Leon, a 53-year old ex-paratrooper, claimed in his whistleblower case that he was unfairly targeted, racially profiled and ultimately fired after raising concerns that Securaplane wanted to ship battery chargers to Boeing that did not conform to product specifications. The company denied the allegations.
Securaplane hired Leon as a senior engineering technician in 2004, the same year it won the contract to work on the 787 parts. The company, which was taken over by Meggitt in April 2011, makes three important battery-related systems for the 787 as a subcontractor to France’s Thales SA.
The lithium-ion battery is made by Japan’s GS Yuasa Corp , while Thales is responsible for electric power conversion on the 787, the world’s newest and most electricity-driven airliner. The auxiliary power unit (APU), which powers the airplane’s systems when it is on the ground, is built by a unit of United Technologies Corp.
The Securaplane spokeswoman declined to give details about the value of the company’s contract with Thales for work on the 787, saying those details were confidential. She said she was not aware of any other whistleblower case filed by a Meggitt or Securaplane employee.
Securaplane said it makes two battery charging units used on the 787, one for the APU battery in an aft bay, and one for the main ship battery used in a forward bay, which provides backup power for flight critical controls.
In his lawsuit, and in the interview with Reuters, Leon said he raised concerns about the safety of the lithium-ion battery that he was using for testing about two weeks before it suddenly exploded in November 2006.
Leon said he tried to put out the fire using halon, a liquefied compressed gas, but parts of the battery kept reigniting. The fire “rattled the workforce” at Securaplane, according to the judge who dismissed Leon’s claim, after concluding that Securaplane had proved Leon was fired for repeated misconduct, including hostile behavior, not any safety complaints, court documents show.