Mid-Continent Instrument (Booth No. 3636) has received FAA and EASA approval for its new True Blue Power TB17 advanced lithium-ion engine start and main ship battery. The TB17 is the first lithium-ion battery to receive certification for general aviation applications. The 16-pound battery is designed for light turbine and piston aircraft and weighs up to 45 percent less than lead-acid or nicad batteries. The company says the TB17 is designed for less maintenance, lower cost and longer life than traditional batteries.
Mid-Continent Instrument’s True Blue Power division introduced two new lithium-ion main-ship batteries yesterday, designed for jets, turboprops, piston airplanes and helicopters. The new 28-volt batteries come in two sizes: the TB44 (44 ampere hours) and TB17 (17 ampere hours), and can be seen at Mid-Continent’s NBAA exhibit (Booth No. C10040). These new batteries, which will be certified and ready for deliveries in the fourth quarter this year, are first being offered to aircraft manufacturers and not yet to the aftermarket.
The FAA-approved Boeing service bulletin for the 787 calls for modification of the charger and battery monitoring unit to narrow the acceptable level of charge. In essence, this means lowering the maximum charge allowed and raising the minimum level of discharge allowed. In other words, it cuts the performance gain the lithium-ion technology is supposed to bring.
UK-based Satair has opened an FAA-approved battery repair shop in Atlanta. The facility is designed to service nickel-cadmium and sealed lead-acid aircraft batteries of various models and sizes manufactured by Saft, Marathon, Concorde, Gill Teledyne and Hawker as well as smaller aircraft battery packs. The new shop will also hold inventory of battery parts for service and be supported by Satair’s regional and global battery support organization.
Boeing executives expressed what they consider a “reasonable expectation” that the 787 Dreamliner would return to service in a matter of a few weeks at a briefing last Friday in Tokyo during which they detailed the company’s plan for certifying a solution to the “issues” surrounding the airplane’s lithium-ion batteries. However, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner and 787 chief program engineer Mike Sinnett acknowledged that the timing will depend completely on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s certification schedule and a smooth execution of the testing.
Only one business jet thus far has been certified with a lithium-ion main-ship battery, Cessna’s Citation CJ4, which employed lithium-iron phosphate technology, unlike the lithium-cobalt oxide chemistry in the Boeing 787 batteries. No other business jet has been certified with a lithium-ion main-ship battery, although Gulfstream had planned to employ a lithium-ion battery in the G650 before switching to a nickel-cadmium battery while the aircraft was still working its way toward certification.
Airbus has decided against using a lithium-ion main ship battery for the A350 XWB following the findings by the U.S. National Transportation Board of short-circuiting and “thermal runaway” in the APU battery that caught fire on January 7 in a Japa
EaglePicher Technologies expects to certify a lithium-ion main-ship aircraft battery by year-end, according to Ron Nowlin, vice president and general manager of EaglePicher Aerospace Systems. The battery has been selected for a jet, but Nowlin was unable to reveal the OEM and said he “cannot confirm” news reports “that we are doing any work for Cessna.”
The subject of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries took on urgent new meaning following two thermal runaway incidents with lithium-ion batteries installed in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. A lot of information—and misinformation—surrounds lithium-ion technology, and experts from all over are weighing in with their opinions.
The Cessna Citation CJ4 is currently the only business jet certified with (but no longer flying with) a lithium-ion main-ship battery, using lithium-iron phosphate, not the lithium-cobalt oxide battery found on the Boeing 787, which is currently grounded in the wake of battery fires.
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