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Airbus to scrap lithium-ion batteries

Feb. 15, 2013 at 7:52 AM   |   Comments

PARIS, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Europe's Airbus has abandoned plans to use lithium-ion batteries, which caught fire on two Boeing Dreamliners last month, officials said.

Boeing's fleet of Dreamliners -- its newest and most advanced plane -- was grounded by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration after a series of electrical fires related to its lithium-ion batteries.

Airbus officials said to avoid any delays in the delivery of its first fleet of new wide-body jets, the A350-XWB, they will scrap all plans to use the lithium-ion batteries, The New York Times reported Friday.

"Airbus considers this to be the most appropriate way forward in the interest of program execution and reliability," said Marcella Muratore, a company spokeswoman.

"As a result of making this decision now, Airbus does not expect it to impact the entry into service schedule," she added.

The lithium-ion batteries weigh approximately 30 percent to 40 percent less than conventional batteries -- about 63 pounds each. Compared to the overall weight of an empty jetliner, using the heavier batteries will have a minimal impact, the Times reported.

The cost of replacing all the Airbus batteries will also be minimal compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars in penalty fees the aircraft-maker would face if the lithium-ion battery investigation in the United States delayed the delivery of the A350, said Nick Cunningham, an industry analyst at Agency Partners in London.

"I think this probably gets lost in the wash," he said. "You're probably only talking about a few million dollars."

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