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Collins Aerospace opens ‘The Grid’

Collins Aerospace's next-gen electric power systems lab, The Grid, in Rockford, Illinois
Collins Aerospace's next-gen electric power systems lab, The Grid, in Rockford, Illinois © Collins Aerospace

Collins Aerospace has announced the inauguration of ‘The Grid,’ a state-of-the-art electric power systems laboratory, representing an investment of US$50 million (£41 million). This cutting-edge facility will serve as a hub for the development and rigorous testing of critical components essential for hybrid-electric propulsion and advanced electric systems. These innovations play an essential role in the aviation industry’s concerted effort to attain net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.

Henry Brooks, President of Power and Controls at Collins Aerospace, underscored the significance of this endeavour, stating, “Hybrid-electric aircraft will play a pivotal role in significantly reducing carbon emissions within our industry, and with the establishment of The Grid, an unparalleled laboratory of its kind, we are making substantial investments to bring these aircraft to fruition.”

He continued, “in the forthcoming years, The Grid will serve as our platform for pioneering developments in electric systems, aiming to create solutions that are not only more robust and efficient but also remarkably lighter than their predecessors. Through these advancements, we aim to foster a new generation of eco-friendly aircraft that operate in a sustainable manner, with minimal environmental impact.”

Spanning an impressive 25,000-ft², with an initial testing capacity of eight-megawatts (MW), ‘The Grid’ will enable Collins Aerospace to design and manufacture cutting-edge electric motors, controllers, generators and distribution systems. Notably, ‘The Grid’ will facilitate the testing of Collins’ 1-MW motor for the RTX hybrid-electric flight demonstrator and the European Union’s Clean Aviation SWITCH programme, in addition to the 1-MW generator developed for the Air Force Research Laboratory.

During the inauguration of ‘The Grid’, Collins Aerospace also showcased its existing 1-MW motor and introduced a 250-kilowatt motor for the very first time. As Collins leaders elucidated, the company’s technology roadmap outlines the development of an array of electric motors that can be seamlessly scaled up or down to cater to the specific requirements of various aircraft segments.

Brooks emphasized the industry-wide drive toward electrification, saying, “Throughout the aviation sector, manufacturers are exploring electrification options for a diverse range of platforms, including unmanned aerial vehicles, business jets, helicopters, and single-aisle planes. Regardless of the application—whether for commercial or military purposes, hybrid-electric propulsion, or advanced electric systems—Collins is steadfast in its commitment to staying at the forefront of electric technology, ready to meet the evolving needs of our valued customers.”

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