Airbus ditches lithium battery after Boeing’s Dreamliner fiasco


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The Independent Online

Airbus today said it had changed its mind about using lithium batteries in its new A350 plane, after rival Boeing was forced to ground its Dreamliner 787 jet over problems with the technology.

European planemaker Airbus said it will use conventional nickel-cadmium batteries for the A350, its wide-body long-range plane set to go head-to-head with Boeing’s 787, to limit delays and costs on the plane. It’s already thought to have cost Airbus some $15 billion (£9.7 billion) to develop the A350.

The battery move comes amid concern in the aerospace industry that the lithium systems may not be technically “mature”.

The 787 has now been grounded for a month, as US aviation safety officials investigate problems with its lithium-ion batteries that caused one to catch fire and forced another plane to make an emergency landing.

The A350 is set to make its first flight in the middle of this year and due to be delivered to customers, including Aer Lingus and Cathay Pacific, in the second half of next year, already two years behind its original schedule. Re-engineering the power supply for a traditional battery could cause serious delays.