Airbus opts for 'Plan B' for A350 after 787 battery problem

Airbus opts for 'Plan B' for A350 after 787 battery problem

Airbus will not use lithium-ion batteries in its forthcoming A350 aircraft because of problems that have grounded rival Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The European manufacturer is to use traditional nickel-cadmium batteries instead, as already used in the A380 superjumbo and other models.

Investigations are continuing after battery problems came to light on 787s operated by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways which left 50 Dreamliners grounded around the world.

Airbus said it was "confident" that the lithium-ion battery it had been developing with French battery-maker Saft was "robust and safe".

It added that A350 test flights would continue with the lithium batteries.

"However, to date, the root causes of the two recent industry Li-ion main batteries incidents remain unexplained to the best of our knowledge," Airbus said.

"In this context, and with a view to ensuring the highest level of programme certainty, Airbus has decided to activate its Plan B and therefore to revert back to the proven and mastered nickel-cadmium main batteries for its A350 XWB programme at entry into service.

"Airbus considers this to be the most appropriate way forward in the interest of programme execution and A350 XWB reliability."

The firm said it did not expect any further delays to the launch of the A350, intended as a rival to the 787. The maiden flight is due to take place later this year, with the first passenger flight expected in the second half of 2014, the BBC reported.

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