May 20, 2024

John Barnett, who worked at Boeing for 32 years and had been blowing the whistle over safety concerns at the company, was found dead in his truck Friday with a “self-inflicted” gunshot wound, according to police in South Carolina. The coroner announced his passing Monday.


Boeing has been making headlines recently with a series of safety issues.

Read more:

United Airlines Suffers Five Plane Incidents in Five Days — What’s Going On?

Plane That Lost Door Plug in Flight Had 3 Prior Depressurization Alerts; Alaska Airlines Kept It Flying

FAA Grounds ‘Certain’ Boeing 737 Max 9 Airliners After a Panel Blows Out During Flight

Barnett, an ex-quality manager at Boeing’s North Charleston plant, had been sounding the alarm since his 2017 retirement about some scary quality issues at the aircraft company:

Barnett’s death came during a break in depositions in a whistleblower retaliation suit, where he alleged under-pressure workers were deliberately fitting sub-standard parts to aircraft on the assembly line.

He said that in some cases, second-rate parts were literally removed from scrap bins, before being fitted to planes that were being built to prevent delays. A 2017 review by the FAA upheld some of his concerns, requiring Boeing to take action.

He had just given a deposition to Boeing’s lawyers for the case this past week, his attorney Brian Knowles said.


The whistleblower had been preparing for testimony Saturday in his AIR21 when he failed to appear. AIR21 is the FAA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

His attorney, Brian Knowles, called Barnett’s death tragic, adding:

‘I cross examined him all day yesterday [Friday] and did not finish. We agreed to continue this morning at 10 am [co-counsel] Rob [Turkewitz] kept calling this morning and his phone would go to voicemail. 

‘We then asked the hotel to check on him,’ the South Carolina jurist went on.

‘They found him in his truck dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflicted gunshot. We drove to the hotel and spoke with the police and the coroner.’

Boeing issued a statement saying, “We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.” They did not address the circumstances of his death or mention his allegations.

Boeing aircraft have experienced a number of troubling issues as of late, with one of the most notorious being a door plug that blew off mid-flight. RedState’s Jennifer Van Laar reported that issues had affected that plane previously:

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy updated the public Sunday evening on the agency’s investigation of an incident that occurred Friday night when a door plug on an Alaska Airlines jet came off during takeoff from Portland, Oregon, during an “explosive depressurization” event.

Homendy’s revelations were alarming, to say the least. She said that according to records the plane involved had depressurization alerts on three prior occasions, including twice in the days before the incident.


RedState will update you about this story if there are new developments.

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