A Second Boeing Supplier Whistleblower Has Died Under Suspicious Circumstances

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: May 02, 2024

After a whistleblowing scandal shocked the airline world, another suspicious death has been recorded.

Josh Dean of Boeing supplier, Spirit Aerosystem, has been reported dead by his family. This marks the second death of a whistleblower in the past two months.

First Whistleblower Meets an Untimely Demise

Less than two months ago, John Barnett, 62, was found dead by an apparent suicide. John was a part of the team calling out Boeing for safety flaws in the manufacturing of one of their largest passenger aircrafts.

A man with grey/brown hair wearing a blue shirt

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John was a 32-year veteran of Boeing and knew detailed information about the company. At his time of death, he was part of a group giving dispositions in a long-running retaliation suit against the company. He retired in 2017 but wanted to make a difference by reporting issues that he saw while working for the company. 

Barnett Was Committed To Fixing Safety Issues

In the days leading up to his death, Barnett was giving evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company.

The inside of a large airplane hanger with multiple planes on display

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He alleged that under pressure, workers used sub-standard parts on aircrafts in the production line. These parts seriously compromised aircraft safety. He also claimed that tests on oxygen systems failed at a rate of 25%.

Information Handed over to the FAA for Investigation

The information reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was brought forward by a group of employees working for Boeing and other subsidiary companies.

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They alleged that the company took shortcuts to save money that would ultimately put customer safety at risk. The shortcuts were taken to reduce bottlenecking occurring in their production lines.

Multiple Deaths Associated With Boeing Jets

Shares in Boeing have fallen drastically since two large engineering catastrophes occurred.

A white and blue plane flies above the clouds

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In 2018 and 2019, 346 people died in two 737 Max jets. The first jet took off from Jakarta, Indonesia and crashed into the sea minutes after take off. The second plane left from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and also crashed shortly after leaving the airstrip.

Second Whistleblower Found Dead

Joshua Dean, a former quality auditor at Spirit AeroSystems, a supplier for Boeing, was one of the first whistleblowers to allege that his employer ignored manufacturing defects on a 737 Max jet.

A man sits in a plane seat next to a damaged emergency exit door

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Dean was reported dead on Tuesday morning after a sudden struggle with a quickly spreading infection. He lived in Wichita, Kan., was 45 years old and otherwise in good health and lived an active lifestyle.


Sudden Death From Mystery Illness

A statement from the family shows that Dean died after two weeks in critical condition. His aunt, Carol Parsons, released the statement on behalf of the rest of their family.

A man wearing a blood pressure cuff lays in a hospital bed

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Parsons went on to say that Dean became ill and went to hospital after having trouble breaking for a few weeks. He was shortly intubated and developed pneumonia. He ultimately died from a deadly MRSA bacterial infection.


Spirit Makes a Statement on Dean’s Death

After hearing of Dean’s death, Spirit released a statement on the matter.

A yellow airplane sits on a runway with trees and mountains in the background

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Joe Buccino, a spokesperson for the company, said: “Our thoughts are with Josh Dean’s family. This sudden loss is stunning news here and for his loved ones.”


Dean Was Embroiled in a Tough Situation With the Company

After giving a deposition at a Spirit shareholder lawsuit meeting, he also filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration.

A close up view of a green and yellow Spirit plane

Source: Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons

Dean accused the company of “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line.”


Company Retaliated Against Dean

Dean alleges in a lawsuit against the company that by firing him for his actions they were retaliating against a legitimate safety concern.

A white and yellow airplane hanger next to a large yellow plane

Source: Ajay_Suresh/Flickr

He was currently suing Spirit through the Department of Labor after being fired in 2023.


Dean’s Quick Illness to Death

After being intubated in hospital, staff had to airlift him from Wichita to a larger facility in Oklahoma City.

A mans hand in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV

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Once in Oklahoma City, Dean was put on an ECMO machine to circulate and oxygenate his blood. The machine also takes over heart and lung function when a patient’s organs cannot work on their own.


Family Devastated by the Illness

In a public FaceBook post, Dean’s mother stated that he was fighting for his life. He was also heavily sedated, on dialysis and suffered a massive stroke.

In a brightly lit operating room, a surgeon in focus is performing a procedure, dressed in blue surgical scrubs, a green scrub cap, and a light blue face mask. The surgeon, who appears to be a woman, is looking down intently at the patient off-camera

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Hospital staff considered amputating both hands and feet due to the issues with circulation that Dean was having. His untimely death comes as a shock to his family and friends.