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 916 Dec 2015This example plane demonstrates some of the airplane exterior lighting features that are possible in X-Plane 9.
Creating Photo-Real Paint Textures17 Dec 2014This tutorial will walk through overlaying a photo onto an aircraft fuselage in Plane Maker.
Creating Basic Paint Textures16 Dec 2014A 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 Maker16 Dec 2014This 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 Maker16 Dec 2014A step-by-step tutorial on making a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza in Plane Maker.


Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 11.301 Nov 2018This document explains how to update aircraft for new requirements in X-Plane 11.30.
Vacuum gyro limitations and caging29 Aug 2018X-Plane simulates vacuum, electric-driven and solid-state attitude indicators.
Modelling remote HSIs and slaved gyros in X-Plane 11.1018 Sep 2017This article covers the three gyro systems available in X-Plane: vacuum, electric and AHRS, and how to use them in your aircraft and panel setup. The new remote gyro system with the option to slave the gyro to the fluxgate is explained, along with all the datarefs and commands that you will need.
Track to intercept - Making sense of LNAV and LOC/APP modes in 11.1018 Sep 2017This guide explains how to use the new GPSS mode of the X-Plane autopilot to achieve dual-mode intercepts from a GPS flightplan to radio navigation, for example for an ILS approach.
Using FMOD with X-Plane5 May 2017This guide explains how to use the commercial FMOD sound engine to add custom sounds to aircraft in X-Plane 11.
Checklist for Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 1115 Mar 2017This article covers the major areas aircraft developers should review when updating aircraft to be compatible with X-Plane 11.
Aircraft Metadata7 Dec 2016How to specify aircraft metadata in Plane Maker's Author window for use in X-Plane 11.
Generating Icons for Aircraft7 Dec 2016
Custom Prop Discs16 Dec 2015An explanation of how to customize prop discs with datarefs.
2D Panel Lighting23 Sep 2015Here are a few tips for 2-d panel lighting.
Creating Color-Correct Textures27 May 2015How to ensure texture colors display correctly in X-Plane.
How To Programmatically Locate X-Plane on the Hard Drive19 Dec 2014Instructions for locating X-Plane installs for developers.
Using Object-Kill Datarefs to Improve Framerate10 Nov 2013Describes 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 109 May 2013Describes 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 OBJs7 Apr 2013This article explains the concepts behind billboards and spill lights for X-Plane OBJs.
Airplane Parameterized Light Guide3 Apr 2013This 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 1016 Sep 2012This 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 101 Apr 2012This 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 Prefill27 Jan 2012An explanation of why using cockpit pre-fill benefits framerate.

Tips & Tricks

Using the correct wing datarefs16 Nov 2018This article explains how to pick the correct wing dataref based on the airfoil you are animating.
Setting up a fixed turboprop engine governor25 Aug 2018A fixed turboprop engine comes with different governors than the free turboprop engine. In order to work realistically, the fuel delivery control must be set up correctly.
Upgrading navigation instruments from v10 aircraft25 Nov 2016Editing a v10 aircraft in Plane Maker 11, you probably need to tweak the navigation instruments to be compatible with X-Plane 11 and onwards.
Instrument Alignment16 Dec 2015This article discusses how to position instruments for visual quality.
Creating Generic Instruments16 Dec 2015Tips for creating generic instruments.
Upgrades to Aircraft for X-Plane 10.409 Oct 2015This 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 Models2 Sep 2015An 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 Tuning10 Nov 2013Discusses 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 Formats13 Dec 2012X-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 Cockpit13 Mar 2012This article describes how to use a screenshot to make a 3-D panel.


Sim/flightmodel2/wing/28 Dec 2019
Wheel steering parameters29 Aug 2019
The X-Plane fuel system30 May 2019
The X-Plane bleed air and pressurization systems30 May 2019
Vacuum systems27 Aug 2018Attitude and heading indicators are traditionally vacuum-driven gyro instruments
Preconfigured autopilots and other autopilot changes in 11.3013 Jun 2018X-Plane offers to equip planes with preconfigured autopilots, or a customizable default autopilot. Some of the available autopilots come with additional features.
X-Plane autopilot params13 Jun 2018The X-Plane autopilot works with cascaded PID controllers. Tuning the controllers for your aircraft is key to having a smooth working autopilot.
The X-Plane oxygen system13 Jun 2018You can equip high-flying aircraft with an oxygen system rather than or in addition to the pressurized cabin, to allow realistic black-out behavior also with unpressurized aircraft.
The X-Plane Anti- and De-Ice systems13 Jun 2018X-Plane simulates a variety of systems that can prevent the accumulation of ice on various surfaces (anti-ice), or get rid off ice that has accumulated (de-ice).
Propeller feathering systems13 Jun 2018X-Plane simulates governors for constant speed propellers that can have various failure modes.
FMOD Event Parameters for X-Plane24 Nov 2017Explanation on using cone & dataref parameters with FMOD sound.
X-Plane 11 Material Model25 Nov 2016Detailed explanation of how the new Physically Based Rendering (PBR) lighting and material model works in X-Plane 11.
Panels For MSFS Developers22 Dec 2015The 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 Frames17 Dec 2015This article explains how to use non-monotone key frames in Plane Maker.
Manipulators17 Dec 2015How to set up the six types of manipulators available in X-Plane.
8.33 kHz radios for users and authors 27 Aug 2014Describes 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 side22 Apr 2014Describes 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 Navigator12 Apr 2014Discusses changes to the source selector in X-Plane v10.30 and beyond.
Autopilot Sources12 Apr 2014Describes 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-Maker23 Jan 2012Describes 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

Aircraft VR Configuration (_vrconfig.txt) File Format Specification6 Apr 2018Explains how to create a text-based configuration file that customizes VR interactions for your aircraft.