BUSINESS IN A BREEZE: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY
Airbus switching to regular batteries in its A350 jetliner
Airbus is developing plans to use standard batteries in its new A350 model and jettison the lithium-ion power source that grounded Boeing’s rival 787 Dreamliner, two people familiar with the plans said Friday.
The step is being considered to avoid any similar problems or certification issues with the A350, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions are private. No final decision has been reached, they added.
The global 787 fleet was grounded on Jan. 16 following a fire on a Japan Airlines Co. plane that U.S. safety experts determined had originated in a lithium-ion battery. Airbus has said that the electrical design of the A350 and its lithium batteries would be more conservative.
Boeing concedes that 787 deliveries will be delayed
Boeing acknowledged Friday that it may not be able to deliver 787s as fast as hoped.
The company said it has told customers expecting the next 787 deliveries that those planes have either been delayed, or are at risk for a delay.
Boeing is still building the long-range, fuel-efficient planes, and it reiterated that it has no plans to slow production.
Airlines have ordered 800 787s. Boeing builds five per month now, and wants to get to 10 by the end of this year. Airline customers expecting deliveries this year include Hainan Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Thomson Airways, and Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Results from Japan contribute to drop in McDonald’s sales
McDonald’s says a key sales figure dropped again in January as the world’s biggest hamburger chain faced weakness in Japan.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company said global sales at restaurants open at least 13 months dropped 1.9 percent for the month. The figure is a key metric because it strips out the volatility of newly opened and closed locations.
After years of outperforming rivals, McDonald’s has been struggling amid intensifying competition and challenging economic conditions around the world. Late last year, the company ousted the head of its U.S. business after the sales figure dropped for the first time in nearly a decade.
Supercomputer use offered to doctors, health insurers
Dr. Watson is accepting new patients.
The Watson supercomputer is graduating from its medical residency and is being offered commercially to doctors and health insurance companies, IBM said Friday.
IBM Corp., the health insurer WellPoint Inc. and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center announced two Watson-based applications — one to help diagnose and treat lung cancer and one to help manage health insurance decisions and claims.
Both applications take advantage of the speed, huge database and language skill the computer demonstrated in defeating the best human “Jeopardy!” players on television two years ago.
Energy turnaround helps US reduce its trade deficit
A jump in energy-related exports and a steep decline in oil imports lowered the U.S. trade deficit in December to nearly a three-year low.
The improvement suggests the economy grew in the October-December quarter instead of shrinking as the government estimated last week.
A brighter outlook for trade also illustrates how a boom in oil and gas production is reducing crude oil imports and making the U.S. a leader in the export of fuels.
And it shows that higher domestic sales of fuel-efficient cars are lowering dependence on oil.News Tribune news services