Boeing whistleblower apparent suicide

Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead in an Apparent Suicide

Boeing whistleblower, John Barnett, was found dead of an apparent suicide. Barnett was a quality manager for Boeing in North Carolina for 32 years before he retired in 2017. 

The Charleston County coroner confirmed Barnett’s death on Monday. According to the report, the 62-year-old died from a “self-inflicted” wound on March 9. 

Whistleblower Lawsuit

Days before his death, he provided evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit. His death came a few months after the Alaska Airlines incident, during which, part of the Boeing aircraft blew off mid-flight. 

From 2010 until his retirement, he worked as a quality manager at Boeing’s North Carolina plant. The facility builds 787 Dreamliner aircraft used for long-haul flights. 

In 2019, he said that workers were forced to use substandard parts on the production line because of pressure from Boeing. He also exposed serious problems in the oxygen systems that could mean that one in four breathing masks doesn’t work.  

Push to Build New Aircraft

Barnett said that Boeing pushed to have new aircraft built even if the assembly process was rushed and compromised. However, Boeing denied these allegations. 

He also said that workers didn’t get to follow protocols meant for tracking components through the factor which led to defective components getting lost. 

Barnett pointed that there were instances when components were taken from scrap bins and then fitted to planes. This prevented delays in the production line but left questions about the quality of aircraft produced by Boeing. 

The Boeing whistleblower said that he alerted managers of the problem but it fell on deaf ears. While Boeing denied his accusations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed some of his claims. The FAA established that there were 53 “non-conforming” parts in the factory that were unknown and considered lost. Boeing had to take remedial action because of this. 

As for the oxygen cylinders, the company announced that it had “identified some oxygen bottles received from the supplier that were not deploying properly”. However, Boeing denied that these were fitted on the aircraft. 

Upon retirement, he had a long-running lawsuit against the company. He accused Boeing of disparaging his character and hampering his career because of the issues that he pointed out. 

Last week, he gave a formal deposition wherein he was questioned by Boeing’s lawyers, before getting cross-examined by his own lawyers. He was due to undergo further questioning on Saturday but he didn’t make it in court. 

The hotel he was staying in was asked about his whereabouts. Subsequently, he was found dead in the hotel parking lot inside his truck. 

Boeing said that it was saddened by the news of the Boeing whistleblower’s passing. 

John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme is a Travel Analyst for The Jet Set. He writes about news and events affecting the travel industry.

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