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Boeing-Safran joint aerospace venture picks a name

Auxiliary power unit
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.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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