(Image source: Boeing)

New Boeing, Safran joint venture dedicated to developing aircraft auxiliary power units

The new joint venture will be based in the U.S.; however, the new company’s name and future headquarters have yet to be announced.
Chicago-based, Boeing Company and Safran S.A. of Paris are forming a joint venture to design, build, and service aircraft secondary power systems, otherwise known as auxiliary power units (APUs). The two prominent companies recently received regulatory approvals and named Etienne Boisseau as Chief Executive Officer for the joint venture.

APUs are turbine engines that provide pneumatic and shaft power to start an aircraft’s main propulsion engines. They also provide electrical and hydraulic power for critical and secondary aircraft systems while the aircraft is on the ground and in flight.

Beyond co-developing APU products, the agreement establishes a partnership between two of the world's leading aerospace companies to expanded service capabilities to benefit customers and industry. Safran is an international corporation that focuses on aircraft propulsion and equipment, space, and defense markets. Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial airplanes and defense, space, and security systems. Both companies have a 50-percent stake in the joint venture.

The joint venture combines Boeing's customer and airplane knowledge and Safran's complex propulsion system design and production experience.

“Safran is proud to launch this joint venture with Boeing in order to offer state-of-the-art APUs and enhance customer value. Together, we are committed to delivering innovative, highly technological and cost-competitive solutions to global customers. We are confident this joint team will provide first-class products and services within the best integrated industrial organization,” says Philippe Petitcolin, CEO of Safran.

As far as competition, Honeywell will be the new joint venture’s largest rival. Honeywell, which developed the first auxiliary power system in the mid-1940s, is the largest gas turbine APU producer, with more than 36,000 APUs currently in service.

Read more: Honeywell wins $1.04 billion U.S. Air Force power systems contract

However, as the new joint venture brings new APU designs to market, Boeing will undoubtedly leverage its position as world leader in combined commercial airlines and government services.

“We are open for business and excited to offer even more value to our customers throughout the lifecycle of their investment. This joint venture strengthens Boeing's vertical capabilities as we continue to expand our services portfolio. By making strategic investments that accelerate our growth plans, we also are providing our customers with expanded, innovative services solutions,” says Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services.

While the two companies have confirmed that the initial design team will operate out of San Diego, California, the name of the joint venture as well as the location of the future headquarters, production, and service facilities will be announced at a later date.

The APU partnership is just the most recent collaboration between the two companies. Safran currently supplies a wide range of components to Boeing commercial and defense programs, including as a partner to produce CFM International's high-efficiency LEAP-1B high-bypass turbofan engine for the Boing 737 MAX (Cincinnati-based CFM International is a 50-50 joint venture between Safran and General Electric). Boeing and Safran also are partners in Casablanca-based Morocco Aero-Technical Interconnect Systems (MATIS), a joint venture for wiring products for several airframe and engine companies.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.

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