FlightGear 2.8.0 was released last week as part of celebrating 15 years that this free and open-source flight simulator project has been around. FlightGear 2.8.0 attempts to make the cross-platform flight simulator with more than 400 different aircraft more realistic through a number of improvements.
Among the improvements to FlightGear 2.8.0 is improving aircraft models and textures, flight dynamics have been improved by syncing against the JSBSim project, region-specific terrain textures have been introduced for Europe and Hawaii, cities and towns are more populated due to random 3D buildings, more realistic (and random) scenery, airport signs are now rendered in 3D, summery/winter scenery, and a new flexible 2D rendering system for rendering complex flight instruments.
FlightGear 2.8.0 takes the flying experience further by also offering a Nasal API for accessing navigation and route-manager data, improvements to the Airwave Xtreme 150 aircraft model, a Cessna 336G Skymaster aircraft model, various improvements to the scenery database, improved simulation of atmospheric light scattering with terrain haze, and support for new joysticks and rudder pedals. There's now out-of-the-box support for the InterLink Elite, Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller, Qware USB, Saitek Cyborg X, Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Yoke, Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Trim Wheel, Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Rudder Pedals, and the Speedlink Defender.
Last but not least, FlightGear 2.8.0 has an experimental "Project Rembrandt" feature. This feature, which isn't enabled by default, allows for real-time shadows and support for multiple light sources. Hopefully we'll see this feature ready to be on by default in the next FlightGear release.
FlightGear 2.8.0 is available for free download from FlightGear.org. While I have yet to try out this latest release, as a pilot, I've found X-Plane to be more realistic, offer more impressive graphics and assets (aircraft models / scenery), and all-around to be a better flight simulator. X-Plane isn't open-source and does cost money (circa $70 USD), but there is a native first-rate Linux client. Here's a look at X-Plane 10 for those that haven't seen the new version:
Embedded below is a video of a FlightGear 2.8 development snapshot that was recently uploaded to YouTube.