Airbus is to scrap plans to use lithium-ion batteries on its new passenger jet, in a move aimed at keeping the A350 development programme on track following Boeing’s crisis with the 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus announced on Friday it would use traditional nickel cadmium batteries on the A350 wide-body jet, which is the European manufacturer’s answer to the 787. It had said last week it was considering such a move.

The 787 was grounded by regulators around the world last month after lithium-ion batteries on two Dreamliners failed. The battery caught fire on a 787 operated by Japan Airlines at a US airport.

Airbus has already suffered delays with the development programme for the A350, which is due to enter service in the second half of 2014.

US and Japanese investigators have yet to establish the root causes of the battery failures on the 787 and Boeing has started advising airlines that deliveries of Dreamliners could be delayed.

Airbus, which is owned by EADS, said: “To date, the root causes of the two recent industry [lithium-ion] batteries incidents remain unexplained to the best of our knowledge.

“In this context, and with a view to ensuring the highest level of programme certainty, Airbus has decided to activate its plan B and therefore to revert back to the proven and mastered nickel cadmium main batteries for its A350 . . . programme.”

The manufacturer added that it did not expect the A350’s entry-into-service date to be affected by the change in batteries.

Airbus and Boeing had chosen lithium-ion batteries for their new aircraft partly because the devices are smaller and lighter than nickel cadmium-based equipment.

Airbus has 617 orders for A350 aircraft with 35 airlines and leasing companies. Boeing has orders for more than 800 Dreamliners.

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