Safety issues around how to store batteries hinders Airbus as it looks to use lithium-ion for backup and starting power in its A350-900 aircraft.
The French aircraft manufacturer is in the final stages of regulatory reviews, but is stuck trying to persuade officials it is safe to install the batteries inside an aluminium case, rather than a heavy stainless steel box, which regulators are insisting upon.
The heavy ‘safety’ box would mitigate the weight saving of moving from nickel cadmium to lithium-ion batteries, however. The industry having moved from lead-acid batteries in the early 1970s.
Airbus has made one design change to the original lithium-ion battery system for the A350-900, added a non-return valve, rather than allowing power to flow between the batteries, reports flightglobal.com.
Recently a number of international airlines have banned shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo amid fire concerns. In August an air accident report revealed the 2013 fire on a Boeing Dreamliner jet was triggered by trapped battery wires.
Two battery fires on the Boeing 787-8 in January 2013 led the US Federal Aviation Administration to ground the fleet for four months.
One of the changes that Boeing made was to switch from a lighter aluminium enclosure for the two batteries to a stainless steel box.
Boeing uses two GS Yuasa-made batteries, while Airbus selected four Saft-made batteries for their aircraft.