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I really don't think its a stupid thing to ask for a road map or infographic, as I believe an airplane would carry key components.
It's not at all unreasonable to ask. That doesn't mean that anyone will have the answer you are looking for.
There isn't a textbook on sim aircraft design. There are SDK's available, but they are targeted squarely at people who already know what they are doing. They can be pretty tough going for amateurs, myself included.

The list of tools and tasks you suggested - probably not too far wrong as far as it goes, although I suspect there would be a few additional tools to add.

OK, so I went back and re-read your post. You're not too concerned about the time component. That's certainly good, but I do want to offer some perspective here.
If you're working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, with 4 weeks vacation, and 10 stats, you're working 1610 hours per year, give or take a few summer Friday afternoons.
A really high quality add-on aircraft will have absorbed several thousand hours of work - something of PMDG complexity, probably on the far side of 10,000 hours. (Will everything they do take that long? No, they'll re-cycle a bunch of their code.)
You really are looking at a very long time between now and release, if you are planning on learning it all as you go.
To be honest, I think a more practical way for you to get the aircraft you are looking for is to get good enough at something that somebody wants you on their team. My suggestions would be either C gauges or aircraft flight dynamics.

If you still want to do it all yourself, then start like this:
Open up the folder for one of the stock aircraft and have a look through the contents. This is really your roadmap - you're going to have to come up with the equivalent of everything you see inside.
Read the SDK to learn what everything does and how to go about making changes. For example, for a given aircraft, if you use a different model file, what changes are you going to have to make in aircraft.cfg so that the thing sits properly in the ground and not 3 feet above or below the ground. That kind of thing.
Once you understand how all the stuff comes together to produce a simulated aircraft, you are probably in a better position to start making modifications. Maybe you're already there, but it never ceases to amaze me just how many people, who take this whole thing way too seriously, have no idea how any of this stuff actually makes their simulated aircraft work.
Now pick something you want to modify and look, in detail, about how to go about doing that. Stick with it until you're at least passably good.

Something you would likely not know about this particular forum is that there is a very real expectation that you have tried to accomplish something on your own before you ask for help. That goes for specifics, and, as you have discovered, generalities.
That said, you will likely get a better reception if you post a 3D model, or part thereof, and ask - how come I can't get this to do X Y or Z? Or post a block of xml gauge code and ask why it isn't showing on the panel.
It's just the culture of the place and not something that you or I will change over night.

I will close by re-iterating what has been said before. Start small. It goes a long way towards boosting your own interest in continuing if someone asks, of something you've done - "Hey, can I get a copy of that?" You need to be able to finish something for that to happen.



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If what I was endeavoring to build was on the shelf to an adequate level of complexity I guarantee i wouldn't be embarking on this road :)

I really don't think its a stupid thing to ask for a road map or infographic, as I believe an airplane would carry key components.

Seems i've wasted my time coming here. All i've attracted is lectures and generic guidance
Boeing707, it's an enormous subject: strictly speaking a number of enormous subjects. We're not trying to waste your time, just giving an idea of how much there is to learn in each of these subjects. PMDG have been at this for many years, have rather more than one developer and even they take years to build a model, its flight behaviour, sound, systems coding, graphics etc and get the whole package ready for release. There's nothing wrong with ambition, just appreciate it's going to take you a long time to become a jack of all trades and produce work to PMDG standards.

To learn about building aircraft models, I'd suggest viewing Milton Shupe's introductory series - he's using Gmax which is a subset of 3dsMax. The external model in FSX/P3D is one 3D model, the VC is another, separate 3D model. Once a model is built, mapped (see Milton's series) and animated, it's time to paint it and there are many tutorials on that on the web. Then there's coding the instrument panel behaviour and systems in XML (eXtended Markup Language) or C++ for which you're going to have some serious learning and web searching to do. And if you're going to build your own flight model (how the aircraft flies) you're going to find there isn't a comprehensive tutorial available, although some tools make the job easier than others if you've got an understanding of aerodynamics.

You will need a 3D modelling program - Blender and Gmax are very capable and free, although a number of Gmax users are reporting difficulties under Windows 10. 3dsMax is excellent but costs a fortune.

For graphics you'll need a decent bitmap editor, preferably one which handles layers - Photoshop, Gimp, Paint.NET etc

For XML coding you'll need a text editor - there are hundreds and there's no need for payware. I like XMLWrench.

C++ is where Microsoft Visual Studio comes in. Use the Express version, it's free.

For sound editing many of us use Audacity which is free. I have an old version of Adobe Audition.

The flight model needs a large cauldron, a slow fire, eye of newt, toe of frog, mandrake picked under the full moon ... no, really it does seem like a black art! AirWrench from Flight1 is a well-spent $24.95 US last time I looked and a good place for the novice to start.

Above all, you'll need the Software Development Kit (sdk) for the simulator you're going to build for and I'm assuming that's FSX and/or P3D. For FSX, you'll get away with the P3D v1.4 sdk. Read thoroughly each relevant section to get a handle on what the simulator requires and remember it's written for people who already know what they're doing. I'm not being flippant, that's true of almost every sdk.

The best blueprints are manufacturer's drawings. I don't know what you're hoping to build, so these may or may not be readily available ... if at all. I built my first model using high quality 3-views with lots and lots of photos. I still missed some details! The Pilot's Notes or Operator's Handbook are usually a mine of useful information.

I hope that's of some help.


Resource contributor
Seems i've wasted my time coming here. All i've attracted is lectures and generic guidance
Generic or not, good advice is still beneficial. My friend, many of us have been doing this professionally for many decades now. We are largely self-taught however, and have learned these lessons the hard way.

In all candor, I've long ago lost count of the number of people who've come to AVSIM,, Free Flight Design and more lately here at FS Developer with stars in their eyes and grandiose plans... and have after a few weeks or months dropped back out of sight and never heard from again. You see, the sheer volume of new things to learn and master simply proved too steep a climb and they became discouraged.

I didn't become a concert organist without many years of very extensive study and practice. Likewise, I didn't learn 3d modeling and gauge programming without a lot of very hard work. Every day I learn at least one thing new. I'll not be at a true Adept level by the day I draw my final breath!

My "generic" advice would be to start with something small (like a GA aircraft) on which to learn modeling and 3d gauge programming. Just as a pilot doesn't begin in the left seat of a 747, no one will ever learn by attempting a "PMDG" level model first. :scratchch By doing so, you'll have learned and practiced your lessons on a small scale, and will see progress more quickly. :)

By the way, XML isn't really a "language" at all. It is more akin to HTML as it too is a "mark up scheme" with some peculiar syntax rules, and similar to the very primitive HP 'pocket calculators' of the 60' and 70's, uses Reverse Polish Notation" for its math functions.
Thanks gentleman, I really appreciate the detailed guidance you’ve just proffered.

Rest assured, I acknowledge IN FULL the complexity of the task ahead that I am repeatedly warned and lectured on in every post to the extent that (as politely as I can say this) I’m just going to ignore those warnings, also I am well aware of the manhours required to be spent by reviewing your, and other people’s posts.

It took me 4years to get my qualification to do what I do straight out of school. It was slow and painful, many a time where I wanted to throw in the towel. I’m now 11 years with the same company doing the same job... and I’m STILL LEARNING. As previously stated, I work in the aviation industry, so you see gents, it’s not JUST a passing interest, it’s A PASSION to work on airplanes, and now to build one.

Do I care that it’ll take me 10 years to learn but a fraction of the required knowledge to build a piece of software that may already get done by someone else to a higher quality? Heavens, no! I don’t mind at all. This will be MY ‘project’.

Anyway, thanks again so much for expanding on required knowledge and tools - that is a solid foundation to begin with.

And - message received regarding don’t come to these forums unless I’ve got a partial model or code to show and need help with.

My regards


Resource contributor
Boeing no one is lecturing - many have huge experience in development of assets and resources - The guidance is to the point start small. If you target big you risk putting yourself under huge pressure trying to gather component data, gather freeware AND payware tools. Then, because you have to learn most of the applications at or about the same time you find that you practice process more than build your dream project. That is what the above guys are guiding you through.

No one is knocking for the effort and wanting to learn. However, as stated above - the advice was look at good practice FIRST, you WILL need that information soon, that is certain. You asked bout resources and what youll need

OK - 3 d package skills at a minimum intermediate (blender, sketchup, gmax or any other you can think of or com across)

Graphics package- Gimp , Paint Pro, Photoshop

XML - CC programming tools

Aircraft plans/blueprints for the equipment your looking to build.
Remember - resources for aircraft are pretty closely guarded now because of security threats and industrial confidentiality
- an email to Boeing will not bring forth a raft of the pans for the 787 you more likely get the "thank you - NO CHANCE!"
- places like ( might help as this has for instance areas where information is taken - loads of hours accessing each link in the hope youll find that one item you need will come in to play

The information on creating an aircraft is considerable - Development schematics are just not in the public domain for for big players. You may get some for smaller aircraft or those no longing in production/service - In some cases to obtain theses brings a hefty price tag . So the suggestion on looking at what others have done is already "Good solid advice" because some of the information is already there for you ( Looking at sites like this will give you small bits of data, looking through hundreds of images just to get the colour of the cockpit panels takes time and of course we talk use?. Copyright?

Once of the best and supportive environments is --------------here. Many of us (myself as example) have benefited from direct talk and supportive advice, even if its - "you cannot do it like that and another way has not yet been found" type response is in the initial negative in the long term, a time saver as it means your not looking for the holy grail.

Im sure some of the guys who have created models will add to the above tool box for you
Gfxpilot. Thank you many times over for taking the time to write what you have. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to you all.

The project I will eventually work is no longer operated (wink wink - ie not the latest and greatest 787 etc). i Do not intend to market it as I doubt very much my result will be of any/tremendous worth. Given my experience with airplanes, I’m sure I can guesstimate a lot and also find the technical references. These things are not too much of a problem.

I see that my disability will be my lack of coding experience and familiarity of how to model 3D. Though, I’m a quick learner, and have learnt how to build something of a fuselage and wings in 2 days, so all is not lost. But building the VC Isuspect will be the truest of all tests.


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If there was an infographic, we would have posted it. But as there simply isn't one...well, do the math.

A good part of the Development Experience(TM), regardless of simulator, is digging for information, reverse-engineering, trial & error and banging one's head on the desk. And this is never going to change, no matter how well the process is, and will be, documented.


Resource contributor
Boeing, it doesn't matter if your "project" is for commercial, freeware or just for you the same level of skills development you confront. It's about personal satisfaction. There maybe payware versions of your project on he shelf now, that doesn't matter, it's yours and that's all that does. If you love learning then away to go... loads of stuff queuing up.

Just enjoy it as much as possible and be prepared to have a huge chunk of hard drive set aside for storing bits and pieces of documentation, pictures, code, practice pieces and just about everything you can get your hands on and finally a large dose of Sherlock Holmes for the digging and investigations.... good luck!
I playing Sim for 14 years included modified aircraft for 8 years and as aircraft developer for 3 years ... many project working in progress on my table, still loved and happy with it.
Yes, it is fun, I’m finding. But then, I haven’t got to the coding yet :)

Kalong, that is exactly the road I’m headed down. Been flying a while, I’ve tinkered a little here and there. Now I’m ready for the challenge of building a plane. I’m also keeping a diary as I work on this project, which is 2 pages long already! Eeek. Dare I keep a record of time?

I’m confident I have a solid foundation to begin with. SDK in hand and tools at the ready, off I’ll go but not without an issue of thanks to you all. I’ll be back with problems :)


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Edit - I’ve just had a sneak peak at the links you’ve supplied! Cannot thank you enough! That is perfect both for me and anyone else who may read this thread!

Thank you very much! I very much appreciate you taking the time to provide reference. I will reply in kind and read/watch your references in full.

At the moment, I am/have been reading this thread which seems to be a technical gold mine! I love the authors no bs writing style, his wit, technical aptitude and his transparency with regard to due process and applied techniques.

It appears there is or can be some sort of methodology applied to simcraft building.
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Dare I keep a record of time?
Please don't. Looking back from somewhen, it might be easy to come to the conclusion that one has wasted his/her life.
On the other hand, research motivated by add-on development taught me more than an aerospace engineering degree could have ever done. I can easily keep up in conversations with actual aerospace engineers.


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... research motivated by add-on development taught me more than an aerospace engineering degree could have ever done. I can easily keep up in conversations with actual aerospace engineers.
You'll be wearing shirts with the chest pocket stuffed with pens, then? And we all wanted to see how you looked in a suit! :duck: :rotfl:


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You'll be wearing shirts with the chest pocket stuffed with pens, then? And we all wanted to see how you looked in a suit! :duck: :rotfl:
It's always "casual friday" in my current job. Well, except for the safety shoes and occasional safety helmet.
Thank you all! I'm well underway. 3D modelling is where i've started and, despite the advice I decided to capture time spent on the project (as far as practicable).

So - 75hrs/21days later, and I believe I have a good solid basic technical knowledge of the plane i'm modeling. After studying the airplane I commenced 3D modeling in Blender 9 days ago and started with section 41 (nose area). It's taken me 3 goes to get it to look something like it actually should. I'm about to start a 4th attempt and apply some new techniques i've learnt to get it more accurate.

Lessons learnt thus far:
- knowledge is power! Resource and information gathering is at the forefront to any project. Information about the plane, and about the computer software to be used.
- Tutorials! There are NO EFFICIENT reliable tutorials out there on how to make an airliner from scratch. Witold Jaworski's PAYWARE tutorial is an EXCELLENT technical resource for modeling using Blender (i'm not affiliated in anyway). The rest, you will just have to learn from spending hours reading and watching mostly youtube videos, but also googling problems you're having.
- As you go along, you will learn new techniques. The choice is to start again and apply them, or alter your existing rendition. Choice is yours.
- maintain a diary. See how much and quick you learn!

That's all I have to offer so far. This is written to benefit anyone stumbles across this in the future. I will be back intermittently to update on my progress.


Resource contributor
Blender Guru!

Part One

Part Oneart Two

Goes from obtaining a diagram and then through the process including key strokes

Its a 747 but its principles especially on the nose cone and body shaping - the second is texturing including unwrapping and decals

Though I refer to them, I don’t consider blender guru’s Tutorials a mainstay. He uses the most basic of 3 view drawings (very very basic) which makes the artist have to unnecessarily apply their artistic license sooner than is required. In reality, the drawings get much more technical than what he draws from. I also am drawing in aircraft sections presenting a few subtle challenges. To summarise, useful but not good enough to rely on for my purposes.

Witold’s payware Tutorials is my mainstay because, not only is his aircraft and drawings to a highly detailed and technical spec, he also doesn’t forget to insert the 3D modeling technical aspect in an instructional format either. The only detractor (minor) is that’s its for a ww2 fighter, but I can overlook that purely because the tutorial (better thought of as a manual) is saturated in useful content.

Again, I’m not affiliated with Witold. But his payware tutorial book happens to be the best resource I’ve bought for my project so far. YouTube (ALL and any videos) happens to be second best, followed by targeted google searches to problems I’m having - such as - the dreaded n-gon... sigh
2 months later. I've spent 145 tracked hours and a thousand dollars (told you guys i was serious!) on my project and i've only just scratched the surface on systems knowledge haha I havent finished accumulating knowledge in the form of manuals yet.

I also am only JUST getting used to Blender controls. I would love to learn to programmatically build a plane in Blender some day.

Here is my latest incomplete external effort. I havent done any system/VC/sound/aerodynamic modeling yet. I've been wanting to hook into the sound modeling, i'm at a loss as to the applied methods for sound modeling.