Second Boeing Whistleblower Dies After Raising Concerns About 737 MAX

Second Boeing Whistleblower Dies After Raising Concerns About 737 MAX

Another Boeing whistleblower has passed away following a sudden illness.

Joshua Dean, a former quality auditor at Spirit AeroSystems, publicly disclosed allegations that the company’s leadership disregarded manufacturing defects in Boeing’s 737 MAX, a key supplier to Boeing.

Dean, aged 45, was previously known for his active lifestyle and good health before his unexpected death on Tuesday, attributed to a fast-moving infection. He was diagnosed with Influenza B and MRSA, leading to pneumonia, according to Fox59.

After spending two critical weeks in the hospital, Dean passed away on Tuesday in Oklahoma, as reported by The Seattle Times.

Dean, hailing from Wichita, becomes the second whistleblower to die this year after revealing safety concerns within the aviation manufacturing industry. Earlier in March, Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, aged 62, was discovered dead in his truck in a hotel parking lot in South Carolina.

The death of another whistleblower adds to the ongoing turmoil surrounding Boeing in the past year. In January, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 experienced a mid-air door plug incident, resulting in the grounding of all 171 MAX 9 jets by the FAA and triggering an investigation.

Subsequently, at least four individuals, including the now-deceased whistleblowers, came forward, alleging compromised safety practices in the manufacturing of the jets. Amidst the chaos, Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s CEO, announced his intention to step down at the end of the year in March. Boeing reported a $355 million net loss for the first quarter of 2024.

Joshua Dean had raised concerns about aircraft safety, citing “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line” at Spirit, in a complaint filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

He also provided testimony in a shareholder lawsuit against Spirit AeroSystems, filed in December 2023, which claimed that the company had concealed widespread and sustained quality failures from investors. Allegedly, these failures were driven by profit motives, as reported by Supply Chain Dive.

These quality lapses were severe enough for Boeing to place Spirit AeroSystems on probation from 2018 until at least 2021, barring the supplier from shipping parts to Boeing without managerial approval, according to the lawsuit.

In January, Dean disclosed to the Wall Street Journal that he was terminated for reporting incorrect drilling of holes in jet fuselages. He was dismissed from Spirit AeroSystems in April 2023 and later alleged that his termination was in retaliation.

Spirit AeroSystems disputed Dean’s characterization to the WSJ, stating they would defend themselves in court.

Dean’s family members expressed their sorrow on social media. On April 20, Dean’s aunt, Jenny Dean, shared a message from his mother, Ginger Green, revealing his diagnosis of Influenza B and MRSA, and his struggle for survival in the hospital.

His attorney, Brian Knowles, refrained from speculating on the cause of death but emphasized the importance of whistleblowers.

Knowles also represented Barnett, who had raised concerns about safety issues at Boeing and was providing evidence in a lawsuit against the company prior to his death. Barnett alleged that Boeing knowingly used defective parts in its aircraft and warned of potential oxygen shortages for passengers on its 787 Dreamliner in case of sudden decompression.

Barnett, a former quality control engineer, had spent 32 years at Boeing before retiring for health reasons in March 2017.

Barnett testified shortly before his death in March at a Charleston hotel. The Charleston County coroner indicated his death appeared to be a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as reported by BBC News.