I can see several business ideas related to this along the lines of
something that could be fun to develop but which also has a variety of
commercial possibilities.

Does anyone have any examples of how commercial collaborations with open
source projects actually work in practical terms ?

For instance if you were developing a hardware product specifically for
use with Flightgear, how would you develop the software side without
competitors being able to find out exactly what you are up to ?

I guess you'd set up a software company that privately develops the
software.

Are there scenarios where the community helps write software and gets
cash back from related profits. 
Could you set up a "Flightgear Foundation" that developed commercially
useable add ons away from the gaze of potential competitors and got cash
back from profits towards things that the community wanted to do ?

Or can open source software be developed privately and then shared at a
later date ?

To be clear on this I do understand the point of open source and am a
firm believer in it. I hope this is not seen as a dangerous question. 



Mat



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