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Airbus rejects lithium batteries after Boeing’s problems

Airbus said it is dropping plans to use lithium-ion batteries on its new A350 airplane, under development, in the wake of problems with the batteries on Chicago-based Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

The Boeing Co. rival said, while it believes the battery architecture it has been developing and qualifying for is robust and safe, it will instead use nickel cadmium main batteries, which have a proven track record.

“Airbus considers this to be the most appropriate way forward in the interest of program execution and A350 reliability, Airbus said in a statement.

The entire fleet of 50 Boeing 787s was grounded by regulators globally last month after a battery fire on board a Japan Airlines plane parked in Boston and after battery problems and smoke in the cockpit forced an emergency landing by an All Nippon Airways 787 in Japan, prompting investigations by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board as well as regulators in Japan.

The technologically advanced 787 is the first Boeing plane to use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for its main electrical system. Such batteries are prone to overheating and have safeguards that were designed to prevent fires and contain a fire should one occur.

Reuters reported earlier this week that Airbus was considering dropping the lithium-ion battery to limit development risks on its $15 billion airliner. Industry executives, insurers and safety officials told Reuters the technology’s predictability was being questioned at senior levels as investigators struggle to find the cause of the battery problems on the 787.

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