An auxiliary power unit (APU) is a device on an aircraft that supplies energy for various purposes other than thrust force for engine. The primary function of an aircraft APU is to provide power to start the main engines of an aircraft. Turbine engines in aircraft must be propelled to a high rotational speed to provide necessary air compression to maintain a desired efficiency of the engine. Smaller jet engines are generally given initial propulsion by an electric motor, while larger engines are generally propelled by an air turbine motor. Before the start of engines, the APU is triggered, generally by a battery. As soon as the APU starts running, it supplies power to start the airplane’s main engines. The APU can also act as a back-up power generator, in exceptionally rare circumstances when both engines fail. Aircraft APUs generally produce 115 V alternating current (AC) at 400 Hz, used to power the electrical systems of the aircraft. APUs can deliver power through a single-phase or a three-phase system.
The electric ground power APU is a small engine which produces power for the aircraft when it is on the ground and the main engines are turned off. This allows aircraft cleaners to plug in their equipment, and air conditioning to run when passengers are boarding. Most airports have now started installing fixed electrical ground power and pre-conditioned air, generally at the gates.
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Major Key Players
AEGIS Power Systems, Inc. (U.S.),
Honeywell International Inc (U.S.),
Hamilton Sundstrand Corp (U.S.),
Kinetics Ltd. (Israel),
Safran Power Units (France),
Rolls-Royce plc. (England),
United Technologies (U.S.), and United Technologies Corporation—Pratt & Whitney Division (U.S.).
According to MRFR, The Aircraft Auxiliary Power Unit Market is estimated to witness a CAGR of more than 4% during the forecast period 2018 to 2023
The usage of APU to crank up the aircraft engines has been extremely helpful, but the noise and vibration produced causes uneasiness to both the cabin as well as the cockpit members. To overcome this challenge, APU Original Equipment Manufacturers, in cooperation with aircraft manufacturers, have been carrying out significant research; this has led to the introduction of APU arrangement support systems on an aircraft. However, technological advancement is also a threat to this market, as the move towards electric-powered flight may make switching the APU with high-power battery systems possible within the next two decades. Airbus and Boeing have already started using batteries to start the APU, and the next step may very well be replacing the APU itself.
On the basis of Aircraft type, the market can be segmented into fixed wing aircraft segment, and wide body aircraft segment. Airbus has thoughtfully moved towards “more-electric” aircraft systems, and accordingly it replaced one of the three hydraulic systems in A380 with two electric systems. This “two-plus-two” systems architecture was then recurrent on the A350. This shift from hydraulic systems to electric systems by various aircraft companies will tend to increase the aircraft auxiliary power unit market in upcoming years.
On the basis of platforms, the two segments are military and commercial. Within the military aircraft segment, fighter jets are usually considered to have an average life span between 40 to 50 years, while the average life span for an APU is between five to seven years; this means that an aircraft will have more than six retro fitments of APU on average, during its serviceable life. The integration of newer onboard weapon systems and avionics systems have also augmented the demand for retro-fitment of newer and powerful APU. Moreover, cost of a military aircraft ranges in hundreds of millions, which makes it difficult for budget conscious defense ministries to acquire newer aircraft on a regular basis and increases their dependency on retrofitting of aircrafts.
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North America is projected to lead the aircraft auxiliary power unit market due to presence of key manufacturers in the region. European market, led by Germany, France, U.K and Russia, is also projected to observe substantial growth in aircraft auxiliary power unit market during the forecast period. Increasing number of noise control mandates at the airports by the government authorities is a key driving factor for aircraft auxiliary power unit global market.
Asia Pacific aircraft auxiliary power unit market will witness strong growth due to increasing demand from commercial and military aircrafts. Growing population, along with high productivity attained in aviation industry, are the key factors for industry growth. Moreover, favorable government policies encouraging investment in military and civil aviation sector will further benefit the aircraft auxiliary power unit market in the coming years.
Latin American market, headed by Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, is likely to witness significant growth during the forecast period. Growing investments in the region and favorable trade policies will fuel the business growth in the region.