Collins Aerospace Systems has unveiled plans to establish an advanced electric power systems lab in Rockford, Illinois, US, to enhance its position in the electrification of aircraft.

Known as The Grid, the $50m high-power, high-voltage lab will be used to design and test systems such as high-power generators for the next-generation of electric aircraft.

The new 25,000ft² lab will support the creation of a 1MW motor, which would be ‘the aerospace industry’s most power dense and efficient’ propulsion motor, Collins noted.

Collins plans to invest $150m into electric systems over the next three years. The amount includes the $50m investment in The Grid.

“The Grid positions us to remain the world leader in the electrification of aircraft for decades to come.”

The company already started work on the new lab and expects it to become fully operational by 2021.

Collins Aerospace CEO Kelly Ortberg said: “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.

“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 reinvigorating others like regional service to underutilised airports.

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

The recently unveiled United Technologies hybrid-electric flight demonstrator, Project 804, will be one of the first platforms to be supported by the lab.

Project 804 seeks to re-engine and fly a regional turboprop aircraft powered by a 2MW-class hybrid-electric propulsion system.

The project is developed by United Technologies’ advanced projects group, which combine the engineering expertise of Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney and UTC’s research centre.

As part of its contribution to Project 804, Collins will use The Grid to design and test a 1MW motor, motor controller and battery system.

Earlier this week, Collins launched a new μLED Reading Light for aircraft cabins.