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Whistleblower Who Flagged Production Concerns In Boeing Found Dead


John Barnett, a Boeing whistleblower who flagged production concerns was found dead in his truck in a hotel car park in the United States. Barnett, who was well recognized for flagging concerns about the firm’s production standards was in Charleston, regarding a legal case against the world’s largest aerospace company.

How did John Barnett die?

  • The 62-year-old was found dead in his truck in a hotel where he was staying in Charleston on March 9, 2024. The cause of his death was self-inflicted wounds as per various reports. Barnett had worked for Boeing for over 30 years and had been providing evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. In addition, he had begun a protracted legal battle against Boeing following his health-related retirement in 2017.
  • In the lawsuit he had filed, he also claimed that after he pointed out many issues within the company, especially about the safety and production standards Boeing obstructed his career.
  • As per the BBC report Barnet had given formal deposition in this case in Charleston last week. He was questioned by Boeing’s lawyers back then. He was supposed to go through further questioning during the weekend. But Barnett never showed up. His absence spurred enquiries at the hotel where he was later found dead.
  • In a statement, Boeing expressed their deep sadness over Mr. Barnett’s demise and their condolences to his friends and family. Since 2010, Barnett has been employed by Boeing at its North Charleston facility as a quality manager. It is said that the 787 Dreamliner, which is mostly flown on long-haul flights, is manufactured at this site.
  • After his retirement in 2019, Barnett told the BBC that the push to build the new aircraft was leading to the assembly process being rushed and safety being compromised. Workers were under pressure to prevent delays on the production line and were deliberately fitting substandard parts to the aircraft. In some cases, parts from the scrap bins were fitted onto the planes.
  • Barnett also brought up a number of problems with the 787 airliner’s emergency oxygen systems. According to him, this could imply that in an emergency, one out of every four oxygen masks might not deploy. He claimed that when he brought up these concerns with his management, nothing was done. The US aviation watchdog Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reviewed the claims, which the aircraft giant refuted, and some of his fears were confirmed.

Boeing Still Stuck On Issues
The report on Barnett’s death has come close on the heels of a Boeing 787 airliner operated by LATAM Airlines dropped abruptly mid-flight and led to the injury of at least 50 passengers.

Earlier this month, the FAA following its six-week-long audit of Boeing told that there were several instances of the company failing to comply with manufacturing quality control standards.

These instances have come under intense scrutiny, especially since an unused emergency exit door blew off a brand new Boeing 737 Max in January.

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