Bizjets Currently Not Flying With Lithium Batteries

 - January 29, 2013, 4:10 PM

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. FAA special conditions were issued for certification of lithium-ion batteries in the new Sovereign; similar conditions applied to the CJ4. In 2010, Cessna also announced plans for “dual lithium-ion batteries” in the new Citation X.

However, CJ4s no longer feature lithium-ion batteries, after a main battery fire on a CJ4 plugged into ground power resulted in an AD mandating replacement with nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries. The FAA “discovered that the cause [of the CJ4 fire] was that a mechanic had intentionally bypassed the safety systems built into the battery,” an FAA spokeswoman said.

Only two other business jets were slated to have lithium-ion batteries and were issued special conditions to do so: the Spectrum S-40 (since canceled) and the Gulfstream G650. “The G650 has lead-acid and Ni-Cad batteries,” a spokeswoman for the OEM told AIN. “Early in the G650 program, Gulfstream did investigate using Li-ion batteries. However, we made a change during the development program to today’s batteries.”


I'm not at all convinced the concept is a good solution to battery needs, the implementation thus far requires far too much internal (or otherwise attached to the battery) analytical circuitry, which of course has its own potential for failure, to make it consistent, dependable and safe. Even those used in small cordless tools are far from perfect and often do, on a small yet frightening scale compared with kilowatt-sized units, exhibit threatening and potentially disastrous behavior. I can't stop thinking about the ValuJet incident when considering this technology.

If you are talking about the plane that went into the glades, it had nothing to do with batteries. It had to do with a Oxygen canister being shipped full and had no safety clip. Then it exploded.

My experience with lithium ion batteries in powered hand tools has been terrible. I would never consider them suitable for aircraft use.