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Former Boeing Employee Turned Whistleblower Found Dead In Hotel Room

An investigation is ongoing into former Boeing employee Barnett’s fatal “self-inflicted” wound.

In a tragic turn of events, John Barnett, a former Boeing employee known for raising concerns about the company’s production standards, has been found dead in a hotel room in the United States.

Barnett, who had dedicated 32 years to Boeing before retiring in 2017, was discovered on March 9th, succumbing to what the Charleston County coroner confirmed as a “self-inflicted” wound.

Authorities are currently conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Prior to his passing, Barnett had been actively participating in a whistleblower lawsuit against Boeing, providing evidence in the days leading up to the tragic incident.

Boeing expressed its sadness upon learning of Barnett’s death, acknowledging his long-standing tenure with the company.

During his time at Boeing, Barnett worked as a quality manager at the North Charleston plant responsible for manufacturing the 787 Dreamliner, a cutting-edge airliner predominantly used for long-haul flights.

In 2019, Barnett disclosed to the BBC that workers, under immense pressure, were deliberately installing sub-standard parts on the production line. He further revealed serious issues with oxygen systems, indicating that one in four breathing masks could potentially fail during emergencies.

Barnett had consistently raised alarms about rushed assembly processes and compromised safety, claims that Boeing vehemently denied. He asserted that defective components went unnoticed due to lapses in tracking procedures, and sub-standard parts were sometimes fitted onto planes to prevent delays in production.

Despite Boeing refuting Barnett’s allegations, a 2017 review by the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), substantiated some of his concerns. The FAA found that at least 53 “non-conforming” parts in the factory were considered lost, prompting Boeing to take corrective measures.

Following his retirement, Barnett initiated legal action against Boeing, accusing the company of damaging his reputation and hindering his career in response to his whistleblowing activities. Boeing rejected these charges.

However, Barnett’s death occurred while he was in Charleston for legal interviews related to his ongoing case against Boeing. Last week, he provided a formal deposition, facing questioning from both Boeing’s lawyers and his own counsel.

Scheduled for further questioning on Saturday, Barnett’s absence prompted inquiries at his hotel, where he was discovered deceased in his truck.

Boeing, currently facing heightened scrutiny over production standards, expressed condolences, stating, “We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

The incident comes at a time when both Boeing and its key supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, are under intense examination for production quality, following a recent incident involving a Boeing 737 Max’s emergency exit door.

The FAA reported multiple instances where Boeing allegedly failed to comply with manufacturing quality control requirements during a six-week audit of the company.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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