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Renowned Boeing Whistleblower John Barnett Found Dead in South Carolina

Aerospace manufacturing quality control

Renowned Boeing Whistleblower John Barnett Found Dead in South Carolina

John Barnett, a former Boeing quality manager who drew attention for his whistleblower lawsuit against the aerospace company, has been found dead in South Carolina, according to local authorities.

Cause of Death

The Charleston County Coroner office confirmed the demise of the 62-year-old, reporting that the cause of death appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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Barnett’s Career at Boeing

Before his retirement in 2017, Barnett spent 32 years of his professional career at Boeing. His last assignment at the Airplane manufacturing company was as a quality manager at their North Charleston plant, a position he held from 2010 to 2017.

Whistleblower Allegations

Barnett made headlines in 2019 for his accusations against the company. Notably, he reported serious flaws with the oxygen systems of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a product he helped manufacture at the North Charleston plant. Boeing, however, dismissed these findings, asserting that they never installed any defective oxygen bottles in their planes.

Safety Concerns Raised

Barnett also expressed concern over the use of sub-standard, rejected parts fitted into planes as a means to cut down production delays, jeopardizing passenger safety. He claimed his reports to management personnel were disregarded. His concerns reflected the broader criticism directed towards Boeing’s safety practices, an issue highlighted by a panel of experts who told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about a “disconnect” between upper management and employees, emphasizing potential threats of retaliation.

Deposition Prior to Barnett’s Death

Barnett was in Charleston in the week leading to his death to deliver a formal deposition regarding his defamation lawsuit against Boeing. He was scheduled to attend a follow-up session on Saturday but was discovered dead in his truck, positioned in the hotel’s parking lot.

Legal Representatives Express Shock

Barnett’s legal team, made up of Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles, expressed their shock at his unexpected death. They described their client as a “brave, honest man of the highest integrity” who was looking forward to concluding this phase of his life and starting fresh, stating there was no evident indication he was contemplating suicide.

Family Statement and Boeing’s Response

In their response, family members said that Barnett, despite his struggle with PTSD and anxiety as a result of the hostile work environment at Boeing, was looking forward to presenting his case in court, hoping it would catalyze a change in Boeing’s culture. Their belief is that the strain from his dealings with Boeing led to his death.

Boeing issued a statement expressing their sadness over Barnett’s passing and sent out their condolences to those he left behind.

Recent Incidents Put Boeing under Scrutiny

In recent months, a series of incidents involving Boeing aircraft has drawn public attention and concern. Instances range from a “strong movement” that injured at least 50 people on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to the loss of a tire on a Boeing 777 plane which forced an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport. An additional incident involved a lost door plug on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max that also led to an emergency landing. A “maintenance issue” forced yet another Boeing 777-300 to return to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport during a flight from Australia to San Francisco.

These events have intensified scrutiny on Boeing’s safety measures and manufacturing practices, bringing forth questions about the safety of its fleet.


Renowned Boeing Whistleblower John Barnett Found Dead in South Carolina

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