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


Title Updated 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 a Basic Aircraft in Plane Maker 8 Jan 2015 A step-by-step tutorial on making a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza in Plane Maker.
Creating a Panel in Plane Maker 8 Jan 2015 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 Basic Paint Textures 8 Jan 2015 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 Photo-Real Paint Textures 8 Jan 2015 This tutorial will walk through overlaying a photo onto an aircraft fuselage in Plane Maker.


Title Updated Description
3-D Rain Effects 9 Jan 2024 This article explains how to enable and tune rain effects, as well as what to look out for to get the best experience, in X-Plane 12.
X-Plane 3-D HUD 9 Nov 2023 How to create a 3D Heads Up Display for your aircraft.
Checklist for Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 12 1 Oct 2022 Steps needed to update aircraft from working in X-Plane 11 to X-Plane 12.
Tuning Idle Speeds 15 Feb 2022 The three step process to tuning idle speeds in X-Plane 12.
Understanding override_prop_pitch and override_prop_mode 23 Dec 2021 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.
Generating Icons for Aircraft 12 Oct 2021 Explains the 2 methods for generating aircraft icons for the X-Plane 11 UI.
Updating Aircraft for X-Plane 11.30 14 Dec 2018 This document explains how to update aircraft for new requirements in X-Plane 11.30.
Vacuum gyro limitations and caging 3 Sep 2018 X-Plane simulates vacuum, electric-driven and solid-state attitude indicators.
How To Programmatically Locate X-Plane on the Hard Drive 3 Sep 2018 Instructions for locating X-Plane installs for developers.
Airplane Parameterized Light Guide 8 Jan 2018 This document provides a detailed description of the parameterized lights available in OBJ files for the use on aircraft.
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.
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.
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.
Billboard and Spill Lights for OBJs 17 Dec 2015 This article explains the concepts behind billboards and spill lights for X-Plane OBJs.
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.
Understanding Cockpit Prefill 29 Jan 2015 An explanation of why using cockpit pre-fill benefits framerate.
Best Practices for Creating 3-d Virtual Cockpits in X-Plane 10 29 Jan 2015 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.
A Checklist for Updating Aircraft to X-Plane 10 29 Jan 2015 This document lists changes that you may need to make to update an aircraft from X-Plane 9.70 to X-Plane 10.10.
Dynamic Exposure in X-Plane 10 25 Jun 2014 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.
Using Object-Kill Datarefs to Improve Framerate 30 May 2014 Describes how to use datarefs to disable features in a custom aircraft model. This is useful for improving performance in large, complex aircraft.

Tips & Tricks

Title Updated Description
Creating Generic Instruments 27 Aug 2020 Tips for creating generic instruments.
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.
Upgrading navigation instruments from v10 aircraft 3 Sep 2018 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.
Setting up a fixed turboprop engine governor 3 Sep 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.
Instrument Alignment 16 Dec 2015 This article discusses how to position instruments for visual quality.
Upgrades to Aircraft for X-Plane 10.40 19 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.
How To Create a Preview Texture for the Panel in a 3-d Cockpit 29 Jan 2015 This article describes how to use a screenshot to make a 3-D panel.
Guidelines for Working with Text-Based .acf File Formats 29 Jan 2015 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.
Art Controls for Aircraft Performance Tuning 30 May 2014 Discusses performance optimization when developing aircraft for X-Plane, including how to use datarefs to turn features on and off.


Title Updated Description
Sim/flightmodel2/wing/ 7 Jun 2022 Explanation of the array dataref sim/flightmodel2/wing/.
The X-Plane bleed air and pressurization systems 12 Oct 2021 Details, diagrams, datarefs and examples of setting up bleed air & pressurization correctly in Plane Maker.
The X-Plane fuel system 12 Oct 2021 Information on the more flexible fuel system, including fuel tank roles.
Wheel steering parameters 12 Oct 2021 How to set up a wheel that is non-rigid steering with castoring range.
Propeller feathering systems 28 Dec 2019 X-Plane simulates governors for constant speed propellers that can have various failure modes.
Preconfigured autopilots and other autopilot changes in 11.30 28 Dec 2019 X-Plane offers to equip planes with preconfigured autopilots, or a customizable default autopilot. Some of the available autopilots come with additional features.
Manipulators 17 Apr 2019 How to set up the six types of manipulators available in X-Plane.
Vacuum systems 3 Sep 2018 Attitude and heading indicators are traditionally vacuum-driven gyro instruments
Autopilot Sources 15 Jun 2018 Describes where the aircraft's autopilot gets its input data from. Selecting the correct data source is important for a realistic autopilot simulation.
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).
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.
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 2 Aug 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.
Attached Object Properties in Plane-Maker 30 May 2014 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.
NAV/GPS Source Selectors, CDIs, HSIs and the New GPS Navigator 30 May 2014 Discusses changes to the source selector in X-Plane v10.30 and beyond.

Tech Notes

Title Updated Description
Ground power in X-Plane 12.0.8+ 20 Nov 2023 How to get ground power in X-Plane 12, and how developers can override it
Rudder auto-coordination in X-Plane 12 15 Jan 2022
Types of flight control trim 15 Jan 2022 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.
Weight & Balance and Load Stations 12 Oct 2021 Plane Maker 12 has a new tab "Payloads" in the weight & balance setup. This article explains how to configure them.
Hydraulic gear systems 12 Oct 2021 How to use X-Plane 12's built in hydraulic gear systems.
Accessing the X-Plane autopilot from datarefs 12 Oct 2021 Detailed information on accessing autopilot via dataref, including all bit-field values.
Flight director and autothrottle datarefs 12 Oct 2021 This article explains how to set up flight director status, switches, lights, and arming.
Radio altimeter sensor location and offset 12 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.
Autopilot VNAV modes and PlaneMaker settings 11 Oct 2021 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Directional gyro drift and adjustment datarefs 11 Oct 2021 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.
FADEC controlled engines 11 Oct 2021 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.
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.

File Formats

Title Updated Description
Aircraft VR Configuration (_vrconfig.txt) File Format Specification 18 Jan 2024 Explains how to create a text-based configuration file that customizes VR interactions for your aircraft.