Boeing whistleblower found dead

CHARLESTON, SC – A former Boeing employee, recognized for his outspoken criticism of the company’s manufacturing standards, has been discovered deceased in the United States. John Barnett, who dedicated over three decades of his life to the aviation giant before retiring in 2017, was known for his role in an ongoing whistleblower lawsuit against Boeing.

In the period leading up to his death, Barnett had been providing testimony in the lawsuit. Boeing expressed sorrow over his passing, which was confirmed by the Charleston County coroner. The coroner’s report indicated that the 62-year-old had died from a self-inflicted wound on March 9, with local law enforcement currently investigating the matter.

Barnett’s career at Boeing was marked by his dedication to quality control. He spent the latter part of his career, beginning in 2010, as a quality manager at the North Charleston plant where the 787 Dreamliner was produced. Barnett had previously voiced concerns to the BBC about the use of subpar parts in aircraft production due to pressure on workers.

Further allegations from Barnett included the discovery of significant issues with oxygen systems, suggesting that one in four emergency breathing masks might fail. He claimed that the company’s rush to produce new aircraft resulted in compromised safety measures, a claim that Boeing has consistently denied.

Barnett also alleged that Boeing employees neglected to follow procedures for tracking components, resulting in defective parts going missing. He claimed that in some instances, substandard parts were salvaged from scrap bins to avoid production delays.

Despite Boeing’s denial of these claims, a 2017 review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) validated some of Barnett’s concerns. The FAA found that the whereabouts of at least 53 non-conforming parts were unknown, deeming them lost, and ordered Boeing to take corrective action.

Following his retirement, Barnett initiated a lengthy legal battle against Boeing, accusing the company of tarnishing his reputation and stunting his career progression due to his whistleblowing activities – allegations that Boeing has rejected.

At the time of his death, Barnett had been in Charleston for legal proceedings related to his case. His death, described as “tragic” by his attorney, occurred amidst intense scrutiny of production standards at Boeing and its main supplier, Spirit Aerosystems.