Pratt Chat: Meet Commercial Aviation's 'Unsung Workhorse'

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ray Hernandez: Hello everyone, this is Ray Hernandez from Pratt & Whitney Communications and welcome to another edition of Pratt Chat.

Ray Hernandez: Today we are joined by Marty Kessell, our vice president of APU Market. Marty is here to tell us a little bit more about the commercial side of the auxiliary power unit business.

Ray Hernandez: Marty, thanks for joining us.

Marty Kessell: Hey, Ray. Good to be with you.

Ray Hernandez: Alright, Marty. I've got to ask: What is an Auxiliary Power Unit? And why is it important?

Marty Kessell: Yeah, great question. So, you know, we've all flown before, whether it's for company travel or you know, with the vacation period coming up we go on family holiday trips. And you know, first of all, we all want to arrive safely and on time. And what many people may not know is that the APU or the Auxiliary Power Unit, you know, often plays a really critical role in making this happen.

Marty Kessell: APUs are, in my view the unsung workhorse of the commercial aviation industry. When the aircraft is on the ground before dispatch, the APU is running and providing electric power and also provides compressed air for starting of the main engines and also air conditioning.

Ray Hernandez: Wow, that is fascinating.

Ray Hernandez: Now, we understand why it's important to the flying public but why is it important to Pratt & Whitney?

Marty Kessell: Yeah, I mean we have nearly 6,000 of our APUs now flying out in service today, 19 different APU models. We've accumulated more than 96 million operating hours.

Marty Kessell: So, it's a big, big part of the Pratt & Whitney portfolio. We're on many of the same aircraft platforms as our main engines. It gives customers even more value and synergy with Pratt & Whitney as a combined company. And you know, we're on the A320 Airbus model that's selling very well, as we all know, both the classic model powered by the 'V' and then the A320neo as well with the Geared Turbofan.

Marty Kessell: We also have really strong market position in the regional aircraft market. We're on the Embraer, both the E1 [and] We're on the E2 so again a common platform with the geared turbofan family and also the Mitsubishi regional jet.

Marty Kessell: And then we're on the Comac ARJ21 and the Bombardier Q400 so again, really strong market position in the regionals and then also on the large aircraft side of things, we're powering with our APU both the Airbus A380, the Boeing 747 and the Boeing 787.

Marty Kessell: So, really impressive breadth of our portfolio and, we've got APUs flying and you know, at least one portion of the fleets of nearly all the top 25 airlines in the world.

Ray Hernandez: OK, Marty … So, there's a lot of interest in the industry around digital strategy, predictive maintenance, analytics. Are APUs part of these initiatives?

Marty Kessell: Yes, absolutely Ray. I mean APUs have very similar technology as in the main engines. And that enables us to leverage synergies across the business in a lot of areas, including supply chain and technology development.

Marty Kessell: And the APU continues to be a key product family that participates in analytics and predictive maintenance strategies.

Marty Kessell: The APU system provides a very large number of operating parameters, you know, back into the data management systems. And that allows us and the operators to assess the overall system health and to hopefully take proactive maintenance actions if needed.

Marty Kessell: And of course, this helps avoid operational delays and unscheduled activity which is really something the airlines want to benefit from.

Ray Hernandez: And that makes for happy travelers, right?

Marty Kessell: That's right. We all want to leave on time and get there on time.

Ray Hernandez: Well, that's about all the time we have right now. So, Marty, thank you for joining us and giving us an overview of the APU business.

Marty Kessell: Great. Thank you very much, Ray.