‘If anything happens, it’s not suicide’: Boeing whistleblower said before death

John Barnett, a former Boeing employee who was found dead with a “self-inflicted” wound on March 9 after raising production concerns of the aerospace major, made a grim prediction to his friend recently when he said “if anything happens to me, it’s not suicide”.

The 62-year-old who worked for Boeing for 32 years before he retired in 2017 on health grounds, was found dead inside his truck at a hotel car park in Charleston, South Carolina.

The coroner ruled that he died from a “self-inflicted” wound.

Speaking to the South Carolina-based WCIV television station, Barnett’s friend Jennifer asserted that “he did not commit suicide”.

Jennifer, who knew about the evidence that Barnett had provided about Boeing’s production standards in a whistleblower lawsuit against the aerospace major, said the company retaliated when he raised the concerns.

She said that during a recent meeting with Barnett, they talked about his upcoming deposition in Charleston in connection to the lawsuit.

Jennifer told the WCIV television station that she asked her friend if he was “scared”, to which Barnett told her, “No, I ain’t scared, but if anything happens to me, it’s not suicide.”

She added that there was “no way” he would die of suicide as he “loved life too much”.

Jennifer noted that someone wanted to “shut him up” because they did not like what he had revealed, and made his death “look like a suicide”.

Barnett also worked as a quality manager from 2010 at Boeing’s North Charleston plant that was making the 787 Dreamliner, the wide-body jet mainly used on long-haul routes.

During a testimony earlier this month, he was questioned by Boeing’s lawyers, and on the day when Barnett was found dead, he was scheduled to appear for questioning.

When he failed to make the scheduled appearance, enquiries were made at his hotel in Charleston after which he was found dead.

Some of the concerns raised by Barnett included that workers under pressure to meet deadlines deliberately installed sub-standard parts to Boeing aircraft on the production line.

He also revealed that tests on emergency oxygen systems for the 787 Dreamliner had a failure rate of 25 per cent, which meants that one in four oxygen masks won’t work in the case of a real-time emergency.

Barnett alleged that he raised the concerns to his seniors but to no avail.

Published By:

Karishma Saurabh Kalita

Published On:

Mar 16, 2024

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