Boeing Whistleblower Dies at 45

( – Boeing has been under intense scrutiny for issues with several of its commercial jet models. The one currently at the forefront is the 737-9 MAX series, a 178-seat plane that was the center of public fear after a door plug flew out of one in mid-flight. Following that incident, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded the series pending an investigation and individual inspections. Yet, that’s not all. Over the past two years, several whistleblowers have come forward with claims that Boeing allegedly has quality control issues. One passed away in March in the middle of giving depositions, and now another has died.

Joshua Dean, a former quality auditor for Spirit AeroSystems, raised the red flag in 2022 about issues with improperly drilled holes in the aft pressure bulkhead of the 737 MAX fuselage. The company reportedly dismissed his claims. Another issue with the tail fin fittings came to light, which Boeing publicly addressed in April 2023. The same month, Dean was fired for missing those defects.

Fast forward to August 2023, Boeing notices the issue that Dean initially flagged. Spirit publicly acknowledges the defect with the mis-drilled holes in a statement and says the company “implemented changes to its manufacturing process” to prevent reoccurrences.

Spirit AeroSystems shareholders are suing the company for allegedly hiding defects from its investors, a claim the company denies. Dean gave a deposition in the case, though he was not listed as a plaintiff. He did, however, file a complaint with the Department of Labor, claiming he was fired in retaliation for bringing up defects.

On April 30, Dean passed away at the age of 45 from a fast-spreading MRSA bacterial infection. His family was surprised at his death, saying he was a bit of a health nut who ate well and rarely consumed alcohol. His death follows that of 62-year-old John Barnett, another Boeing whistleblower, who was reportedly found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Both were represented by the same attorney, Brian Knowles.

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