Airbus Abandons Plan to Use Controversial Batteries in New Jet
By NICOLA CLARK
Published: February 15, 2013
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PARIS — Faced with the potential of a prolonged investigation into what caused batteries on two Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets to catch fire or emit smoke last month, Boeing’s European rival, Airbus, said Friday that it had abandoned plans to use the same battery technology on its forthcoming wide-body jet, the A350-XWB.
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Airbus said it started informing airline customers on Thursday that it would not move ahead with an original plan to use the lightweight lithium-ion batteries to power a number of the A350’s onboard systems, and would revert instead to a conventional battery, made of nickel-cadmium, that is already used extensively on existing Airbus models.
“Airbus considers this to be the most appropriate way forward in the interest of program execution and reliability,” said Marcella Muratore, an Airbus spokeswoman.
Airbus completed the assembly of its first test version of the A350 late last year and initial ground tests of that plane using the lithium-ion batteries had already begun at its factory in Toulouse, France.
By switching batteries now, the company said it hoped to be able to stick to its schedule of delivering the first aircraft in the second half of 2014.
Investigators at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board have not determined the root cause of two episodes in January involving fire or smoke from the 787’s lithium-ion batteries, which are made by a Japanese company, GS Yuasa. The incidents prompted the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to ground all 787s on Jan. 16.
In recent weeks Airbus...