Whistleblower Found Dead In Truck Days After Testifying In Lawsuit Against Boeing

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A former Boeing employee who blew the whistle on critical safety and quality control issues within the company’s production line was found dead in his truck in South Carolina.

The Charleston County Coroner’s office confirmed the death of prominent whistleblower John Barnett, 62, in a statement to BBC.

John was meant to show up for the second part of his testimony for a bombshell lawsuit against the aerospace giant’s production line on Saturday. But after he failed to show up, his hotel was asked to check on him.

The former quality-control engineer was then found dead with a self-inflicted wound in his truck in a parking lot on Saturday.

John Barnett was found dead with a self-inflicted wound in his truck in a hotel parking lot

Image credits: kat wilcox / Getty Images

John, who worked with Boeing for 32 years, had gained international recognition for raising concerns about Boeing’s production standards in the past. He revealed in 2019 that faulty parts were deliberately fit onto planes on the production line at Boeing’s factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The 787 Dreamliner, a state-of-the-art airliner that’s mainly used for long-haul routes, was being produced at the North Charleston plant.

John was working as the quality manager at the plant when he saw under-pressure workers deliberately fitting sub-standard parts to aircraft on the production line. He claimed that, in some cases, to avoid delays, workers picked up second-rate parts from scrap bins and fitted them onto planes.

The whistleblower worked with the aerospace giant for over three decades before accusing the company of compromising on safety

Image credits: Jeffry Surianto / Pexels

While speaking to BBC in 2019, he also claimed that up to a fourth of the oxygen systems could be faulty and might not work when required.

John accused Boeing of rushing the assembly process and compromising on safety standards, but the Aircraft maker denied his accusations and said all their planes are built maintaining the highest levels of quality and safety.

John had been involved in a lengthy lawsuit against Boeing over his claims and was found dead just days after testifying against the company.

“Today is a tragic day,” his attorney Brian Knowles said in an email, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

John said he witnessed workers taking second-rate parts out of scrap bins and fitting them onto planes

Image credits: FOX 11 Los Angeles

John “was supposed to do day three of his deposition here in Charleston on his AIR21 case [on Saturday],” the attorney said, referring to a federal law that protects whistleblowers in the aviation industry.

“John had been back and forth for quite some time getting prepared,” Brian continued. “The defense examined him for their allowed seven hours under the rules on Thursday. I cross examined him all day yesterday [Friday] and did not finish. We agreed to continue this morning at 10 am. [Co-counsel] Rob [Turkewitz] kept calling this morning and his phone would go to voicemail.”

“We then asked the hotel to check on him,” he said.

“They found him in his truck dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflicted gunshot. We drove to the hotel and spoke with the police and the coroner,” the attorney added.

The circumstances surrounding John’s death are currently being investigated.

Boeing is currently facing the heat as several people online are raising suspicion over John’s death, which officials say is an apparent suicide

Boeing released a statement acknowledging their former employee’s death.

“We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends,” the company said.

The aerospace giant has been embroiled in numerous accusations over their safety protocols in recent times. On Monday, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying from Australia to New Zealand made headlines after it experienced a “technical” event that jolted passengers in their seats. About 50 people required treatment from first responders due to the incident.

Another incident that took place in January reported an unused emergency exit door blowing off a brand-new Boeing 737 Max soon after the plane took off from Portland International.


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