Another Boeing Whistleblower Passes Away Abruptly

( – There’s been a lot of attention on aerospace company Boeing lately, with issues cropping up on some of its planes, particularly the 737 MAX. There have been rumblings of safety issues that could affect the aircraft’s integrity, putting passenger safety at risk. In January, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decided to ground 171 of the company’s 737-9 MAX planes amid an investigation into its manufacturing processes. A subcontractor, Spirit AeroSystems, one of Boeing’s suppliers, is also under scrutiny. Now, in less than two months, two whistleblowers have died.

Spirit AeroSystems Whistleblower Dies

Spirit AeroSystems is one of Boeing’s main suppliers. It builds most of the 737 MAX, which is deemed a safety risk. This was highlighted after several mishaps, including an incident in January, when the door plug blew off one of Alaska Airlines’ planes mid-flight.

In 2022, Josh Dean, a former quality auditor for Spirit, raised the flag about improperly drilled holes in a specific part of the aircraft designed to maintain cabin pressure while in flight. He complained again in early 2023 and was terminated that April. He filed a complaint with the Department of Labor for unjust termination, claiming the company was retaliating against him. Dean also filed a complaint with the FAA about the issue with the drilled holes not lining up.

Spirit shareholders eventually sued the company, claiming it didn’t disclose “severe and persistent” quality issues. While Dean provided testimony during the discovery phase, he wasn’t actually part of the lawsuit. He died on Monday, April 29, of a fast-spreading infection at the age of 45. His attorneys confirmed his death.

Second Death in As Many Months

The timing of Dean’s death has raised some eyebrows, not just because he was a whistleblower but because he’s the second one to die in as many months.

On March 9, John Barnett, a former Boeing quality manager in South Carolina, was found dead of what authorities are saying is a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He missed a scheduled deposition, which led to his attorneys frantically trying to track him down.

Barnett, who resigned from Boeing in 2017 citing job-related stress, had raised several issues, including a reported 25% failure rate of the 787 Dreamliners’ emergency oxygen systems. That, he warned, would lead to a drop in cabin pressure in the cabin and suffocate passengers.

While authorities ruled his death a suicide, they are still investigating the circumstances surrounding it. Brian Knowles, an attorney representing both Dean and Barnett, has refused to comment on the timing of the two deaths.

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