WHEN it comes to lithium-ion battery technology, Boeing and Airbus are heading in different directions.
Since batteries on two Boeing 787 jets caught fire or emitted smoke last month, Airbus has dropped plans to use the technology on its forthcoming wide-body jet, the A350-XWB, to avoid production delays. But Boeing, which has much more at stake, will stick with the batteries and is working with regulators on how to reduce the risks even if the cause of the hazards is not clearly found.
To some extent, Boeing's bravado reflects a sense among battery experts that they have narrowed down the ways that the batteries could fail. That then increases the chances that a handful of changes may eventually provide enough assurance that the batteries will be safe to use.
Analysts said the cost to Airbus of making the switch was likely to be minimal. "This seems like the thoroughly sensible thing to do," said Nick Cunningham, an aerospace industry analyst at Agency Partners.