Europe’s Airbus is considering whether to drop lithium-ion batteries and switch back to traditional ones on its A350 passenger jet.
I like it how this safety official put it:
“It is a classic risk-management problem. If you don’t know the cause of something you can’t quantify the risk that it will happen again,” an international safety official told Reuters. “In that case, you have little choice but to take a temporary step back and rely on something better understood.”
“There is an increasing doubt over the technology,” said a person familiar with industry-wide discussions on the issue. “It may well be the future but for now it is a question of maturity. The information on the two incidents is not reassuring.”
“The A350 is due to be delivered in the second half of 2014, around two years behind its original schedule. Reverting to nickel-cadmium would mean sacrificing the lighter weight of lithium-ion, equivalent on the A350 to one adult male passenger out of between 270 and 350 passengers. “The penalty in weight compared with the risks associated with ‘li-ion’ is minimal,” said Nick Cunningham, an aerospace analyst at Agency Partners in London.”
“Lithium-ion batteries have been on the insurance industry’s radar for quite some time. The industry’s biggest fear has been the costs when batteries are stored in bulk and one catches fire, leading to a conflagration that destroys inventories.
“The industry maybe never thought this was going to end up in an airliner,” the insurance executive said.” Full article here