Collins customer support center

Collins Aerospace

What It Is: Collins Aerospace, a division of United Technologies Corp., provides interior components, cabin systems, avionics, aerostructures, and services to business aviation and the military and commercial markets.

How It Grew: In 1933, when he was in his early 20s, former teenage radio-tech wunderkind Arthur Collins founded Collins Radio Co. to produce special-order equipment for the military, scientific, and commercial radio markets. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, company introduced its first aircraft radio in 1935, built its first factory in 1940, and in World War II became the U.S. military’s principal radio and navigation equipment supplier.

In the post-war years, it began developing flight-control instruments, and Collins, himself a pilot, led development of the Horizontal Situation Indicator. By 1954, Collins Radio was Cedar Rapids’s biggest company, with annual sales of $80 million. Expanding into satellite and space communications in the 1950s and 1960s, the business scored numerous satcom firsts, and its equipment was used in NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab programs.

Following corporate economic reversals amidst an industrywide downturn, Arthur Collins left in 1971, and Rockwell International acquired the company in 1973, renaming it Rockwell Collins. (Arthur Collins died in 1987.)

Rockwell Collins introduced the Pro Line digital flight deck in 2000, and Rockwell International spun off the avionics division under the Rockwell Collins name the following year. Growth through new products and acquisitions continued, with Arinc (2014) bringing the company into the flight-information-services market and BE Aerospace (2017), the largest acquisition, taking Collins into the aircraft-interiors field (seating, lighting, and environmental systems).

In the aerospace industry’s largest transaction to date, United Technologies acquired Rockwell Collins in 2017 for $23 billion and merged the company with its UTC Aerospace division to form Collins Aerospace.

What It Offers:

Avionics. Flight-deck and cockpit systems used in many business aircraft.

Cabin systems. Venue CMS, and connectivity and inflight-entertainment products (e.g. Stage, Airshow).

Flight-support services. Flight-planning and operations services through ArincDirect.

Aerostructures. Nacelles and other airframe components.

Quote: "Whatever your field may be, your progress will depend upon your individual imagination. I urge you to give it free rein."—Arthur Collins


HQ: West Palm Beach, Florida

Employees: about 70,000

Annual sales: about $23 billion (pre-UTC merger: $6.8 billion)

CEO: Kelly Ortberg