Sustainable and Flexible: The Collins Family of Motors and Controllers

Since 1945, Collins Aerospace has delivered excellence in power generation for the aviation industry. And we continue to develop innovative technologies in electric power generation, conversion and distribution as experts in electric systems.

To that end, we're developing a family of electric motors and motor controllers that can be scaled up or down to meet the hybrid-electric propulsion and electric system power needs of the next generation of commercial and military aircraft.

As the technology continues to evolve, Collins knows that sustainability, flexibility and safety are key in the application of our family of motors.

Sustainable power for aviation

As an industry, we've committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, and to reach this goal Collins has invested in a family of electric motors and motor controllers ranging from 125 kW to 500 kW of power output. These motors and controllers support development in hybrid-electric and all-electric flight, as well as the electrification of aircraft systems.

"[Based on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate report], if we continue on the current path that we're on for global warming, we could be at a point of no return for some catastrophic climate actions by 2070," notes LeAnn Ridgeway, Chief Sustainability Officer for Collins Aerospace.

"So it's imperative that we move now and we need everyone around the globe to do their part to reduce carbon emissions so we can avoid that scenario."

Aircraft electrification remains a key pillar in reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation industry, and high-powered DC motors allow for new possibilities in aircraft architectures.

Flexible for unique architectures

Scalable motors and motor controller solutions allow for flexibility among different customer needs and architectures. Not all platforms need the same power output or configuration, so Collins is developing a suite of common, flexible products including 125kW, 250 kW and 500 kW motors that allow for propulsion optimization without the extended timeline of clean-sheet aerospace development. Motors can be used in tandem and can be spooled up and down as power needs demand. This allows each platform to leverage the correct motor and controllers to meet its needs.

For example, a fighter jet won't require the same power output as a single aisle airliner. Both have their own flight and mission profiles.

"Military aircraft have their own unique requirements," said Todd Spierling, Principal Technical Fellow in Electrification at Collins. "They are primarily concerned with range and how far they can fly without refueling, as well as the new mission systems they want to put on an aircraft and how much electricity they need."

Developing a motor that can range from 125 kW to upwards of 500 kW allows those unique requirements to remain at the forefront of platform design while meeting power demands.

Safety first

In this third era of aviation guided by electrified technologies, the industry remains committed to passenger safety, as does Collins Aerospace, and that's why testing facilities such as The Grid are critical. The Collins family of motors and motor controllers will be tested in The Grid to facilitate aircraft certification and verify safety on future architectures.

The Grid – a $50 million advanced electric power systems lab – allows key components for hybrid-electric propulsion and more electric systems to be tested under high-powered loads in a controlled environment, providing key data for electric aviation architectures.

When testifying before the U.S. House of Representative's subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics in support of the Federal Aviation Administration's research and development programs, Eric Cunningham, Vice President of Electric Power Systems at Collins Aerospace, stated, "I'm proud to say my colleagues at RTX, especially at Collins and Pratt & Whitney, are leading technology development … to the success of future aircraft safety, efficiency and performance goals."

"Our R&D investments and strategic technology areas are aligned around these key capabilities that will be critical to the launch of the next generation of clean-sheet aircraft and to meet the efficiency and safety goals necessary for such a program to be successful."

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