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Attorney Claims Boeing Whistleblowers Acted To Save Lives Amid Concerns

 May 7, 2024

Amidst legal battles and personal tragedies, the deaths of two Boeing whistleblowers spotlight ongoing safety concerns at the aviation giant, Daily Mail reported.

The recent and tragic deaths of two key whistleblowers have cast a shadow over Boeing, an aerospace leader already under significant scrutiny. Joshua Dean, 45, and John Barnett, 62, had both voiced concerns about safety practices at Boeing and its supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, before their untimely deaths.

Joshua Dean, previously a quality auditor at Spirit AeroSystems, died from an unidentified infection last week. His passing follows his dismissal from Spirit in April 2023 after he had been rehired and fired again for questioning safety standards. Dean's initial termination occurred in October 2022.

Whistleblowers Face Tragic Ends Amid Legal Struggles

John Barnett, who also served as a whistleblower, took his own life while embroiled in legal disputes with Boeing. According to those close to him, Barnett's suicide was unexpected, emphasizing the personal toll of his advocacy. His death occurred less than two months after Dean's.

Brian Knowles, the South Carolina attorney representing both men, highlighted their dedication to improving company practices. "They didn’t speak out to be aggravating or for fame. They’re raising concerns because people’s lives are at stake," Knowles remarked.

The two men had accused Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems of compromising safety, which they claimed was not adequately addressed by their employers. This includes issues like the malfunction of a door plug on a Boeing jet during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, which was manufactured by Spirit.

Boeing's Ongoing Safety Challenges and Market Reaction

Amid these allegations, Boeing's safety record has been under intense scrutiny. Reported issues have ranged from fuselage panel gaps to the use of unapproved titanium parts and flaws in a pressure bulkhead. Despite these challenges, Boeing has insisted on the safety of its aircraft, backed by recent tests on the 787 Dreamliner which simulated 165,000 flights and found no fatigue issues.

Boeing's stock price has suffered, falling nearly 10 percent over the past six months. The company, however, remains optimistic about resolving these issues, stating that employee reports of potential safety problems have surged, which they consider a positive development.

Furthermore, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to play a crucial role in overseeing Boeing’s production, requiring each 787 Dreamliner to pass stringent inspections before delivery.

Cultural Impact and Corporate Response to Whistleblowing

Boeing whistleblower Sam Salehpour also came forward with concerns about the 787 Dreamliner, leading to his reassignment to another project. The FAA has taken up an investigation into Salehpour's claims, reflecting growing regulatory and public attention to these issues.

Boeing's internal culture towards whistleblowers has been questioned by Dean previously. "It is known at Spirit that if you make too much noise and cause too much trouble, you will be moved. It doesn't mean you completely disregard stuff, but they don't want you to find everything and write it up," he stated.

Despite these concerns, Boeing maintains that it encourages its employees to report any issues, stressing the importance of transparency and accountability in its operations.

Community and Corporate Reactions to Whistleblowers' Deaths

The aerospace community and the public have reacted with shock and sadness to the deaths of Dean and Barnett. "Our thoughts are with Josh Dean's family. This sudden loss is stunning news here and for his loved ones," expressed Joe Buccino, a spokesperson for Spirit AeroSystems.

Brian Knowles also reflected on Barnett's character and the shock of his suicide. "I knew John Barnett for seven years and never saw anything that would indicate he would take his own life... Then again, I’ve never dealt with someone who did [commit suicide]. So maybe you don’t see the signs. I don’t know," he shared.

In conclusion, the deaths of Joshua Dean and John Barnett highlight critical issues within Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems, concerning both safety and the treatment of whistleblowers. Their attorney, Brian Knowles, emphasizes that their actions were driven by a commitment to safety and transparency, crucial for protecting lives in the aviation industry