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The tail section of a FedEx 777 Freighter ecoDemonstrator flight-test airplane has been opened to reveal its auxiliary power unit, which contains a 3-D-printed titanium part. (Boeing Photo / Paul McElroy)

The 50-50 joint venture that Boeing and Europe’s Safran aerospace company formed last year to build auxiliary power units for airplanes now has a name: Initium Aerospace.

Auxiliary power units, or APUs, are onboard engines that are used primarily to start an aircraft’s main engines. They also power aircraft systems on the ground when the main engines aren’t running, and can boost onboard power during flight if necessary.

Boeing’s APUs are currently built by Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney, but Safran — which is headquartered in France — is raising its profile in the market. Initium’s rise is also part of Boeing’s drive to have a more vertically integrated supply chain, and boost its services business.

“Initium” ccmes from the Latin word for “beginning” or “start,” which refers to an APU’s function as well as the thrust of the Boeing-Safran initiative.

Initium Aerospace logo“This is an exciting milestone as we bring together the best of both companies to design and build an advanced APU that will create more lifecycle value for our customers,” Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services, said today in a news release. “This is further proof that Boeing is making strategic investments that strengthen our vertical capabilities and continue to expand our services portfolio.”

The creation of Initium Aerospace follows regulatory and antitrust approvals that the joint venture received last November.

“I would like to congratulate everybody at Boeing and Safran who contributed to the creation of this new joint venture,” Safran CEO Philippe Petitcolin said. “Initium Aerospace is swiftly capitalizing on the vast expertise of both partners to provide state-of-the-art APUs and innovative solutions to customers. … We look forward to presenting the first demonstrator engine to the market.”

The initial team consists of employees from the two parent companies, led by CEO Etienne Boisseau. Initial design and engineering work is being done in San Diego.

Safran currently supplies a wide range of components to Boeing. It’s a partner with GE in the CFM International joint venture that produces LEAP-1B engines for the 737 MAX. Boeing and Safran also are partners in MATIS, a joint venture in Morocco that produces wiring products for several airframe and engine companies.

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