Just as with any other component of a plane, regular aircraft APU maintenance is vital to the smooth, overall operation of that vehicle and to your fleet in general. However, as far as the general public is concerned the initials APU are just three letters of the alphabet. We know that the auxiliary power unit is an important part of an aircraft and that it goes all the way back to World War I (which is, of course, not long after Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first successful flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903). Back then, several types of airships operated by the Royal Navy carried a 1.75 horsepower (1.30 kW) ABC auxiliary engine. As a company that provides APU services in the US, Canada, and Europe, we give you the top four benefits APUs bring to fleets and to airlines and why they have endured since those early days of air flight.
They save airlines money: When the airplane is on the ground it does not have to keep its engines running in order to supply the craft with air-conditioning, lighting etc. This can help to reduce fuel consumption and maintenance cost which can be prohibitive depending on the size of a particular fleet.
They supply emergency energy: Beyond being their fundamental purpose for being in a craft, an APU makes it possible for the aircraft to be granted ETOPS (Extended Twin Operations) certification. Planes granted this status can service long-distance routes, especially routes crossing deserts, oceans and polar areas. This extra capability can increase an airline’s bottom line as it becomes more useful to their clients.
They are essential for some in-flight phases/situations: APUs can be essential in being able to start up engines while they are in flight. In the unlikely case that the main engine (s) stall(s), it can provide the power needed to start them back up and continue to the nearest destination for engine repair and assessment. APUs can also provide enough energy until an aircraft reaches a certain altitude.
They reduced the maintenance needs of the main engine (s): APUs reduce the service intervals and decrease the wear and tear on the main engine dramatically. This can equate to pilots spending more time in the air and mechanics spending less time making repairs.
As you can see, Auxiliary Power Units have not endured since the start of World War I for nothing. They are a vital and beneficial part of modern aircraft. The benefits they provide for public and private airplanes are indisputable. The only question is how they will develop in the future to meet the challenge of modern day fleets and the clients they serve. CD Aviation Services is a Honeywell Authorized Part 145 repair station for Honeywell TPE331, TFE731 and GTCP36 series engines and stands ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.