Collins Aerospace building The Grid for hybrid-electric flight

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Collins Aerospace has revealed details of The Grid, a new facility in Rockford, Illinois claimed to be industry’s most advanced electric power systems laboratory.

The Grid
Project 804 hybrid-electric flight demonstrator (Pic: UTC)

Collins Aerospace is a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTC), which recently launched an advanced projects group and is developing Project 804, a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator that is predicted to yield average fuel savings of 30 per cent.

Project 804 will re-engine and fly a regional turboprop aircraft – a Bombardier Dash 8 Series Q100 - powered by a 2MW-class hybrid-electric propulsion system. Collins Aerospace will use The Grid to help design and test a 1MW motor, motor controller and battery system in support of the project.

Collins Aerospace said the 1MW motor will be the aerospace industry’s most power dense and efficient to date, and the new motor and motor controller will be used to assist the demonstrator’s fuel-burning engine as part of its hybrid-electric propulsion system.

Work on the 25,000-square-foot lab is already underway and is expected to be fully operational by 2021. Project 804 is expected to fly in under three years.

The $50m investment in the lab is part of a larger $150m total investment Collins Aerospace expects to make in electric systems over the next three years.

“Collins is the innovation leader in electric systems, and The Grid positions us to remain the world leader in the electrification of aircraft for decades to come,” said Collins Aerospace CEO Kelly Ortberg. “In the not-too-distant future, hybrid-electric and fully electric aircraft will revolutionise air travel as we know it - opening up new markets like urban air mobility, while re-invigorating others like regional service to underutilised airports. They will help support a greener planet by reducing carbon emissions, and will help our airline customers by reducing operating costs and fuel consumption.”