Collins Aerospace breaks ground on new $18 million project

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — An aerospace giant that calls Rockford home breaks ground on a new state-of-art facility.

The multi-million dollar project will allow the Stateline to leave an even bigger mark on the aviation industry. Experts say lives could be saved by what will soon be produced in the Stateline.

Ram air turbines are a critical piece of safety equipment on most modern planes and the custom facility used to test them– usually only seen in companies like NASA or Boeing–is coming here to the Stateline.

“As airplanes become larger and as airplanes require more power our ram air turbines have gotten bigger and bigger over the history of the product,” said Collins Aerospace VP Stan Kottke.

Collins Aerospace broke ground on Wednesday for an $18 million air turbine wind tunnel test facility. Vice President of Electric Power Systems says these are extremely important when it comes to air travel.

“So what a Ram Air Turbine does is it deploys out into the air stream and starts spinning to produce hydraulic and electric power of the aircraft and it’s just enough power for the pilot to be able to navigate the plane safely to the ground,” said Kottke.

Stan Kottke says the custom made facility will be equipped with all the latest technology to develop these turbines.

“When you look at those and the technology that was available back then we’ve identified new technologies that can make our manufacturing more efficient as well as safer for our employees,” said Kottke.

As travel begins to pick again, Kottke believes it will be even more important all planes have these air turbines, since it has been proven to save lives.

“So Ram Air turbines are typically deployed in the most serious of emergencies but those emergencies do happen and over the last 40 years of manufacturing and testing ram air turbines in Rockford we’ve had over 2,000 lives saved,” explained Kottke.

The plan is to have the facility up and running by summer 2022.

“We see the future of air travel to continuously grow over long periods of time and so we want to have our infrastructure in place to take advantage of,” he added.

If anyone remembers Miracle on the Hudson, if it wasn’t for the ram air turbine, pilot Sully Sullenberger would not have been able to successfully land on the river, saving everyone on board.

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