Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Automatic formation flight involves controlling multiple wing aircraft equipped with standard Mach-hold, altitude-hold, and heading-hold autopilots in order to maintain a desired position relative to a lead aircraft throughout formation maneuvers. Changes in the lead aircraft's states, including formation heading, velocity, altitude, and geometry changes, are treated as disturbance and are rejected by the formation flight control system. The work in this thesis is a continuation of five previous theses, dealing with the design of formation flight control systems. The goal of the optimal formation flight control design is to achieve robust formation maintenance in the face of formation maneuvers and the presence of full system nonlinearities. Second-order aircraft/autopilot models are included in the design and a new control law is employed. A constrained optimization for determining the optimal controller gains of fixed structure controllers is employed. The two controllers considered are a Proportional plus FeedForward (PFF) controller, previously developed at AFIT, and a new Proportional plus Integral and FeedForward (PIFF) controller, which uses less feedforward information. Finally, the constrained optimization is applied to a wide variety of formation maneuvers and geometry changes initiated from both the tight, closely spaced, and loose, more widely dispersed, types of formations.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number