BVA's Getting Started Guide: Introduction for X-Plane Users

Getting Started with X-Plane

For a great background on X-Plane and some information on getting started with the platform, visit our forums.

Connecting X-Plane to the Network

On VATSIM, users set up their aircraft in the simulator's "single player" mode, and then use a pilot client to connect their simulator to the network. The pilot client is a third-party software designed to connect X-Plane to the VATSIM network.

The first step is choosing a pilot client to use to connect your version of X-Plane to the VATSIM network. There are three options:

  1. xPilot, the most common X-Plane plugin used by BVA members flying on Windows.
  2. Swift, which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Each of the links above provides a download link for the pilot client as well as information on how to configure audio and connect the client to the VATSIM network.

Model Matching

X-Plane uses CSL (model matching set) files in order to depict and generate other aircraft when you are flying online. BVA recommends the Bluebell package, which includes 80 aircraft types and approximately 1,800 liveries. While not required, installing this set will allow you to see other pilots' aircraft much more realistically than with the default settings. Download and install the plug-in from the forums.

Frame Rates and Performance

If you have trouble keeping your frame rate above 20 frames per second (FPS) in X-Plane, you may be disconnected automatically from the VATSIM network. This is because X-Plane will "slow down" below 20 FPS in an effort to keep visual performance smooth. This results in you appearing to "pause" to other pilots on the network. If you find you are getting disconnected from the network by the pilot client for low frame rates, VATSIM recommends you adjust your rendering settings until they are at a setting that can maintain 20 FPS. You can also consider the following options to do this automatically, achieving better performance and visuals while ensuring you never fall below 20 FPS:

Historically, VATSIM recommended the use of a plugin called "autospeed". However, the network is no longer recommending this plugin.


BVA recommends installing updated scenery so your simulator matches real-world diagrams. There are a number of great scenery packages available online for our featured airports.

We recommend the following user-created scenery packages. In all cases, follow the instructions on the download page. In some cases, there may be supporting libraries that need to be installed:

For all other airports, we recommend searching the X-Plane Scenery Gateway, which has a wide variety of scenery updates for our airports that are easy to install and do not require any extra libraries.

Getting Started

Next, prepare your simulator. Load up an aircraft in X-Plane at the location of your choice. You should be parked on the ground (i.e., in a parking spot), not blocking any taxiways or runways.

Are you ready to connect?

Yes, let's get connected to the network