X Plane v11 Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting X-PlaneThis chapter is designed as a reference for when you encounter common problems in X‑Plane. Each of the following sections describes a common problem and its solution. As a general rule of thumb, however, the first thing you should do after encountering any problems is update to the latest version per the section “Updating X-Plane.” If you are running the latest version and still have problems, you can check for problem files by manually downloading and running the latest installer found on the X-Plane website. Select “Update X-Plane,” pick which copy you’d like to update, and click the “continue” button. The installer will scan your installation to see if any of the default files are missing or altered, and allow you to restore them.
Water World, or “Help, there’s water everywhere!”When scenery is not installed for a given location, all that will be visible are airports and water. This is referred to as “water world,” and is a common problem, especially when using older installers.
To avoid water world, either install the scenery for the location in which you’re flying, or choose to fly somewhere else. To install scenery, run the installer and pick Add or Remove Scenery. You will need to have DVD disc 1 inserted, or possibly enter your digital download product key for authorization.
If scenery for the location is in fact installed, be sure that the copy of X‑Plane for which it is installed is the one being used—for instance, if you have two copies of X‑Plane installed (say, one running a demo version and one running 11.00), the two versions may have different amounts of scenery installed.
The X‑Plane Installer Fails to Extract a FileIf the X‑Plane installer gives an error about a failed file extraction, or input/output error, it is almost always because your DVD drive cannot read the disc. Take note of the file reported in the error message and try to copy it from the DVD (using the Finder in Mac OS or Windows Explorer on Windows). If possible, try copying the file into a different folder. If multiple DVDs cannot be read, it is likely that your DVD drive is to blame. If, however, only a single DVD is causing problems, it is more likely the DVD is defective. Defective discs can be replaced for a small charge. Email our tech support at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
X-Plane Gives Errors about Missing DLLs, or There Are Strange Graphical AnomaliesMost graphics- and DLL-related issues in X‑Plane are due to a lack of video drivers. Make sure your graphics drivers are up to date by following the instructions in the X‑Plane Knowledge Base article entitled Updating the Computer’s Graphics Drivers in Windows.
X-Plane CrashedA hard crash in X‑Plane can be caused by a multitude of factors, so isolating a fix for every specific crash is outside the scope of this manual. If the automatic crash reporter comes up, be sure to send the report so Laminar Research has the data on your crash.
In general, a good place to start for almost any problem with X‑Plane is running the installer to update the program. Even if you are running the latest version of the simulator, the Installer/Updater can find missing or accidentally modified files and replace them with the correct default files. See the section “Updating X-Plane” for step by step instructions on how to check for and update to the latest version of X-Plane.
If you are running the latest version of the simulator and still have problems, another good place to look is at the preferences. Move the preferences folder (found in the Output folder) to the desktop, then restart X‑Plane and default preferences will be restored. If the default preferences do not fix your problem, you can simply replace them with the folder you moved to the desktop and restore your personalized settings.
The final common culprit is third party add ons, such as scenery and plugins. Try moving the Custom Scenery folder and plugins folder (found in the Resources folder) to the desktop, then restart X-Plane.
Starting in Safe ModeIf X‑Plane detects that it crashed the last time it was run, then on the next start, you have an option to reset the rendering settings. If you reset the settings, you might avoid a crash on startup if the rendering settings were the cause of the initial crash. You may bring up the option to enter safe mode only if you start the sim with the shift key pressed down.
My Joystick or Yoke Isn’t WorkingIf the joystick and other flight controls appear to be configured correctly according to the steps outlined in the the section Configuring Flight Controls of the chapter Configuring and Tuning Your X‑Plane Installation but are not giving the desired response in the simulator, it’s time to troubleshoot. Thankfully, X‑Plane makes it easy to find out how the software is perceiving the flight controls’ input.
In the following example we’ll assume that the plane’s pitch, yaw, and roll are not matching the way the joystick is being moved. A similar procedure may be used for other malfunctioning controls.
- Move your mouse to the top of the screen and open the Settings.
- Click Data Output.
- Select the first box on line 8 joystick aileron/elvator/rudder. This box will cause X‑Plane to display the input it is receiving while running the simulation.
- Close the window.
- A box in the upper left should be displaying the elev, ailrn, and ruddr commands (elevator, aileron, rudder, respectively) being received from the joystick.
- Now, center the stick and pedals. Each axis should indicate 0.0, or close to it.
- Move the stick full left. The ailrn should indicate –1.0 or near –1.0.
- Move the stick full right. The ailrn should indicate 1.0 or near 1.0.
- Move the stick full aft. The elev should indicate 1.0 or near 1.0.
- Move the stick full forward. The elev should indicate –1.0 or near –1.0.
- Move the rudder full left. The ruddr should indicate –1.0 or near –1.0.
- Move the rudder full right. The ruddr should indicate 1.0 or near 1.0.
If the correct values (according to the tests above) are not being received in X-Plane, and you have calibrated the controls in X‑Plane per the section “Calibrating the Hardware” of the chapter Configuring and Tuning Your X‑Plane Installation, then the next step is to look at the first level of control response tuning.
Go to the Settings and click Joystick. In that dialog box, select the Axis tab. Click the button labeled Calibrate. Follow the directions to calibrate the controls. Go back to the cockpit and check to see if the data output (which should still be on the screen from the pre-test in the above instructions) is around 0.000 when the controls are centered. If it is, then the hardware works fine and the center point was set successfully.
The last step to solving the issue is checking the hardware’s calibration in your operating system, not X‑Plane. Finally, if you have done all of the above steps and still have problems, then the hardware itself is malfunctioning.
Note: If your frame rate is below 20 frames per second (which you can confirm by checking the box labeled frame rate in the Data Input & Output window, just like you did with the joystick ail/elv/rud box), X‑Plane may behave erratically regardless of your joystick settings. See the section “Increasing the Frame Rate” of the chapter Configuring and Tuning Your X‑Plane Installation for help improving your frame rate.
My Frame Rate is LowIf your frame rate is low, or the simulator seems to “stutter” or move in slow motion, most likely your rendering settings are set too high for your system. Make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements to run X‑Plane 11, then review the section “Configuring the Rendering Options” for a step by step guide to adjusting the rendering options.
Many of the most common problems people encounter with X‑Plane is due to low frame rate and rendering settings which are set to high for the system.
Airplanes Flutter and Crash in the SimulatorThe tendency for some aircraft to flutter and crash is a known limitation. Just as a car can only go a certain speed with a given horsepower, the X‑Plane simulator can only accurately model flight at a certain speed with a given frame rate.
If the frame rate gets too low for the flight model to handle, then the plane is likely to start oscillating quickly back and forth (referred to as “simulator flutter,” often occurring with autopilot on) as the flight model tries unsuccessfully to predict what the plane will do next. At this point, the computer is running too slowly to take small enough steps in the flight model to see what the plane will really do at each moment. Smaller and more maneuverable planes will accelerate more quickly, and greater accelerations require a higher frame rate to simulate.
This occurs due to the way that X‑Plane moves aircraft within the simulation. X‑Plane calculates the acceleration of the craft for each frame, then adds up the acceleration between frames to move the plane. This works fine if the frame rate is reasonably high and the accelerations are reasonable low. In fact, for any reasonably normal aircraft that has reasonably normal accelerations, a frame rate of 20 fps or more is fine.
Problems occur, though, when you have very light aircraft with very large wings going very fast, or sitting on the ground with landing gear spread very far out from the center of gravity. All of these things add up to the same result—high acceleration.
X-Plane, of course, can handle these high accelerations, but it needs a high frame rate to do it. For the flight model to work, there can only be a certain amount of velocity change per frame of the simulation. If the accelerations are high, then the frame rate better be high so that there is a reasonable velocity change (i.e., acceleration) per frame.
To determine how high a frame rate is enough to handle a given acceleration, just find the frame rate at which there is no flutter.
For example, imagine a Boeing 747 at approach speed. It slowly lumbers along, hardly accelerating at all. One frame per second could track that flight accurately. Now imagine holding a paper airplane out the window of a car at 80 miles per hour and letting go. The plane doesn’t smoothly, gradually, accelerate up to speed, it disintegrates in a thousandth of a second! To simulate that may require a simulator to run at one thousand frames per second!
So, while a simple 20 frames per second works fine for most any aircraft, when small, light, big-winged craft with widely spaced landing gear designs start flying fast, the accelerations come up enough that in extreme cases, 100 fps might be needed to model accurately.
This is more of a problem with planes that:
- are small because they maneuver much more quickly than big planes,
- are light because they have less inertia and react faster,
- have long wings because they have more leverage on the center of gravity, thus reacting faster,
- have big wings because they get more lift, thus reacting faster, or
- have widely spaced landing gear because the gear has more leverage on the craft, causing it to torque the plane faster.
The Simulator’s Measurement of Time is SlowIf the simulator’s measurement of time is incorrect (e.g., the “elapsed time” field has a value less than it should), check your frame rate. If your computer cannot maintain 20 frames per second, simulator time will not match real time; when X‑Plane runs slower than 20 fps, it slows down its simulation of real-time so that the simulator is “effectively” running at 20 fps. For instance, if the simulator is running at 10 fps due to extreme rendering settings, X‑Plane will run the flight model at half speed. The result is that the physics are integrating in slow-motion in order to avoid destabilizing from the low framerate. Thus, if you need real-time simulation, you must run the simulator at 20 fps or faster.
My PC Freezes after Running X‑Plane a WhileWhen a computer freezes after running X‑Plane for a while, the problem is almost always heat related. When the system is running X-Plane, the video card and processor get very hot because they are running at 100% utilization. This causes the temperature to rise inside the case. To eliminate heat as an issue, remove the computer’s cover and aim a fan into the case. Run X‑Plane for a while and see if the problem goes away. If it does, then you need to add some additional cooling.
Note that this assumes that the system has enough RAM. Running out of RAM will cause crashes as well. (See the current X‑Plane 11 system requirements here.) This also assumes that the computer is not overclocked.
Problems with Digital DownloadThe X‑Plane Digital Download product key is a long, unique series of numbers and letters that identifies your copy of X‑Plane 11, allows you to download X‑Plane directly to your computer over the internet, and allows you to run X‑Plane without a DVD.
When you buy a digital copy of X‑Plane from Laminar Research or another company, you receive a 24-digit code (your digital download product key). The code consists of numbers and capital letters; the letters i and o and the numbers 0 and 1 are never used, to avoid confusion.
A Digital Download Product Key Is Like a Credit Card NumberYour purchase of the digital download version of X‑Plane provides you with one product key that is like a credit card number. Product keys do not have passwords associated with them; like a credit card number, if someone else has your digital download product key, that user has access to your copy of X‑Plane. Just like credit cards, you should not share your digital download product key with anyone else.
If you have to contact Laminar Research customer support, we will only require the last eight digits of your digital download product key; you do not need to send your full digital download product key to anyone, including Laminar Research.
If someone manages to steal your digital download product key, piracy is prevented by fraud detection; our servers will see your digital download product key being used in a pattern that looks like multiple people (e.g. your product key used from two continents at the same time) and it will be locked. You can contact X‑Plane customer support to receive a new, unlocked digital download product key, and your old one will be discarded.
The Digital Download Version of X‑Plane Requires an Internet Connection to RunIn order for X‑Plane to work outside of demo mode with a digital download product key, the computer running X‑Plane must have an internet connection to contact our servers. X‑Plane does not require an internet connection to re-validate on every single application launch, but it does require authentication frequently. If your internet service is unreliable or extremely slow, you may prefer to purchase and use the X‑Plane DVDs.
Note that when you authorize X‑Plane using a product key, Laminar Research collects your computer’s IP address. We use this information only to verify your product key has not been stolen. We do not sell or share this information with anyone else.
A Digital Copy of X‑Plane Is Not A BackupThe digital version of X‑Plane is available online at any time for download, but it is not a replacement for a good backup of your computers! Only a true backup can save your preferences, third party aircraft you’ve downloaded, your log book, etc.
The only version of X‑Plane that is available digitally is the latest non-beta version of X‑Plane. If you do not want to update to the latest version, you need to make your own backup of X-Plane; re-installing the product will get the latest version.
For additional information, see the Knowledge Base article “X-Plane Digital Download.”
Getting Help with Other ProblemsIf your issues do not match those above, first search for a solution on the X-Plane Q & A site. You can also ask your question there if it has not been covered already. Questions are answered by Laminar Research team members and knowledgeable community members. The site also features commenting, voting, notifications, points and rankings.
There is one more option you should try before contacting tech support: resetting the preferences. Open the X‑Plane folder, double click on the “Output” folder and locate the preferences folder within. Move the entire preferences folder to the desktop. When you restart X‑Plane it will restore the default preferences and settings. If this does not fix your problem, you can simply replace this new folder with the one you moved to the desktop and restore your personalized settings.
Tech SupportBefore calling or emailing, save both yourself and customer service time by checking this manual, the X-Plane Knowledge Base, or the X-Plane Q & A site for answers. Be sure you have the latest version of the software you’re using before calling. (You can check this by following the instructions found in the section “Updating X-Plane” of the chapter Configuring and Tuning Your X‑Plane Installation.)
To contact customer service, email email@example.com.
If your problem involves a system crash, please include the following in your email:
- The “log.txt” file after encountering your error (also found in your X‑Plane directory).
- The Apple crash log (if you are using a Mac).
How to File a Bug ReportWhen sending a bug report, please include as much information as possible—anything that the X‑Plane development crew might need to know in order to reproduce the malfunction. This includes (but is not limited to) the following information:
- The software in question (X-Plane, Plane Maker, etc.)
- The operating system being used
- The version of X‑Plane in question
- The hardware in use (if the issue only occurs when using certain hardware)
- A copy of the scenery or aircraft with the issue
- A copy of the log.txt
- A copy of the Apple Crash Report (Mac users can find this in (your Home directory)/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports/)
- The exact steps (as specific and step-by-step as possible) required to reproduce the problem
- Be sure you are using the latest version of X‑Plane (this includes making sure you aren’t using an outdated shortcut).
- Delete (or move) your preferences file in order to rule that out.
- Disable any plug-ins or third-party add-ons. (Please report bugs in third-party add ons to the add on developer, not the X‑Plane team.)
- Be sure you understand the feature you are reporting a bug on.
- Ask on the X-Plane Q & A site if you are not sure whether you have a bug or a tech support problem.
Please note that, if the report was filed correctly, most likely you will not receive any feedback on it. The report will be saved and looked into, and, depending on its priority, fixed in a future update.
Very often, people will report a bug like, “My speed indicator does not work.” Well, I might crash my Corvette into a tree, pick up my cell phone as the airbag deflates in my lap, call General Motors, and say, “My speed thing indicates zero!”
In a case like that, how good a job can GM do in deciphering that report?
Filing a report with X‑Plane saying “My speed indicator does not work” can be that incomplete for two reasons. The first is that with about 20 or 30 instruments available in the X‑Plane world (accessible via Plane Maker) that indicate speed, saying “speed Indicator” does not really isolate what instrument is being discussed. The second reason is that you have not really given a checklist of steps that you took to find yourself with the apparent bug. For example, it may take certain conditions for the airspeed indicator to not work, conditions you may cause without thinking about based on your airplane selection, weather, etc.
In the Corvette analogy above, the proper report to GM would be:
- I got in my car.
- I hit the starter button, the engine started, and I put the transmission in first gear.
- I hit the gas and turned the wheel and drove until I hit a tree, which stopped me.
- The speedometer in the instrument panel indicated zero.
- I included a picture I took on my digital camera here, showing both the speedometer indicating zero and the car actually stopped.
- I renamed my preferences file so I did not have any odd settings that may cause this that we might not know about.
- I fired up X‑Plane on my computer running [some operating system].
- I went to the File menu and opened the “Austin’s Personal Transport” aircraft.
- I noticed the EFIS airspeed indicator stayed at zero, no matter how fast I flew.
- I included a screenshot of X‑Plane showing the panel here, with the actual speed of the plane shown using the Data Output screen to show my real speed.
To summarize, be sure to give a complete checklist to duplicate the issue, starting with deleting the preferences and choosing an airplane that comes with X‑Plane so that we can go through the same steps as you. Err on the side of sending too much information, rather than too little! We must be able to mirror your actions, step by step, to duplicate the bug on our computers, as this is the first step to solving the problem.
Another common mistake, though, is to say something like, “I flip a switch and hit a button and an indicator goes to 56%.” The problem with this is that it doesn’t tell us what the issue actually is. What do you think the indicator should go to? And, above all, prove it.
In almost all filed bug reports, the report lacks any sort of proof that the value being cited as wrong is actually wrong. Since we sometimes get reports from people that think a Cessna cannot roll, an airliner cannot take off without flaps, or a helicopter cannot turn without pulling collective (all incorrect assumptions on the part of the “bug” reporter). We need proof that a characteristic that is claimed to be wrong actually is. Segments of pilot’s operating handbooks are typically just fine.
So, be sure to include proof that a characteristic of the simulator is wrong if you believe it to be so.
Another very common error is for people to install plug-ins that modify data in the simulator, third-party scenery packages that don’t quite follow the standards, or third-party airplanes that may have problems, and then report it as a “bug” when something does not work correctly.
We won’t be able to duplicate the problem if it is due to third-party modifications. So, be sure that starting from a freshly installed copy of X‑Plane with the preferences (and any plug-ins) removed is the first item in your step-by-step walkthrough for recreating the problem. Build up from there as needed, including each step in the checklist so that we can go through it and see the same thing you see. Use only scenery and planes that come with X‑Plane if possible, so that we can duplicate the bug.
Once again, be sure to:
- Use a checklist to explain what you are doing, starting with renaming the preferences and removing add ons.
- Include every step in the checklist that you send in your bug report.
- Use proper terminology. If you do not know the name of an instrument, then go into Plane Maker and click on it with the mouse. The X‑Plane instrument name will be displayed at right. Alternatively, you can get the real name of the instrument by turning on the instrument instructions option (by going to the Settings screen, clicking General, and checking the Show instrument instructions in the cockpit box).
- Explain why you think the result you are seeing is wrong. Provide proof if you think the simulator is not doing what the real plane would do.
A good report would say, “On a Mac running OS X Lion, I renamed the preferences and opened [an aircraft included with X-Plane] via the File menu, then I set the controls as follows, then I observed the manifold pressure gauge to indicate manifold pressure of zero as I advanced the power, though in the real plane I would get 25” of manifold pressure in this plane, as I know from the following excerpt from the plane’s pilot’s operating handbook."
That report indicates what type of computer you are using, what you do to get the problem (in a way that lets us perfectly mirror it), what you think the problem is, and it gives proof that what you believe about the plane is in fact true. That is enough info for us to work with!
Also, be sure to send the ‘log.txt’ file! This lists what type of computer you have. Hardly anyone even thinks to mention whether they are on Mac, Windows, or Linux!