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Airbus nixes lithium-ion batteries in A350

Keywords: Tags  Airbus, Boeing, lithium-ion batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, aerospace, Fleur Ritzema

LONDON — Airbus SAS has abandoned plans to use lightweight lithium-ion batteries in its new A350 airliners in the wake of incidents involving similar batteries on Boeing Co.'s Dreamliner aircraft.

The company will revert to using conventional nickel-cadmium batteries, technology already in use on existing Airbus models.

The decision comes as investigations continue into problems on two of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jets, which use lithium-ion batteries.

"With a view to ensuring the highest level of program certainty, Airbus has decided to ... revert back to the proven and mastered nickel-cadmium main batteries for its A350 XWB program at entry into service," Airbus said.

Airbus late last year completed the assembly of its first test version of the A350. Initial ground tests of that aircraft using lithium-ion batteries had already begun.

Airbus will use lithium-ion batteries on the A350 for the maiden flight in 2013, but will switch to conventional batteries for certification and delivery.

"Airbus is confident that the lithium-ion main battery architecture it has been developing with Saft (SA) and qualifying for the A350 XWB aircraft is robust and safe. The A350 XWB flight test program will continue as planned with the qualified (lithium-ion) main batteries," it said.

Airbus has also launched additional maturity studies on the behavior of lithium-ion batteries in aerospace operations, it said, adding that it will "take on board" the findings of the ongoing official investigation.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.

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