Formation Flight Mechanics and its Integrated Logistics

This paper presents an investigation of the fuel cost reduction effects of formation flight when applied to two different type aircraft. The first case is a general aviation case with a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 182 in staggered formation. The second case is a commercial transport with two Bombardier Dash-8 in staggered formation. The method used to analyze the induced drag is a vortex lattice method which keeps both aircraft in trim throughout the simulation. The total drag reduction for the trailing aircraft was found to be 4.4 % and 8 % for the two cases respectively. This would reflect in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. In order to assess the effects of the cost of setting up the formation, a trade study in operational logistics was made for a sample route where flights between Stockholm/London and Linkoping/Amsterdam joined up mid-flight for a fractional formation flight. Formation flying with its integrated logistics can be optimized and sustained for this route, assuming fuel represents about 50 % of the direct operating costs of air cargo freight transportation.


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  • Accession Number: 01665061
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 26 2018 2:35PM