What's Changed in Version 8?

The major change in Version 8 is that the scenery architecture has been completely redesigned. There is a completely new rendering engine and a new scenery format. The other major new feature in V8 is true 3D cockpits. In addition, there has been the usual slew of minor new features, especially more detailed modelling of aircraft systems. For the details, see the 8.01 history page.

Compatibility with older versions:

Global scenery for latitudes from 54 degrees south to 60 degrees north is now available as a 7 DVD kit. The kit is available from either the X-Plane order page, or from the X-Plane.org store. For details, see the global scenery page.

For all the gory details on what's been happening with V8, see the detailed history pages.

This page describes changes specific to V8.x. Also see the Installing and Upgrading page for general information and details on installing.

V8 current Favorites

Where do I get V8??

From the X-Plane download page. Current versions of X-Plane are downloaded by running the installer program you get from the download page. No CD or DVD distribution is currently available for the latest version.

Can I run V8 with my 7.x CD?

No. V8 is a major new version. The 7.x update subscription has run out. You must order a V8 DVD, either direct from Laminar Research or X-Plane.org. The V8 DVD is also available at some retail stores and mail order retailers. See the retail description for details.

System requirements:

The Macintosh version requires OS-X. OS 10.4.8 or higher is highly recommended, in particular for X-Plane versions 8.60 and later. X-Plane will run under OS 10.3.9, but see the following recommendation by Ben Supnik:

Macintosh OS X 10.3 users: the video drivers that ship with 10.3 do not  support GLSL shaders [used as of V8.60]. If you have a modern card (nVidia 6000 or newer,  or a Radeon 9600, x800, x850, x1600, x1900, etc.) I strongly recommend  updating to OS X 10.4 to get video drivers that do support pixel shaders.

Mandatory hardware requirements over 7.6x:

Absolute minimum cpu and video card requirements remain the same as 7.6x - 1GHz cpu and Radeon or GeForce video card with 16MB VRAM. However, the global scenery is much more demanding. A reasonable configuration requires a 2GHz minimum CPU, 1GB RAM, and a high end Radeon or GeForce card with 128MB VRAM or more. Version 8 makes more effective use of the video card than V7, making a video card upgrade in an existing machine more attractive. Frame rates in machines with high end video cards are substantially improved over V7 when using the same (V7) scenery. That said, the V8 scenery can be much more demanding on the video card with its increased detail and potential for higher object density. 3D cockpits also up the rendering load a lot. The usual rule applies: the more hardware you can throw at X-Plane, the better.

What about the new Intel Macintoshes?

X-Plane 8.40 and later versions are universal binaries and run native on the Intel Macintoshes. For details, see the Intel Macintosh page.

What's happened to the folders? 

Not much, for the most part. The V8 scenery files are named .dsf. They are stored as a scenery package in the Resources/Default Scenery folder, not in the Resources/Earth Nav Data folder. For details, see the Installing and Upgrading page.

What changes are there in the aircraft format?

For details, see the Aircraft Format and Conversion page.

What about my custom scenery?

Custom scenery for V7 should work fine in V8. It should be installed in the Custom Scenery folder as before.

How do I choose between V7 and V8 scenery formats?

X-Plane will load whatever scenery is available. Custom scenery is loaded in alphabetical order based on the name in the Custom Scenery folder. The first scenery package found that covers the area you're in wins.

For default scenery X-Plane looks for V8 format scenery first. If you have both V7 and V8 default scenery covering the same area (such as the continental US) you must delete or move the V8 scenery to use the V7 scenery.

Current Favorites...

The autopilot doesn't work!

There are a number of subtle but important changes in how the autopilot works as of V8.60. See the Autopilot Problems page for commonly encountered problems.

The reverse buttons are missing in the replay controls

Indeed they are. Austin took them out because there were some problems with playing the replays backwards. To back up, instead grab the slider in the progress bar and pull it back.

Why am I getting "missing scenery" messages when my scenery is correctly installed?

This is new behavior in 8.60. Scenery is packaged in one file per square degree of the earth's surface, but there are no files where there is open ocean. X-Plane's local map always shows a 3x2 degree area. If you are located at, say, a coastal airport, then part of the local map may be open ocean and there will be no corresponding scenery file. X-Plane reports this as a missing scenery file since it has no inherent way of knowing whether there should be a file there or not. You can turn the warning message off in the Settings->Operations and Warnings menu.

How do I shut off the never-ending ATIS broadcasts?

Tune your COM receiver to some frequency other than the ATIS frequencies of nearby airports.

V8.60 (and later) won't launch on MacOS 10.3.9

You need the OpenAL sound drivers. These are included in MacOS 10.4 but not 10.3.x. You can download them from the Apple Developer web site.

Runway lighting has disappeared in V8.60

A new form of pixel shader is used in V8.60 to handle the effect of landing lights on the runway. Updating your video drivers is recommended. Macintosh users running OS 10.3.x are strongly encouraged to update to 10.4.x.

Older video cards may not support the new pixel shaders. Some display problems may be cured (at the cost of reduced frame rate) by disabling sprites or vertex buffer objects, by running X-Plane from a command line with the --nosprites or --novbos switches. For details on running X-Plane from a command line, see Ben Supnik's blog entry on the subject.

How do I move around in free camera (control-;) mode (V8.60+)?

The controls have changed - use the page up and page down keys to move forward and back. Control-arrow moves you left, right, up, and down. You can reassign the keys in the key assignment tab of the Settings->Joystick menu. Look for
sim/view/move_up
sim/view/move_down
sim/view/move_up_fast
sim/view/move_down_fast

I've installed global scenery and now I get an error when I start X-Plane

I get an error message like

Unable to Locate terrain definition
lib/g8/terrain/cliff_temp_ew.ter
(C++/design++/HLutils/Files/io-dsf.cpp line 380)

You've tried to install global scenery into an incomplete V8.50 or later X-Plane install. Either you started out with a demo download, or you started with an install from the V8.0 single DVD kit, or you tried to manually merge an 8.50 demo install with an earlier version full install (like 8.40). X-Plane updates after 8.40 modify some scenery resource files, while other files are still available only from the base kit DVD. Manually merging the files is too complicated to explain, and it's unlikely you'll get it right. The only way to get this to work right is to first install the base X-Plane DVD, then scenery DVDs, and finally update to the latest version. You must start with either an X-Plane 8.21 or 8.40 DVD kit. See the global scenery page for details.

The autopilot make my plane bob up and down like a dolphin, or
My ailerons or elevators flutter at low frame rates

The effectiveness of control surface deflections was changed in 8.32. As a result, artificial stability and custom autopilot constants are likely to need retuning. Artificial stability systems are likely to flutter at low frame rate; planes with custom autopilot constants are likely to bob up and down like dolphins in the vertical AP modes (Alt Hold, VVS, etc.) The default autopilot constants were retuned to match the flight model changes, so aircraft using the defaults should not require retuning.

Control surface effectiveness was changed again in 8.40, substantially for the better. (It is now understood that control effectiveness was way too high in 8.32.) Aircraft response should be a lot less "twitchy" in 8.40, but autopilots will need to be retuned yet again.

I have a really powerful video card, and I still get frame rate warnings and fog

You're probably running out of cpu power, rather than rendering power in the video card. This is most likely to happen with high object density (lots of buildings and trees, streets, taxiways, etc.) For details, seet the video card FAQ page.

I'm getting a lot of short pauses running X-Plane

There may be other applications or system processes running that are taking up cpu time.

As of V8.32, the pauses may be caused by incremental scenery loading. For details, see the Performance FAQ page.

When I try to load a plane X-Plane tells me I have incorrectly assigned Reynolds Numbers and quits.

As of 8.15, X-Plane checks the Reynolds numbers when you've specified different high and low Reynolds numbers for the airfoils. There are two rows of airfoil assignments for each wing surface; the top row is the low RN airfoil and the bottom row is the high RN airfoil. If they are assigned backwards X-Plane will complain. A considerable number of third-party planes have backwards Reynolds Number assignments. For details on how to fix this, see the Aircraft Format and Conversion page. (If you're wondering what Reynolds Numbers are and what they have to do with X-Plane aircraft, see the FAQ page on Reynolds Numbers.)

I've upgraded from an earlier version, and the throttles on the 747 (or 777) have disappeared off the screen!

The panel has been extended. Scroll it down with the down arrow key and you'll find them.

So how can I see the whole panel at once?

The complete panel is 1024x1024 pixels. To see it all without scrolling, set your monitor resolution to 1280x1024 (or whatever else gets you 1024 pixels vertically). Then, in X-Plane, from the menu bar select Settings->Rendering Options and select a display resolution of 1024x1024. You'll have to exit and restart X-Plane for the change to take effect. For more on screen resolution tradeoffs, see the Video Cards page.

The runways are so hilly I can't land or take off, or...

When I'm taxiing by a runway or taxiway intersection my plane crashes or gets bounced in the air.

The airports are suffering from an unsuccessful attempt at making them conform to actual terrain elevations. Apply both of the following remedies:

Where's the Glasair??

The manual describes a practice flight from San Bernardino to Riverside and tells me to load up the Glasair. I can't find it!

Unfortunately the Glasair is long gone. (The reference in the manual never got fixed.) X-Plane aircraft come and go as the sim evolves; those that stay version to version require periodic updating. In the case, the Glasair appeared because Austin was building a real one. He never had time to finish and finally sold the partially completed kit, and probably lost interest in the X-Plane model.

Both the Cessna 172 and the Piper Malibu (in the General Aviation folder) have a GPS and will serve just fine for the practice flight.

What happened to all the autogen structures??

The autogen scenery feature that was present in versions 6 and 7 of X-Plane has been dropped. Version 8 incorporates buildings as part of the scenery creation process, rather than having the sim populate the scenery with buildings "on the fly", as it were.

So where are all the buildings outside the continental US?

Update to 8.64. Buildings for the rest of the world were added in V8.50. (In fairness, they look pretty European. Maybe in future versions we'll see other varieties of buildings for other parts of the world.)

What happened to the cars on the roads?

Update to 8.64 - the cars are finally back.

How do I edit terrain in the V8 scenery format?

You have a couple of choices. Overlay Editor, available from X-Plane.org, allows you to create custom object overlay scenery. Beta versions of the new World Editor are now available at the Scenery Tools web site. None of the tools allow you to edit the actual terrain elevation mesh.

Where can I learn more about the new scenery format?

See Ben Supnik's scenery design home page.

When I switch to external or side view my frame rate tanks

The plane probably has an externally visible cockpit object. Adding it to the rendering load has overloaded your video card. To get your frame rate back, either reduce your rendering load by turning off features or switching to 16 bit mode, or open the plane in PlaneMaker and in the Standard->Viewpoint menu turn off all display of the cockpit object.

I downloaded a plane from X-Plane.org and it doesn't work in V8.

It's probably for an older X-Plane version. You'll have use a V7.x PlaneMaker to convert it to use in V8.

How do I convert V7.x planes for use in V8?

For many V7.x planes no conversion is necessary. V8 will accept them as is. Older planes and planes with legacy custom panels may require conversion. To convert a plane open it in PlaneMaker and resave it. (Depending on the age of the plane you may have to use an older version of PlaneMaker.) For details and exceptions, see the Aircraft Format and Conversion page.

After flying at high altitude for a few minutes the screen slowly goes black.

You're suffering from hypoxia - oxygen starvation. This will occur in a plane that has pressurization controls and you forgot to set them, or it has an incomplete set and you can't. For more details see the Flying FAQ.

The following problems are unique to specific older 8.x versions. You may still encounter these if you've bought the 8.01/8.06 Graphsim retail DVD, which is still being sold.

After I've flown a short distance in the San Francisco area, X-Plane crashes,  or
Parts of the San Francisco area are water.

The same problem applies to a couple of other areas as well.

There are a couple of corrupt scenery files for this area on the original 8.01 DVD. (DVDs with later versions of X-Plane do not have this problem.) Replacement files are available at the scenery development beta page. Early 8.x versions crash with the bad scenery files; versions after about 8.04 should be more graceful and simply not load the corrupt scenery files. The following is the complete list of corrected scenery files:
+27-082, +28-082, +29-085, +29-090, +29-091, +30-090, +41-125
+42-090, +43-088, +44-104, +45-102, +45-119, +45-120, +48-101

Why is there water at the US border?

Even though I have both the US and worldwide scenery installed correctly, when I fly just outside the US (examples: Toronto, south of San Diego) there is no land.

This is caused by gaps in coverage between the original generation 8 scenery used in the US and the generation 7 scenery used everywhere else. The problem does not exist with the generation 8 global scenery. For details about why this happens and how to solve the problem, see the Scenery page.

I've upgraded to V8.15 and...

I can't steer the plane on the ground with the stick or mouse anymore.

When I select any of the Space Shuttle approach scenarios I'm in the 747 instead of the shuttle.

Version 8.15 was packaged with a non-standard set of preferences that cause a variety of annoying behavior, including the above problems. The easiest way to clean this up is to open the Resources/Preferences folder and delete everything. You'll get a new set of prefs the next time you start X-Plane. Of course you'll have to redo whatever setup you've already done. To fix just the above problems:

To fix the steering problem, open the Settings->Joystick menu and select the Axis tab. Find the axis in the left column that's assigned to Yaw and reassign it to Nothing.

To fix the Space Shuttle problem, open the Settings->Other Aircraft and Situations menu. Click the button at the left of the Shuttle Approach entry (top line) and navigate through the file selection menu to find the space shuttle again. You'll probably have to do the same for the other aircraft as well if you want to use any of the other situations.

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