Another Boeing whistleblower is dead 2 months after the last one

Joshua Dean, another whistleblower involved in Boeing plane defects, has died. His family said he died of an “unexpected, rapidly developing infection.”

The shocking news spread throughout the aviation world. Dean, a former Spirit AeroSystems employee, died suddenly after a short but serious illness.

Dean was known as a whistleblower who revealed that Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems was ignoring defects in the production of the 737 Max. His death is not only a loss for the family, but also for the entire aviation community.

Dean discovered in 2022 that mechanics had tampered with the technology for drilling holes in the pressure frame of Max series aircraft. He informed his superiors about this, but they ignored the situation. During the same inspection, he did not notice any other defect, which was the reason for his dismissal. Mr Dean later reported the violations to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Dean claimed he was fired from Spirit AeroSystems in retaliation for blowing the whistle on poor standards at the company’s manufacturing facility in Wichita, Kansas. His tragic death was confirmed by family members and his lawyer, Brian Knowles, who told Al Jazeera that Dean “had enormous courage to stand up for what he believed was true and right and to raise issues of quality and safety.”

Dean’s actions were intended to draw attention to safety and quality, which, he emphasised, should be the top priorities for aviation companies. His death is a loss not only for the aviation community, but also for all air passengers.

Spirit AeroSystems, in response to the tragic news, expressed its condolences to Dean’s family, emphasising that his sudden death was “staggering news.”

Just over a month ago, Dean’s mother posted on Facebook that her son was “fighting for his life” after contracting pneumonia and suffering a stroke following an MRSA infection. The Seattle Times, which first reported Dean’s death, noted that he was 45 years old and was known for his healthy lifestyle.

Dean’s death comes as another shock to the aviation world, after another Boeing whistleblower, John Barnett, was found dead two months ago.

Spirit AeroSystems has been under scrutiny since it was revealed that it was the company that built the door panel that exploded on the 737 MAX 9 during flight. The incident was one of many that raised concerns about safety standards at Boeing.

Dean filed a complaint against Spirit with the Federal Aviation Administration, alleging serious quality deficiencies at the manufacturing facility. In February, he told US broadcaster NPR that he believed he was fired to send a message to others who were thinking about speaking out. “If you are too loud, we will silence you,” he said.

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