Safa Saber: Ph.D. Research Proposal Defense


Monday, April 25, 2022, at 3:00 p.m.
Building 2, Level 5, Room 5220

“Contingency Planning for Commercial Aircraft Formations" 

Committee Members
Prof. Eric Feron, Prof. Deanna Lacoste, Prof. Shinkyu Park

It has long been proven that flying aircraft in formations that utilize wake vortex energy reduces fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and airspace congestion. Though military transport class aircraft utilize formation flight, the commercial air transportation industry has yet to take advantage of its benefits in favor of maintaining traditional individual aircraft separation. We propose that, due to the way contingency planning is used in commercial air transportation, an investigation of Plan Bs is required for new procedures (such as commercial aircraft formations) to be accepted and supported by the commercial air transport operator community (pilots, dispatchers and air traffic controllers). We propose an investigation into the amount of contingency airspace required surrounding a commercial aircraft formation for safe movement through the airspace environment. 


Safa Saber is a former USAF experimental test pilot and holds master’s degrees in theoretical physics and flight test engineering.  Following several years flying as a commercial airline pilot in the US and Asia, she is now pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), KSA.