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Another Boeing whistleblower dies suddenly

A United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane takes off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as seen from El Segundo, California, on Sept. 11, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images/TNS)
May 02, 2024

A second Boeing whistleblower died Tuesday after suffering from a sudden illness. The whistleblower was a former quality control auditor who claimed that Spirit AeroSystems leadership ignored manufacturing defects on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

According to The Seattle Times, 45-year-old Joshua Dean had been healthy prior to contracting an illness about two weeks ago. Carol Parsons, Dean’s aunt, explained that Dean was hospitalized in critical condition after he experienced trouble breathing. The Boeing whistleblower was intubated and developed an MRSA bacterial infection and pneumonia.

After his condition worsened, Dean was transported from Wichita, Kansas, to a hospital in Oklahoma City, where his health continued to deteriorate quickly. A CT scan suggested that Dean had also experienced a stroke on top of the infections.

Before his death, medical professionals had considered amputating Dean’s hands and feet, according to The Seattle Times. “It was brutal what he went through,” Parsons explained. “Heartbreaking.”

Following Dean’s death on Tuesday, Joe Buccino, a Spirit spokesperson, said, “Our thoughts are with Josh Dean’s family. This sudden loss is stunning news here and for his loved ones.”

According to The Seattle Times, Dean had previously given a deposition in a Spirit lawsuit and filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), accusing Spirit of “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line.”

READ MORE: Video: Boeing whistleblower found dead after testifying against company

The Seattle Times reported that Dean, who was fired by Spirit in April of 2023, claimed he was fired for raising safety concerns at the company. The outlet also reported that Dean was represented by the same law firm that represented Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, who was recently found dead outside a South Carolina hotel allegedly due to a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Dean claimed to have discovered a critical defect at Spirit in October of 2022. He warned that mechanics had improperly drilled holes in the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft’s aft pressure bulkhead. Despite warning management of the issue, Dean claimed that nothing was done to address the manufacturing defect.

According to The Seattle Times, Dean missed another manufacturing flaw during the same audit. When the flaw was later discovered and led to a delivery pause in a Boeing production plant in April of 2023, Dean was fired.

Dean eventually submitted a safety complaint to the FAA, claiming that Spirit had lied to the agency about the improperly drilled holes in the aft pressure bulkhead. “After I was fired, Spirit AeroSystems [initially] did nothing to inform the FAA, and the public,” Dean wrote, according to The Seattle Times.

In November, Dean filed a whistleblower complaint at the Department of Labor, claiming that he hd been wrongfully fired and warning of the “gross misconduct of senior level Spirit AeroSystems Quality Managers.”