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Monday, November 11, 2002

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X-Plane 6.40 Arrives
10:13 AM | Tim Morgan | Comment on this story

Laminar Research today unveiled version 6.40 of its flagship product, X-Plane. The new version adds a number of new features to the very versatile flight simulator, detailed in an extensive list on the web site:

New Airport/Nav/Fix Data

  • New airports, navaids, and fixes from Robin Peel's huge new global nav database!

Plane-Maker New Stuff

  • You can now set the SCALES and OFFSET for most every instrument! These new screens in Plane-Maker let you decide where each instrument starts and stops it's travel, and lets you enter any conversion constants to get the output in different units! Want to measure airspeed in feet per day going counter-clockwise from 6 o-clock? OK!
  • Combat version getting closer... Cockpit instruments noww availabel in Plane-Maker to really getting those weapon firing modes right... Fire mode (single, pairs, ripple, salvo) and ripple speed in drops/second are now controllable.
  • Numerical input of cross-sections in plane-maker now possible for those that want to get those sections perfect.

World-Maker New Stuff

  • Now you can start your airplane anywhere, not just on the runway! This good for starting at the ramp and putting the tower viewpoint in your cool control-tower custom object. AND you can put the tower viewpoint anywhere! In World-Maker, just set the starting-point of the craft up, and then in X-Plane you have a new option in addition to the VFR and IFR finals and Takeoff option: RAMP START, on which case you will use your special ramp startup location selected in World-Maker! Type 14 and 15 in the apt.dat file to edit for yourself.
  • Custom object "footprints" are now shown! You can use this to position objects perfectly adjacent to each other, etc. Add new road, railroad, trail, and powerline segments now to get your roads and stuff perfect! Add taxiway lines for the runway as you like! Better yet, you can just quickly put the lines in place without worrying about making the turns smooth... in fact you may simply turn at a 90 degree angle with only 2 line segments... X-Plane will smooth the curves for you so the taxilines in X-Plane are perfectly rounded and smooth!
  • Better airport editing in WM, with no more runways turning out a little different in X-Plane than in World-Maker.

X-Plane New Visual Stuff

  • The new auto-gen takes us to the next level. It is totally customizeable. Right now, if you look in the bitmaps/terrain/city folder, you will see 4 different city types. Now, starting with X-Plane 6.40, you can simply do a TEXT FILE for each of these bitmaps that contains the locations and orientations of all the object you like... and any time that texture shows up in the sim, the objects you specify will appear on it! The result? You need only design ONE CITY POLYGON, and then that city design will be used every time that texture shows up anywhere on Earth! Now you can get cusomtized cities for the entire planet by only designing a few city blocks. Obviously, I have already done a good job designing the cities for you, but you are ready to improve or customize those cities however you like, adding all the buildings, trees, lights, parked and moving cars you like! Various randomization options are available in the file format (random building selection, random building and tree location) so that things do not get too repetive! No two polygons need be exactly the same!
  • Runways are quite simply awesome, with new multi-textured skidmarks from Sergio. Runway lites look more realistic (dirty) whether or not you have texturted lites, and textured lites make all the obstacle lighting look better as well. Runways even follow the curvature of the Earth now! On Mars, with a big runway, and a hi-res monitor, you can even SEE it!!
  • Water is nice.. it "waves".
  • OK, it has happened: custom object light color 97 97 97 cycles through red, green, and yellow in an orderly fashion. Yes you can do custom object traffic lights now. And yes they keep time in the replay, so you can rewind and see if you ran the red.
  • Afterburner glows goes inside the engine now as well, as seen from behind.

X-Plane New Flight Model Tech Stuff

  • New engine type: tip rocket! These are the rockets on the tips of helo rotors that turn the rotors without any need for a tail-rotor! They look pretty funky at night with the rotor spinning round and round with flame shooting out of the tips!
  • New VTOL control option: Differential collective with pitch input: This is used in VTOLs with engines fore and aft of the CG to control the atitude of the aircraft in hover. Design your own heavy-lift 4-engine Osprey now with very precise pitch control by increasing or decreasing collective pitch on the front or aft rotors in hover. No more need for cyclic control!
  • New VTOL option: LIFT FAN! Here is how it works: A drive-shaft is connected from the JET ENGINE to the FAN. When engaged, the jet engine sacrifices some part of it's thrust to drive this driveshaft which is connected to the fan. In this mode, you get less thrust from the JET engine (because it is turning the driveshaft hooked to it's turbine), but the shaft is turning the lift fan, which uses up the power to produce thrust itself! This is how the (real) F-35 works!
  • Reverse-flow over wings, and props improved. This helps in those backslides, helos, and high-sped autogyros.
  • New blown flap improvement: Blowing speed foud for you based on the throttle reduction you decide... and also you can blow air over ALL the control surfaces to keep flight control effectiveness at low speed.
  • Flap-deflection with pitch and roll for high-lift manuevering.
  • Engine idle thrust and tire rolling friction coefficient tweaked to get that taxiing just right in the heavies. Improved wing-tilt modelling: All element locations now found when the wing tilts for steering.
  • Transmission drag now taken out of helos and VTOLs.
  • Thrust-reverser lockout on the props if props not full forwards, as in reality.
  • Auto thrust-reverse on touchdown, as used by Swedish Viggen fighter.
  • Lateral cyclic with heading input, for helos like the CH-46 Chinook, and other new prop and rotor control in Plane-Maker.

X-Plane New Tech Stuff

  • UDP data input smarter: When you send stuff in that takes control of various functions (like ADF or GPS or flight director) X-Plane is a bit more careful about only handing over control of the exact features you sent data in on, not any other features.
  • New UDP mesaage you can send: CHAR, followed by a single char 0->255... will act as a keypress.
  • Better weather handling: Real-Weather gives high cirrus clouds for high thin clouds, and turbulence from thunderstorms is appropriate to your altitude in the clouds.
  • More joystick button options as always... This time a button for landing lights is thrown in.
  • 2 different aural warning systems selectable in Plane-Maker: One for airliners, one for fighters.
  • More data output including map range and GPS mode.
  • New instruments including AOA gauge for the military jets.

Optimizations for Frame Rate

  • Even with all the new stuff, thanks to heavy optimizations, we have a frame-rate IMPROVEMENT in almost every area! General-case frame-rate improvement: 1% With roads and cars frame-rate improvement: 12% Runway-intensive (big airport) frame-rate improvement: 14%

Bug Fixes

  • VOR to/from correct.
  • Thermals work properly.
  • No more "slamming" from runway changing elevationd underneath you at the env-file-switch.
  • FMS advances past lat/lon fixes when you use those as waypoints, and GPS indicates you are using a lat/lon fix. No more problems blowing the tires from jetting back and forth on the replay, and nosewheel steering right even on moving surfaces like the carriers and frigates.
  • Hardware throttle on your joystick now works for all planes including VTOLS.
  • No more manifold pressure going above ambient in normally-aspirated recips when the prop is pulled back.
  • Scale is perfectly accurate on the round radar alt now.
  • Yes spoilers now work in replay.

Whew. X-Plane is a very extensive flight simulation platform, allowing players to design aircraft and fly them in almost any circumstance they can think of. It comes with a large number of predesigned aircraft and terrain covering most of Earth and Mars.

Laminar Research
X-Plane 6
Download 6.40 Update/Demo (100 MB)

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Virtual Programming Upcoming Release Updates10:13 AM
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