Boeing whistleblower who warned of aircraft safety flaws found dead

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A erstwhile Boeing value inspector who revenge a whistleblower title complete alleged level information flaws was recovered dormant “from what appears to beryllium a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” officials successful Charleston, South Carolina said Monday.

John Barnett, 62, spent much than 3 decades astatine nan craft manufacturing elephantine and sounded nan siren pinch aviation authorities successful 2017 complete what he said were perchance “catastrophic” information failings.

His family said successful a connection Monday that he had tried to item superior concerns but was met pinch “a civilization of concealment” that weighted “profits complete safety.”

Charleston County Coroner, Bobbi Jo O’Neal, said successful a connection Monday that Barnett died “from what appears to beryllium a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” successful nan South Carolina metropolis connected Saturday.

The connection from Barnett's family said he had suffered from post-traumatic accent upset and worry attacks and that nan “hostile activity situation astatine Boeing” led to his death.

Boeing whistleblower who warned of Dreamliner information flaws recovered dead
Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, successful an undated family handout. Courtesy of nan Barnett family

In a connection Monday, ​Boeing said: ​​”We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are pinch his family and friends.” NBC News has asked Boeing for remark connected nan allegations successful nan Barnett family’s statement.

Barnett, known arsenic Mitch to his family and “Swampy” to his friends, had worked astatine Boeing’s 787 works successful Charleston, South Carolina, since 2010, his family said.

In 2019, nan New York Times interviewed respective erstwhile Boeing labor astir their information concerns. Barnett told nan insubstantial that metallic shavings — created erstwhile metallic fasteners are screwed into nuts — could perchance trim wiring that connects nan formation controls.

The FAA ordered Boeing to clear nan shavings from nan Dreamliners successful 2017. Boeing said past that it was pursuing nan ruling and would look to amended nan creation of nan nut, but besides said it wasn’t a formation information issue.

But Barnett told nan Times: “I haven’t seen a level retired of Charleston yet that I’d put my sanction connected saying it’s safe and airworthy.”

After his status successful 2017, Barnett revenge a whistleblower title to national regulators astir his experiences astatine nan South Carolina plant. He besides launched a abstracted ineligible action against Boeing, accusing nan institution of denigrating his characteristic and hampering his career. Boeing denied nan allegations.

His lawsuit was up for proceedings this June, nan family connection said, adding: “He was looking guardant to having his time successful tribunal and hoped that it would unit Boeing to alteration its culture.”

While Barnett loved his activity for astir of his career, successful Charleston “he learned that precocious guidance was pressuring nan value inspectors and managers to trim corners” and not to travel legally-required information processes, nan connection said.

He alleged that unit were pressured not to archive defects because it would slow down nan assembly line, it added.

“John told america that each time was a conflict to get guidance to do nan correct thing,” nan family said. The connection added that Barnett and others who highlighted problems were labelled arsenic “trouble-makers,” whereas antecedently nan institution had rewarded those who discovered defects.

“It caused John truthful overmuch accent that his expert told him that if he stayed, he would person a bosom attack,” nan family said.

“Mitch was fun-loving, and wholly devoted to family, particularly his nieces and nephews and awesome nieces and nephews,” an obituary shared by nan family said.

It added that he is survived by his mother, Vicky Melder Stokes; brothers, Mike Barnett, Robbie Barnett, and Rodney Barnett; 8 nieces and nephews and 11 great-nieces and nephews.

The news comes arsenic Boeing faces regulatory and nationalist scrutiny complete a bid of incidents involving its planes.

A Justice Department investigation has been opened aft a doorway plug blew out connected an Alaska Airlines formation successful January which led to nan impermanent grounding of immoderate Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes, though they person since returned to nan air.

And connected Monday 50 group were injured connected a Boeing Dreamliner level aft a abrupt activity mid-air, connected a formation from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand.

Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is simply a London-based editor and newsman for NBC News Digital.