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Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner plane, which made an emergency landing Jan. 16, is seen through a window of an Airbus A320 jet at Takamatsu airport in Takamatsu, Japan, on Jan. 19, 2013. (ISSEI KATO/REUTERS)
Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner plane, which made an emergency landing Jan. 16, is seen through a window of an Airbus A320 jet at Takamatsu airport in Takamatsu, Japan, on Jan. 19, 2013. (ISSEI KATO/REUTERS)

Airbus drops lithium-ion batteries for A350 Add to ...

Airbus SAS will drop lithium-ion batteries and switch to traditional nickel-cadmium batteries for its new A350 passenger jet following battery problems on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, the European plane maker said on Friday.

Airbus said it had taken the decision to prevent further delays in initial deliveries of the A350 amid uncertainty over whether investigations into Boeing’s battery problems would lead to changes in regulations.

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Reuters had reported that Airbus was considering such a move to limit development risks on its $15-billion (U.S.) airliner.

“We want to mature the lithium-ion technology but we are making this decision today to protect the A350’s entry into service schedule,” a spokeswoman said.

Industry executives, insurers and safety officials had told Reuters the technology’s predictability was being questioned at senior levels as investigators struggle to find the cause of incidents that led to the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

These included a fire on board a parked 787 in Boston and an in-flight problem on another plane in Japan.

The A350 is due to enter service in the second half of 2014 compared with an initial target of 2012 when it was launched as Europe’s answer to the light-weight 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus will use Lithium-Ion batteries for initial test flights due to start in the summer of 2013 but make the switch to the traditional and slightly heavier battery before the plane enters service.

French company Saft makes the lithium-ion battery that has been ditched for the A350 and supplies traditional nickel-cadmium ones to the rest of Airbus product range.

A Saft spokeswoman said on Friday that Airbus was expected to use Saft nickel-cadmium batteries to replace the Lithium-Ion batteries it has been developing.

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