Distributed Method to Optimal Profile Descent
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Current ground automation tools for Optimal Profile Descent (OPD) procedures utilize path stretching and speed profile change to maintain proper merging and spacing requirements at high traffic terminal area. However, low predictability of aircraft's vertical profile and path deviation during decent add uncertainty to computing estimated time of arrival, a key information that enables the ground control center to manage airspace traffic effectively. This paper uses an OPD procedure that is based on a constant flight path angle to increase the predictability of the vertical profile and defines an OPD optimization problem that uses both path stretching and speed profile change while largely maintaining the original OPD procedure. This problem minimizes the cumulative cost of performing OPD procedures for a group of aircraft by assigning a time cost function to each aircraft and a separation cost function to a pair of aircraft. The OPD optimization problem is then solved in a decentralized manner using dual decomposition techniques under inter-aircraft ADS-B mechanism. This method divides the optimization problem into more manageable sub-problems which are then distributed to the group of aircraft. Each aircraft solves its assigned sub-problem and communicate the solutions to other aircraft in an iterative process until an optimal solution is achieved thus decentralizing the computation of the optimization problem.