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Should Boeing have known about battery problems?

The situation with Boeing's (BA) Dreamliner 787 continues to unravel, and things are not looking too good the company. It is becoming more evident that the Dreamliner program was rushed in order to get the planes to customers and it seems like some of the problems that have occurred in recent weeks could have been avoided.

The most troubling question is whether or not Boeing knew ahead of time that there was a possibility that the lithium-ion batteries in the jets posed a risk of catching fire. At least one person claims that he began voicing concerns about the safety of the lithium-ion batteries in 2007.

Michael Leon, a former employee of Securaplane, the company responsible for manufacturing the lithium-ion charging systems that are being used in the Dreamliner, claims that in 2007 he made several attempts to warn the company about the possible danger of the lithium-ion batteries. According to Leon, these batteries are heat-intolerant, and that when they take too much heat they will explode.

He reports witnessing one of these batteries explode and engulf an entire room in fire back in 2006. Leon claims the problem was with the battery, but Boeing decided it was a result of the test being not set up properly.

After making multiple complaints about the battery's safety, Leon was fired. Securaplane fired him for misconduct, but Leon believes it was due to his concerns. He took the company to court but lost his case.

Michael Fowlkes

Michael Fowlkes is a financial writer who has been with the Fresh Brewed Media family since 2004. Over the course of his tenure with Fresh Brewed Media, he has worn many hats, including portfolio manager, options analyst, and writer. Michael received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Accounting and got his start in finance working as a stock trader for six years at Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Va.