Austin Meyer talks X-Plane 12 flight model updates

A new update on the Laminar Research developer blog goes into some detail on the kinds of flight model fixes that the team at X-Plane have done for X-Plane 12. The update, provided by X-Plane founder Austin Meyer gives us some interesting insights into what X-Plane 12 will bring to the table. Let’s have a look.

F-4 Phantom is the ultimate aircraft for flight model testing?

According to Austin Meyer, the F-4 Phantom is an aircraft that might just be perfect for testing. He points out the significant range of speed and performance attributes that the F-4 Phantom has within its flight model and that’s not all. It’s also using very little in the way of augmented control systems (think fly-by-wire systems like in the A330 also coming to XP12) so this is more or less a pure stick and rudder aircraft with nothing more than a rate limiter to adjust the pilots direct inputs.

So, with these huge ranges of speed and angle of attack, hugely-detailed requirements for performance, maneuvering, and handling, this airplane makes the ULTIMATE airplane to test the X-Plane flight model. If it’s wrong in the X-Plane flight model, the pilot of the sim will NOTICE it! There are no flight control computers to hide the errors, and across this huge envelope, any shortcoming in the flight model will stick out like a sore thumb at SOME portion of the operating envelope!

Austin Meyer

Many of those shortcomings are what Austin specifically set out to address with this lengthy update. He goes into detail on what they were testing with and against showing off how improving the model for the F-4 Phantom in X-Plane 12 also benefits other aircraft including the A330.

The result is a more accurate simulation and less fudging of the numbers that third party developers sometimes need to do to get an airplane to behave according to the numbers more precisely. Of course the ultimate goal is to make it so that the flight model can handle the details on its own and this seems to be where both the F-4 and Austin are going for every airplane in their stable. Reporting on their flight model improvements for the F-4, Austin goes on to say,

There are NO hacks in the aircraft file. NO plugins. EVERY VARIABLE is entered as accurately as could be in Plane-Maker, and the flight model is now improved and refined to represent this model perfectly.In the past, people would sometimes have to put fake values in the airplane file in Plane-Maker to get realistic performance, but that is NOT the right solution. I wanted to enter this bird ACCURATELY, and then get perfect results.

Fascinating stuff. For the full read I recommend you visit the dev blog right here and learn about the nitty gritty of X-Plane 12’s flight model development.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. harryvoyager says:

    Does that mean the F-4 is going to be included in the base X-Plane 12 game?

    Like

    1. Urgent Siesta says:

      The Phantom has been a default in the game since v10 (or earlier). It’s a non-clickable cockpit, though. You can also check out the SR-71 and IIRC, a B-52 is in there, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. harryvoyager says:

        Ah very cool. I did not realize that. I’ll have to check to see if I’ve got a copy of 11 then. Don’t remember if I picked it up ever or not.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. ShamrockOneFive says:

      It looks like it will be included as older types have been in the past with previous X-Plane titles. It’ll be there but not upgraded from its X-Plane 11 form… IF that’s how this goes.

      We don’t yet have a full list of what will be upgraded and what won’t be.

      Like

  2. Urgent Siesta says:

    “…if you follow Bernoulli on Twitter…” ha Ha HA!

    The article is def worth a read. It also helps explain why military aircraft in X-Plane never seem to fly well “at the edge”.

    Great to see even the vaunted X-Plane’s FM is getting substantially improved with v12! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. busdriver says:

    FWIW the F-4 does have augmented flight controls, specifically stability augmentation in all three axes. We would turn off the Roll Aug prior to hard maneuvering. Without Pitch Aug it was very easy to get into a PIO as I learned one day when I was messing with my WSO letting him fly formation (loose route).

    My WSO buddy was a rated pilot with CFI, CFII, and MEI tickets and had flown in IKAO competitions. I got us in the correct position then gave him the airplane. After a few seconds of him being stable, I turned off the Pitch Aug while holding down the Master Caution cancel button (so he wouldn’t see the MC light illuminate). A couple pumps of the stick and PIO and I would say “I’ve got the jet…” and turn the Pitch Aug back on. He couldn’t figure out why he sucked that day, he was a very good stick.

    So yeah, the F-4 has flight control augmentation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Haha that’s a great little prank and a good story! That’s also super interesting about the augmentation system – clearly a bit more than Austin seemed to be making it out to be.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  4. Chris says:

    Austin is amazing developer. I received some emails from him , when he reworked the x-plane 11 flight model.

    Like

  5. Chris says:

    Austin is an amazing developer. I received some emails from him , when he reworked the X-Plane 11 flight model.

    Like

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