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Motivation

Global air travel is expected to grow by 3 fold over the next 3 decades Aviations contribution to global warming is expected to grow to 20% by 2050

Source: Lee et al., Aviation and Global Climate Change in the 21st Century , 2009

Airbus A330/A340 Development


1000 900

800
700

Market penetration

Aircraft Built

600 500 400 300 200 Study Launch

Delivery

100
0 1978 1983 1988 1993 1998 2003 2008

Objective
Use formation flight to improve the energy efficiency and economic performance of todays aircraft

Formation Flight Route Optimization Design Studies Conclusion Policy Considerations

Photo Source: John Benson, V is for Vamoose, Creative Commons

Bird Migration: 190 BPM when flying solo; 160 BPM when in formation (Weimerskirch, Martin, Clerquin, Alexandre, and Jiraskov, 2001)

NASA Autonomous Formation Flight Experiment demonstrated14-18% fuel savings (Ray et al. 2002)

Photo source: NASA

Baseline Schedule

Optimized Formation Flight Schedule

Xu, Ning, Bower, Kroo, Aircraft Route Optimization for Formation Flight, Journal of Aircraft, In Press

Apply formation flight to an airline schedule and demonstrate 7.7% fuel or 2.6% cost savings

When an aircraft produces lift it also creates energetic and persistent wake vortices

Ning, Aircraft Drag Reduction Through Extended Formation Flight, 2011

The wake vortices create regions of downwash and upwash

(Lissaman, 1970, Weimerskirch et al. 2001, Blake and Multhopp, 1998)

A trailing aircraft flying through the upwash can reduce its drag at fixed lift This can lead to reduced fuel burn or longer range

Close formation flight may not be safe or practical for commercial aviation

5 to 40 wing spans

Wake vortices can persist for many miles before being dissipated by viscous forces Extended formation flight can achieve most of the savings of close formation flight

5 to 40 wing spans

Trailing aircraft see all of the savings Wake evolution is an important consideration

Formation Flight Route Optimization Design Studies Conclusion Policy Considerations

Mission Level Continuous domain aircraft mission performance optimization Gradient-based method

Mission Level Continuous domain aircraft mission performance optimization Gradient-based method

System Level

Find the best schedule of optimized missions


Integer programing

Flight schedule All possible solo and formation missions Heuristic filter to eliminate bad routes n candidate solo and formation missions Optimize mission 1 Optimize mission 2 Optimize mission 3 Optimize mission n

n optimized missions Integer programming to optimized schedule Optimized schedule

Baseline flight schedule

Flight schedule All possible solo and formation missions Heuristic filter to eliminate bad routes n candidate solo and formation missions

Optimize mission 1

Optimize mission 2

Optimize mission 3

Optimize mission n

n optimized missions Integer programming to optimized schedule

Optimized formation flight schedule

Optimized schedule

Flight schedule

Combinatorial set of all possible formations

All possible solo and formation missions Heuristic filter to eliminate bad routes n candidate solo and formation missions

Optimize mission 1

Optimize mission 2

Optimize mission 3

Optimize mission n

n optimized missions Integer programming to optimized schedule Optimized schedule

Flight schedule All possible solo and formation missions

Reduce the size of the problem

Heuristic filter to eliminate bad routes n candidate solo and formation missions

Optimize mission 1

Optimize mission 2

Optimize mission 3

Optimize mission n

n optimized missions Integer programming to optimized schedule Optimized schedule

Flight schedule All possible solo and formation missions Heuristic filter to eliminate bad routes n candidate solo and formation missions

Gradient-based mission optimizations

Optimize mission 1

Optimize mission 2

Optimize mission 3

Optimize mission n

n optimized missions Integer programming to optimized schedule Optimized schedule

Flight schedule All possible solo and formation missions Heuristic filter to eliminate bad routes n candidate solo and formation missions Optimize mission 1 Optimize mission 2 Optimize mission 3 Optimize mission n

n optimized missions

Integer programing to find the best schedule of flights

Integer programming to optimized schedule Optimized schedule

For n flights there are:


n solo routes n(n-1) two-aircraft formation routes n(n-1)(n-2) three-aircraft formation routes

NP-hard problem

But only a small subset of formations is practical

Filters formations based on spatial and temporal proximity

Objectives

Fuel burn Direct operating cost (DOC) Altitudes, weight and Mach numbers Formation rendezvous longitudes, latitudes and altitudes Departure and arrival times Rendezvous time and flight state compatibility Segment range Thrust margins Flight time

Variables (4-D trajectory)


Constraints

zt i p yt i p

Induced drag is sensitive to the offset between vortex and wing tip as well as the longitudinal position Model accounts for wake roll-up and viscous decay

Aircraft of different types are optimally arranged in formation according to relative weight and fuel efficiency (Ning and Kroo, 2011, Xu, Ning, Bower and Kroo , 2013)

Drag buildup
Induced drag from the formation drag model and elliptic load assumptions Parasite drag from modified flat plate methods Compressibility drag from the method of Shevell (1983)

Engine model included in the analysis

Balance formation cost and fuel savings Direct operating cost model (Liebeck et al. 1995)
$/block hour (crew) $/flight hour (airframe and engine maintenance) $/gal of fuel and $/lb of oil Neglect landing fees, insurance and depreciation

Compute aircraft drag, fuel flow and performance at the 4 flight states

Integrate for the segment range using the Breguet equation

The fuel burn objective falls out of the weight

Segments represent great circle routes

Middle segment is flown in formation Rendezvous and separation longitude and latitudes are design variables

Formation Flight Fuel Reserve


Models the worst case scenario where an aircraft flies the longer formation mission but gets no drag savings The aircraft must still carry enough fuel to reach its destination The additional weight from the reserve fuel cut formation flight savings by 25%

Our conservative model of formation flight reduces the fuel burned, but not the fuel carried

Find the best combination of individually optimal solo and formation missions Integer-programming solver with branch and bound algorithms

Objective: total fuel burn or cost for the entire flight schedule

Variables: which solo and formations routes are flown

Constraints: all scheduled flight must fly once

Formation Flight Route Optimization Design Studies Conclusion Policy Considerations

150 eastbound Star Alliance transatlantic flights


Airbus A330 and A340 Boeing 737,747,757,767 and 777

Restrictive heuristic filters


The departure and arrival heading differences are less than 30 degrees 6 minutes of departure and arrival time flexibility

Optimize 2,500 of the 3.3 million possible formations

1-week runtime on a laptop

-6.9% Fuel -2.6% Cost

Minimum Cost Solo Missions 2-Aircraft Formations 3-Aircraft Formations Distance in Formation 37 22 23 61.1%

Minimum Fuel 23 26 25 67.5%

Change in Flight Time Change in Departure Time

4.9% 5.0%

7.4% 4.8%

-7.7% Fuel -2.2% Cost

Minimum Cost Solo Missions 2-Aircraft Formations 3-Aircraft Formations Distance in Formation 37 22 23 61.1%

Minimum Fuel 23 26 25 67.5%

Change in Flight Time Change in Departure Time

4.9% 5.0%

7.4% 4.8%

Formation Flight Route Optimization Design Studies Conclusion Policy Considerations

Formation flight can significantly reduce airline fuel burn and cost:
7.7% fuel or 2.6% cost savings for a large transatlantic alliance schedule Results includes the effects of conservative fuel reserves

Boeing 787

Finalist, 2009 Airbus Fly Your Idea (FYI) Competition Proposed formation flight at the 2009 Paris Airshow

Inspire public interest and discussions on formation flight and sustainable aviation

Pahle, et. al, A Preliminary Flight Investigation of Formation Flight for Drag Reduction on the C-17 Aircraft, 2011

Air Force/DARPA/NASA Experiment

Test flight from Edwards AFB to Hawaii in July, 2013 demonstrated10% fuel savings at longitudinal separations of 2000 to 6000 ft
Photo source: USAF

Formation Flight Route Optimization Design Studies Conclusion Future Work

Alternative formation reserve fuel requirements Cost sharing for multi-airline formations Model multi-stage flights with delay Incorporate wake tracking sensors constraints

Formation flight can benefit from next generation air traffic control systems
Next Generation Air Transport System (NextGen) Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR)

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)

Photo source: Boeing

GNSS provide high resolution position and velocity data Replaces legacy ground-based radar tracking

Photo source: Boeing

GNSS provide high resolution position and velocity data Replaces legacy ground-based radar tracking

Ground-based transmission towers and data networks relay aircraft state and trajectory to ATC Replaces legacy voice-based coordination procedures

Photo source: Boeing

GNSS provide high resolution position and velocity data Replaces legacy ground-based radar tracking

In-flight network share timesensitivity spacing and collision avoidance data

Ground-based transmission towers and data networks relay aircraft state and trajectory to ATC Replaces legacy voice-based coordination procedures

Photo source: Boeing

NextGen and SESAR provide the infrastructure for optimized formation flight:
Allow aircraft to select optimal trajectories (altitude and cross-track) Reduce separation requirements, which improves formation flight savings Provide accurate, high-frequency update of aircraft position and trajectory Support coordinated, 4-D flight planning

Formation flight can boost the policy argument for NextGen and SESAR
The FAA expects NextGen to reduce aviation fuel consumption by 1.4 billion gallons by 2018 Formation flight can boost these savings by 800 million gallons

Design formation flight technology demonstrations for NextGen and SESAR

Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE)

Incorporate formation flight requirements into next generation ATC development

The Department of Defense is the largest institutional petroleum user in the world DoD requests $1.4 billion in FY2013 budget to improve energy efficiency

The Air Force accounts for 53% of DoD energy consumption The Air Mobility Command accounts for 64% of Air Force fuel consumption

Boeing C-17 16-year, $40 billion program C-X Concept Study: 1979 First Flight: 1991 IOC: 1995

Airbus A-400M
35-year, EUR 20 billion+ program FIMA Concept Study: 1982 First Flight: 1991 IOC: 2017+

Military Air Mobility

High quality stationkeeping systems High risk tolerance Reduced ride quality requirement

Military Air Mobility

Air Cargo

Simplified mission planning around major hubs High quality stationkeeping systems High risk tolerance Reduced ride quality requirement Older air cargo fleet stand to benefit No passenger acceptance issues

Military Air Mobility

Air Cargo

Single Airlines

Simplified mission planning around major hubs High quality stationkeeping systems High risk tolerance Reduced ride quality requirement Older air cargo fleet stand to benefit No passenger acceptance issues No cost/benefit sharing issues Depends on the success of next generation Air Traffic Control systems

Military Air Mobility

Air Cargo

Single Airlines

Airline Alliances

Institutional framework for cost/benefit sharing Simplified mission planning around major hubs High quality stationkeeping systems High risk tolerance Reduced ride quality requirement Older air cargo fleet stand to benefit No passenger acceptance issues No cost/benefit sharing issues Depends on the success of next generation Air Traffic Control systems More flights; more savings

Use formation flight to moderate the design tradeoffs among persistence, stealth and speed

Induced drag accounts for 30-40% of aircraft drag in cruise


Large wing span minimizes induced drag

Use variable geometry to reconcile the conflicting requirements posed by different flight segments

Munks Stagger Theorem The induced drag of a lifting system is unchanged as its elements move in the streamwise direction*

Munks Stagger Theorem The induced drag of a lifting system is unchanged as its elements move in the streamwise direction*

Use virtual variable geometry to increase the effective span of low observable UAVs

Formation orbit

Individual and formation ISR orbits

Formation orbit

Individual and formation ISR orbits

Strike

Formation orbit

Individual and formation ISR orbits

Strike

Formation orbit

Pahle, J et. al, A Preliminary Flight Investigation of Formation Flight for Drag Reduction on the C-17 Aircraft, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Ray, R. J., Cobleigh, B. R., Vachon, M. J., and John, C. S., Flight Test Techniques Used to Evaluate Performance Benefits During Formation Flight, TP-2002-210730, NASA, 2002 Bower, G. and Kroo, I., Multi-Objective Aircraft Optimization for Minimum Cost and Emissions Over Specific Route Networks, ICAS Congress, 2008 Bower, G., Flanzer, T., and Kroo, I., Formation Geometries and Route Optimization for Commercial Formation Flight, AIAA Paper, 2009 Betz, A., Behavior of Vortex Systems, TM-713, NACA, 1933 Holzapfel, F., Probabilistic Two-Phase Wake Vortex Decay and Transport Model, Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 40, No. 2, March 2003 King, R. M. and Gopalarathnam, A., Ideal Aerodynamics of Ground Effect and Formation Flight, Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 42, No. 5, September 2005 Ning, S. A., Aircraft Drag Reduction Through Extended Formation Flight, Ph.D. thesis, Stanford University, 2011 Xu, J. Ning, A. Bower, G. Kroo, I. Aircraft Route Optimization for Formation Flight, Journal of Aircraft, In Press Moshe, S. Blakeley, K. ORourke, R. Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, 2012 Weimerskirch, H., Martin, J., Clerquin, Y., Alexandre, P., and Jiraskova, S., Energy Saving in Flight Formation, Nature, Vol. 413, No. 6857, 10 2001, pp. 697698, doi:10.1038/35099670. David S. Lee, David W. Fahey, Piers M. Forster, Peter J. Newton, Ron C.N. Wit, Ling L. Lim, Bethan Owan, and Robert Sausen. Aviation and global climate change in the 21st century. Atmospheric Environment, 43:35203537, 2009.

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