Laminar Research Formally Announces X-Plane 12

Laminar Research has formally announced X-Plane 12. This is now the next-generation platform for X-Plane.

A new Tomcat aircraft will be a default aircraft for X-Plane 12.


Austin is up talking about weather and how it will work with X-Plane 12.

“This is a global grid that surrounds the whole earth and simulates the weather from an algorithm. This forecast is computer generated and covers the whole world. It can also go forward in time. This allows global weather that covers space and time. These two things together allow weather that can smoothly work.”

When you put it all together, this is a nice weather model.


Ben is up next talking about clouds.

Laminar Research Formally Announces X-Plane 12

Above: Not the actual clouds for XPL12

For X-Plane 12 we rewrote it. They are now volumetric. Your graphics card now uses this efficiently.

Librain is now integrated with X-Plane 12. The rain simulation is now super realistic.

Laminar Research Formally Announces X-Plane 12

The A330

The A330 leverages the fly-by-wire system that Austin has developed natively for X-Plane 11. This includes various modes such as Alpha Floor protection.

Laminar Research Formally Announces X-Plane 12

In summary, the A330:

  • Realistic Fly-By-Wire simulation
  • Realistic 3D modelling
  • ECAM messages
  • Failures
  • Fully modelled landing gear

Ambient Sounds

A new ambient sound engine has also been added to X-Plane 12. This includes:

  • Wind
  • Rain
  • Thunder
  • Cars
  • Birds

They also react accordingly to the time of day, weather, and more.

Sounds for airport vehicles have been updated. These are very detailed effects with loads of variations to make the world feel alive. Jetways also make sounds when they move, too.

Laminar Research Formally Announces X-Plane 12

X-Plane 12 will support FMOD 2.0. This new version will be available to third-party developers and will make life easier for the sound designers.

The World


X-Plane 12 features a new 3D forest engine. Trees are drawn in complete 3D trees if they’re nearby, but those that are away are rendered accordingly to not hamper performance.

Airport Scenery

The airport environment has seen several improvements. Runways are built with a new engine, whilst markings are accurate based on real-world data. X-Plane 12 supports dynamic jetways, along with a control tower kit that developers can use to add details to gateway airports.


Laminar Research has collected plenty of data to represent seasons in the simulator. As seasons around the world change at different times, the team has developed an engine that models seasons as it changes in time and space. This fits in really well in the new 3D forest engine.

Autogen Engine

This has been rebuilt and now includes many new data sources for even more accuracy in the world. The autogen library has added sports features such as tennis courts, stadiums, cemeteries and more. Seaports and ships are also included.

In X-Plane 12, water waves are now 3D. The whole water simulation has now been sent to the GPU, thanks to the move to Metal/Vulkan.

Dual Controls

A new pilot and co-pilot control setup will be possible in X-Plane 12. Now that you have independent controls, you can do all sorts of failure scenarios.

New Fleet

A number of new default aircraft is also coming to X-Plane 12.

  • Cirrus SR22
  • Citation X (own digital flight deck)
  • A330
  • F-14
  • R-22
  • RV-10

ATC Improvements

Regional accents and voices will be included.

A number of new actions added to the system are for VFR flight following. You will no longer be vectored into mountains!

Random VFR position checks are included.

The new ATC system will be more accessible to HOTAS and VR users thanks to the new menu and UI.


An early beta for developers will be first. Then an ‘early access’ phase will come. After that, a physical and digital release will follow. No exact timelines were said at this time.

Upgrading from X-Plane 11?

Thomson confirms that once the early access version of X-Plane 12 comes out, if you buy a key, you will get access to both X-Plane 11 (stable) and X-Plane 12 Early Access.

Backwards Compatibility

They expect most things to work well, but there will be a few things that may not work. This is why Laminar Research is doing a closed beta with developers.

This is a breaking story and will be updated over time.

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Calum Martin
Content Director
Calum has been an avid fan of Flight Sim since the release of FS2000 and has developed his love for aviation ever since.
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