Airbus drops lithium-ion batteries for A350

Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:04am EST
 

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus has dropped lithium-ion batteries of the type that forced the grounding of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and will use traditional nickel-cadmium batteries in its crucially important next passenger jet, the A350.

The European planemaker said on Friday it had taken the decision to adopt the batteries used on existing models such as the A380 superjumbo in order to prevent delays in the A350's entry to service next year.

Reuters had reported that Airbus was considering such a move to limit the risks surrounding the development of its $15 billion airliner.

"We want to mature the lithium-ion technology but we are making this decision today to protect the A350's entry-into-service schedule," an Airbus spokeswoman said.

Industry executives, insurance companies and safety officials had told Reuters the technology's predictability was being questioned at senior levels as investigators struggle to find the cause of incidents that led to the grounding of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

These included a fire on board a parked 787 in Boston and an in-flight problem on another plane in Japan.

The A350 is due to enter service in the second half of 2014 compared with an initial target of 2012 when it was launched as Europe's answer to the lightweight 787 Dreamliner.

The industry's fear is that the failure to identify the "root cause" of the burning battery incidents leaves too much uncertainty over whether regulators will certify planes as safe when relying on the powerful but temperamental power packs.   Continued...

 
The main body section of the first Airbus A350 is seen on the final assembly line in Toulouse, southwestern France, October 23, 2012. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles