Collins opens US$18m wind tunnel for testing RATs


Collins Aerospace has opened an US$18 million wind tunnel to test Ram Air Turbines at its Electric Power Systems facility in Rockford, Illinois.

Ram Air Turbines (RATS) are used as auxiliary power units in civil and military aircraft. In the event of a power failure they are deployed from a wing or fuselage to generate power from the airstream, which is used by the aircraft’s electrical or hydraulics system so pilots can control and land an aircraft safely. According to the Collins, its RATs have saved 2,400 lives over the last five years.

The wind tunnel, construction of which started in May 2021 can create a windspeed of up to 170 knots to simulate an in-flight power loss during the testing process. It also features real-time data analytics to enhance quality and will streamline the Ram Air Turbine testing and certification process for its airframer customers, said Collins.

Collins’ largest RATS can weigh up to 400 lbs (180kg) and the new wind tunnel’s design also makes it easier for employees to mount and test them more ergonomically. The Rockford plant already has two wind tunnels on site.

Eric Cunningham, vice president of Electric Power Systems for Collins Aerospace said, “Our new wind tunnel will help ensure we continue to meet our customers’ delivery expectations for this lifesaving product in the most efficient manner, while providing our employees with the most modern and ergonomic set up available. This US$18 million investment embodies our long-term commitment to our Rockford facility and our Rockford community.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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