Friday 3 May 2024

Second Whistleblower Who Raised Concerns About Boeing Aircraft Safety Dies Suddenly

 A 45-year-old man who raised concerns about a Boeing supplier ignoring production defects died on Tuesday while battling a fast-spreading infection, his family said.

Joshua Dean of Wichita, Kansas, was a healthy middle-aged man before going to the hospital two weeks ago because he was having difficulty breathing, according to his family, The Seattle Times reported. At the hospital, Dean was intubated but then developed pneumonia and MRSA, an infection that makes it hard for a person to breathe.

Dean’s aunt, Carol Parsons, said her nephew’s condition became so severe before his death that he was airlifted to a hospital in Oklahoma City and placed on an ECMO machine, which takes over a patient’s heart and lung functions when they’re not working on their own.

Dean, who worked as a quality auditor at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems, was reportedly fired by Spirit in April 2023. He then filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging Spirit had retaliated against him for raising concerns about aviation safety, according to the Times. Dean said that in 2022, he sounded the alarm on an alleged manufacturing defect where mechanics were improperly drilling holes in the MAX’s aft pressure bulkhead, but management allegedly did nothing to address his concern.

The former quality auditor had also given a deposition in a Spirit shareholder lawsuit and filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration. In his complaint, Dean alleged that there was “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line” at Spirit.

The Wichita man was represented by the same law firm that represented Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, who was found dead in March from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Barnett had alleged that Boeing retaliated against him after he filed complaints related to quality lapses. The police investigation into Barnett’s death is still ongoing, the Times reported.

Boeing has faced scrutiny in recent months, including from federal authorities, who are investigating what caused a door plug on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 to come off mid-flight earlier this year. Boeing said it has “worked proactively and transparently” to support the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, launched an investigation into the “organization, conduct, and management” of Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems along with looking into “documents related to its diversity, equity, and inclusion (‘DEI’) commitments, and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.”

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