Cessna stands behind lithium-ion batteries, plans roll-out on four jets after Q2

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Cessna confirms that it intends to requalify lithium-ion batteries during the second quarter of 2013 and make them available to customers buying four of its jet models.

The move underlines the jet maker's confidence in lithium-ion power sources amid a fleet-wide grounding of Boeing 787s linked to such batteries and only 15 months after Cessna itself issued an emergency recall of lithium-ion batteries introduced on the CJ4 Citation Jet.

Upon qualifying the batteries, Cessna will offer them for the CJ4, Sovereign, Citation X and Citation M2, says the company.

Lithium ion was selected as the power source to start the auxiliary power unit and serve as an emergency backup in case of generator failure on the CJ4 in 2007.

cesna citation m2 cessna

 Cessna   

Cessna is standing behind its plans to make lithium-ion batteries available to customers buying four of its jet models including the Citation M2 above 

But a battery fire in late 2011 prompted Cessna to recommend an urgent recall. That was quickly followed by an emergency airworthiness directive, which made the recall mandatory. It required CJ4 operators to replace the batteries with nickel cadmium or lead acid-based batteries within 10 flight hours or seven days.

Cessna was not able to immediately identify the supplier of the new lithium-ion batteries being introduced later this year. The company also has not indicated the specific chemistry of the selected battery.

Automotive battery start-up A123 Systems was Cessna's original supplier of the lithium-ion batteries that were recalled, but that company has since been forced into bankruptcy and is seeking to sell the majority of its assets.

The 787 is known to have used a battery chemistry - lithium cobalt oxide - eschewed by most manufacturers of electric cars, who have preferred chemistries based on lithium manganese oxide and lithium iron phosphate.

The latter are expected to be safer by some experts in high-temperature applications, although lithium cobalt oxide is used widely in low-temperature consumer electronic devices, including mobile phones and laptop computers.

Cessna was only the second US-based aircraft manufacturer to be subject to the US Federal Aviation Administration's special condition for airworthiness certification based on lithium-ion batteries. It remains the only business aviation or general aviation manufacturer that has publicly committed to switching to lithium-ion batteries as a power source on aircraft.