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Cheers to 75 Years - Honeywell Celebrates the Anniversary of a Legend

Cheers to 75 Years - Honeywell Celebrates the Anniversary of a Legend

I have had a fascination with aviation since my earliest days and consider myself to be a true aviation enthusiast.

As a third-generation aerospace professional, you might say this industry is in my blood. My grandfather was born in 1898 prior to the advent of powered flight.  He went on to see significant and rapid advancements in the industry, including transoceanic flights and supersonic aircraft. He lived to see humans walking on the moon, and to witness the space shuttle. My dad, in aerospace for 40 years, had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with Sir Frank Whittle, who is credited with inventing the turbojet engine. You can only imagine the aviation conversations that dominated our family dinner table.

The importance of aviation to the well-being and productivity of the planet cannot be stressed enough. Aircraft perform so many important missions in daily life from medivac rescues, to defending our homeland, to allowing families to experience life physically together. Aviation has and will continue to fuel global economic growth, necessary to survive and thrive. This is what fuels my passion … it’s what propels Honeywell Aerospace Technologies.

For 100 years, Honeywell has been on the leading edge of technology and solutions to support our global customer base. In Aerospace, we’re celebrating 75 years of our auxiliary power unit, better known as the APU. Engineers at our legacy company, Garret AiResearch created the first turbine-powered APU, the GTCP85, a derivative of the company’s original small gas turbine engine still in operation today.

Our APUs are found in all market segments – commercial air transport, business & general aviation, and defense - performing vital functions both on ground and in-flight. The APU provides electric power and bleed air for cabin cooling and flight planning prior to take off. Furthermore, it’s a critical asset supporting airborne safety, ready to restart main engines or flight controls if the aircraft is compromised.

The most notable story of its existence is the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson” where Captain Sully Sullenberger relied on Honeywell’s 131-9A APU to provide power to avionics and flight controls, enabling him to safely land the plane on the Hudson river after both engines were disabled. One-hundred and fifty-five people survived because of Sully’s heroic efforts and the performance and reliability of our APU.

Our history and expertise are unmatched. Our team of designers and engineers are best-in-class, bringing the future possibilities in aviation to life. We’re constantly evolving our APUs to provide higher levels of efficiency and reliability. We’re adapting to support more electric aircraft and designing the architecture to support the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and other clean burning fuels such as hydrogen, to meet the needs of our customers and the planet. Sustainability is a key pillar for Honeywell and we truly believe in the future of flight and the great responsibility we have to find, design and implement solutions that make a positive impact to our environment. 

But, we’re not just starting this journey, it’s one we’ve been on for some time.

Nearly 20 years ago, our partner at the University of Aachen tested our 36-300 APU with a hydrogen combustor and demonstrated the feasibility of running our APUs on hydrogen.  Today, we are continuing to explore and mature combustor technologies that significantly reduce CO2 emissions and NOx for use in our future APUs and propulsion engines.

Engines & Power Systems President Dave Marinick reflects on milestone of the iconic Auxiliary Power Unit

In January 2023, a 100% SAF fueled Honeywell 331-500[B] APU was used to start the main engines of a 777-300ER aircraft in support of a 100% SAF flight demonstration. The flight demo and APU operation illustrates the compatibility of specific 100% SAF with Honeywell APUs. This most recent SAF test adds to Honeywell’s history of evaluating 100% SAF and SAF blends in support of the industry goal of decarbonizing aerospace.

We’ve also improved our most popular APU, the 131-9 with a high-efficiency mode (HEM) upgrade available today for single-aisle Airbus aircraft. This upgrade supports airlines in achieving greater fuel-efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, improving time-on-wing and achieving compliance with regulatory guidelines. The upgrade to the 131-9B will be available later in 2023 on the Boeing 737. Our vision is to be known as a technology innovator committed to addressing our global environmental challenges, to carbon neutrality and a more efficient aviation future.

At Honeywell Aerospace Technologies, we’re true aviation enthusiasts. Our work has been years and decades in the making with no end in sight. Our successes lie within the character and talent of our employees, who enable us to deliver industry solutions, but who also engage and build foundational relationships with our customers to learn and co-innovate the future of flight, together. 

Dave Marinick
President, Engines and Power Systems Honeywell Aerospace Technologies

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