Boeing whistleblower John Barnett is found dead in his truck outside a South Carolina hotel just days after testifying in lawsuit against the aviation giant

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • John Barnett, 62, was found dead in his truck in a hotel parking lot Saturday
  • Cops made the announcement Monday, saying he was in Charleston for the suit 
  • The ex-quality manager at Boeing’s North Charleston plant gave a deposition to Boeing as recently as last week, after claiming they were using second-rate parts

A former Boeing staffer who once raised concerns about the company’s production standards has been found dead in the US. 

John Barnett, 62, was found dead in his truck in a hotel parking lot in South Carolina, cops said Monday – seven years after he retired following a 32-year career. 

The ex-quality manager at Boeing’s North Charleston plant died from a ‘self-inflicted’ wound, cops in Charleston said, adding that they were still investigation.

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.

John Barnett, 62, was found dead in his truck in a hotel parking lot in South Carolina, cops said Monday – seven years after he retired from the firm following a 32-year career

The ex-quality manager at Boeing's North Charleston plant (seen died from a 'self-inflicted' wound, cops in Charleston said. Barnett was in the midst of a suit that alleged under-pressure workers were deliberately fitting sub-standard parts to aircraft during his tenure

The ex-quality manager at Boeing’s North Charleston plant (seen died from a ‘self-inflicted’ wound, cops in Charleston said. Barnett was in the midst of a suit that alleged under-pressure workers were deliberately fitting sub-standard parts to aircraft during his tenure

In an email, he called his client’s death ‘tragic’.

‘Today is a tragic day,’ Knowles wrote, revealing that Barnett ‘was supposed to do day three of his deposition here in Charleston on his AIR21 case [on Saturday],’ referring to a federal law that provides whistleblowers protection in the aviation industry.

‘John had been back and forth for quite some time getting prepared,’ he continued, providing a timeline of what transpired in the days before Barnett’s death.

‘The defense examined him for their allowed seven hours under the rules on Thursday. 

‘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.’

The Charleston County coroner, meanwhile, confirmed Monday the longtime Boeing staffer died Friday, while in town for interviews linked to the case. 

Boeing also responded to the former worker’s death in their own statement as news spread on Monday, saying it was ‘saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing.’

The statement did not address any aspects of the case, but brass ultimately added: ‘Our thoughts are with his family and friends.’

Boeing's assembly plant in North Charleston - where the deceased worked for decades - is seen here

Boeing’s assembly plant in North Charleston – where the deceased worked for decades – is seen here

The plant where Barnett worked for decades is where Boeing builds the 787 Dreamliner, one of several crafts from the airliner that's made headlines as of late. Pictured: an unrelated United Airlines Boeing 787-9 takes off from Los Angeles international Airport on July 30, 2022

The plant where Barnett worked for decades is where Boeing builds the 787 Dreamliner, one of several crafts from the airliner that’s made headlines as of late. Pictured: an unrelated United Airlines Boeing 787-9 takes off from Los Angeles international Airport on July 30, 2022

On Monday, roughly 50 people were treated by first responders after a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying from Australia to New Zealand experienced a 'technical event' that caused 'a strong movement' jolting passengers in their seats

On Monday, roughly 50 people were treated by first responders after a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying from Australia to New Zealand experienced a ‘technical event’ that caused ‘a strong movement’ jolting passengers in their seats

As of writing, five remain hospitalized after the plane dipped violently due to the unspecified issue, LATAM airline and first responders both told AFP

As of writing, five remain hospitalized after the plane dipped violently due to the unspecified issue, LATAM airline and first responders both told AFP

Meanwhile, in a separate incident in early January, an unused emergency exit door blew off a brand-new Boeing 737 Max shortly after take-off from Portland International, sparking a still-ongoing DOJ investigation

Meanwhile, in a separate incident in early January, an unused emergency exit door blew off a brand-new Boeing 737 Max shortly after take-off from Portland International, sparking a still-ongoing DOJ investigation

The plant where Barnett worked for decades is where Boeing builds the 787 Dreamliner, one of several crafts from the airliner that’s made headlines as of late.

On Monday, roughly 50 people were treated by first responders after a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying from Australia to New Zealand experienced a ‘technical event’ that caused ‘a strong movement’ jolting passengers in their seats.

As of writing, five remain hospitalized after the plane dipped violently due to the unspecified issue, LATAM airline and first responders both told AFP.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident in early January, an unused emergency exit door blew off a brand-new Boeing 737 Max shortly after take-off from Portland International, sparking a still-ongoing DOJ investigation. 

On Friday, shortly before the incident over the Indian Ocean, Boeing said it believed the technical failure involving the door stemmed from something that occurred during production, where required documents detailed the removal of a key part that failed were never created.

Also on Friday, the company said it is ‘committed to continuing to cooperate fully and transparently with the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation,’ which, more than three months later, remains ongoing.

South Carolina

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