Boeing Faces Scrutiny As Second Whistleblower Dies Unexpectedly

Boeing is facing increased scrutiny following the unexpected death of Joshua Dean, a former quality auditor at supplier Spirit AeroSystems who raised concerns about manufacturing defects in the 737 MAX. Dean, 45, died on Tuesday after a sudden illness left him in critical condition for two weeks.

According to his family, Dean was diagnosed with Influenza B and MRSA, which rapidly progressed to pneumonia. Despite being airlifted from a hospital in Wichita, Kansas, to a facility in Oklahoma City, medical teams were unable to save his life.

Dean’s death marks the second Boeing whistleblower to die unexpectedly in recent months. In March, John Barnett was found dead in his truck in a hotel parking lot in South Carolina from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Both Dean and Barnett had raised concerns about safety issues in Boeing’s manufacturing processes. Dean went public in January with claims that Spirit AeroSystems leadership ignored defects in the 737 MAX fuselage. He was fired in April 2023 and filed a retaliation complaint alleging he was terminated for speaking out.

The deaths of the two whistleblowers come amid a tumultuous year for Boeing. In January an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9’s door plug blew off in mid-air leading to the grounding of all 171 MAX 9 jets by the FAA. The incident instigated an investigation and prompted at least four people including Dean and Barnett to come forward with allegations of corner cutting in the jets’ manufacturing process.