Merging and spacing of heterogeneous aircraft in support of nextgen

R. Chipalkatty, Philip Twu, Amir Rahmani, Magnus Egerstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Federal Aviation Administration'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 information communicated between neighboring aircraft through the ADS-B framework. Aircraft belonging to a mixed fleet negotiate with each other and use dual decomposition to reach an agreement on optimal merging times, with respect to a pairwise cost, while ensuring proper interaircraft spacing for the respective aircraft types. A set of sufficient conditions on the geometry and operating conditions of merging forks is provided to identify when proper interaircraft spacing can always be achieved using the proposed algorithm for any combination of merging aircraft. Also, optimal decentralized controllers are derived for merging air traffic when operating under such conditions. The performance of the presented algorithm is verified through computer simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1637-1646
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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