The 'latest' official photo of the A350 prototype taken months ago

According to reports in the US media, Airbus will replace the four large lithium ion batteries that were to be used its A350 airliners with less volatile Nicad or nickel-cadmium assemblies to avoid any of the issues that have grounded Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners from commercial service since 17 January.

However apparently the first of the A350s, the flight test and certification fleet will use the li-ion batteries originally intended for them when they begin making those flights in the middle of this year.

While there has been no confirmation of the reports from Airbus it would not be an unexpected development. The A350 is a new family of airliners intended to replace the A330 series, but with slightly larger sized cabins and in some cases, a very long range capability.

The A350s like the 787s used more composites as a replacement for alloys but differ from the Dreamliner series in their use and manner of construction, as well as requiring less electrical power by retaining a more conventional reliance on bleed air from the engines for some functions, starting with cabin pressurisation.

According to Boeing, moving to Nicad for its 787s  is much more difficult to do than is the case for the A350.

It is unknown how soon, or if, Boeing will be able to persuade the FAA in the US to allow Dreamliner flights to resume using a temporary fix for its battery issues pending a comprehensive solution based on the results of NTSB investigation of a fire in the battery of a JAL 787 at Boston and the emergency landing of an ANA 787 in Japan when a similar battery melted down.

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