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Boeing under fire after second whistleblower dies under questionable circumstances

Amid the ongoing investigations, the FAA also announced that it has launched a new investigation into Boeing after the company “voluntarily” informed it that the inspections of several 787 Dreamliners may not have been completed. 

News Arena Network - Los Angeles - UPDATED: May 9, 2024, 03:27 AM - 4 mins read

Boeing under fire after second whistleblower dies under questionable circumstances

Boeing under fire after second whistleblower dies under questionable circumstances

A Boeing 777 Aircraft. Image via Boeing official website.


From 25% of the breathing masks not being operational in an emergency, to improperly drilled holes in the fuselage–both Joshua Dean and John Barnett had alleged serious safety concerns in the company’s production processes.

 

The fire has spread too far and too large to be put out by Boeing. Last week, as another Boeing whistleblower Joshua Dean was found dead —- a healthy 45-year-old who battled a sudden and severe infection, it didn’t take long for the collective public memory to jog back to March of this year.

 

When John Barnett, yet another employee of the American multinational corporation, was found dead in his truck in the hotel car park due to a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”. 

 

Joshua Dean was a former quality auditor turned whistleblower, who as first reported by local media, suffered from Influenza B and MRSA and developed pneumonia. Dean had raised concerns about the improperly drilled holes in the fuselage of 737 Max jets.

 

During two separate interviews given in January of this year, Dean also said that the employees were pressured not to report defects to get planes out of the factory faster.

 

Brian Knowles, who represented both 45-year-old Dean and 62-year-old Barnett, said that the two were “heroes as are all the whistleblowers.”

 

He also said that they loved the company, wanted it to do better and raised concerns because people’s lives were at stake. Both deaths are still under investigation by the authorities. 

 

As for John Barnett, he was also like any other employee of the company, having worked for the aircraft giant for 32 years and retired in 2017. Save for the fact that he had repeatedly raised concerns about Boeing’s production standards.

 

In the days before his death, Barnett had been deposing in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. His death was confirmed by Charleston County Coroner who said that the 62-year-old died from a “self-inflicted” wound on March 9, 2024, and the police are investigating. 

 

The concerns raised by Barnett 

 

Barnett, who had worked as a quality manager, was in charge of the famous and state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner. In 2019, Barnett was quoted by the BBC as saying that, “under pressure, workers had been deliberately fitting sub-standard parts to aircraft on the production line.” 

 

The serious flags raised by him didn’t end there. Barnett also said that he had uncovered serious issues with oxygen systems and alleged that about 25% of the breathing masks would not work in the case of an emergency. Deadline pressures and demand for new aircraft meant that the assembly process was rushed without giving due regard to safety processes.

 

In an interview, once he also said that sub-standard parts had been removed from scrap bins and fitted onto the planes. Boeing denied all the allegations. 

 

But can Boeing undo the damage? Several investigations aside, the attorney for both Dean and Barnett also told various publications that there remain at least ten other Boeing whistleblowers out there, comprising both former and current employees, who are safe and sound. 

 

Boeing — under Federal investigation 

 

US regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in a 2017 review, did find some basis in some of the concerns raised by Barnett. His allegations once again made it to world headlines when in January of this year, a brand-new Boeing 737 Max’ emergency exit door blew off shortly after take-off from Portland International Airport.

 

The incident resulted in another federal investigation to which Boeing's top official said that the company “could not find documents about the door plug blow-off incident.” The exit door blew off also led to the grounding of all 171 Max 9 JETS by the FAA for further investigation.

 

However, the incident did have repercussions in the top hierarchy of the company, with its CEO Dave Calhoun announcing in March that he would step down at the end of the year following the crisis.

 

In the meanwhile, the FAA also announced that it has launched a new investigation into Boeing after the company “voluntarily” informed it that the inspections of several 787 Dreamliners may not have been completed.    

 

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