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

Boeing, Safran Give More Definition to New JV

Initium Aerospace will design, build, and service APUs for commercial aircraft.

The Boeing Co. and its new joint-venture partner Safran have determined the name of the company they are launching to design, build, and service auxiliary power units (APUs) for commercial aircraft. Each company will have a 50% share of Initium Aerospace, which will be based in the U.S.

APUs are onboard engines used to start the main engines and power aircraft systems while a plane is on the ground, or during flight if necessary. They provide energy for functions other than propulsion, to power lighting, IT, navigation, ventilation, and various other electrical power requirements aboard an aircraft.

In their announcement, Boeing and Safran explained that ‘Initium’ is a name based on Latin roots that mean 'the beginning' or 'to start.'

“Initium Aerospace starts with Boeing's customer and airplane knowledge and Safran's experience designing and producing complex propulsion systems,” according to their announcement.

The joint venture was announced last June, and gained regulatory and antitrust approvals in November.

Presently, the APU market is dominated by Honeywell Inc. and United Technologies, though Safran also manufactures APU systems.

The venture represents a new technology area for Boeing.

Initium Aerospace is based in San Diego with a team of employees drawn from the two parent companies. The CEO is Etienne Boisseau. Initial work is focused on “next-generation APU design as well as collaborating with teams across Boeing and Safran on engineering and production.” A permanent location for design and manufacturing the APUs has not been identified as yet. The partners have not yet revealed a schedule for introducing their APU products.

Boeing and Safran also are partners in a joint venture, MATIS, producing wiring products for several airframe and engine companies.

Safran supplies a wide range of components to Boeing commercial and defense programs, including the  LEAP-1B engine that powers 737 MAX aircraft, produced by Safran as a partner in the CFM International venture (with GE Aerospace.)

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