Analysis of Fuel Consumption for an Aircraft Deployment with Multiple Aerial Refuelings

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Title: Analysis of Fuel Consumption for an Aircraft Deployment with Multiple Aerial Refuelings
Author: Bush, Brett Alan
Advisors: Yahya Fathi, Committee Member
Jeffrey R. Thompson, Committee Member
Michael G. Kay, Committee Member
Thom J. Hodgson, Committee Chair
Russell E. King, Committee Member
Abstract: The purpose of the research has been to derive an algorithm that finds optimal aerial refueling segments (non-instantaneous) for a single aircraft deployment while also accounting for atmospheric winds. There are two decision variables: (1) Where to locate the refueling segments? (2) How much fuel to offload at each refueling segment? Later in the dissertation, a third decision variable is explored: How much fuel to load onto the aerial refueling aircraft? In previous research, the problem of having a single aircraft deployment with one instantaneous aerial refueling has been explored and solved. This paper piggybacks on that research and extends it. The first step (Problem P1) is deriving an algorithm that finds the optimal aerial refueling points for a single aircraft deployment with multiple instantaneous aerial refuelings. In the next step (Problem P2), one assumes aerial refueling is not instantaneous (in an effort to make the problem and solution more realistic), but requires some time frame depending on an offload rate. In problem (P2), optimal refueling segments are found (versus optimal refueling points). In the last problem (P3), one looks at a very similar algorithm that factors the winds aloft into the minimization algorithm. Finally, this paper looks at three distinct deployment scenarios with two aerial refuelings required. All of the scenarios were first planned by the U.S. Air Force and the results given to the author. Potential fuel and cost savings associated with using the aforementioned algorithms instead of current methods are then analyzed.
Date: 2006-06-08
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Operations Research

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