Friday, 20 July 2012

Optimal Transatlantic Routes for Formation Flight

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The map above illustrates the results of Tom Kent's work on formation flight for airliners. These are the optimized routes for 210 eastbound transatlantic flights, allowed to fly in pairs in formation in order to save fuel.  The optimization does not consider the timing of the flights - it is assumed that they coordinate to achieve their rendezvous.  However, it does determine which pairs should be formed and where each pair should join and then break apart.  Interestingly, many formations share the same departure point: zoom in on Atlanta or Heathrow, for example, or observe the LAX-Dublin teaming with the SFO-Dublin flight.  There are also some curiosities like the Newark-Lisbon flight joining up with the flight from Boston to Lajes in the Azores.

Tom's methods and initial results will be presented at the AIAA Guidance Navigation and Control conference this August.

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