How to convert MAIW packages to FSX/P3D?

Military AI Works is (in)famous for sticking to the FS9 platform for its packages. While we have our reasons to do so, it means that a bit of work is involved for our FSX and P3D users to get things working properly. Being a P3D user myself, this dev blog is a guide to my personal conversion methods.

1. Disclaimers

First of all a few disclaimers, just so we understand each other. :) This how I do things. It is not an official guide, it is probably not the best way of doing things, but it is one that works for me. So far I have converted a dozen packs and you can see a few screenshots taken along the way in this forum thread. Second, my goal is to get AI and scenery objects showing with minimal effort. Landclass from FS9 doesn't work in FSX nor P3D but I'm not doing new landclass for every scenery. A simple "background poly" will have to do in most cases. Anything else just takes too long and I can't afford if I want to get all 300 or so MAIW packages done in the end. Third, I take no responsibility if you mess up your installation while following my guide. Backup. And then backup your backups!

2. Tools

You'll need to install a couple of tools, or at least know where to find them. You may have most if not all of these already.

  • AI Flight Planner -> get it here.
  • Airport Design Editor -> get it here.
  • ModelConverterX -> get it here.
  • EditVoicepack -> "XL" for FSX/P3D is now "try and buy". "X" for FSX only is no longer supported but still available. Get it here.
  • ImageTool (optional for texture conversion) -> part of the FSX and P3D SDK. Look in "...\SDK\Environment Kit\Terrain SDK\ImageTool.exe"

3. Unpacking

The MAIW installer is designed to place all files in the correct FS9 subfolders. What you will want to do is install it into a temporary folder instead. I have created a folder just for this purpose called E:\P3D Downloads\Temp but you can name or locate it wherever you want, as long as it's outside your FSX or P3D installation. Now install your MAIW package into this folder. For this example, I have used our latest Misawa AB package featuring Mike and Kevin's awesome new AI F-16 model.


When finished, your folder looks like this.


4. The easy bit

The first thing I do after unpacking and reading the readme is move the "Effects" folder to my P3D. Then I install the voicepacks located under "Military AI Works" to my EditVoicepack proggie, just as you would do for FS9 (note however that you'll need the FSX/P3D compatible version of EVP). Also located in the "Military AI Works" folder are the RAW flightplans, which we will need in step 6 so keep them for now. If you have the raw flight plans, you won't need the compiled traffic bgl's in the "Scenery" folder so just delete them.

5. Aircraft

Normally, FS9 aircraft should work out of the box in FSX or P3D. In some cases you'll see some anomalies such as canopies that are too dark or completely see-through for which Martin from the Owl's Nest usually created some fixes (check his awesome website:

Personally, I like all my textures to be in the FSX/P3D native format of DDS DXT5 with mipmaps so I convert them with an ImageTools batch file, but it's not absolutly necessary so I won't go into too much detail for this guide.

What you do want to check however, before moving the aircraft folders to your sim, is the "wing_span" value in the aircraft.cfg. Contrary to FS9, FSX and P3D don't use the model radius to define the required parking radius for the model, but half the wing_span value. Some FDE designers set the wing_span value to something different than the actual size for different purposes resulting in AI traffic parking in spaces that are too small for them, or not parking in their assigned, coded spots. Personally, I fix all the wing_span values for the AI models in my sim but know that this may lead to some abnormal behaviour in-flight, or at least behaviour that was not intended by the FDE designer. But as I mostly watch AI aircraft on the ground anyway, I find it an acceptable trade-off for having correct parking.

6. Flightplan conversion

I always use the raw flightplan text files if I have them in case there are any errors that need fixing. When loading them into AIFP, you'll normally see the following message. Just click "Yes" (or whatever yes is in your language ;) ). There is a shift in day numbers between FS9 and FSX/P3D which AIFP will do automatically for you.


When loaded, make sure your "TARGET VERSION" is set to the right sim and click "compile" at the bottom. AIFP may throw some errors at you now, which you may correct first if you know something about flighplanning. If not, ignore them and click OK.


That's all there is to it. When this is done, all that should be left in your temporary folder should be the Addon Scenery.

 7. Scenery

Now the fun begins. :) For some obscure reason, landclass and exclude files for FS9 no longer work in FSX (and P3D). This results in trees and buildings everywhere when looking at the airfield without any conversion. On top of that, for the P3D users, Lockheed-Martin gave up backward compatibility on the old FS9 scenery bgl format so in the case of P3D, you won't even see scenery objects. Luckily, with a few steps we can fix all of this.

First, let's have a look at everything in the "Addon Scenery" folder. For the Misawa AB package, it looks like this:


As I said, FS9 landclass won't work and I won't be making new one so I simply delete the "MAIW Land Class" folder. Next, I look into the actual scenery folders.


Most scenery folders will look like above with a mix of file designations. The first thing I do is delete (or disable by renaming the .bgl extension to .off if not sure) all files that don't work in FSX/P3D. That is anything with "VTP", "VTPL, "VTPP", "VTPX", "LWM", "exc" or "excl" or "exclude", or anything that resembles these. These are the files that exclude stuff, draw polygons, lines, and other ground features in FS9. Some scenery designers like John Stinstrom make heavy use of these to draw roads on airfields and you will lose them, but it's still better than having no scenery at all, no?

The next step is mandatory for P3D users only, but it should give FSX users slightly better frames and less anomalies so do it as well if you have the time. The libraries containing scenery model object will need recompiling as P3D (or FSX) bgl files. Launch ModelConverterX and set it up so it finds your sim and SDK. Then you have 2 options: you either convert all libraries in one go with the batch conversion wizard, or you load one library at the time which takes longer but gives you more control. Personally, I do the latter.

Load every bgl that contains objects in MCX via the Import button or by dragging the bgl into the window. (Don't worry if you're not sure if the bgl is a library objects bgl or a scenery placement bgl. If you try to load the latter, MCX will simply show a "No Objects Found" message.) The result should look like the image below.


Next, click on "Export scenery". In the next dialogue, name your file (I personally add _P3D at the end and delete the original file after conversion) and make sure you choose the file type appropriate for your sim. I choose P3D v2, but even FSX will work for P3D v3.


Click save and repeat the process until all your library bgl files are converted.

Note that older packages will also still contain older version of our MAIW Global Scenery Library Objects. We have already converted these to FSX so you won't need to do those again and simply delete the older library bgl files. Just make sure you download and install the latest version of the package from here.

Okay we're almost there. Your folder will now look a lot like this and all that's left to do is convert the AFD (AFCAD) files. (Placement bgl's still work fine. We don't need to touch those.)


Now, load the AFD files into Airport Design Editor one at a time. If you see files marked with _OBJ or _SGN or similar like above you're in luck. It means that any object placement was split off into a seperate file and you can't mess that up. You may however choose to import them into your project anyway if you're familiar with object placement and the Library Object Manager in ADE.

We are now going to do 2 things: exclude the default FSX/P3D "background poly" and create a new one. This polygon will surpress autogen and draw a nice equal location appropriate terrain surface below your airfield.

Draw a "terrain polygon" around your field. How precise you want this to be depends on how much time you want to spend on doing this, knowing there are hundreds of AFD's in MAIW packages that need converting. When done, I give the polygon the "Flatten Mask Class Map ExcludeAutoGen" tag like in the picture below. Check if the airport elevation is set correctly.


Click OK and the result should look like this.


Now we still need to remove the default background polygon. The easiest way I found to do this is by simply copying the poly you just made by right-clicking on its edge, and then paste it again in your project by right-clicking in an empty space. You'll have the same poly twice now. Change the properties of the second polygon to exclude "Airport Backgrounds".


The result will be a blue polygon. What I now do is right click again on the edge and select to move the object to the back so it gets behind the green, original poly.


And now I slide the exclude poly below the Class Map polygon until it matches.

That's it. Save the project, compile and place the new bgl's in your scenery folder. If there are several airfields in the package you'll need to repeat these steps. They are however not needed for pure waypoint AFD's as they don't contain anything but a fake runway.

Some packages on the other hand will contain extra AFD's for helicopters or - like in this case for Misawa - roads. What I did for Misawa is create another terrain polygon around the roads AFD which looks like this.


And there you have it. This may take some trial and error before you get it right and recognise all the different file types to begin with, but once you do it's a very quick and dirty way to get your scenery working. Some airfields, especially the ones close to shores, will still give you issues but those individual cases are outside the scope of this blog.

 8. Conclusion

I hope this blog will make converting our packages to FSX or P3D a lot more straight-forward. If you have any questions or comments, I'm going to set up a thread on our forums to discuss this blog. Don't hesitate to come and visit us there.