Boeing whistleblower found dead of apparent suicide

By Reuters   March 12, 2024 | 05:53 pm PT
Boeing whistleblower found dead of apparent suicide
Two workers walk under the wing of a 737 Max aircraft at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington, U.S., Mar 27, 2019. Photo by Reuters
John Barnett, a former Boeing employee who had reportedly raised concerns about the production issues, was found dead of an apparent suicide, according to authorities in South Carolina.

Barnett had worked at Boeing for 32 years before leaving the company in 2017, according to the BBC, which previously reported on his efforts to raise issues about production issues.

The 62-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Charleston County coroner's office in South Carolina confirmed on Tuesday. The Charleston City police are investigating, the coroner's office said, without giving any other details.

Barnett was in the middle of a deposition in an ongoing whistleblower retaliation case against Boeing, according to a statement from his attorneys, Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles.

"He was in very good spirits and really looking forward to putting this phase of his life behind him and moving on. We didn't see any indication he would take his own life. No one can believe it," they said.

Barnett was a quality manager at Boeing. He had "exposed very serious safety problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and was retaliated against and subjected to a hostile work environment," his attorneys said.

Boeing, in a statement, said: "We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Barnett had spoken to media outlets following the Jan. 5 incident on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 plane, when a panel blew out while the flight was in mid-air, exposing passengers to the outside air that required an emergency landing.

Boeing has since had to reckon with a full-blown crisis around its safety and quality standards. Its production has been curbed by U.S. regulators, leading to delivery delays across the aerospace industry.

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