Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Meir Pachter, PhD


In this thesis, the formation flight control problem is continued from four previous theses. Automatic formation flight involves controlling multiple aircraft equipped with standard Mach-hold, altitude hold, and heading-hold autopilots to maintain a desired distance from a lead aircraft or "rabbit". Changes in the rabbit's states are treated as disturbances to the system and rejected. Previous research is advanced in the following areas: Higher-order aircraft-autopilot models are included into the design and a new feedback control law is employed, resulting in more accurate simulations. An energy tracking scheme is developed and is shown to reduce wing aircraft energy excursions. Finally, the formation hold autopilot is modified to allow the wing aircraft to orbit a stationary reference point on the earth at a desired range, airspeed, and altitude. The importance of the disturbance rejection capability of the controller is demonstrated through comparisons of linearized model predictions with nonlinear simulations. The design tradeoffs between performance and robustness are emphasized.

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