 simulates more than one glass surface for looking out. This affects how new 3D rain, icing, defrost, and wipers behave. Learn more: Windshield ice and rain protection datarefs

Radios and Navigation

Changes have been made to standalone DME, TACAN stations, and WAAS reception. Learn more: Changes to Radio Navigation


Master Arm

In X-Plane 11 and earlier, the “master arm” command and panel switch had no effect on the sim. In X-Plane 12, master arm now functions: when the master arm switch is off, the only weapons that will fire are flare and chaff.  When the master arm is on, weapons will fire based on their prior selection rules, e.g. if they are either selected in the weapon console or by the various individual arm/disarm datarefs by weapon type.

A new writable dataref sim/cockpit2/weapons/master_arm provides writable access to the switch position.

For compatibility, aircraft are loaded with the master arm switch on, so existing aircraft without a master arm switch will have functioning weapons. If you have this switch you can initialize it to off in a flight-initialized plugin callback.


FMOD 2.02

X-Plane 12 now runs FMOD 2.02, and while your older, already compiled sound banks will still work on X-Plane 12 with no changes, the workflow for new projects has a few caveats. Learn more: FMOD 2.0 upgrade notes.

6 comments on “Checklist for Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 12

  1. I remember i asked here about HUD with callimator optics long time ago. Looks like it’s finally gonna be implemented!
    How does one obtain dev copy of XP12? I have some products to check and update…

  2. I can’t wait for xp12 , with 4 seasons and the wind ,the rain , water on the ground and all the new features .
    thank you xplane team for the great work.
    PS , ty for improving Bathurst airport (CZBF) , great job.

  3. was wondering have x plane 11 for couple years very happy with it but my question…i will buy x plane 12 definitely but what happens to all the aircraft that i bought during this time can they be transfer without their digital keys and what happens if you have used all downloads

  4. What do you mean exactly when you write “make sure that that OBJ is in the glass reflective light group in X-Plane”?

  5. The more I see all the stuff that LR does, the more Ii am just blown away. I am not a programmer or developer butI just get all excited seeing the scope of reach or your work. Keep up the super work you do. I appreciate it

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