Optimal energy-based 4D guidance and control for terminal descent operations

Yixiang Lim, Alessandro Gardi, Roberto Sabatini, Kavindu Ranasinghe, Neta Ezer, Kevin Rodgers, Dan Salluce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper presents an energy-optimal guidance and control strategy for 4-dimensional (4D) Trajectory-Based Operations (TBO) in the descent phase, supporting the development of 4D Human-Machine Interface (HMI) formats. The vertical guidance strategy uses multi-phase optimal control techniques based on point-mass aircraft dynamics to determine an energy-optimal descent profile fulfilling prescribed time constraints, additionally generating a set of control inputs which can be passed to the control module. The control strategy is decomposed into attitude and time-and-energy (T&E) components. The attitude control module corrects for cross-track deviations from the nominal profile previously calculated by the guidance algorithm, while the T&E control module corrects for the along-track distance and total energy deviations from the nominal profile. A virtual energy term is introduced which allows the control module to compensate for time deviations from the 4D trajectory. The proposed T&E guidance and control modules are verified through a number of representative case studies, showing that the proposed guidance and control modules allow the aircraft to follow a T&E-optimal 4D trajectory and to recover from deviations in the initial energy states. A prototype HMI is subsequently introduced to present the recommended control inputs to the pilot, also supporting assisted energy management in 4D descent operations.

Original languageBritish English
Article number105436
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
StatePublished - Dec 2019


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