Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead Ahead of Testimony Against Airline Giant

Boeing Whistleblower 
Who Reported Multiple Safety Violations Found Dead

John Barnett, a former quality manager for aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing, was found dead in his home on March 9, 2024.

John Barnett had developed a reputation as a Boeing whistleblower, reporting the airline manufacturer to the press and seeking legal action against the corporation for safety and quality violations. He took this action after unsuccessfully attempting to resolve the safety violations in-house. Barnett’s courageous stance against safety violations has set an inspiring standard and highlights the importance of workplace whistleblower protections.

He claimed that his reports to superiors were disregarded, and no action was ever taken, despite quality assurance being the nature of his position at the company and strong workplace whistleblower protections in the United States.

Persistent Safety Violations Uncovered at Boeing

These safety violations included potentially fatal oversights such as defective oxygen cylinders that failed to deploy an alarming 25% of the time in tests, as well as mismatched, missing, scrapped, and unfitted parts being fitted onto airliners to speed up production times, which were liable to cause catastrophic failure of the aircraft during operation.

This type of failure was demonstrated just months ago when a Boeing jet for Alaska Airlines lost its door plug shortly after takeoff, putting its passengers at grave risk. Following this incident, Boeing claimed they could not locate the documents on the defective door plug. As of Monday, the FAA and Department of Justice have launched a criminal probe into this incident and several others.

Escalating Safety Concerns and Legal Proceedings Against Boeing

The news of John Barnett’s death follows a devoted expose on Boeing’s concerning oversight of safety violations and the harmful incidents that have occurred as a result by British-American pundit John Oliver on his HBO television program Last Week Tonight, which aired only five days prior to Mr. Barnett’s death.

The quality assurance professional and Boeing whistleblower worked for Boeing for 32 years before his retirement in 2017 and was in Charleston, South Carolina for legal proceedings relating to his actions against his former employer at the time of his death.

He was due to undergo questioning later this week, following a formal deposition last week with guaranteed workplace whistleblower protections in place. Failure to arrive at this questioning resulted in the discovery of his remains.

Mr. Barnett’s whistleblowing alerted the nation to potentially lethal oversight being taken in a popular and often essential mode of transportation. Almost 50% of commercial aircraft in the United States are manufactured and maintained by Boeing, putting the risk of the lives and safety of travelers at a stark increase when manufacturing standards are unmet. The risks of grievous bodily injury and death for both commercial airline clientele and flight staff are greatly mitigated by whistleblowing and ensuring that companies are held to task for cutting corners and risking lives.

Remembering John Barnett

Mr. Barnett asserted that Boeing’s reaction to his reports and whistleblowing had permanently damaged his professional reputation and career prospects, despite robust whistleblower protections that should have shielded him from such retaliation.

Tragically, his untimely death serves as a stark reminder of the challenges whistleblowers face and the importance of upholding workplace whistleblower protections.

Police are currently investigating John Barnett’s death. According to BBC, preliminary coroner reports have categorized the cause as a self-inflicted wound.

Boeing has released a statement saying, “We are saddened by [John] Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Free Consultation with Experienced Employment Lawyers for Whistleblower Protection

You have a right to workplace whistleblower protections. If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of retaliation for whistleblowing or the report of safety violations at work or if you have concerns regarding any violation of your rights as a whistleblower, contact a trusted whistleblower rights attorney.

The Derek Smith Law Firm offers free consultations on retaliation and whistleblower rights. Call today to speak to a whistleblower rights attorney at (800) 807-2209. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t pay unless we win your case and offer complimentary consultations.