Boeing Whistleblower Apparently Took His Own Life

John Barnett, who died of an apparent 'self-inflicted' wound, vocalized safety concerns
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2024 6:03 AM CDT
Updated Mar 13, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead Amid Deposition
This photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board shows a gaping hole where the paneled-over door had been at the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, Jan. 7, 2024, in Portland, Ore.   (National Transportation Safety Board via AP, File)
UPDATE Mar 13, 2024 12:30 AM CDT

The brother of a former Boeing employee found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound Saturday has issued a family statement to the AP. "John was deeply concerned about the safety of the aircraft and flying public, and had identified some serious defects that he felt were not adequately addressed. He said that Boeing had a culture of concealment and was putting profits over safety," the statement says. "He was suffering from PTSD and anxiety attacks as a result of being subjected to the hostile work environment at Boeing, which we believe led to his death."

Mar 12, 2024 6:03 AM CDT

A former Boeing employee has been found dead days after giving evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. John Barnett worked for Boeing for 32 years up until 2017 before filing a whistleblower complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration. The former quality manager spoke out about safety issues with Boeing aircraft, including a rushed assembly process, the use of sub-standard parts, and a potentially fatal problem with oxygen systems, per the BBC. Boeing denied the claims, though a 2017 review by the FAA echoed some of Barnett's concerns. He was in Charleston, South Carolina, to give evidence in the whistleblower lawsuit when he died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Saturday, reports the Washington Post, citing the Charleston County coroner.

The 62-year-old was questioned by Boeing's lawyers on Thursday and cross-examined by his lawyer, Brian Knowles, on Friday, per Business Insider. The cross-examination was expected to continue at 10am Saturday but Barnett did not appear. That's when hotel staff "found him in his truck dead from an 'alleged' self-inflicted gunshot," Knowles told the Corporate Crime Reporter. Knowles said Barnett's death was "tragic." Boeing said, "We are saddened by Mr. Barnett's passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends." Barnett had continued to speak out publicly after recent issues with Boeing aircraft. After a door blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight in January, Barnett told ABC Australia, "Once you understand what's happening inside of Boeing, you'll see why we're seeing these kinds of issues." (More Boeing stories.)

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