There is growing interest in commercial aircraft formation flight as a means of reducing both airspace congestion and the carbon footprint of air transportation. Wake vortex surfing has been researched extensively and proven to have significant fuel-saving benefits, however, commercial air transportation has yet to take advantage of these formation benefits due to understandable safety concerns. Formation contingency scenarios are much more complex than those of individual aircraft and have not yet been studied in depth. This work investigates the utility of mixed-integer linear programming and optimization in generating aircraft escape paths for formation contingency planning. Two high-altitude commercial aircraft formation scenarios are presented; formation join and formation escape. Pilot expertise is used to evaluate the optimized paths. The linear programming formulation results compare well with pilot intuition and confirm viability of pilot-generated plans from previous work. The model proves useful both in presenting solutions not previously considered and in evaluating separation requirements for improvement of escape path planning.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-11-08
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s baseline support. S. I. S. thanks an anonymous PhD student who got her started formulating collision avoidance MILP and optimization problems.