Boeing Whistleblower Found Dead In South Carolina During Depositions

Boeing whistleblower John Barnett was discovered dead in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was supposed to undergo the third day of his AIR21 case deposition.

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Following a pause in depositions for a lawsuit alleging retribution against him, Boeing whistleblower John Barnett was discovered dead in his truck at a motel in Charleston, South Carolina.

That’s what Barnett’s attorney, Brian Knowles, says.

Knowles stated that Barnett “was supposed to do day three of his deposition here in Charleston on his AIR21 case” in an email to Corporate Crime Reporter. (AIR21 is the name of a federal statute that offers aviation industry employees protection as whistleblowers.)

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John Barnett (Photo: BBC News)

“Today is a tragic day,” Knowles wrote. “John had been back and forth for quite some time getting prepared. 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 a.m. (co-counsel) Rob (Turkewitz) kept calling this morning and his (Barnett’s) phone would go to voicemail. We then asked the hotel to check on him. 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.”

John Barnett worked as a quality manager at Boeing for nearly thirty years.

According to an investigation by Responsible Statecraft, it was revealed that Boeing charged the Pentagon $52,000 for a trash can that was previously priced at $300.

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During 28 of those years, he worked in Everett, Washington, for Boeing.

Barnett cherished Boeing. He cherished Boeing aircraft. He was passionate about his work.

Barnett was then moved to Boeing’s new facility in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2010.

Boeing constructs the 787 Dreamliner there.

And then things took a turn for the worse.

“The new leadership didn’t understand processes,” Barnett told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview in 2019. (See — John Barnett on Why He Won’t Fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, (Corporate Crime Reporter, November 29, 2019).  “They brought them in from other areas of the company. The new leadership team – from my director down – they all came from St. Louis, Missouri. They said they were all buddies there.”

“That entire team came down. They were from the military side. My impression was their mindset was – we are going to do it the way we want to do it. Their motto at the time was – we are in Charleston and we can do anything we want.”

“They started pressuring us to not document defects, to work outside the procedures, to allow defective material to be installed without being corrected. They started bypassing procedures and not maintaining configurement control of airplanes, not maintaining control of non conforming parts –  they just wanted to get the planes pushed out the door and make the cash register ring.”

Recently, Barnett had been talking to the media about problems with Boeing production, such as the event on January 5 on an Alaska Airlines flight where a door stopper blew off in midair, depressurizing the aircraft.

“Once you understand what’s happening inside of Boeing, you’ll see why we’re seeing these kinds of issues,” Barnett told ABC News in Australia in late January.

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