Battery strategy switch helps Airbus A350 plane orders take off in Japan

Battery strategy switch helps Airbus A350 plane orders take off in Japan

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

JAL has ordered 31 A350 jetliners from Airbus, with an option to buy 25 more of the long-distance planes. Deliveries will start in 2019 and roll out over six years.  Boeing’s bargaining position faltered with JAL as the result of more than three years of delays for its flagship aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.

The 787 Dreamliner was grounded in early 2013 for safety investigations following alleged battery related fire incidents which included a fire on board a parked 787 in Boston, USA and an in-flight problem on a separate plane in Japan.

In February 2013 Airbus announced that the company would refrain from using lithium-ion batteries in its next passenger jet, the A350, following the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus originally had planned to use lithium-ion batteries similar to those that forced the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.  However, once the lithium-ion battery technology became embroiled in safety fears the European aircraft manufacturer decided to use traditional nickel-cadmium batteries in the company’s commercially critical A350.

Airbus said at the time that the company wanted to "mature the lithium-ion technology" but decided to adopt the batteries used on existing models in order to prevent delays in the A350’s entry into scheduled service in 2014.

French battery manufacturer, Saft, developed a lithium-ion battery for the A350 but as Airbus’s main battery supplier the company is expected to supply the nickel-cadmium batteries for the contract.

The carbon-fibre-based A350 and 787 planes have been developed to reduce weight and allow airlines to burn less fuel.

Switching to nickel-cadmium solution is likely to add up to 80 kg to the overall weight of the A350.  Lithium-ion batteries are typically at least 30 percent lighter than the traditional nickel-cadmium alternatives.

The 787 relies on electrical systems more than the A350 instead of traditional hydraulics to control brakes and other systems, which demands more power management and back-up technoogy support.

Visit Saft at

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