Wake sensing for aircraft formation flight

Maziar S. Hemati, Jeff D. Eldredge, Jason L. Speyer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


It is well established that ring aircraft in formation can lead to improved aerodynamic efficiency. However, successfully doing so is predicated on having knowledge of the lead aircraft's wake position. Here, we develop a wake sensing strategy to estimate the wake position and strength in a two-aircraft formation. The wake estimator synthesizes wing-distributed pressure measurements, taken on the trailing aircraft, by making use of an augmented lifting line model in conjunction with both Kalman-type and particle filters. The various estimation algorithms are tested in a vortex-lattice simulation environment, thus enabling the effects of modeling error to be analyzed. It is found that biases in the position estimates no longer arise if a particle filter is used in place of the Kalman-type filters. Filter divergence is observed when the relative aircraft separations are held fixed. This divergent behavior can be alleviated with the introduction of relative aircraft motions, for example in the form of a cross-track dither signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Print)9781600869389
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012 - Minneapolis, MN, United States
Duration: Aug 13 2012Aug 16 2012

Publication series

NameAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012


OtherAIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Conference 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityMinneapolis, MN


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