A 0-1 MINLP approach for solving the air cargo loading problem
Date of Issue2017-07-18
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
In this research, we study the air cargo loading problem (ACL), which aims to assign cargo containers to appropriate loading positions within a freight carrier aircraft. Here, as we deal with an aircraft that has been specially reconfigured into a freight aircraft from originally a passenger aircraft, this leads to a novel air cargo loading problem that is subject to four types of constraints, namely: assignment constraints; maximum position weight limits and zero fuel weight limit considerations; center of gravity (CG) envelope limiting conditions, which are based on the aircraft weight and fluctuating CG during the refueling process; and finally, respecting panel weight limits (a legacy constraint from the passenger aircraft structure), which are related to the CG envelope. We minimize the deviation from an optimum CG value, which is determined based on fuel economy and safety restrictions. This problem is formulated as a 0-1 mixed-integer nonlinear program (MINLP), which is subsequently linearized, and real-world passenger-to-freighter aircraft configurations are utilized to test the proposed formulation. Our computational results, based on four different aircraft loading configurations, indicate that improvement in the objective function (averaged over all test instances) can be achieved as compared with a more traditionally-used computerized method in the freight cargo industry.