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Police name cause of Boeing whistleblower’s death

John Barnett’s body was found days before he was due to testify in a lawsuit against the aircraft manufacturer

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, who raised concerns about the aerospace giant’s production safety standards, died by suicide, US media reported on Friday, citing documents released by the Charleston Police Department.

Barnett was found dead in his car in the parking lot of a hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, on March 9, after he failed to show up for a second day of depositions in a lawsuit against the aircraft manufacturer.

An initial probe concluded that it was an “apparent” suicide, but police continued the investigation after requests from the whistleblower’s family and lawyers, who suspected foul play. The two-month probe, however, confirmed the initial findings, with police stating that Barnett died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

He had bought the handgun in 2000, and his fingerprints were found on a notebook with “what amounts to a suicide note.” Barnett reportedly wrote: “I can’t do this any longer” and “I pray Boeing pays.”

Neither Barnett’s legal team nor his family have so far responded to media requests for comment on the final probe results. Barnett’s family earlier told CBS News they would try to continue his case against Boeing, which is due to go to trial in September.

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Barnett had a 30-year career at the aviation giant, and for his last seven years there worked as a quality manager. He left the company in 2017, citing job-related stress.

In 2019, the former employee told the BBC that he had witnessed Boeing employees being pressured into deliberately fitting sub-standard parts into aircraft to cope with increased demand.

According to Barnett, he repeatedly complained to company management about his findings, but no action was taken. In 2021, Barnett filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, alleging a host of safety concerns including stray titanium shavings in electrical wiring, defective oxygen tanks, and rushed final production and safety testing.

Boeing has denied the whistleblower’s allegations, and Barnett claimed the company harassed and spied on him following his revelations.

Boeing is yet to comment on the news. In March, the company said it was “saddened” by Barnett’s passing.


READ MORE: US airline’s Boeing 777 diverted after toilet overflows into cabin

Boeing has faced unprecedented scrutiny from aviation regulators since its best-selling jetliner, the 737 MAX, was universally grounded following two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019, which killed a combined 346 people.
Several incidents also took place this year, starting with a door panel blowing off mid-air on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 operated by Alaska Airlines in January. All 737 Max 9 planes are currently grounded in the US, pending safety checks.

May 20, 2024 at 03:25PM
RT

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