Merging and Spacing of Heterogeneous Aircraft in Support of NextGen
Twu, Philip Y.
Rahmani, Amir R.
Egerstedt, Magnus B.
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FAA’s NextGen program aims to increase the capacity of the national airspace, while ensuring the safety of aircraft. This paper provides a distributed merging and spacing algorithm that maximizes the throughput at the terminal phase of flight, using infor- mation communicated between neighboring aircraft through the ADS-B framework. Aircraft belonging to a mixed fleet negotiate with each other and use dual decomposi- tion to reach an agreement on optimal merging times, with respect to a pairwise cost, while ensuring proper inter-aircraft spacing for the respective aircraft types. A set of sufficient conditions on the geometry and operating conditions of merging forks are provided to identify when proper inter-aircraft spacing can always be achieved using the proposed algorithm for any combination of merging aircraft. Also, optimal de- centralized controllers are derived for merging air traffic when operating under such conditions. The performance of the presented algorithm is verified through computer simulations.