Announcing that 2012 was a record year for aircraft orders and deliveries, Airbus executives steered clear of criticizing the grounded Boeing 787. They also said they remained satisfied with the electric architecture of the new Airbus A350 XWB.
Briefing journalists in Toulouse on year-end results, Airbus CEO and president Fabrice Bregier said it was too early to analyze FAA’s decision, announced late Wednesday, to ground US-registered 787s and issue an emergency airworthiness directive regarding the aircraft’s lithium ion batteries. The batteries are the focus of two investigations into incidents earlier in January; a fire that broke out on a parked Japan Airlines 787and a battery leak on an All Nippon Airways aircraft that was forced to do an emergency landing.
“We like to say, in this industry, that both Boeing and Airbus give same priority to safety. This is paramount. There is a decision of FAA and this decision confirms that aviation is one of the safest transportation around the world,” Bregier said.
He said the electric architecture of the A350 and its use of lithium batteries has been through the certification process and both FAA and European regulatory authority EASA were “very happy” with the architecture. He said Airbus saw no reason at this stage to change the A350’s architecture and the manufacturer had full confidence in its robustness.
“Of course, if FAA chooses to give some direct recommendation, we will study them very carefully; they might apply to the A350. There is not more I can say at this point in time,” he said.
The A350’s final assembly line became fully operational in 2012, the structural assembly of the first A350 XWB that will fly was completed and “electrical power on” of the aircraft was accomplished.