Saft has been selected to supply batteries for both China’s AVIC ARJ21 regional jet and its Russian competitor, the Sukhoi Superjet. The company is already set to provide the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II with batteries for the low-rate initial production phase.
Most new programs use lithium-ion batteries, CEO John Searle told AIN. “They are more complex and more expensive but are lighter and have more capacity,” he said. Lithium-ion batteries have built-in control software. The previous generation of batteries is referred to as nickel-cadmium.
The new Airbus A350 airliner, for example, is to have Saft lithium-ion batteries. “On a more electric aircraft, backup capacity has to be higher,” Searle stressed.
Therefore, it is worth paying more if it actually saves weight. “The value of batteries on an A350 is four times that on an A330 but we save tens of kilos,” Searle said. Lithium-ion technology also eliminates scheduled maintenance. “We are OEM suppliers for all Airbuses and three quarters of Boeings,” he claimed.
In case of power generation failure, aircraft batteries are supposed to back up critical electric systems, such as avionics. They also enable starting the auxiliary power unit, which in turn can start the engines. A battery typically lasts six to eight years on an aircraft, according to Searle. Saft, for which aerospace accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the revenues, can be found here in Hall 2 Stand C74.