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Airbus activates ‘Plan B’ for A350 XWB batteries

Airbus activates ‘Plan B’ for A350 XWB batteries

Airbus has confirmed it will abandon plans to install lithium ion batteries on the upcoming A350 plane.

The news comes after the devices were blamed for a series of incidents onboard Boeing Dreamliner aircraft.

The entire fleet of Dreamliners in operation around the world has been grounded following an onboard fire on one aircraft and an emergency landing.

However, Airbus said it remained “confident” the lithium ion (Li-ion) main battery architecture it has been developing with Saft and qualifying for the A350 XWB aircraft is “robust and safe”.

The A350 XWB flight test programme will continue as planned with the qualified Li-ion main 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 a statement.

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 (EIS).

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

In parallel, Airbus has also launched additional maturity studies on Li-ion main batteries behaviour in aerospace operations and will naturally take on board the findings of the ongoing official investigation.

As a result of making this decision now, Airbus does not expect it to impact the A350 XWB Entry Into Service schedule.

The maiden flight is due to take place later this year, with the first passenger flight expected in the second half of 2014.