Collins Aerospace broke ground Wednesday on an $18 million ram air turbine (RAT) wind tunnel facility that the company said will help streamline its testing process at its Electric Power Systems center of excellence in Rockford, Illinois. Collins’s RAT products are designed to act as the “small but mighty heart” of an aircraft emergency power system, the company said. Deploying from the wing or fuselage, the system rotates a small turbine to extract power from the airstream in cases when the aircraft loses electrical power in flight.
Equipped with new automated technology and greater quality controls, the wind tunnel will use a fan that can create a wind speed of up to 170 knots to simulate the environment of an in-flight power loss. The wind tunnel can test RAT systems for all sizes of business, regional, commercial, and military aircraft platforms.
“By helping pilots land airplanes safely after losing power in flight, Collins’s ram air turbines have saved more than 2,000 lives to date,” said Stan Kottke, v-p of Collins Aerospace Electric Power Systems. “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 around summer 2022.”