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Boeing whistleblower who warned of aircraft safety flaws is found dead

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one month ago  •  24 comments

By:   Patrick Smith, David K. Li and Colin Sheeley

Boeing whistleblower who warned of aircraft safety flaws is found dead
A former quality inspector at Boeing who filed a whistleblower complaint over aircraft safety flaws has been found dead.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


A former Boeing quality inspector who filed a whistleblower complaint over alleged plane safety flaws was found dead "from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound," officials in Charleston, South Carolina, said Monday.

John Barnett, 62, of Louisiana, who spent more than three decades at the aircraft manufacturing giant, sounded the alarm with aviation authorities in 2017 about what he said were potentially "catastrophic" safety failings.

His family said in a statement Monday that he had tried to highlight serious concerns but was met with "a culture of concealment" that valued "profits over safety."

Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O'Neal said in a statement Monday that Barnett died "from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound" in the city Saturday.

Barnett was in town to testify in a deposition in his federal legal action against Boeing, with his case set to go before an administrative law judge later this year, according to his attorneys.

"He was in very good spirits and really looking forward to putting this phase of his life behind him and moving on," the attorneys, Brian Knowles and Robert Turkewitz, said in a joint statement Tuesday. "We didn't see any indication he would take his own life. No one can believe it."

They urged local police to keep investigating despite the coroner's initial ruling.

"We are all devastated," the attorneys said. "We need more information about what happened to John. The Charleston police need to investigate this fully and accurately and tell the public what they find out. No detail can be left unturned."

A Charleston police spokesperson, Sgt. Anthony Gibson, said in a statement Monday that the police department had "not received any indication from the coroner's office that foul play is suspected in this case."

In a later statement, he pointed to the coroner's preliminary findings and said detectives "are actively investigating this case and are awaiting the formal cause of death, along with any additional findings that might shed further light on the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Barnett."

Case was up for trial in June


The statement from Barnett's family said that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety attacks and that the "hostile work environment at Boeing" led to his death.

In a statement Monday, ​Boeing said: ​​"We are saddened by Mr. Barnett's passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends." Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations in the family's statement.

Barnett, known as Mitch to his family and "Swampy" to his friends, had worked at Boeing's 787 plant in Charleston since 2010, his family said.

In 2019, The New York Times interviewed several former Boeing employees about their safety concerns. Barnett told the paper that metal shavings — created when metal fasteners are screwed into nuts — could cut wiring that connects the flight controls.

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered Boeing to clear the shavings from the Dreamliners in 2017. Boeing said then that it was following the ruling and would look to improve the design of the nut, but it also said it wasn't a flight safety issue.

But Barnett told the Times: "I haven't seen a plane out of Charleston yet that I'd put my name on saying it's safe and airworthy."

After he retired in 2017, Barnett filed a whistleblower complaint with federal regulators about his experiences at the South Carolina plant. He also launched a separate legal action against Boeing, accusing it of denigrating his character and hampering his career. Boeing denied the allegations.

His case was up for trial in June, the family statement said, adding: "He was looking forward to having his day in court and hoped that it would force Boeing to change its culture."

The status of the case was not immediately clear Tuesday.

Death comes amid mishaps involving Boeing


While Barnett loved his work for most of his career, in Charleston "he learned that upper management was pressuring the quality inspectors and managers to cut corners" and not to follow legally required safety processes, the statement said.

He alleged that staff members were pressured not to document defects because it would slow down the assembly line, it added.

"John told us that every day was a battle to get management to do the right thing," the family said. The statement added that Barnett and others who highlighted problems were labeled as "trouble-makers," whereas previously the company had rewarded those who discovered defects.

"It caused John so much stress that his doctor told him that if he stayed, he would have a heart attack," the family said.

An obituary shared by his family said, "Mitch was fun-loving, and totally devoted to family, especially his nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews."

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

Boeing faces regulatory and public scrutiny over a series of incidents involving its planes.

The Justice Department opened an investigation after a door plug blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight in January, which led to the temporary grounding of some Boeing 737 Max 9 airplanes. They have since returned to the air.

And Monday, 50 people were injured on a Boeing Dreamliner plane after a sudden movement midair on a flight from Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.


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Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1  Buzz of the Orient    one month ago
"from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,"

Self-inflicted?  BULLSHIT!!!!!!!   

"He was in very good spirits and really looking forward to putting this phase of his life behind him and moving on,"
"He was looking forward to having his day in court and hoped that it would force Boeing to change its culture."

Is there anyone who thinks that such a person would have committed suicide?

In the movie The Accountant there was a situation where an assassin was able to make a person kill himself because the alternative would have been very much worse.  And how many movies have I seen where the gun is put in the hand of the victim after he was shot dead?   

My advice to everyone is to determine who the manufacturer of the airplane was before flying, and make sure it's Airbus and NEVER Boeing.  This is what comes from corporate greed.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
1.1  cjcold  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    one month ago

Yep, sounds a bit suspect to me. 

Much like Epstein's 'suicide' with Trump as president.

Trump had the most to lose with Epstein's upcoming testimony.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  cjcold @1.1    one month ago

I think you went off topic.

The purpose of these daily front page NT articles is to focus on matters non-political.  At least I was told that.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  cjcold @1.1    one month ago

Exactly, this inept man pulled off the Epstein murder, and then killed all involved so there would be no leeks.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
1.1.3  Greg Jones  replied to  cjcold @1.1    one month ago
"Trump had the most to lose with Epstein's upcoming testimony."

No, that would be Bubba Bill Clinton, who logged many hours in the "Lolita Express"

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Expert
1.1.4  Krishna  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.2    one month ago
so there would be no leeks.

Maybe no Leeks -- but that wouldn't entirely get rid of the insidious  Parsnips!

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.5  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Krishna @1.1.4    one month ago

LoL, must have been thinking about my favorite French vegetable soup.  Completely agree on parsnips.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.1.6  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1.3    one month ago

But he didn't need to, he had Monica.

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Expert
1.1.7  Krishna  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.5    one month ago
LoL, must have been thinking about my favorite French vegetable soup.  Completely agree on parsnips.

No soup for you Drinker of the Wry!

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.8  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Krishna @1.1.7    one month ago

We need to end fascism in NYC soup kitchens.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    one month ago

You think a big corporation would commit murder?

How about a political machine?

Who is incapable?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2    one month ago

A big corporation?  You're damn right I do.  

And a political machine? Does the name Navalny sound familiar to you?

Who is incapable?  You're an American, you live where there are more guns than people and people being shot and killed every day and you ask that question?

 
 
 
Ozzwald
Professor Quiet
1.2.2  Ozzwald  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2    one month ago
You think a big corporation would commit murder?

We're talking the potential loss of BILLIONS of dollars.  Damn right they would if the opportunity presented.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.2.3  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.2    one month ago
We're talking the potential loss of BILLIONS of dollars.

How did you come up with that number?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.4  devangelical  replied to  Ozzwald @1.2.2    one month ago

there's already legitimate mercenary corporations in the US available and willing to do a basic cash job off the books...

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Expert
1.2.5  Krishna  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.2.3    one month ago
How did you come up with that number?

He probably used the AI on his phone.

(I've heard the new iPhones have built in Artificial Intelligence)

???  

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Expert
1.2.6  Krishna  replied to  devangelical @1.2.4    one month ago

there's already legitimate mercenary corporations in the US available and willing to do a basic cash job off the books..

Then there's always "The Family".

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.7  Vic Eldred  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.2.3    one month ago

The question of the day!

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.8  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.1    one month ago
A big corporation?  You're damn right I do.  

I see.


And a political machine? Does the name Navalny sound familiar to you?

Russia is far more than a political machine. A political machine would be like the Clinton machine. Are you saying it is possible that Vince Foster was murdered?


 You're an American

You got that right!


you live where there are more guns than people and people being shot and killed every day and you ask that question?

I live where the police have been emasculated and criminals get released and where we have about 10 million unknown visitors.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1.2.9  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2.8    one month ago

I don't know who Vince Foster is or anything about him.  I stand with my responses - 5 good members of NT agreed with me. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.10  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.2.9    one month ago
5 good members of NT agreed with me. 

You may have known them longer, I know them better.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3  Kavika     one month ago

Follow the money.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Professor Principal
4  Gsquared    one month ago

This does raise a lot of suspicion and needs to be thoroughly investigated.  

 
 
 

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