Boeing Whistleblower Who Raised Quality Concerns Is Found Dead

Boeing Whistleblower Who Raised Quality Concerns Is Found Dead

A distinguished Boeing whistle-blower, a former high quality manager who raised issues about manufacturing practices on the firm’s 787 Dreamliner manufacturing unit in South Carolina, was discovered dead on Saturday with what gave the impression to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in response to native officers.

The whistle-blower, John Barnett, was in Charleston for a deposition for a lawsuit wherein he accused Boeing of retaliating in opposition to him for making complaints about high quality and security.

Quality issues involving each design and manufacturing have plagued Boeing for years — most prominently after the crashes of two Boeing 737 Max jets in 2018 and 2019, and once more since a fuselage panel blew out on a Max flight shortly after takeoff two months in the past.

Mr. Barnett filed the grievance in opposition to Boeing with the U.S. Labor Department in 2017 beneath the AIR21 Whistleblower Protection Program, which protects workers of airplane producers who report data pertaining to air provider security violations. He left the corporate that 12 months.

Boeing’s lawyer deposed Mr. Barnett on Thursday and he was questioned by his personal attorneys for half the day Friday. They have been scheduled to finish the deposition on Saturday morning, stated Robert Turkewitz, Mr. Barnett’s lawyer within the case.

When Mr. Barnett, 62, didn’t present up on Saturday morning and didn’t reply cellphone calls, Mr. Turkewitz stated he grew involved and referred to as Mr. Barnett’s resort. Mr. Barnett was then discovered dead in his pickup truck within the resort car parking zone.

The Charleston County Coroner’s workplace confirmed the loss of life, which it stated gave the impression to be “a results of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The Charleston Police Department famous the coroner’s discovering in a press release and stated it was conducting an investigation. “Detectives are actively investigating this case and are awaiting the formal reason behind loss of life, together with any further findings that may shed additional mild on the circumstances surrounding the loss of life of Mr. Barnett,” the division stated.

Mr. Turkewitz stated Mr. Barnett’s expertise at Boeing had deeply affected him.

“It was actually weighing on him, what was occurring, and reliving all this stuff that had occurred and the stress it had precipitated,” Mr. Turkewitz stated.

An administrative regulation judge with the Labor Department was listening to the whistle-blower case, which was in discovery. A trial had been set for June.

Mr. Turkewitz stated he deliberate to proceed with Mr. Barnett’s case, on behalf of Mr. Barnett’s household. “What John wished was not less than for it to make a distinction,” he stated.

In a press release, Boeing stated, “We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our ideas are together with his household and mates.”

Known as Swampy due to his Louisiana roots, Mr. Barnett labored at Boeing for practically three many years till he retired in 2017. He had labored at Boeing’s manufacturing unit in Everett, Wash., earlier than shifting to a brand new manufacturing unit in North Charleston, S.C., in 2010 to work on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body jet that was the corporate’s most essential new airplane in a technology.

After two of Boeing’s 737 Max planes crashed in 2018 and 2019, Mr. Barnett’s issues about high quality points at Boeing have been featured prominently in The New York Times and different information retailers, as examples of widespread issues with the corporate’s manufacturing.

Mr. Barnett instructed The Times in 2019 that he had found clusters of titanium slivers that have been hanging over flight management wires in some planes. Those slivers have been produced when fasteners have been fitted into nuts.

Mr. Barnett stated in interviews that he had repeatedly urged his bosses to take away the slivers however that they’d refused and moved him to a different a part of the plant.

The Federal Aviation Administration in 2017 required that Dreamliners be cleared of shavings earlier than they have been delivered to airways. Boeing stated on the time that it was complying with that directive and was working with a provider to enhance the design of the nut. But the corporate stated that the difficulty didn’t current a flight security difficulty.

Mr. Barnett additionally instructed The Times in 2019 that he had reported to administration that faulty components had gone lacking, elevating the chance that they’d been put in in planes.

He stated that his bosses instructed him to complete the paperwork on the lacking components with out determining the place they’d gone.

The F.A.A. investigated and located that Boeing had misplaced some broken components.

“As a top quality manager at Boeing, you’re the final line of protection earlier than a defect makes it out to the flying public,” Mr. Barnett instructed The Times in 2019. “And I haven’t seen a airplane out of Charleston but that I’d put my identify on saying it’s protected and airworthy.”

Mr. Barnett, who lived in Pineville, La., shared his issues once more in interviews with The Times this 12 months as questions on high quality points at Boeing re-emerged after an incident on Jan. 5 wherein a panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 airplane in midair throughout an Alaska Airlines flight.

“Over the years, it’s simply been a gentle pecking away at high quality” at Boeing, Mr. Barnett stated, including, “This just isn’t a 737 downside. It’s a Boeing downside.”

Boeing must “get again to fundamentals,” he stated. “They must get again to airplane constructing 101.”

Mr. Barnett’s mom, Vicky Stokes, stated in an interview on Tuesday that her son’s expertise with Boeing had taken a heavy toll, making him look older than his three brothers regardless that he was the youngest. “He simply carried this on his shoulders for thus a few years,” she stated.

In an interview in January, Mr. Barnett stated he now not flew on planes due to what he’d seen throughout his time at Boeing.

“I’m not going to set foot on an airplane right this moment,” he stated. “It’s unhappy. It breaks my coronary heart. I like Boeing. I like what it used to face for.”

If you might be having ideas of suicide, name or textual content 988 to achieve the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to for a listing of further assets.



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