Modelling of flight performance benefits for similar and hybrid jet airline formations
by Adnan Maqsood; Muhammad Shakeel Awan; Shoaib Sultan; Rizwan Riaz
International Journal of Sustainable Aviation (IJSA), Vol. 7, No. 1, 2021

Abstract: Avian formation flight has always inspired technology protagonists to mimic and harness associated benefits for the aviation industry. This paper discusses the performance benefits of similar and hybrid jet airliners flying in formation. The aerodynamic forces are modelled through potential flow theory. The lateral and vertical spacing is varied to estimate advantages in range. For simplicity, only cruise performance is analysed. By employing formation flying in wide-body aircrafts, an increase in range up to 65% is observed relative to standard flight. In addition to that, an optimal switching point during cruise flight is evaluated to give equal benefits to both aircrafts flying in formation. The study proposes a new concept of shared airspace where different aircrafts cooperate on long routes for fuel savings. However, the findings reported in this paper are of theoretical nature and high-fidelity models and experimentation is considered necessary to further evaluate the benefits of formation flying. Moreover, existing distancing restrictions between two aircrafts, imposed by regulatory authorities, are also a potential limitation in successful realisation of commercial formation flight.

Online publication date: Fri, 28-May-2021

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