Airbus is scrapping its plans to run its brand-new A350 XWB on lithium ion batteries and opting for nickel cadmium.
In a statement, Airbus said it's confident in its lithium ion technology, but made the battery switch to keep the A350 development moving forward without any hiccups.
Airbus’ A350 XWB is scheduled to enter service in 2014.
The battery change comes amid an investigation into lithium ion battery fires aboard two Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes in the United States and Japan. First, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded all 787s operating in the United States, echoing a move that had already occurred in Japan. After deliberations, the National Transportation Safety Board determined a short in one of eight battery cells caused the lithium ion batteries to catch fire. Hoping to prevent future incidents, the International Civil Aviation Organization moved to bar lithium ion plane batteries from passenger aircraft, reversing a previous exemption. The amendment must now be approved by the full ICAO council, which will meet later this month.
Boeing, in cooperation with the FAA, is now conducting test flights on its 787s. For its part, the FAA is waiting until all the evidence is out so not to rush into rule-making conclusions.
Airbus has also joined the fray, separately, commenting that it will look into the performance of lithium ion batteries on aerospace operations. - Jon Ross