Aircraft Development Documentation

Plane Maker Manuals

Plane Maker 11

Read the latest version of the manual online.

Plane Maker 10

v10.50
Read the latest version of the manual online.
v10.10
Download the PDF manual or read it online.

Airfoil Maker Manual

Airfoil Maker 11

Tutorials

Title Date Description
Exterior Aircraft Lighting in X-Plane 9 16 Dec 2015 This example plane demonstrates some of the airplane exterior lighting features that are possible in X-Plane 9.
Creating Photo-Real Paint Textures 17 Dec 2014 This tutorial will walk through overlaying a photo onto an aircraft fuselage in Plane Maker.
Creating Basic Paint Textures 16 Dec 2014 A 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 Maker 16 Dec 2014 This 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 Maker 16 Dec 2014 A step-by-step tutorial on making a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza in Plane Maker.

Guides

Title Date Description
Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 11.30 1 Nov 2018 This document explains how to update aircraft for new requirements in X-Plane 11.30.
Vacuum gyro limitations and caging 29 Aug 2018 X-Plane simulates vacuum, electric-driven and solid-state attitude indicators.
Modelling remote HSIs and slaved gyros in X-Plane 11.10 18 Sep 2017 This 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 11.10 18 Sep 2017 This 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-Plane 5 May 2017 This 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 11 15 Mar 2017 This article covers the major areas aircraft developers should review when updating aircraft to be compatible with X-Plane 11.
Aircraft Metadata 7 Dec 2016 How to specify aircraft metadata in Plane Maker's Author window for use in X-Plane 11.
Generating Icons for Aircraft 7 Dec 2016 Explains the 2 methods for generating aircraft icons for the X-Plane 11 UI.
Custom Prop Discs 16 Dec 2015 An explanation of how to customize prop discs with datarefs.
2D Panel Lighting 23 Sep 2015 Here are a few tips for 2-d panel lighting.
Creating Color-Correct Textures 27 May 2015 How to ensure texture colors display correctly in X-Plane.
How To Programmatically Locate X-Plane on the Hard Drive 19 Dec 2014 Instructions for locating X-Plane installs for developers.
Using Object-Kill Datarefs to Improve Framerate 10 Nov 2013 Describes 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 10 9 May 2013 Describes 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 OBJs 7 Apr 2013 This article explains the concepts behind billboards and spill lights for X-Plane OBJs.
Airplane Parameterized Light Guide 3 Apr 2013 This 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 10 16 Sep 2012 This 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 10 1 Apr 2012 This 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 Prefill 27 Jan 2012 An explanation of why using cockpit pre-fill benefits framerate.

Tips & Tricks

Title Date Description
Using the correct wing datarefs 16 Nov 2018 This article explains how to pick the correct wing dataref based on the airfoil you are animating.
Setting up a fixed turboprop engine governor 25 Aug 2018 A 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 aircraft 25 Nov 2016 Editing 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 Alignment 16 Dec 2015 This article discusses how to position instruments for visual quality.
Creating Generic Instruments 16 Dec 2015 Tips for creating generic instruments.
Upgrades to Aircraft for X-Plane 10.40 9 Oct 2015 This 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 Models 2 Sep 2015 An 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 Tuning 10 Nov 2013 Discusses 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 Formats 13 Dec 2012 X-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 Cockpit 13 Mar 2012 This article describes how to use a screenshot to make a 3-D panel.

Reference

Title Date Description
Sim/flightmodel2/wing/ 28 Dec 2019 Explanation of the array dataref sim/flightmodel2/wing/.
Wheel steering parameters 29 Aug 2019 How to set up a wheel that is non-rigid steering with castoring range.
The X-Plane fuel system 30 May 2019 Information on the more flexible fuel system, including fuel tank roles.
The X-Plane bleed air and pressurization systems 30 May 2019 Details, diagrams, datarefs and examples of setting up bleed air & pressurization correctly in Plane Maker.
Vacuum systems 27 Aug 2018 Attitude and heading indicators are traditionally vacuum-driven gyro instruments
Preconfigured autopilots and other autopilot changes in 11.30 13 Jun 2018 X-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 params 13 Jun 2018 The 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 system 13 Jun 2018 You 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 systems 13 Jun 2018 X-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 systems 13 Jun 2018 X-Plane simulates governors for constant speed propellers that can have various failure modes.
FMOD Event Parameters for X-Plane 24 Nov 2017 Explanation on using cone & dataref parameters with FMOD sound.
X-Plane 11 Material Model 25 Nov 2016 Detailed explanation of how the new Physically Based Rendering (PBR) lighting and material model works in X-Plane 11.
Panels For MSFS Developers 22 Dec 2015 The 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 Frames 17 Dec 2015 This article explains how to use non-monotone key frames in Plane Maker.
Manipulators 17 Dec 2015 How to set up the six types of manipulators available in X-Plane.
8.33 kHz radios for users and authors 27 Aug 2014 Describes 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 side 22 Apr 2014 Describes 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 Navigator 12 Apr 2014 Discusses changes to the source selector in X-Plane v10.30 and beyond.
Autopilot Sources 12 Apr 2014 Describes 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-Maker 23 Jan 2012 Describes 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.

Tech Notes

Title Date Description
Navigation Display Scaling 11 Oct 2021 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.
Radio altimeter sensor location and offset 11 Oct 2021 X-Plane 12 allows aircraft authors to specify the exact location of the radio altimeter sensor on the aircraft, and also the precise offset where it reads 0.
Weight & Balance and Load Stations 11 Oct 2021 Plane Maker 12 has a new tab "Payloads" in the weight & balance setup. This article explains how to configure them.
Airframe and Tail Anti-Ice and De-Icing boots 11 Oct 2021 X-Plane 12 treats the tail surfaces different from the wing surfaces when it comes to ice accumulation and anti- or de-ice measures.
Stabilizer Trim and Servo 11 Oct 2021 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 the 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.
Windshield ice and rain protection datarefs 11 Oct 2021 X-Plane 12 simulates more than one glass surface for looking out. This affects how new 3d rain, icing, defrost, and wipers behave.
Hydraulic systems and flight controls 11 Oct 2021 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.
Flight Control Splits 11 Oct 2021 In case of a flight control malfunction were 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.
Pilot and Copilot Flight Control Inputs 11 Oct 2021 X-Plane 12 differentiates between pilot & copilot sides for cockpit animations, joystick hardware, and plugins.
Flight director and autothrottle datarefs 11 Oct 2021 This article explains how to set up flight director status, switches, lights, and arming.
Changes to Radio Navigation 11 Oct 2021 Changes have been made to standalone DME, TACAN stations, and WAAS reception. In addition, Glideslope can be selected off.
Autopilot navigation source reference 11 Oct 2021 This article summarizes X-Plane's capabilities when it comes to modern integrated approach navigation and sheds light on the new datarefs.
Hydraulic gear systems 11 Oct 2021 How to use X-Plane 12's built in hydraulic gear systems.
FADEC controlled engines 19 Oct 2020 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.
Directional gyro drift and adjustment datarefs 17 Oct 2020 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.
Helicopter governor and correlator configuration 17 Oct 2020 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.
Types of flight control trim 17 Oct 2020 X-Plane 12 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.
Autopilot VNAV modes and PlaneMaker settings 28 Dec 2019 X-Plane knows two different types of VNAV, which can be described as “GA” and “Airliner”-type VNAV. This article explains the differences and gives aircraft examples.
Accessing the X-Plane autopilot from datarefs 28 Dec 2019 Detailed information on accessing autopilot via dataref, including all bit-field values.

File Formats

Title Date Description
Aircraft VR Configuration (_vrconfig.txt) File Format Specification 6 Apr 2018 Explains how to create a text-based configuration file that customizes VR interactions for your aircraft.