A 2nd Boeing whistleblower "coincidentally" dies — just weeks after 1st Boeing whistleblower died

Less than two months after Boeing whistleblower John Barnett unexpectedly died, another Boeing whistleblower has passed away — this time from a "sudden, fast-spreading" bacterial infection.

Josh Dean, a healthy 45-year-old former quality auditor who worked at Spirit AeroSystems — one of Boeing's suppliers (not to be confused with Spirit Airlines) —had complained to Spirit about a "serious defect" that involved improperly drilled holes in "the aft pressure bulkhead of the MAX," according to The Seattle Times.

But rather than address the issue, Spirit fired him. (They were later forced to halt production in one of their plants after faulty drilled holes were discovered). 

Dean, living in Kansas, then gave a deposition in a lawsuit against the company and contacted the Federal Aviation Administration to lodge a complaint, alleging that Spirit had conducted "serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line."

But his fight against the company abruptly ended two weeks ago, when he struggled to breathe and was hospitalized. On Tuesday, he died.

Whether two Boeing whistleblowers unexpectedly dying within months of each other is coincidence or not, it's at least suspicious — especially since Barnett, who died from a gunshot wound, had warned his friend shortly before his death: "If anything happens to me, it's not suicide."

From The Seattle Times:

Spirit fired Dean in April 2023, and he had filed a complaint with the Department of Labor alleging his termination was in retaliation for raising concerns related to aviation safety. …

In October 2022, Dean said he found a serious manufacturing defect: mechanics improperly drilling holes in the aft pressure bulkhead of the MAX. When he flagged this issue with management, he said nothing was done.

Focused on those defects, he said he missed during that same audit a separate manufacturing flaw in the fittings that attach the vertical tail fin to the fuselage. When that was discovered in April and caused a delivery pause at Boeing's Renton plant, Dean was fired.

Then in August, Spirit announced the discovery of improperly drilled holes in the MAX's aft pressure bulkhead, a flaw that was present in MAXs built as early as 2019. This caused another delivery halt in Renton.

The shareholder lawsuit alleging that Spirit management withheld information on the quality flaws and harmed stockholders was filed in December. Supporting the suit, Dean provided a deposition detailing his allegations.