Version 3.0 of FlightGear, the free and open source flight simulator that can be regarded as a game or as a research tool, has been released.
Founded in 1997, FlightGear is developed by a worldwide group of volunteers and is used all over the world by desktop flight simulator enthusiasts, for research in universities and for interactive exhibits in museums. It features more than 400 aircraft, a worldwide scenery database, a multi-player environment, detailed sky modelling, a flexible and open aircraft modelling system, varied networking options, multiple display support, a powerful scripting language and an open architecture. Being open-source, the simulator is owned by the community and everyone is encouraged to contribute.
Highlights in this release include integration of the FGCom voice communications client within the simulator, improved terrain rendering, faster scenery loading, and improved usability.
The enhancements seem to have been well received to judge by this comment made on the blog post announcing the release:
I am amazed by the new performance! The way the sunlight plays with fuselage of the airplanes is beautyfull. Visibility is another chapter; I have to get used to more fog and haze, but probably this is what the pilot actually sees when he is looking out of the window, so this is as close to reality as you can get!
This release coincides with the release of FlightGear World Scenery 2.0 which has improved scenery data for the entirety of the planet and incorporates OpenStreetMap roads and detailed terrain information from a variety of sources.
While FlightGear can be downloaded for free from many locations including the FlightGear website it can also be bought on a CD which makes installation faster and easier for new users.