Boeing whistleblower John Barnett found dead


CHARLESTON, S.C. — A former Boeing whistleblower was found dead last week on the same day he was supposed to participate in a deposition.

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John Barnett, 62, was found with what investigators believed was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Charleston County, South Carolina, coroner’s office said in a statement, according to The Washington Post.

He had been cross-examined by Boeing lawyers and his own attorney days before his death, Fox News reported.

Barnett was found dead in his truck in a hotel parking garage. He had been scheduled to answer questions on the same day but did not show for the meeting, according to the news outlet.

WCBD reported that he was from Louisiana and that police are investigating.

“Detectives are actively investigating this case and are awaiting the formal cause of death, along with any additional findings that might shed further light on the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Barnett,” Sgt. Anthony Gibson from the Charleston Police Department said.

“We understand the global attention this case has garnered, and it is our priority to ensure that the investigation is not influenced by speculation but is led by facts and evidence,” he added. “Given the sensitive nature of the investigation, we are unable to participate in media interviews at this time. This stance is not unique to this case but is a standard procedure we adhere to in order to preserve the integrity of active investigations.”

Barnett was a Boeing quality manager who had questioned issues at the company’s plant in South Carolina where the 787 Dreamliners were built.

He retired in 2017 after over 30 years with the company, The New York Times reported in 2019.

He said he had found metal shavings near the flight control electrical system, claiming that it could have “catastrophic” results if the shavings got into the wiring, the Post reported.

Barnett told the Times that he alerted his supervisors repeatedly but was ignored and transferred to another part of the plant. He eventually filed a whistleblower complaint against Boeing with the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA eventually issued a rule that metal shavings be removed from all 787s before delivery.

The agency had inspected planes that Boeing said were clear of the fragments but said inspectors found shavings.

Boeing told the Times that safety issues that are discovered are “immediately investigated and changes are made whenever necessary.”

The Times investigation was published in 2019 after two deadly crashes of 737 Max airplanes.

Other employees also filed whistleblower complaints, the newspaper found.

Barnett also told other media outlets about other issues with Boeing airplanes.

BBC News reported that Barnett said there were issues with the aircraft’s oxygen systems that could result in the air masks not working in an emergency, adding that workers were pressured to meet production targets and installed substandard parts to meet demands. Boeing denied Barnett’s allegations.

Barnett, despite no longer working for Boeing, continued to speak out about the company’s aircraft.

He spoke with TMZ in January after a door plug on an Alaska Airlines jet blew out midflight. He said the company was returning 737 Max 9s into service too quickly.

Boeing responded to Barnett’s death, telling Fox News in a statement, “We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Note: If you or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free support via the Lifeline by dialing 988. For more about risk factors and warning signs, visit the organization’s official website.

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