Construction starts on $18m wind tunnel at Collins’ Rockford site


Collins Aerospace has broken ground on a new US$18 million wind tunnel at its Electric Power Systems center of excellence in Rockford, Illinois.

The new wind tunnel facility will be used during the testing of the company’s ram air turbines (RATs). 

The tunnel’s fan will be capable of creating a windspeed of up to 170 knots to simulate in-flight power loss. It is suitable to tests RATs for business, regional, single aisle, widebody and military aircraft.

RATs are widely used as auxiliary power units for civil and military aircraft. They can be deployed in the event of a power failure on modern aircraft to generate power from the airstream that is used by an electrical or hydraulics system.

Collins’ Ram Air Turbine deploys from the wing or fuselage when a plane loses power in flight and extracts sufficient power from the airstream to enable pilots to control and land an aircraft safely. According to the company, its RATs have been used in 16 emergencies and saved around 1,700 lives.

Ram Air Turbine

Ram air turbines are deployed from the fuselage or wing to generate power during an emergency (Image: Collins Aerospace)

The North Wind Tunnel at Rockford, which is expected to be commissioned next summer will use more automation and greater quality controls to streamline the RAT testing process, and improve employee safety, said Collins.

Stan Kottke, vice president of Electric Power Systems for Collins Aerospace said, “By helping pilots land planes safely after losing power in flight, Collins’ ram air turbines have saved more than 2,000 lives to date.

“It’s a critical product and one that we’ll now be able to produce faster for our customers and more safely for our employees once our new wind tunnel becomes operational. At the same time, this US$18 million investment represents our continued commitment to investing in our Rockford facility and maintaining its world-class capabilities for the long term.”

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About Author


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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