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Applications of Dual Aircraft Formation Flights

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 Risø National Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark
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Abstract

We discuss procedures for analyzing dual aircraft formation flights using time-lapse photographs of one aircraft from the other, combined with inertial navigation system position measurements, to estimate the displacement vector between the two aircraft. We show that accuracies of a few percent of the separation distance can be readily achieved, and we develop a technique for aligning the datasets from the two aircraft to correct for variations in the longitudinal component of the displacement vector. We then derive an expression for the variance of the difference between measurements of the same variable on each aircraft as a function of averaging time and separation distance. An example of data from a series of formation flights over eastern Colorado is used to demonstrate the techniques for estimating the displacement vector, aligning the datasets, and calculating. lateral coherences and phase angles.

Abstract

We discuss procedures for analyzing dual aircraft formation flights using time-lapse photographs of one aircraft from the other, combined with inertial navigation system position measurements, to estimate the displacement vector between the two aircraft. We show that accuracies of a few percent of the separation distance can be readily achieved, and we develop a technique for aligning the datasets from the two aircraft to correct for variations in the longitudinal component of the displacement vector. We then derive an expression for the variance of the difference between measurements of the same variable on each aircraft as a function of averaging time and separation distance. An example of data from a series of formation flights over eastern Colorado is used to demonstrate the techniques for estimating the displacement vector, aligning the datasets, and calculating. lateral coherences and phase angles.

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