Boeing 737 APU Flickr
An auxiliary power unit aboard a Boeing 737 aircraft.

Boeing, Safran Link to Produce APUs

The two aerospace majors will produce auxiliary power units for commercial aircraft

The Boeing Co. is forming a joint venture with Safran S.A. to design, build, and service auxiliary power units (APUs) for commercial aircraft — onboard engines used to start the main engines and power aircraft systems while on the ground, or during flight if necessary. The prospective partners will own the equal shares of the new, unnamed company, which will be based in the U.S.

The venture will represent a new technology area for Boeing: Auxiliary power units provide energy for functions other than propulsion, to power lighting, IT, navigation, ventilation, and various other electrical power requirements aboard an aircraft.

Boeing did not indicate the capitalization value of the venture, but it stated its agreement would be implemented later this year.

"This strategic partnership will leverage Boeing's deep customer and airplane knowledge along with Safran's experience in designing and producing complex propulsion assemblies to deliver expanded, innovative services solutions to our customers," stated Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services.

While Boeing designs and builds commercial jets, business jets, and defense aircraft, Safran designs and builds aircraft and rocket engines. It is one half of the CFM International partnership that supplies turbofan engines for several Boeing aircraft platforms.

Safran also manufactures APU systems. It’s not known if the new venture will rely on current Safran technologies for its product line. Currently the APU market is dominated by two suppliers, Honeywell Inc. and United Technologies.

Boeing and Safran already are partners in MATIS, a producer of wiring products for several airframe and engine companies.

"This move will strengthen Boeing's vertical capabilities as we continue to expand our services portfolio and make strategic investments that accelerate our growth plans," stated Greg Smith, Boeing CFO and EVP for Enterprise Performance & Strategy.

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