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Collins Aerospace unveils $50 million Illinois lab for 'next gen' electric aircraft systems

A rendering depicting the inside of “the Grid,” a Collins Aerospace electric power systems facility under construction in Rockford, Ill., and slated for completion by 2021. (Courtesy Collins Aerospace)
A rendering depicting the inside of “the Grid,” a Collins Aerospace electric power systems facility under construction in Rockford, Ill., and slated for completion by 2021. (Courtesy Collins Aerospace)

A new 25,000-square-foot lab will become a hub for Collins Aerospace to design and test electric power systems.

Company executives christened the facility as “the Grid” at a Thursday ceremony in Rockford, Ill., where construction has begun and is slated for completion by 2021.

The lab constitutes $50 million of a $150 million total investment Collins Aerospace intends to make in electric systems over the next three years, keeping pace with what it says will be the “next generation” of commercial, business, military and unmanned aircraft.

One of the first platforms the facility will support is Project 804, a United Technologies Corp. demonstrator aircraft with a new hybrid-electric propulsion system refitted in place of a two megawatt-class engine on one side.

UTC is the parent company of Collins Aerospace.

The aerospace industry’s “most powerful and efficient” propulsion motor also would be created in the facility and assist the demonstrator’s fuel-burning engine, as part of its new hybrid system, Collins Aerospace said in a release.

“In the not-too-distant future, hybrid-electric and fully electric aircraft will revolutionize air travel as we know it, opening up new markets like urban air mobility, while reinvigorating others like regional service to underutilized airports,” company CEO Kelly Ortberg said at the event.

“They will help support a greener planet by reducing carbon emissions and will help our airline customers by reducing operating costs and fuel consumption,” Ortberg said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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