United States

Former Boeing Employee & Whistleblower John Barnett Found Dead In Apparent Suicide

John Barnett’s death reignites debate on production standards and whistleblower protections in the aviation industry.

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett found dead in US. Photo: X

John Barnett, a former Boeing employee known for his concerns about the company's production standards, has been found dead in the US. The news comes amidst his involvement in a whistleblower lawsuit against Boeing, where he had been providing evidence.

Barnett, who had dedicated 32 years of service to Boeing until his retirement in 2017, was found dead from a "self-inflicted" wound on March 9, as confirmed by the Charleston County coroner. The circumstances surrounding his death are currently under investigation by the police.

During his tenure at Boeing, Barnett served as a quality manager at the North Charleston plant responsible for producing the 787 Dreamliner. He raised serious concerns about production practices, alleging that under-pressure workers were fitting sub-standard parts to aircraft and encountering problems with oxygen systems.

In his deposition and subsequent interviews related to the whistleblower lawsuit, Barnett detailed instances where safety was compromised due to rushed assembly processes and the use of defective components. Despite bringing these concerns to the attention of management, Barnett claimed no action was taken by the company.

Boeing, however, denied Barnett's assertions, although a 2017 review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did validate some of his concerns, prompting remedial action by Boeing.

Following his retirement, Barnett pursued legal action against Boeing, accusing the company of impeding his career and tarnishing his character in response to his whistleblowing. His death occurred during his visit to Charleston for legal proceedings related to this case.

Boeing expressed sadness over Barnett's passing, stating, "We are saddened by Mr. Barnett's passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Barnett's death brings renewed attention to production standards within Boeing and its suppliers, particularly following recent incidents such as the emergency exit door incident on a Boeing 737 Max in January and findings of manufacturing quality control issues by the FAA during an audit.

The circumstances surrounding Barnett's death underscore the ongoing debate surrounding whistleblower protections and corporate accountability, particularly in industries critical to public safety like aviation. As investigations continue, the legacy of John Barnett's whistleblowing efforts serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency and accountability in ensuring product safety and integrity.