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Originally published September 30, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Page modified September 30, 2014 at 8:27 PM

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Airbus to bring back lithium-ion batteries on A350

Airbus, which today won European certification for the A350, said it will bring back lithium-ion batteries to the plane in 2016. It removed the more advanced power sources from early production jets following defects on models used in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.


Bloomberg News

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Airbus Group will bring back lithium-ion batteries to its A350-900 from 2016 after removing the more advanced power sources from early production jets following defects on models used in Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner.

The European planemaker will switch back from less-advanced nickel-cadmium batteries picked for the earlier planes, which won certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency today. Regulatory approval marks the end of the flight test campaign and clears the way for a first delivery this year, to Qatar Airways Ltd., which has ordered 80 A350s.

Airbus initially designed the A350 to use advanced lithium batteries, which are lighter than nickel-cadmium. After the 787 was temporarily grounded for technical glitches related to those batteries, Airbus went back to the old standard to maintain the schedule for certification. Because test flights were performed with both nickel-cadmium and lithium types, Airbus was able to get both certified.

“We flew lithium-ion for all the development aircraft, accumulating big experience on the flights,” said Gordon McConnell, the chief designer of the aircraft. “From the very beginning we were fully aware of the conditions of use, and how we could mitigate any risks to zero.”

The company will start delivery of the aircraft in the fourth quarter this year.

Airbus has said its own lithium-ion architecture is different from that used by Boeing. The first A350-900 will carry 315 passengers with a range of 7,750 nautical miles. A later variant, the A350-1000, will enter service in 2017, seating 369 people. Boeing was three and a half years late with its 787, and then saw the plane grounded for three months by regulators in the U.S. after some batteries smoldered.

Airbus said the A350-900 coming off production lines now is 3 tons heavier than initial projections, which forced it to seek approval a higher maximum takeoff weight. Manufacturers’ early versions of planes typically come out heavier than planned, with weight loss achieved during serial production.



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