Second Boeing Whistleblower Dies After Sudden Illness

Another Boeing whistleblower raising safety concerns dies unexpectedly. Unclear if illness is connected.

Second Boeing Whistleblower Dies After Sudden Illness (image credit:X/@ChannelNewsAsia

The aviation industry is reeling once again after the death of Joshua Dean, a 45-year-old former quality auditor at Spirit AeroSystems, a key supplier for Boeing. Dean passed away on Tuesday after a rapid decline in health attributed to a severe infection. This news comes just two months after another Boeing whistleblower, John Barnett, died by apparent suicide.

Dean raised concerns in October 2022 about potential safety issues with the Boeing 737 MAX. He specifically flagged improperly drilled holes in a crucial section of the fuselage responsible for maintaining cabin pressure during flight. According to his attorneys, Dean was fired by Spirit AeroSystems in retaliation for bringing these concerns forward. He subsequently filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2023.

Dean’s family reported that he was previously in good health and maintained an active lifestyle. However, his health deteriorated rapidly over the past two weeks. He was initially hospitalized with what appeared to be flu symptoms, but his condition worsened, leading to pneumonia and a serious bacterial infection, ultimately causing his death.

This tragic event has raised questions and renewed scrutiny of Boeing’s safety practices. The company has faced immense pressure in recent years following two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX model, which were attributed to faulty software. While the cause of Dean’s death appears unrelated, the timing, following his whistleblowing activities, has sparked suspicion and calls for a thorough investigation.

Dean’s attorneys are demanding transparency from both Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems. They aim to determine if there’s any connection between Dean’s whistleblowing and his sudden illness. The FAA is also likely to review the circumstances surrounding Dean’s death to ensure a full and independent investigation.

Meanwhile, public safety advocates are expressing concern about the potential chilling effect these incidents might have on whistleblowers within the aviation industry. They emphasize the importance of protecting individuals who come forward with safety concerns, regardless of the potential consequences.

The Boeing 737 MAX has since undergone significant modifications and received FAA re-certification in late 2020. However, the recent deaths of two whistleblowers cast a shadow over the company’s commitment to safety and its treatment of those who raise concerns. The ongoing investigations will be crucial in determining whether there’s any link between Dean’s death and his whistleblowing activities, and in ensuring the safety and well-being of those who speak up about potential risks within the industry.

Leave a Comment