Airbus will begin testing the A350 XWB’s production-standard electrical system in March following the installation nickel-cadmium batteries into the first development aircraft.
Airbus made a last minute decision early last year to switch from lithium-ion power in the wake of the Boeing 787’s battery woes. However the early test aircraft are equipped with the original power source.
A350 MSN1 is currently grounded in Toulouse for the installation of the production-standard electrical power centre and nickel-cadmium batteries, and will begin testing the system in March. The fifth A350-900 (MSN5) will be the first aircraft built to “batch 2” production standard featuring the nickel-cadmium batteries and is due to fly in May.
“All our testing has been with lithium batteries and we’ve had absolutely no problems,” says Fernando Alonso, Airbus’s senior vice-president flight and integration tests. “We have been doing all the tests that will be needed for when we decide to certificate the lithium battery.”
MSN1 will be used for initial trials between March and May, before being joined by MSN5, says Alonso. “So we will have two aircraft on which to do the certification.”
Battery-maker Saft was selected by Airbus to supply the starter and back-up power supply batteries using lithium-ion chemistry for the A350 in a deal originally worth $200 million.