Airbus may drop lithium batteries from A350; BCA CEO appeals to SPEEA members

Airbus may drop Lithium batteries: Bloomberg reports that Airbus may drop lithium ion batteries from the A350 in the wake of the problems encountered by Boeing. Reuters has this report.

A switch to standard batteries would delay the A350 program by a couple of months, reports Bloomberg–but another delay has been expected by customers anyway, who previously told us they believe the first delivery will be at the end of 2014 or early 2015 rather than the mid-2014 previously announced by Airbus.

Bombardier is using Nickel-Cadmium batteries for the CSeries.

Meantime, Boeing acknowledged the obvious: 787 deliveries will be delayed.

BCA CEO appeals to SPEEA: Ballots have gone out from SPEEA leaders to the membership recommending rejection of the Boeing contract offer and authorization for a strike. Boeing sent the following message to SPEEA members:

It’s time to come together

I believe we’ve made an offer that recognizes the tremendous contributions and skills that our engineers and technical employees bring to BCA, BDS, EO&T and SSG. The SPEEA negotiating team asked us to extend the terms of the current contract another four years. We did that in our best and final offer.

Based on some of the questions and concerns raised in the emails I received, I want to clarify a few points:

  • There are no changes to your pension plan in this offer, and Boeing cannot make changes in the future unless ratified by members in a contract – it’s that simple.
  • This offer guarantees a 5 percent salary pool for each year of the contract. Boeing executives, non-union and other union-represented employees have a 3 percent salary pool.
  • In the prior contract, SPEEA-represented employees paid 10 percent of their medical costs. This is unchanged in our final offer. Boeing executives and all non-union employees pay 20 percent of the costs.

Future employees would be part of an enhanced retirement savings plan that would exceed anything offered by our aerospace peers. I can’t stress enough how important this move for new hires is to our company’s future. Getting a better handle on our pension costs now will enable us to do more amazing things in the future like the 777X and the 787-10X.

The proposed retirement plan is similar to plans that have been in effect for new hires in other parts of Boeing since 2009.  Every potential employee has a choice to either join or not join the Boeing team. Since implementing that change, we have not seen any impact to our recruitment and retention efforts.

As you know, we are facing challenges on the 787 program. It was your innovation, talent and skill that brought the 787 Dreamliner to life, along with so many other market-leading products and services we’ve promised our customers. Now more than ever, we need to deliver on those promises by coming together as one team.

Nobody wins in a strike. While hurting Boeing and our employees, it would also impact our customers who’ve put their trust in Boeing’s people and products. It’s important that we protect our competitiveness in the long-run, even if that means some short-term pain.

We have so much opportunity ahead of us. Together, we can continue to build our reputation as the best aerospace company in the world. We can do anything together, including emerging from our recent difficulties with the 787.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to review the contract on our website.

This is a contract for your future, and I hope that you will vote to ratify it. Most of all, I hope you take the opportunity to vote.

Ray Conner

51 Comments on “Airbus may drop lithium batteries from A350; BCA CEO appeals to SPEEA members

  1. Boeing acknowledges delays in delivering B-787s? Well, duh…

    I do not think it is simple for Airbus to switch from a Li-Ion battery based electrical system to a Ni-Cad battery based system. But, yes, it can be done. The Bloomberg story hinted at the A-350 flight test program might contiue as scheduled, later this year, with presumbidly Li-Ion batteries. Since the electrical system is part of the certification program, how can they do this without having to recertify the electrical system after any switch in batteries?

    Mr. Connor’s remarks show SPEEA members already enjoy more pay and benefits than most other union and non-union employees. This shed some light on just how greedy the SPEEA negotiating team really is. According to Connor, Boeing has already offered to extend the current contract in their offer to SPEEA. This is something the IAM has already accepted.

  2. I would think a compromise under the current conditions is in everyones interest. All best and final offers, strike recommendations and press releases in the shredder and 2×3 people round the table to get this over with.

    I can see Airbus gladly changing the batteries while they can. Although they’ve been using them un eventfull over the last 5 yrs on the A380 and planned a far more conservative application on their less electrical A350. Better fly around those storms even if you know you can have them, passengers prefer.

    • For Airbus it would have been the next and obvious step.
      Very problably by way of an unremarkable introduction to service.

      But it looks like that “water hole” has been poisoned for at least one developement cycle.
      Depends on the type of solution Boeing will have to adopt.

  3. ..
    As you know, we are facing challenges on the 787 program. It was your innovation, talent and skill that brought the 787 Dreamliner to life,


  4. Airbus could also press ahead with parallel battery designs… a larger heavier NiCd design (the “plan B”?) as well as a lighter, more compact Li-ion solution (preferred plan A). If the electrics are already capable of using either (and if NiCd was plan B then this is probably the case) then try to certify both!

    If only minor modifications are required for plan A, then go with that. If Li-ion is effectively “banned”, then just switch to plan B. Assuming you plan for both, so you have a common interface and form factor in the aircraft, then it would be wise to try to certify both so the aircraft can fly whatever the 787 outcome is.

    • Is the A-350 electrical system based on a 32 volt DC Li-Ion battery like the B-787 is? Ni-Cad batteries produce just 28 volts DC.

      • It’s irrelevant – you design the battery to fit the system – it can have whatever voltage you like.

        For example: take two AAA cells at ~1.5V each (may be less depending on chemistry)… in series, that makes 2-3V DC… enough for my LED torch, for example. Add another one in series and you’ve 3.5-4V… enough for my indoor/outdoor thermometer. Add a fourth cell and a voltage regulator and you have a guaranteed 5V DC source – good for most small electronic devices.

  5. How many of these “anonymous airbus person says … ” are just posted into the wild to force Airbus into divulging their position ( and give leverage to attack Airbus ) ?

  6. Devil voice : with this, Airbus may try to drag regulator & Boeing in a full 787 battery redesign. A small cost for them (almost no delay), a very high one for Boeing (10-12 months).

    • Reverse it:
      The effort for Boeing to fix the current battery versus the effort to change over to Ni/Cd probly is not all that big.
      forcing Airbus to retreat from their less haphazard and certifiable design and spend the time and effort towards a NiCd solution is the best Boeing can hope for / work towards. Faa will be coopted into this.

  7. FWIW – I have dealt with Ray Conner when he was a mere Manufacturing Supervisor on the 777 program. He was an upfront guy, paid attention, and willing to try something new. There were several like him on the 777 program- a refreshing change.

    On one hand – I’m sure he is serious, and doing his best. BUT like any executive ( such as Mulally) he must parrot the mantra sent down from the corner office.

    MUlally had the same labor issue in his time, and had to speak out in a similar fashion- and at that time his ( Mullaly) body language and expressions was more like he had just eaten a pickle ( to be polite )

    Unfortunately, the comments by the Chief Engineer Delaney and by McNearney and their N team have P8888 off way too many SPEEA types AND more than a few IAM types.

    And no matter how one slices it the 401k issue for new employees is a MAJOR sticking point, a slippery slope if you will.

    Partof SPEEA misinformation does NOT help either.

    The die has been cast- too many things put in motion before the battery problem – and IMHO- now too late for any laurel leaf or valentine flowers.

    • I find it interesting that Connor felt the need to step in rather than letting Delany shoot off his mouth once again. Perhaps someone realized that Delaney insulting SPEEA right before a vote again would probably be, ahem… counter productive. FWIW, John Tracey sent out a note too.

      • Another bit of management views. Many years ago- in the mid-late 1980’s, Boeing earnings etc were on the downslope- as was typical of the whole aerospace industry at the time. Frank Shrontz was CEO, and he had a significant raise scheduled. At a shareholder meeting in seattle, a young person had tried to submit a proposal regarding pay issues. But it was one of those which wouldn’t fly due to SEC rules regarding ‘ ordinary business ‘ . However, rather than go thru the formalities of turning down via SEC, Frank agreed to specifically address the issue and call upon the proponent during the meeting so he could at least be heard rather than by random choice. AT that same meeting, Frank announced that he was declining the raise normally due him under contract since the company was not doing well at that time. In the overall scheme of things at that time, it was for Frank a minimum sacrifice- but had great PR value.

        Frank also had a VERY high ethical standards regarding trying to get realistic information from grunts via random selections from the troops for a one on one chat.

        Now fast forward to the current management.

        Grunts are P88888 when they read about the major bone-us for a job well done by McNearney and friends.

        While at the same time – telling the grunts we need to cut costs, go out to the subs and twist arms to lower costs, etc, and by the way- we can’t really afford you guys/gals anyhow so suck it up, boola boola, and lets see nothing but A8888 and elbows as you clean up the mess we made !

        Obviously a different incentive !!

  8. This is Andrea Rothman point …

    Should Airbus opt to switch to a traditional battery now, the change could be accomplished with a few months’ delay, one of the people said, while waiting until Boeing resolves the 787 issue could put back the A350 significantly.

    But Airbus say they have their plan B already done with Saft ….;
    They may begin test With MSN 002 in a few month, and I don’t think this may delay EIS significantly more than their actual problems !

    The worst case for Airbus, would be that FAA give some allowances to Boeing, with their actual batteries, and abruptly ban Li-Ion, a year later, through the final report….Giving Boeing enough time to find a solution !

    Airbus has to be aware of this kind of tramp, and surely they are !

    • That expands the situation towards Airbus needing a believably workable fallback in any case.
      Either for actual use or as a defensive measure.

    • Would dual certification work?
      What would be the repercussion from a Li-Ion certification from EASA while US carriers and the FAA get NiCd to play with ? retaliatory action ?

  9. I think, a dual certification, is very easy, if correctly planned, from Airbus, and it seems they had their Plan B on the road, since a lot of time for the A350 !
    It may appear like an option, for the customers !
    If FAA further ban Li-Ion in aviation, this may be an interesting case …. to test the strengh of EASA !

    • I would expect Airbus to use cells they are aquainted and comfortable with.
      That would be the Saft 3.6V 40..45Ah cylindrical cells. Two stacks would give you
      80..90Ah ~= 2.2..2.6kWh ( versus 1.9kWh on the 787 )

  10. That Airbus may drop Lithium-ion batteries is indeed big news. But it should be expected. The instant I heard that Airbus had a plan “B”, it was obvious to me at the time that it was most certainly for a Ni-Cd prototype.

    If that is indeed the case it would show how cautious Airbus has been in its approach. Same thing for Bombardier which retained the traditional Ni-Cd technology on the CSeries. And that is quite remarkable because for the rest of the aircraft they selected electric brakes, FBW flight controls, CFRP wings/empennage, Al-Li fuselage and all kinds of advanced technologies. But why did they ignore Li-ion? And why did Airbus take the pain of devising a plan B in parallel?

    Airbus has at least two compelling reasons to switch to Ni-Cd:

    1- It would address the now widely spread public concerns over Li-ion batteries.
    2- It would protect them against the genuine possibility that the FAA would ban Li-ion from aircraft systems.

    The price to pay for Airbus is roughly 200 lbs, or the equivalent payload of one passenger. It would also delay the development of the A350 by several months. But that would also give them a nice excuse to announce additional delays that have nothing to do with the battery system.

    I am sure no one is laughing at Bombardier over the 787 woes or the A350 predicaments. But they must understandably be walking around with a big smile on their corporate face.

    • For sure they are grinning like a Cheshire cat but one uk airline today is in panic mode as a lot of holiday’s have been booked for Easter trying to lease aircraft ect ect.

  11. 200 lbs may be much, since the A350 Batteries are relatively smaller that the 787 ‘s !
    200 lbs may be true for the B787 !
    And a Plan B well managed (And somewhat anticipated) may not delay the A350 certification at all, since EIS is slipping now next to the end of 2014 2nd semester … for other reasons ….

    • The 787 battery weighs 63 lbs and there are two of them. How much does one A350 battery weigh? If we knew the answer we could multiply the figure by four. But that question remains unanswered so far, like the other questions I asked in a previous thread:

      – Where is the APU battery?
      – Is it part of the four-battery cluster?
      – Does the APU use only one battery unit, or more than one?
      – If the APU battery is located in the front, is this not too far from the APU?

  12. Normand, on the A380 the APU battery is located just forward of the cargo door in the bulk cargo compartment. Batteries 1 and “Essential” (i.e. “essential” presumably being the lithium-ion battery for the emergency lighting system) are located in the upper forward avionics bay while Battery # 2 is located in the main avionics bay on the extreme forward end of the lower deck. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the APU battery on the A350 is located similarily aft in the bulk cargo compartment as well. AFAIK, on the A350 there’s no 787-type electrical bay just aft of the main gear wheel well since the A350 does not use a bleed-less architecture.

    Please do take a look at the repsective locations of the A380 batteries and the control panel layout in this link (Page 9):

    • Thanks for your input OV. I read in your post that you “wouldn’t be too surprised if the APU battery on the A350 is located similarily aft in the bulk cargo compartment as well.” Well, that’s what I suspect myself. And it is the main reason why I asked the question (twice).

      The problem is that when people make the comparison between the 787 batteries versus the A350’s, they fail to take that into consideration. Therefore they say that the 787 has two large batteries versus four smaller ones for the A350. I remain doubtful about that.

      My understanding, based on the limited knowledge I have of the A350, is that there are four Li-ion batteries located in the forward compartment, below and slightly aft of the cockpit. Now, if the APU battery is located at the opposite end, say around the balk cargo, that would mean the A350 has more than four Li-ion batteries. Unless the APU battery is a Ni-Cd battery. Which remains a distinct possibility.

      If what I suspect happens to be not too far from reality, that would mean the A350 has four Li-ion main batteries grouped together, plus one separate Ni-Cd APU battery. And the 787 would have one Li-ion main battery plus one identical Li-ion APU battery located further back.

      Therefore when we compare the 787 and the A350 I believe we should take that into consideration and say that the A350 main battery power is shared by FOUR battery units versus only ONE battery unit for the 787. But most posters say that the ratio is two to one. Personally I think it is four to one. But I could be wrong. This is not a trivial question.

      • One important difference between the A350 and the 787 is that the APU battery would itself be considerably more powerful on the 787 because in addition to the APU, it has to crank the two massive generators that are required to support the equally massive electrical system.

        The main battery on the 787 is of the same size, but for a different reason. It has to be very powerful because it has to feed the electric braking system.

        Therefore I suspect that the main battery on the CSeries must also be very large, because like for the 787 it has to support an electric braking system. And on top of that it is a Ni-Cd battery, which would make it twice the size of an equivalent Li-ion battery.

      • The generators on the 787 are “starter generators” i.e. 3 phase AC engines that when the phases are energised
        by the APU starter inverter work as a motor or when the apu is running work as generators to power one of the AC busses.
        ( the 787 must be infested with various 3phase contactors )
        Information available indicates that either both batteries or the APU battery alone (? or the main battery alone?) can be used
        for starting the APU. My guess would be that there actually are two starter inverters, one for each APU starter/generator i.e.
        APUBat — starter-inverter-A — Motor-Generator-A — APU — Motor-Generator-B — starter-inverter-B — MainBat.
        you can start fron one or the other side or both.
        With no load a generator that is not used for starting is just a rotating mass with low friction.
        Now note that the 787 APU has about 500kW output while the A350 APU has >1700kW output. Required starter power should be slightly lower for the smaller APU. ( and why the difference )

        The central question is how many independent 28VDC busses
        does each plane have 😉

  13. Like in all industries there is a very active grapevine, and if the change of battery is true, as appears likely, It suggests IMHO that the industry is writing off Li-ion batteries for use in passenger aircraft.
    Airbus are being pragmatic by jumping before being pushed.
    Almost certainly Boeing are also working overtime on designing a new battery system hoping against hope that it isn’t needed, but they have to be prepared just in case.
    Frankly I believe CYA is going to prevail here.

      • Theres not really a lot of arse for Airbus to cover, as far as we know they have properly engineered their battery solution; the risk however is that the FAA seeks to cover its and Boeings arses and failings by banning the whole technology. This introduces a risk beyond Airbus’s control so they have to mitigate this by looking at other technologies.

        The FAA should of course differentiate between Li-ion technologies and designs rather than ban it outright but Airbus cannot take the risk that the FAA may do something else.

  14. I’m no battery specialist. I guess the longer term result will be that battery’s developpers come up with something significant lighter the NiCad but as safe. Could be retrofitted on aircraft if worthwhile. NiCad, Li-Ion or something else? No idea..

  15. Normand,
    I don’t find the exact power of the A350 Batteries… I have to look after a large number of Post !
    But be sure the A350 has two sets of two (Relatively small) Li-Ion batteries, one set ahead, one after near the bulk !
    Not the same as the A380 !
    I have read in various thread, the weight ratio between Cad-Nickel and Li-Ion, is 2,5 … but not all the Li-Ion are equal, there are differents chemistery , and different kind of spacing and containment, Boeing know this, now …. so ….

  16. Rensim :
    But be sure the A350 has two sets of two (Relatively small) Li-Ion batteries, one set ahead, one after near the bulk !

    My understanding is that all four Li-ion batteries are grouped together under the cockpit. I am quite sure of that. What I don’t know is if they are all units of the main battery, or if one or more of them is used for the APU. I would summarize my current thinking this way:

    1- All four Li-ion batteries are located in the front and each one is a unit of the MAIN battery.
    2- There is a separate APU battery (Li-ion or Ni-Cd) in the back.

    • We need a knowledgeable person about the A350 (an insider?) the way CM is for the Dreamliner.

  17. BlogJifa is alway swell documented !

    The batteries are used for the following functions:

    No-break power transfer function
    DC power to the instrument buses in a standby power configuration
    DC power or various ground functions, including APU start when ground power is not available.

    The A350 XWB has 4 identical part number 28V Lithium-Ion batteries from Saft, meaning there are 28 Li-ion cells on-board (compared with only 14 on the 787). Airbus electrical systems engineers have studied the known failure mode for Li-ion batteries called thermal runaway.

    • Thank you very much for the link Rensim!

      If I understand well what I read there, it means that only two of the four batteries are used as the MAIN battery. We must therefore conclude that the other two are used for the APU. But we still don’t know where they are respectively located.

      So the ratio of 2 to 1 is the right one. Meaning that Airbus splits the load between two smaller units. That, despite the fact that the respective MAIN and APU battery power required on the A350 is much less than for the two single-unit 787 batteries.

  18. Uwe :
    Now note that the 787 APU has about 500kW output while the A350 APU has >1700kW output. Required starter power should be slightly lower for the smaller APU.

    The A350 APU develops 1700 shaft horsepower (SHP), not 1700 KW. The correct figure is 1268 KW. The APU on the 787 develops 1100 SHP, or about 820 KW.

    The two starter-generators on the 787 APU have an output of 225 KVA each and are almost the same capacity as the engine starter-generators (+/- 25KVA). The two APU starter-generators on the A350 have an output of 150KVA each. With the 150KVA capacity of each engine, it brings the total generating capacity of the A350 to 600KVA, versus 1.42MW for the 787.

    Uwe :
    With no load a generator that is not used for starting is just a rotating mass with low friction.

    Yeah, but we are talking of two (2) 250 lbs rotating masses for the 787 APU! The only difference is that the A350 APU has also a load compressor to drive in order to provide pneumatic power. The 787 has none, because of the bleedless concept. Still, that requires considerable cranking power from any battery. To start the 787 APU a lot of amperage is required to flow for a brief period (45 seconds maximum).

    All that to say that the A350 APU battery is probably a lot smaller than the 787 APU battery, even though the APU itself is indeed larger on the A350. But unfortunately I am unable at the moment to supply the respective figures for the APU batteries.

  19. Uwe :
    My guess would be that there actually are two starter inverters, one for each APU starter/generator i.e.
    APUBat — starter-inverter-A — Motor-Generator-A — APU — Motor-Generator-B — starter-inverter-B — MainBat.
    you can start fron one or the other side or both.
    With no load a generator that is not used for starting is just a rotating mass with low friction.

    The central question is how many independent 28VDC busses
    does each plane have

    The starter generators are 230V AC, 240-800 Hz (very efficient design, if I remember it correctly they are in the range of 250kg for a 250kW motor/generator). Because of the variable frequency, there is probably a dedicated converter per motor/generator (variable freq to 50-60Hz) which according to the link below is built into the generator. This converter will control the starting and transition from motor mode to generator mode. They are permanent magnet generators, so the rotor continues to be energized at all time, so as long as they spin they produce some power which you need to dump in a load dump resistor in failure conditions. They will never be just a rotating mass.

    The main bus in the 787 is 230V AC versus 115V AC in other planes. This is due to the very large power: 1MW+ at 115AC requires extremely large cables. By switching to 230V for the main bus, the currents stay effectively the same and the same type of cable can be used as 115V cable and 230V cable should have almost identical insulation. However, the system as a whole becomes much more complex.

    The blog below seems to have more technical info than what I have seen at other locations.

    One problem with this kind of architecture with many independent converters/inverters is common mode and circulation currents which you see where you go from DC to AC and reverse. These parasitic currents can be very large (I have seen 500A in an inverter where peak output is 2000A) but are very difficult to measure in a real system and not easy to simulate. I was almost wondering if this could be one if the problems as the battery is most likely directly connected to an inverter.

    • “The starter generators are 230V AC, 240-800 Hz (very efficient design, if I remember it correctly they are in the range of 250kg for a 250kW motor/generator).”

      It’s actually 250 lbs, not 250 kg.

      • OK, I stepped into that kW/shp thing.

        The rotating mass tends to be 30..50% of generator weight.
        There is no need to dump anything into a load resistor.
        I still see the A350 APU having slightly higher power requirements for start.

  20. Demistro :
    Theres not really a lot of arse for Airbus to cover, as far as we know they have properly engineered their battery solution; the risk however is that the FAA seeks to cover its and Boeings arses and failings by banning the whole technology. This introduces a risk beyond Airbus’s control so they have to mitigate this by looking at other technologies.

    You are absolutely right. Airbus is covering for all possibilities and apparently were doing so at the inception of the programme. If that is verified in the future it will mean that they have displayed a lot of foresight early on. But if it is not really the case, it’s still not too late because the aircraft is months away from its maiden flight. They still have time to modify the battery system before flight testing starts.

    And if they were planning to announce a delay further on, they now have the perfect excuse.

  21. I hope Airbus dont give in to media hyped FUD being spread about Li Ion tech. Too many uneducated f**tards writing to make a buck pervert technological developments.

    Modern day media is pathetic. I would like to see both A and B take a stand around new technology and maybe just serve the airhead media a wide paw of stubburn belief in their capability to forward aviation technology. The MSM have already been spinning this so long that the intrest is fading for the general public. People tend to have enough and ignore.

    Soon on to something new to spin.

  22. Perhaps I don’t understand the system as well as I thought I did, but since Airbus is based in Europe and not in the USA, doesn’t EASA certify Airbus aircraft? The FAA, through some sort of mutual agreements honurs such certifcation. I thought that was why all other countries were pretty well automatically bound to ground the 787 when the FAA did.

    This may be considered a fine point but it does cover who is in charge of what and where.

    If the FAA were to go for a blanket ban of all Li-Ion batteries in all passenger aircraft, it would really open a firestorm of scrutiny over why they allowed Boeing to install them in the first place. And what about the A380, where they have been in use for what, 5 or 6 years noe, with as far as I know, no incidents with this technology? Can the FAA force them to stop the use of these types of cells and redesign for anew system?

    I am trying to understand some of the finer points of these developments and what they imply?

    Can the FAA ban Li-Ion batteries on future EASA certified aircraft?
    Can they demand a redesign on existing certified aircraft?
    Is Airbus considering a switch because of what they fear the FAA might ordain or is it a publicity consideration or have they possibly even been notified by EASA that such a change in requirements is pending?

    • Actually, no nation is bound to follow the FAA B-787 grounding order, they do it voluntereely. There is nothing that made the EASA order LOT to ground their B-787s (the only ones delivered to a European airline to date). But they follow the FAA recommendations. The Japanese ordered their own groundings since ANA and JAL have about half of all B-787s delivered to date.

      The FAA can ban Li-Ion batteries on any US registered aircraft, not an aircraft registered in another country.

      Airbus’s concern is about having to certify a seperate electrical system powered with Ni-Cad batteries for A-350s delivered to US based airlines, and having another certified Li-Ion battery based electrical system in other countries. Since this would make no business sense, and also effect used airplane sales it is wise for Airbus to only certify one system.

      There is no saying what the future PR impact to Airbus would be if they certified the airplane with a Li-Ion battery, and later found those batteries to be illegal by the FAA, and/or EASA.

      If the FAA has a pending order to ground Li-Ion batteries, the EASA would know about it and inform Airbus. The FAA would be responsible for notifying Boeing.

  23. Li-Ion is the way to go, dont let this media created storm decide the path. It really irks me that media has such power over areas they know squat about. They know sh*t about what solution Airbus has chosen, why should Airbus even care?!

    Dont give in to stupidity!

    • The actual weight increase of NiCd over Li-ion (as total weight, not percentage) is so small that NiCd seems the more prudent choice for the A350 at this point. The 787, of course, doesn’t have the luxury of that choice any more.

      • The gain is smaller for the A350 anyway. In terms of weight saving the net gain is higher on the 787 because the battery capacity is higher. Boeing has more to loose in the event Li-ion batteries would be banned from all commercial aircraft.

  24. Watching events from across the Atlantic, Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier says the company has been studying alternatives to the lithium-ion batteries it plans to use on the A350. According to Bregier, “nothing prevents us from going back to a classical plan that we have been studying in parallel.” Airbus has a different supplier, French battery specialist Saft, and the batteries are used for fewer functions than on the 787, thus they are less powerful. So far, Bregier sees no need to change the design and technology, though he says it would be possible to adjust the design of the current system while continuing to use lithium-ion-batteries. He expects no delay to the A350’s planned entry into service. In case of a full battery replacement, Airbus would “have all the time we need to do this on the A350 before first delivery,” he says.

    Bregier also reveals that Airbus redesigned the current battery system about a year ago because of safety concerns. The company declines to elaborate on exactly what change was made and what the alternative system would look like if it were to return to a more conventional solution.

    • Would that indicate the timeframe the 787 battery problems became visible to the industry
      ( but not public knowledge yet ) ?
      There are imho other little cues that started in spring 2012 that would indicate preparation for a potential PR disaster.

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