Version 8.50

Versions 8.50 is the next major functional release of X-Plane. The releases have been getting bigger and farther apart.

X-Plane 8.50 is the most carefully-tuned and powerful release we have ever had! New features are:


This one is HUGE: ALL the aircraft in the X-Plane world now use the EXACT SAME FLIGHT-MODEL CODE, and your plane, and others, can have weapons systems with proper guidance and countermeasures!

This is more amazing than you might think: It USED to be that the OTHER craft in the X-Plane world tooled along simple, straight lines, obviously following a very simplified model... you could tell the other planes were really fake. When you would fly formation with them, they always went perfectly straight, never moving with the air, and never maneuvering realistically. This was pretty weak.

Now, all that is changed: The VERY SAME FLIGHT MODEL CODE that drives YOUR airplane now drives ALL the planes... and you can have up to TWENTY planes in the sky with you now. This means the other planes fly as realistically as yours, right down to rocking and rolling in turbulence, turning and climbing and descending realistically, and moving with the wind. Formation flight with them is now accurate, right down to getting in their wake turbulence. (As well, they can get in yours, and you can watch them roll and buffet as they fly through your turbulence).

To see this in action, go to the "Other Aircraft and Situations" windows in the "Settings" menu... crank in maybe 10 planes, and set them all as BLUE team, and set YOUR plane (the very top-left check boxes) as RED team. (If you want to live, do NOT let any of the other 10 planes be FIGHTERS! You can guess why. Select other planes with the little gray box beside the airplane name, same as always.) Now, select each of the OTHER 10 or so planes to be of similar performance to YOUR airplane. Are you in an airliner? Then select airliners or other hi-subsonic planes as the other planes. Are you flying a General Aviation plane? Then select slower other planes.

Once you have done that, close that window and get your plane in flight at some medium speed and altitude on autopilot. Let it fly for 15 minutes or so. Go get a drink maybe. Come back after maybe 15 minutes and switch to the external circling view ('|' key) and use the shift-arrows to circle around... see anything interesting? Since you have selected a team for those planes that is different than your team, they want to chase you down. If you had chosen any of them as being fighters... well... try that if you like. Now hit the '/' key to show flight model. Now turn on some turbulence in the Set Weather window. Now you will begin to understand the amount of math that is going on here.

Now, go back to the "Other Aircraft and Situations" window and UN-CHECK the TEAM check boxes for all the other planes. Since they are not on a team opposing you, they will no longer chase you down. Close the window and try to fly behind them... can you get in their wake turbulence? Get in the F-22 and find an airliner at 35,000 feet.. Can you intercept him? Fly in his wake? Can you get in a helicopter and intercept a slow-moving Cessna? Can you see how his wake interacts with your rotor? (Not as much as with the wings on a plane, thanks to the high blade loading and hi speed of a helo rotor, but the effect is still there!)

OK, now that you are in a fighter, and can see how to make OTHER planes fighters, and see how to put different planes on different teams, you can guess where this is going, yes? Grab the "Japanese Anime" in the "Science Fiction" folder for your plane and set about 5 or 6 other planes in the "Other Aircraft and Situations" window and set them all to be fighters (F-4, F-22, Japanese Anime... whatever). Set them all to be on a different team than you. (Remember, if you have NO team selected for a plane, then it will wander aimlessly. Select a team to make it aggressive, chasing down anyone NOT on it's team!) Now that you have the OTHER planes on the red team, and YOU on the blue team, close the window and go flying, and good luck. If you are a girly-man, then set half the other planes to be on YOUR team, so the artificially-intelligent planes will fight EACH OTHER... you can fly around and watch them fight!

Now, to add to the fun, we have a handful of new weapons-systems switches that you can put on the panel (all in the 'weapons' folder as accessed by the Panel-Editor in Plane-Maker). As well, you can add the 'console' instrument in the 'Weapons' folder to your instrument panel... all weapons on your plane will show up there, and you can click on weapons to select them. As well, the HUD will show a rectangle to indicate your target when air to air guns or missiles are armed, and a circular projected-path indicator will show up on your HUD when bombs are armed. Arm missiles or guns and use the { } keys to cycle through targets... selected targets will turn red on your moving map, and guide the target rectangle on your HUD.

Ok so that is how you shoot others.. but how do you defend against others shooting you? Chaff and flares! Grab the chaff and flare buttons in the panel-editor from the 'weapons' folder so you can mouse-click to deploy them, or just assign joystick buttons to deploy them. Select the amount of chaff and flares you have to deploy in the "Systems" window in Plane-Maker. Flares confuse heat-guided missiles, chaff confuses radar-guided. You can open weapons up in the 'Edit Weapons' window in Plane-Maker to see if missiles are heat or radar-guided, and open the 'Default Weapons' window in Plane-Maker to see what weapons various planes have. (The fighters and Japanese Anime are the armed airplanes).

Based on the type of weapon the that is being fired at you, you should decide whether to deploy chaff or flares. (Note: A rapid beeping indicates that someone has a radar-lock on you: a good time to deploy chaff... though someone (either AI plane or multiplayer opponent) could easily keep a radar lock on you for hours at a time if they are just following you around, and seeing as how chaff disperses and becomes useless in a few moments, being too quick to deploy chaff could negate any advantage it may have given you). The Japanese Anime fighter in the 'Science Fiction' folder has all this stuff... assign a joystick button to 'Flares' and switch to an external view while you pop them.. looks kind of cool. Turn on other planes and set them to other teams than you to fight against artificially-intelligent airplanes. Use multiplayer to play against friends, using all of these systems. Design your OWN fighters with these systems... no need to be content with what's out there now.

Another weapons type: LASER weapons.: Throw a laser on your plane and shoot down you friends in a multiplayer game... or any other plane in the sky! My "Japanese Anime" has a laser now... arm it by turning on the GUN switch.. and fire with the space bar or joystick button. This simulates mock aerial combat where you can chase each other around with lasers to simulate guns.



I have now improved the tire dynamics according to the theory of tire dynamics presented in (automotive) racing literature. You may not NEED tire dynamics good enough to handle automotive racing physics, but X-Plane has them now anyway.

For sideforce, the model provides a sideforce that builds up to peak as the slip angle of the tire approaches 10 degrees, as in reality. Then, as in reality, the tire shifts from static to kinetic coefficient of friction as the total required force exceed the available friction and you enter a skid. Remember, in reality, a tire can NOT put out as much SIDE force if it is also being asked to put out a LONGITUDINAL force!

...So this math does consider the braking, driving, and side forces on the tire, so if you are in a tight turn and hit the brakes, the total required force to turn and brake at the same time will exceed the total available tire friction and you will transfer to kinetic coefficient of friction and enter a spin. For longitudinal force, you have rolling friction, but transfer to static friction as the brakes engage, and kinetic coefficient of friction if they lock.

All of this is very simple and common, but X-Plane now takes it to the next level: X-Plane can now handle locked brakes and spinning tires, with the longitudinal and side force vectors able to handle any skid angle and any tire rotation speed (in any direction), always opposing the molecular bond between the rubber and the road, no matter what direction the bond is dragging across... Now here is where it gets complicated... the direction of this bond is NOT simply equal to the sliding direction of the tire!

Why? Because the SPINNING of the tire changes the direction of this bond as well! This is why tires lose their ability to steer when they are locked (skidding, not turning) but why front-wheel drive cars can still turn under full power even though the front tires are skidding, but DRIVING the car! (but not locked, STOPPING the car).

Now, you may have to think about that one a moment, but:

  1. If a front wheel drive car has the steering wheel hard over to the side with the front wheels SKIDDING AND LOCKED, then the wheels will provide ZERO turning ability! You might THINK that turning the steering wheel will make some difference if the front wheels are locked, but you would be wrong. When the rubber is just dragging down the road with no tire rotation, it makes absolutely no difference at all what direction the tire is facing: it's just a dragging piece of rubber.

  2. But if those front wheels are SPINNING MADLY UNDER POWER, then they still DO provide turning ability since they are dragging their bond ahead and in the direction of the steering wheel input! To imagine this, just imagine a front wheel drive car STOPPED, but with the front wheels turned off to the side a healthy dose and the wheels spinning madly under full power. Clearly, the car WILL accelerate OFF TO THE SIDE, thus providing turning ability of sorts: Turn the wheel left, and the tires drag the front of the car to the left. Turn the wheel right, and the spinning tires will drag the front of the car off to the right. So you have two cases of a front-wheel drive car with skidding front wheels, but totally DIFFERENT steering dynamics!

    Why? Because the friction between the rubber and the road always opposes the direction the rubber is being dragged across the pavement... and you need to look at the tire sideslip angle AND the tire rotation speed and direction to resolve in which way this force acts. The tricky part is that no matter the sideslip angle, skidding speed, and tire spin speed, the total force the tire puts out (sum of ALL directions!) can never exceed the available friction. This is why cars can not ACCELERATE very strongly when in a tight turn: the tires are already near their maximum friction pulling the car around the turn, so very little friction is left to accelerate or brake. This is why it is easy to spin out a Corvette... put the car in a tight turn so the tires are near their maximum friction: then add judicious power and the torque on the wheels requires more friction to resist tire-spin... friction that is not available because the tires were putting out maximum force just holding the car in a turn. Since the friction is not available, the rear tires spin. This transitions them from static (lots) to kinetic (little) friction, initiating the (very violent and fun) spin.

Try this in a front-wheel drive car and it is different story: When you add power the tires spin madly and transfer from static down to kinetic coefficient of friction, but since the rubber on those front tires is being dragged across the road in the desired direction of travel, very little happens in the way of spin-entry... those tires are just dragging you along in the direction you are pointing the wheel.

Anyway, all of this is now simulated in X-Plane, and even though you do not have the ability to actually DRIVE the wheels with engine-torque, the physics are there, and still apply even when the wheels are just rolling or locked, as can happen in the sim. Turn your airplane and hit the brakes while turning, and the braking wheels may go over their max available friction and the spin-entry begins... it can happen in an airplane just like it does in a car. (The difference is that the airplane has the big vertical stabilizer which provides a huge aerodynamic stability, making spins much less likely, especially at high speeds, where aero forces dominate. Of course, the vertical stab does not help you out so much at low speed, where the gear forces dominate).

OK, while I was at it with the tire-modelling, I decided: "Why stop there?" and made a REALLY nice new anti-lock-braking-system model. This model actually applies and releases the brakes to keep you right on the ragged edge of your available friction, and you can really feel the brakes clamping and unclamping right at their limit, complete with the resulting steering instability and little skid near the end as the wheels lock for the last little bit of the stop... the whole 9 yards!

Now, to give the best surface for exercising this model, if airport the flattening is turned off then the airports follow the terrain contours perfectly... unlike previous versions where the pavement might not quite follow the terrain. Now, the "pavement" is now perfectly "draped onto" the ground, just paving a real runway.


Go the 'Engines' screen in Plane-Maker and then go the 'Transmissions' tab. In this screen, you pick the number of transmissions your plane has.


1 for a Cessna 172.
2 for a King-Air.
4 for a C-130.
1 for a V-22 Osprey (because all the engines and props are geared through ONE transmission on that plane).
1 for an S-76 Helo (because all the engines and props are geared through ONE transmission on that plane).

If you want, design a plane with 3 engines 7 props. Or 1 prop. Or 9 engines. Or 1. It doesn't matter. Just specify all the engines and props you want, and link them together however you want in the 'Transmissions' window.

Also specify if each prop is free-wheeling (can continue to coast even if the engine is seized or failed or otherwise spinning slower than the prop) or whether it has a direct connection to the engine, so the engine is dragged along by the prop when power is reduced.


X-Plane had helicopters, Seaplanes, and artificially-intelligent Air Traffic Control well BEFORE Microsoft Flight Sim, and they came along after us with their imitation every time. Now, we are beating them AGAIN. We now have: FLOCK OF BIRDS!

Is simulating flocks of birds silly? Well, I used to think so, until I was running my Cirrus (in reality) up to take-off speed to go flying and a huge flock of birds suddenly shot up out of the grass right beside the runway and dashed over the runway right in front of me. They were in front of and above me, and I figured I just MIGHT be able to fly through a hole in the flock and get through in one piece, but I yanked the power and slammed on the brakes to abort the take-off and avoid the collision. It was EXACTLY like a drag race: FULL POWER to 100 and then yank the power and slam on the brakes.. REALLY fun.. and, if you have seen what happens when a bird comes at a windshield before, you realize it was a very good idea to lay on the brakes and stop rather than have an in-flight collision with a bird.

Now, how does this correlate to X-Plane? Well, go to the "Rendering Options" screen and turn ON the "Flocks of birds" option. Then, go flying. You might get lucky for one take-off. Or maybe 10. Or maybe 20. But keep flying.. soon enough, you will see a bunch of little white dots in your path during low-altitude flight around the airport. My advice: Fly right into that flock of little white dots. What's the WORST that can happen? ;-)


New autopilot mode selector: RE-ENTRY! Do this:

  • Get in my MegaHyperSonic ("Austin's Designs" folder).
  • Use the planet map place it over Australia.
  • Use the "Low Enroute" map to place at 400,000 ft, 14,000 knots, heading 45 degrees.
  • Dial KEDW into the FMS.
  • Turn OFF all the engines.
  • Hit the ENT (re-entry) autopilot button on the autopilot.
  • Dial in 450 knots into the autopilot speed selection window.
  • Sit back while the plane flies a re-entry and takes you to edwards.

How does this work?
It is a lot more complicated than you think... you can NOT just "glide home"... here is why:
When you are high up in space, you are going 17,000 mph with nothing at all to slow you down... there is no air so slow you. When you are down low in the atmosphere you are going maybe 1,000 mph and decelerating hard... the air is thick down there.

When you are up high in space, you MUST go fast, because if you were slow, you would simply plummet (no air to lift with) and not be able to pull up in time once you finally got into the atmosphere When you are down low, you MUST go slow, because hi speed (anything like orbital speed) would rip the plane apart. So you have to gradually slow down as you go down, going fast up high, and slow down low.

Here is why this is hard, though: When you are in the first 85% of the re-entry, you are way up in space covering maybe 250 miles per minute... An error in descent of even ONE MINUTE will put you 250 miles off course... which will take maybe half an hour to correct when flying down low. Since even the tiniest slip-up in your navigation when moving FAST will take a long time to correct later on when moving SLOW, you need to avoid any error at all in the early part of your approach, where you are covering ground really fast. (tiny mistake now = huge correction later).

The problem is, in space, with the engine shut down, you have almost no ability to maneuver, so it is very difficult to nail the re-entry corridor! Now, in theory, you can say "all right, I will just ease it down slow into the atmosphere, slowing down as I descend, so I never overspeed the plane". But in the early part of the re-entry, even the TINIEST amount of lift WILL push you back into space, because thanks to the centrifugal force of orbit, the plane will stay in the air with ZERO lift (centrifugal force is holding you up at that point, no lift is needed!) Because orbital centrifugal force will hold you UP, so even the tiniest amount of lift will fling you right back into space, you need to find a way to add DRAG (to slow the plane) WITHOUT adding any LIFT at all (which would pop you right back into space).

How do you do this? By BANKING. Put the plane in a 90-degree bank and pull on the stick and you can get plenty of drag to slow the plane, but the lift of the wings is NOT pulling
you up into space because the lift is only pulling you sideways, thanks to the fact that you are in a 90-degree bank.

Remember, though, that any navigation error you make here by going off-course will be 50 times harder to correct later on when you are down in thick air, hardly moving. Basically, the way the atmosphere is laid out, almost ALL of it is below about 50,000 feet, even though SOME of it goes up to 500,000 feet. This means that almost all of the air will be encountered in the last 10% of the descent. This means that almost all of your deceleration will occur in the last 10% of the descent. This means you will come screaming in and in and in and in and the suddenly STOP right at the end.

The problem with this is that since you are stopped at the end (very low speed below 50,000 feet), any error you made getting to that last 50,000 feet of atmosphere cannot be easily corrected... the tiniest error at the beginning of the approach will have you come down in Cleveland rather than Edwards, and that will take forever to make up by flying down low, and is of course impossible to make up without starting up the engines, which may not have any fuel.

So, how do you fly the approach? By easing down into thicker air little by little as you slow down, banking to bleed off energy without climbing, switching your bank angle from left to right a lot to keep from getting off course, and choosing an altitude to give you a deceleration that will bring you to a stop just as you reach Edwards.

  • The HIGHER an altitude you choose, the LESS air drag there is, and the less deceleration you will have, and the more likely you are to overshoot.
  • The LOWER an altitude you choose, the MORE air drag there is, the more likely you are to come up SHORT of your target!

So how do you choose your altitude?
Well, look at the re-entry instrument I have thoughtfully added to my MegaHyperSonic EFIS right under the artificial horizon: It gives the deceleration (in G) needed to come to a stop just as you hit whatever destination is dialed into your GPS!

Is the DESIRED deceleration at 0.5 G, and your CURRENT deceleration at 0.2 G? OOPS! You are not slowing down enough! You will overshoot Edwards and wind up in the Atlantic (not Pacific) Ocean! You need to descend into thicker air to slow down more!

How do you do that?
Well, enter a HIGHER number into your autopilot airspeed entry when in RE-ENTRY autopilot mode and watch the plane descend to try to get a higher airspeed. It does NOT descend because it thinks it will speed up by descending... nothing could be further form the truth! You are already going so fast that you will not gain any noticeable speed at all by descending a mere 200,000 feet... the reason that descending will give you a higher INDICATED airspeed as that you will have exactly the same REAL speed, but it will be in thicker air, so it will INDICATE a higher speed on the airspeed indicator (remember, the airspeed indicator measures pressure on the airplane.. it is basically an indicator of the square root of dynamic pressure, or pressure of wind blowing against the airplane). This, of course, will result in more aerodynamic drag, which will slow you down faster, which will cause you to come down somewhere in the USA rather than overshooting to the Atlantic ocean.

So you have to remember it like this: your REAL speed does NOT change except over the course of maybe 30 minutes or an hour. You cannot change your real speed. You have to accept that. The inertia is just too great. Your only hope at managing the flight is to control the drag on the plane by controlling your INDICATED airspeed. And you control the INDICATED airspeed NOT by speeding up or slowing down (you can't) but by going higher or lower, into thinner or thicker air. The more you want to slow down, the more you push the nose down.


This is opposite from everything you have learned, but you must understand it to say "Gee, I am too fast, and I will overshoot the entire North American Continent. I must slow down. So I must lower the nose into thicker air which will slow the plane. So I must a higher number into the re-entry autopilot speed, so the autopilot will dive me down into thicker air to get a higher indicated speed, to give me more drag, to slow me down."

Everything is backwards, but if you understand it, you will be able to do a re-entry every time, and bring it from Australia to Edwards Air force base, right down to the runway, without ever starting the engines.

I can do it. Can you?


  • New better-looking lights for the airplanes, objects, airport runways, EVERYTHING. These new lites are better looking and the light disc that we had before is now FASTER as well! Taxi right up to the runway lights... not too bad!
  • New sky-colors to give better sunsets and day and evening lighting, as well as refined lighting from the sun. The water also reflects the sun colors, to give really realistic water appearance, especially around sunset. Place aircraft by airport to KAVX. Switch to '|' view. Zoom out with shift-minus key and shift arrows to move around. Set the time of day to around sunset and circle around to see the cool water effects.
  • As well, the moon is now actually 3-D as well. This moon should always have lighting acting on it that is perfect for the current sun and moon locations. And we have new refinements in our orbital rendering... stars, clouds, and planet visibility are all more accurate.
  • We also have up to 3 cloud layers now. This applies to manual selection, rendering, real-weather... everything! Try setting 3 different broken layers and flying around between them... pretty fun. While working cloud-like stuff, we improved smoke and contrails from the aircraft as well.
  • Now we have moving cars on the roads.
  • Sun glare considers obstructions from buildings and terrain... whatever might be in the way.. fly low under the buildings at sunset and look out the side window to see the sun flickering behind the buildings, like sun flickering through the trees when you drive.
  • YOU CAN NOW MOVE AROUND INSIDE THE AIRPLANE! It's the coolest thing... open the Bombardier in the Seaplanes folder and hit control-o. Now look around the cockpit with the mouse. Got it? Ok, look straight ahead with the mouse now and then hit the a/s/d/w/r/f keys... COOL! Hit control-o again to get out of that mode.

As well:

  • Better orbital view rendering.
  • Better looking water.
  • Faster scenery load time... and 3-d objects won't disappear briefly during load.
  • Totally redone airport pavement and runway and taxi signs and lights.
  • A bunch of new OBJ commands for scenery authors to let them do better animation and airports.
  • New airport layout spec.
  • New frigate and carrier and oil rig and sailboats sailing around by Christiano Maggi, with F-18's on the carrier by Barry Leger.


Speed Improvements:
  • More frame-rate optimizations! You should see good frame-rate improvement with only ONE plane selected (no other aircraft in the sky other than you) compared to X-Plane 8.40 once our final optimizations for 8.50 are done, even though this version does MUCH MORE. Frame-rates will of course go down as you load up the sky with other airplanes, since the other planes are running full flight models.

  • As well, lights at night are now MUCH faster... flying in city areas at night is now a good bit faster.

  • Airports draw faster as well... you will see significant frame-rate gain around large airports.

  • Scenery-shift speed-up... transitioning to new scenery areas now has less of a load-time delay. Getting a multi-processor or dual-core (NOT HYPER-THREADED!) machine is KEY in getting this load time down even lower for you.

  • Terrain-following radar. It's a new autopilot button. Hit it in a fighter and hold on.
  • Multi-windows handled lots better... on a Mac with a huge monitor, just check the "draw cockpit on second monitor" option to get a second window that you can drag around with the cockpit on it. (Note: You may have to drag the cockpit window aside right away to see the window underneath!)
  • Checkbox in rendering options screen to load scenery (nor not) is back, so you can establish a general flying area with the aircraft placement, and then never pause to load scenery... though you will need to stay in your 120x120 mile flying area of course!
  • You can't SEE this one, but the code has been made much more object-oriented and compartmentalized to minimize any accidental interactions between various different parts of the program. This makes bugs and crashes much less likely, and has a speed advantage as well since memory is accessed in tight, small, pre-defined regions rather than spread out across huge arrays.
  • You can't SEE this one, but joystick, internet, file i/o, threading, and countless other things have been streamlined by finally dropping support of old Mac O-S 9... the code is now shorter, tighter, and more consistent. (the only code than can never cause a problem is code that does not exist)
  • As well, X-Plane now uses the same (proprietary) networking code interface for Mac,Windows, and Linux! (...less chance of bugs in those things now. This really tightens things up.)
  • You can't SEE this one, but countless arrays of data are now moved into vectors, which allows them to be bounds-checked (when in development) to be sure that we never access a single bit or memory that is out of range (a common cause of bugs and crashes). This bounds-checking is turned on during development, but turned off for release so there is no reduction in speed in the released version of X-Plane.
  • You can't SEE this one, but the airports are now generated and displayed using the same code that has historically been used for the REST of the terrain, reducing the amount of code and also increasing the speed.
  • New rheostat instrument: ASI bug. Use it to manually run little bugs around the airspeed indicators.
  • New digital engine instruments: Generator amps and volts, and battery amps and volts, and bus voltage.
  • Boarding-door location in the viewpoint screen in plane-maker: specify where plugin-driven ramps connect to your plane when pulling in.
  • Bug-fix: battery voltage goes to that which is defined in Plane-Maker... the batteries do not sit around at half-charge all day long.
  • New hardware support: G-1000. Plug a REAL Garmin-1000 into your computer with an ethernet cable. Set your ip address to 172.16.x.x, subnet mask to, and fly X-Plane with a real Garmin-1000!
  • Auto-updating! Go to the 'About' menu, 'Current and Latest Version', to have X-Plane check for the latest version of the installer and sim and update itself.
  • New for the "Equipment Failures" screen: Fail any NAVAID in the region! If you are acting as an instructor, you can get your pilot truly confused!
  • The NAVAID editor option in the map screen lets you edit FIXES now as well, and, um, works right.
  • Entering a wind SHEAR speed greater than the wing TOTAL speed will not cause the wind direction to flip 180 degrees as the wind shears to the other direction... enter a shear direction of 180 degrees if you want that to happen.
  • Manifold pressure modelling and various other engine parameters are tweaked out a hair based on SR-22 flight-test.
  • COMPLETE failure state saved for EVERY frame in the replay and movies... so every replay and movie will show EVERY failure on the plane. (Currently, X-Plane allows up to 655 different equipment failures. I think that is enough for now.)
  • Better TCAS system on the EFIS map.. the arrows by the traffic indicate climb or descent rate, and color-coding is better. We have white, orange for danger, and red for HIGH-danger of collision!
  • Pressurization system is a hair more accurate... the system will not dump excessive pressure if you command too low a pressure altitude for the cabin... instead, it will dump JUST ENOUGH to keep you in limits.
  • Separate supersonic DOWNWASH model from the wings to the stabilizers... should be a hair more accurate.
  • Refinements in the flight model to improve induced drag and tip-loss accuracy... this will improve the accuracy of the lift and drag from flap deployments a bit.
  • Autobrake logic is more thorough... the system engages when armed (to the left of the EFIS on the 777), but if you hit the brakes manually (b or v key, or joystick button, or better-yet ch pro pedals), then that DIS-engages the autobrakes and you are then braking manually. Advancing power (in landing, but not RTO mode) or turning off the autobrakes will also disengage them, as in reality.
  • The radio volume in the sound window now controls the volume of the artificially intelligent ATC as well.
  • 3 digits for wind speed on the various HUD and EFIS displays, as often needed in the flight levels.
  • Joystick screen now automatically keeps you from entering conflicting axis assignments.
  • Highways are "hard"... you can land on them like you used to be able to.
  • If you send in ITT or EGT by UDP then the X-Plane model for those variables is over-ridden.
  • Custom angular limits for the APU N1. Well, Jason wanted it.
  • Joystick button option to switch fuel tanks.
  • The mouse wheel will control the throttles. Because... umm... you might want to control the throttles with the mouse wheel.
  • Set the output rate for gps3 and nmea outputs to drive various peripherals.
  • Turboprop ITT model improved a bit: Specify the minimum N1 for fuel introduction for turbine engines in the engines screen in Plane-Maker.
  • New flight data recorder file format: We have added slip, turn coord, and trim to the format, so be sure to put those in there.
  • The "Blown Flaps" option was NOT as realistic in X-Plane 8.40 as it really should have been... the "Blown Flaps" really never should have increased the SPEED of the air over the flaps, like they did in 8.40. Instead, the "Blown Flaps" option should only have increased the lift coefficient of the flaps by keeping the boundary layer attached even at very high flap lift coefficients. This is now properly simulated in 8.50.
  • ATC should be a bit smarter about letting you get too low.
  • No rudder pedals? Joystick roll axis will control the rudders a bit so you can get the 172's and such down the runway without them.
  • Aircraft object as created in Plane-Maker using the "aircraft to object" function should go to the same folder as your copy of Plane-Maker, not to the outer level of your hard drive.
  • Joystick prop fine and coarse buttons work with both constant speed and variable-pitch props.
  • ATC no longer confused about what airport to vector you to when you need vectors to an airport with a common name.
  • You can change language and have all the menus all remain intact.
  • Free-camera mode can now look around with mouse-control.
  • Marker-beacon and flap instrument failures are now operative.
  • X-Plane should use the MOST RECENT report from the METAR file for real-weather if there are multiple entries for the closes airport.
  • METAR real-weather files reports wind in degrees TRUE, not magnetic... X-Plane now realizes this and treats the wind direction as such
  • EFIS map zoom and mode should be controllable when replaying an FDR file.
  • Airports should now always appear. If you ever find that an airport is missing and doesn't appear after waiting, then please file a bug immediately!
  • More European buildings added.
  • A few new plugin datarefs added.
  • EFIS map course-line not misaligned by the magnetic variation in some modes.
  • Clutches corrected on the R-22 and Bell-47 to work normally.
  • Various audio warnings, including total-energy variometers, should work in replay mode now.
  • Turn coordinator damped a bit more, as in reality.
  • Wheels should continue to spin from take-off, and be stop-able with the brakes, at any altitude.
  • The 'p' key puts the replay mode in pause rather than the flight-model in pause, as may be more intuitive.
  • The second flap-extension speed entered in the Viewpoint window in Plane-Maker is now used for the MAX flap extension, not just the second detent.... the flap upper speed-limit indicator on the EFIS airspeed indicator responds in kind.
  • HUD pitch ladders are now more accurate, and HUD scales with zoom.
  • FDR file should be able to handle very long flights without any problems with sun positioning, and have various other data properly displayed.
  • Switching to new location should result in re-scan of the real-weather file.
  • Cloud shadows a hair more accurate.
  • Fixed white lines around cockpit at non-standard resolution.
  • Fixed transparent stripes on grass airports.
  • Clearing FMC entry via plugin should clear the line on the moving map.
  • Visibility will be reduced inside clouds.
  • Visibility will match weather screen in hardball IMC.
  • Textured lights should look better on x86 Macs with Intel GMA950 graphics card.
  • Tuned visibility of lights in fog to make ILS apps more realistic.
  • Linux: the horizontal line near custom cursors is gone.
  • Linux: LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/ is no longer needed.
  • Vacuum systems function properly.
  • FDR files open at the beginning of the file, not the end.
  • Clock indicates smoothly, not in steps.
  • If you are in a water-bomber with an instructor station and drop your water payload, the payload does go to 0 unless the instructor has his weight-and-balance screen up, in which case he is controlling the payload of your craft.
  • IOS controls the center of gravity properly.
  • The hydraulic pressure gage can now be customized to show up to 9,999 psi.
  • Seaplanes always make a wake now.
  • The rotor-slapping sound for helos is now improved a hair to phase with the actual angle of attack of the rotor, not just the collective position.
  • The Space Shuttle Orbiter is now tuned a hair to give more realistic re-entries.
  • The King-Air and other planes have their vacuum systems functioning normally.
  • Non-standard temperatures are now remembered from the last time you ran X-Plane.
  • The tires rotate in replay mode.
  • The VEH1 and VEHA structs that you can send in to control X-Plane are now handled properly even if you send them in at a framerate that is higher than the frame-rate of X-Plane itself.
  • There should be no more cracks (or at least smaller ones) between terrain tiles. See for details on mesh cracks.
  • No more crash after flying away from ENV scenery.
  • Plugin loader fixed. Goodway plugin and others should work in 850 now.
  • Rain effect changed... hopefully it looks right at most viewing angles.
  • Tweaked anisotropic filtering to improve framerate. Pick your anisotropic filtering level now in the rendering options screen.
  • Added a standard framerate test.
  • Airport taxiway lines are hidden when far away to help framerate.
  • FMS shows ETE readout correctly
  • The center of gravity of the aircraft is reset to the default center each time you open a new plane.
  • Slightly-refined nosewheel steering.
  • Slightly-refined rain, snow, and hail effects.
  • Various nacelles and fuselage bodies are now a bit 'harder' as they interact with the ground.
  • Rotor sound gets louder as you pull more collective, as in reality.
  • Support for real Garmin1000s! Plug a real G1000 ethernet cable into the ethernet port of your computer, check the G1000 box in the equipment options screen, and off you go with the real hardware!
  • Airports should be appear by the time you arrive at your destination most of the time.
  • You can still get to an airport before it is built by flying really fast or using replay mode, but under normal flight, airports should be missing a lot less.
  • Some approach-light frequencies adjusted to match real life.
  • Fixed lights on sailboats.
  • Turning off background scenery load turns off ALL threading activity, not just most.
  • More command-line options to work around weird graphic driver bugs.
  • Major fps improvement when in orbital view when there are clouds. Orbital view should be as fast with clouds as with clear skies.
  • Cars no longer z-thrash on roads.
  • Hard crash with bad scenery data on windows fixed.
  • Cars will appear on roads for legacy ENVs and V8 US DSFs.
  • V8.00 US DSFs will load correctly.
  • Earth orbit textures shouldn't be missing anymore - previously you could see stars through the earth at certain angles at a high enough altitude.
  • Plugins can read y_agl dataref even while overriding the flight model.
  • Library artwork can replace other artwork in the same scenery package.
  • Various and sundry groundspeed displays now all display groundspeed, not total speed with respect to the ground. There is a difference. Groundspeed does not consider vertical component of speed. As well, the groundspeed readout in external cockpits should be a bit smoother.
  • The "APP" autopilot lites now lite up when engaged.
  • New instrument: Sideslip instrument in the 'supplemental' instruments folder. This tells you what your sideslip is in degrees.
  • 40 joystick buttons per joystick are now allowed rather than 'just' 30, as before.
  • Radio chatter, when the "avionics" or "battery" switch is turned off or a power failure occurs, ends immediately and not after the selected sound file is done playing.
  • You can now change the size of the HUD frame in Plane-Maker without accidentally duplicating it.
  • Aural warning system in the airliners calls the altitudes out a bit more smartly now, doing a better job of announcing all the right altitudes, every time, even if you are descending pretty fast.
  • Helicopters start up with their rotor systems at flight-speed so they do not twist around on their skids from quick FADEC throttle-up.
  • As well, pre-rotate is never inited to 'on' when you open a gyro.
  • Ice on windshield, sun glare, bird strikes, hail damage, snow flakes and raindrops on windshield all scroll smoothly as your scroll your view up and down with the arrow keys.
  • If you decide to place aircraft by airport when you are in space then... umm... you can.
  • Mast torque indicator should indicate proper maximum percentage no matter the engine gear ratio.
  • Helicopter and other geared-props now spool up and spin down at proper rates... geared props and rotors confused earlier betas.
  • Tail-rotor failure on the helos no longer stops the main rotor as well.
  • Auto-throttle only engages at the conclusion of a level-change if you actually HAVE an auto-throttles on the airplane!
  • Add a gun to a plane in Plane-Maker or X-Plane? OK. The weight of the BULLETS is considered now as well as the weight of the gun.
  • Better instrument failures: If you have multiple instances of the same instrument, you can fail one while the other still works to help with partial-panel training.
  • New instrument: Nav displays:VORs:VOR_1_source. Here's how it works:
    • If you do NOT have an HSI, and you still set the HSI source selector to GPS, then the VOR-1 will display the GPS deviation.
    • This annunciator will indicate if that VOR-1 instrument is showing Nav-1 or GPS deflections.
  • The "AI flies the plane" flies the jets a bit lower to give you a better view, and flies a bit smoother as well.
  • Support for CH-Products Throttle Quadrant. Here is how it works:
    • When you pull back to the detents, that will provide idle for throttle, minimum rpm for props, and low (ground) idle for mixture.
    • When you pull back AFT of the detents, the last little bit of deflection will be full reverse throttle, feathered prop, and cutoff mixture.
    • This is an option you can check in the equipment options page. You will still need to calibrate each axis, though!
  • New joystick button: 2x and 4x time speed... you will actually need a faster CPU to get the full benefit of this feature, but it will work if your computer is fast enough! X-Plane actually does chunk through each bit of air, so if you want to fly at 4x speed at 20 frames per simulated second, then you better actually run at 80 frames per second! The reason is quite simple: X-Plane needs about 20 frames for each simulated second, so if you want to run at 4 simulated seconds for each real second, then X-Plane better be grinding along at 80 frames per real second to handle it! So the hi-speed option will only work if your computer is equally... umm... hi-speed!
  • Aircraft callsigns should not be switched around backwards any more.
  • Linear radio alt only shows a decision height of up to 990 feet, so you can only SET it up to 990 feet.
  • Now the air-drop option keeps you aligned with the carrier aircraft even if he is at some non-north heading.
  • Space Shuttle approach guidance computer on the right is a hair nicer about guidance now, bringing you in more accurately.
  • Plane-Maker shows the aircraft as more brightly-lit to help in editing.
  • Temperature as set in the "Set Weather" window is now referenced to the elevation of the closest airport to you, not sea level.
  • Various engine and airspeed indicator marks are drawn more accurately.
  • Cowl flaps make a bigger difference in CHT temperature.
  • Ships wake tuned a bit.
  • New rain effect is totally different than what we have had before... looks a bit nicer I would say, and runs much, much faster than before!
  • Slight change in apt.dat 850 format for taxi sign records (type 20)... this should be the last change.
  • Wig-wags and incursion lights are always on during the day... safety first!
  • Fixed sim crash for airports that are missing runways. You must still have runways, but at least now the sim will tell you rather than explode.
  • Better error reporting for apt.dat files with problems.
  • Plugins can now reload scenery without the user's plane being destroyed.
  • Edge lights are removed from blastpads, per FAA specs.
  • XPLM_MSG_AIRPORT_LOADED is no longer randomly sent to plugins! This will fix x737, Xcopilot, Xpushback, and probably XSquawkBox.
  • Plugins will not lose control of AI planes. This should boost performance in plugins like X-Ivap and XSB.
  • Scenery objects will match across multiple networked copies of X-Plane.
  • VASI slopes adjusted to meet FAA specs.
  • Helipad edge lighting flag in 850 airport layouts now works.
  • The rabbit, ODALs, and airport beacons should be visible from farther away, and should be visible even when "draw textured lights and fixtures" is off.
  • Airplane lights won't look huge when zoomed in from the tower view.
  • Clouds might not look like lines for Windows users with ATI X800 or X850 cards. I am not sure if this fix will work though since I don't have this card.
  • Installing should work for all computers, Mac, Windows and Linux.
  • Helo tail-rotor rpm stored correctly in replay movies and external visuals and cockpits... this has the side benefit of all the rotor rpms on the helos (as well as all other planes) being accurate is you go into and out of replay mode.
  • Fuel gage for drop tank reads correctly (by indicating 0!) after the drop-tank is dropped.
  • Anti-lock braking system refined a hair more to be a hair more accurate.
  • Visual force-plotting on the wings and props displays the forces more clearly and accurately.
  • No more accidentally going into mouse-flies mode when looking around and click on stuff in mouse-look mode!
  • If you fly a glider, turn on the variometer, wait until you get a variometer tone, then exit the glider and get in another plane WITHOUT a variometer, then the variometer sounds do not continue to play.
  • EFIS wind indicator aims with MAGNETIC wind direction, as it should.
  • Altitude correction in the SNAP should be operative again.
  • New snowflake-melting-on-windshield effect when in snow.
  • DME readings average down to the final reading faster, as in most modern systems.
  • STANDBY radio frequencies, the RMI selection (VOR/ADF) for both nav 1 and nav 2, altimeters, and barometric pressure settings for pilots and copilots, emergency and backup pitot-static system should all send their data to the copilots machine on multi-machine setups, and recall their data in replay movies as well.
  • As well, the battery master switches, HSI selection, RMI selection, and all ADF compass-card rotations are also sent to external cockpits and saved for replay as well.
  • As well, the pressurization system, EFIS wind and ground-speed displays, DME displays, and speed and vertical speed displays on the external cockpits are smoother and more accurate, both in flight and in replay mode.
  • The instrument list in the failures page now lists if each instrument is a copilots or regular, and if it is on the primary or emergency bus, so you can tell which instrument you are failing if you have multiple instances of the same instrument, one on the primary or pilot bus, one on the copilot or backup bus.
  • FDR files properly labelled in the FDR screen!
  • Auto-throttle is more accurate... It should be able to hold speeds to within about 1 knot now.
  • If there are multiple weather entries for your local airport in your real-weather download, then X-Plane will try to use the LATEST report.
  • If the engines of a plane are not running then they will not kick up spray from the runway, no matter how wet!
  • Autopilot back course color-coding now more consistent.
  • Flight-level-change autopilot mode now works correctly.
  • 'Approach' autopilot annunciator will only light up if a glidelsope AND localizer mode are selected.
  • We have the transponder back in the 777.
  • EFIS autopilot speed indicator indicates in proper area in both knots and Mach.
  • ATC should not run you into mountains any more.
  • Flattening for runways now works correctly with new 850 airport layouts.
  • Logging and error reporting for invalid 850 airports is better.
  • New-style 850 runways do not automatically get runway end signs - add them by hand exactly where you want them.
  • Artwork for runway hold short markings fixed.
  • Tuned spacing of airport taxiway lights.
  • Installer: I/O errors for X86 Mac users fixed.
  • Fixed bug where taxiway lights would sometimes be put in the middle of taxiways.
  • Fixed wave texture for low lakes at EHAM
  • Performance tuned global airport select dialog box. (It was very slow with new 850 layouts.)
  • Car density is now proportional to object density - should be better for users with older computers.
  • Fixed layer ordering of new-style airport layouts... the drawing should match the apt.dat file.
  • Optimized texture changing for new-style layouts, should help framerate.
  • Added a little more error checking for new airport layouts. We could still add more of course.
  • Optimized bezier curve rendering to make less triangles.
  • Taxiway line texture corruption should be fixed.
  • Fixed transparent stripes in grass, gravel, dirt, lake and snow taxiways.
  • Fixed light coloring for code 105 lights for apt.dat.
  • Taxiway Signs can now be variable height and match the specification.
  • AI planes fly the speed entered in the 'Other Aircraft' window as a TRUE airspeed, rather than indicated.
  • No more prop wandering left and right in the shut-down case due to approximations in the transmission-modelling... in fact the entire engine-transmission-prop-lift-fan connection code has been over-hauled (yet AGAIN!) to more perfectly conduct the power from any power source to any prop or rotor or lift fan with proper consideration of the inertia of each prop or rotor or lift fan or engine in the system.
  • Carrier and frigate translate more smoothly across multiplayer and external visuals and stuff... try cats and traps with a few friends by multiplayer all to the same carrier! On of you can sit on the deck and watch while others do traps and cats! You can emulate the busy carrier deck environment in multiplayer!
  • Moonlight effects further refined.
  • If you have the "Ramp-Start" option checked in the operations and warnings screen, the you will be put on the ramp every time your make a global airport selection if there are any custom ramp-start locations defined for that field.
  • On-runway view (#) is now at proper elevation.
  • The prop disc now turns visibly in replay mode.
  • Tip-rocket and autogyro behavior should be handled properly with this new transmission model.
  • Compass dip error reversed in the Southern hemisphere, as apparently it should be.
  • Further refinements to visible rain and snow effects.
  • Mouse-fly control automatically de-selected when you change views and the mouse-control center-point moves.
  • Slung loads appear properly textured.
  • Trim controls tuned just a hair: You should now ALWAYS HOLD the trim key, mouse-click, or joystick button to get the trim to move at a decent rate... single-clicks will not really do too much... it is now click and HOLD, like the trim button on the real plane.
  • Battery indicates a bit higher voltage when being charged, as in reality.
  • Garmin 192, 296, 396 output is updated... should give more accurate results now.
  • Carriers and frigates should have decks that are 'solid' again.
  • Better filtering of 2-d cockpit images at non-standard screen-resolutions.
  • No more view going up and up and up in tower view.
  • You can no longer set all the cloud layers to 99,999 feet, thus slowing the sim as X-Plane tries to keep them from overlapping.
  • No more accidental engine shut-down if you keep trying to select the right tank when you are already ON the right tank.
  • New joystick button: anti-ice.
  • Target-select down with no other planes selected will not cause a crash.
  • Control-x to drop a marker in the data output now functional no matter how many data outputs you have selected, AND the markers appear on external cockpit and external anything copies of X-Plane as well! This one is used by the National Test Pilot School.
  • Running the flaps draws some battery amperage now, like many other systems already did.
  • PFC manual trim without electric motor is now supported, just like PFC trim WITH electric motor has been.
  • 'AI flies aircraft' is a bit smarter about flying into the ground: Now it knows you do not like it when it does that.
  • Further refined new snow and rain visual effects.
  • New lights are improved in speed and appearance and variety.
  • Tons of taxiway line and taxiway light types added: taxi centerlines, hold short lines, taxiway markings
  • New VASI light fixtures.
  • Various frame-rate improvements.
  • Coordinate rescaling for .lin files.
  • Improved carrier, frigate, etc.
  • Facades can have blending control.
  • New layouts data is used to flatten airports.
  • When texes are missing, sim warns and then keeps running.
  • obj strings can face the objs in any direction range.
  • Lights can be seen a bit further than terrain in the fog.
  • More snowflakes and raindrops.
  • Water reflections further tuned for overcast conditions.
  • VASIs not visible when tex lights off.
  • No more corrupted panel on ATI-card-equipped computers when flying B-52.
  • No more random sim crash when cars are on (I hope).
  • Textured lights no longer weird looking when camera rolls.
  • Some taxi lines were horizontally flipped... no longer!
  • Weapons don't separate from plane when plugin is in control.
  • Light levels on VASIs are fixed.
  • Boat lites are only on at night/VMC.
  • Planet textures now obey res setting
  • Surface codes were wrong for apt.dat - should behave now.
  • No more swimming textures on OS X 10.3 with ATI hardware. (again: ATI cards have these bugs that Nvidia never has)
  • No more skids on low enroute map.
  • ATC has can correctly tell if you are on the ground.
  • Autobrakes engage at right time... even if you have used skids on a plane that really does not have skids (which do not touch the ground during landing).
  • No more bounce if you land almost-short on the carrier.
  • Helo fadecs ought to be able to handle themselves properly now.
  • No more motionless cockpits in control-o virtual-cockpit mode.
  • No more clipping of the ground in airplanes that sit really close to the ground.
  • No more atc commands overlapping with data output and stuff.
  • EFIS tas/gs display works now.
  • Birds and cars and balloons freeze when the sim is paused.
  • Birds only break stuff if you hit them with some decent speed.
  • Joystick sliders should go to both extremes in the joystick screen after hitting the calibrate button and cycling the stick.. even if the 'reverse' box is checked.
  • VVI not auto-set to your current vvi when you engage vvi on the Avidyne.
  • No more reports of blown tires on skid-equipped aircraft.
  • Flaps, speedbrakes, and trim should be reset whenever you do location or map placement.
  • Moving map draws at proper scale.
  • Function-keys for throttle control now handle all variations of numbers of engines and props and stuff.
  • Weapon parachutes draw and act at the right time.
  • Jet-engine thrust-vectors plot properly.
  • Flap sound functions in replay.
  • Replay mode gives smoother (not stepped) results.
  • NMEA and GPS-3 outputs are now at frequency commanded in the equipment options screen.
  • Flight Data Recorder (FDR) movies now DO update the aircraft location correctly.
  • Snow flakes do not get too big any more.
  • Aft fuel tank starts empty to handle cases like the B-2 that shift fuel aft when supersonic... but must have that tank empty on the ground!
  • No more 'shoot-into-space' on ramp start.
  • U.K. runway markings now covered: They have different touch-down zone markings.
  • Airport and cities do not change their lighting based on your aircraft elevation and flight conditions any more.
  • Planet-map zoom works normally.
  • New water reflection for snowy overcast conditions.
  • Various other tweaks and fixes.
  • Helo rotors have half their transmission losses taken out when freewheeling. In other words, half the transmission losses come out of the engine side of the spur gear, half on the rotor side.
  • Other planes turn on their landing lights and stuff below around 10,000 feet AGL, more or less, and turn them off above.
  • 3-D cockpit and free-view keys are now: w-s-arrows!
  • Atmospheric lighting is now further tuned.
  • Select the 'reverse joystick axis' in the joystick screen and the axis reverses in the calibration screen as well as in the airplane. This is actually unnecessary, but everyone seems to EXPECT it: It's a more-obvious interface.
  • Logbook is marked a bit better to be legible.
  • Different cloud puff textures for overcast versus scattered/broken clouds to give more varied and accurate clouds.
  • Coming soon (but not ready yet): Cars drive on the left side of the road in nations where they should. ...Except really near the nations BORDERS WITH OTHER NATIONS THAT DRIVE ON THE RIGHT SIDE. In that case, some drivers may be confused and choose the wrong side of the road to drive on.
  • Textured snowflakes for snowy conditions.
  • Sailboats leave a wake now.
  • FMS now lets you enter lat and lon for manual fixes to the nearest THOUSANDTH of a degree.
  • Mars available again.
  • Briefer accepts airport ID's for briefings.
  • No flap sounds unless you have the electrical power to really move the flaps!
  • Prop planes should init with proper placement and engine power availability
  • Installer should be better about grabbing... umm... ALL the files from the net that it needs to run X-Plane! ;-)
  • Sound available in replay mode now.
  • Crash-bug affecting users with US DSF scenery fixed.
  • Runway flattening no longer causes plane to sink into ground.
  • Parse bug fixed for apt.dat files.
  • Airport layouts visible on low en route map.
  • Airplane beacon light now flashes.
  • Facade skyscrapers no longer disappear.
  • Carrier viewpoint (t-key when near a carrier) is better placed.
  • You don't need to delete prefs to avoid strange behaviour if you used to run 8.40.
  • No more erroneous carb-ice warnings.
  • New checkbox in Viewpoint window in Plane-Maker: "Windshield is plexiglass or scratchy". Check this to get a scratchy windshield when looking into the sun in that airplane.. or not.
  • Textured and point lights come on at different times of day to tune the sim appearance.
  • Various Linux bug-fix updates.

Version 8 Overview

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