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Second Boeing Whistleblower Josh Dean Dies Suddenly At Age 45

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Second Boeing Whistleblower Dies Suddenly.

Joshua Dean, once a quality auditor at Spirit Aero Systems, a key supplier for Boeing, passed away on Tuesday. Which following a swift and severe illness, as revealed by his family. Dean, who was 45 years old, had previously raised concerns about safety issues and alleged misconduct within Boeing’s production processes. It’s destiny that the same day another celebrity died in USA.

Formerly employed at Spirit Aero Systems, Dean had blown the whistle on what he perceived as neglect in addressing defects within the Boeing 737 assembly line. Sadly, after a two week battle with an infection, he succumbed to the illness.

Dean’s accusations focused on Spirit Aero Systems’ purported failure to rectify flaws along the production line of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. His demise sheds light once again on the challenges whistleblowers face. And raises questions about the circumstances surrounding his sudden illness and subsequent passing.

According to updates shared on social media by Dean’s family, as of April 21st, his condition had deteriorated significantly. Tests confirmed he had influenza B and MRSA, a stubborn bacterial infection, which led to pneumonia.

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To aid his breathing and circulation, he was placed on a ventilator and dialysis machine. Then transferred to another hospital for specialized treatment on an ECMO machine, a device supporting heart and lung functions.

Spirit AeroSystems signage near a Boeing aircraft fuselage outside the Boeing manufacturing facility in Renton, Wash., on Jan. 7, 2024.
Spirit AeroSystems signage near a Boeing aircraft fuselage outside the Boeing manufacturing facility in Renton, Wash., on Jan. 7, 2024.

Additionally, a CT scan revealed he had suffered a stroke. The lack of oxygen had caused his hands and feet to turn black. Which prompting doctors to consider amputation as an option. These developments painted a grim picture of his health struggle.

On Saturday, April 27th, Dean’s sister-in-law, Kristen Dean, shared on Facebook that his condition had reached an unprecedented low. She expressed that it was the worst she had ever known or heard of, a sentiment echoed by the hospital staff.

By Sunday night, Dean’s family updated their posts, revealing that he was “giving up his fight” and declining further life saving procedures. However, Dean’s mother expressed a different perspective. It is stating that she believed her son was afraid, scared, and depressed, and might not fully comprehend his wishes. She insisted to the doctor that he likely wanted to live.

Consequently, the medical team performed a bronchoscopy, a surgical procedure aimed at investigating the lungs and airways.

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Despite these efforts, Dean’s family sadly announced his passing on Tuesday morning. Which marking the end of his courageous battle against his illness.

On Facebook, Dean’s aunt expressed the profound impact of his absence. It is highlighting that his presence would be sorely missed by those who knew and loved him.

Brian Knowles, a lawyer who had represented Dean along with another whistleblower, John Barnett. Who passed away in March, shared his sentiments with TIME magazine. Knowles emphasized that Dean’s death is not only a personal loss. But also a loss to the aviation community and the general public who rely on air travel.

He praised Dean for his remarkable courage in speaking out against what he believed to be quality and safety concerns within the industry. Dean’s advocacy for truth and integrity in aviation safety is remembered as a testament to his character and principles.

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Spirit AeroSystems, a company that emerged as a separate entity from Boeing in 2005. It is currently grappling with financial challenges and an uncertain outlook for its future. Despite these circumstances, the company did not provide an immediate response to TIME’s request for comment.

However, in a statement reported by other media outlets, Spirit Aero Systems expressed condolences to Josh Dean’s family. They acknowledged the shocking nature of his sudden passing and extended sympathies to his loved ones. This acknowledgment from the company underscores the impact of Dean’s loss on both a personal and professional level.

Dean, who had been employed at Spirit Aero Systems since 2019. It experienced a temporary layoff during the pandemic but resumed his position in 2021. In October 2022, he initially voiced concerns regarding improperly drilled bulkhead holes. Which found on certain Boeing 737 Max aircraft manufactured at Spirit’s facility in Wichita.

These concerns were highlighted in a shareholder lawsuit, which alleged that Spirit Aero Systems had concealed production issues. This sequence of events underscores Dean’s role in bringing attention to potential quality and safety issues within the manufacturing process.

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Despite Dean’s efforts to report the issue to multiple managers, the complaint asserted. That Spirit Aero Systems concealed the problem from investors for an extended period. It wasn’t until August 2023 that the issue became public knowledge. When Boeing and Spirit jointly announced a delay in plane deliveries due to the discovered defect.

Testimonies from Spirit employees, including Dean, revealed that workers had been directed. It pressured by supervisors to minimize the significance of the defects they encountered. This suggests a systematic effort within the company to downplay the seriousness of the manufacturing issues. Further underscoring Dean’s whistleblowing actions.

Dean, speaking to the Wall Street Journal in January, revealed a concerning culture within Spirit Aero Systems. He stated that at Spirit, there was a prevalent understanding that raising too many concerns. It is causing too much disruption could result in being transferred to a different role within the company.

According to Dean, this environment did not necessarily mean that employees completely ignored issues. But rather, there was a discouragement against thorough investigations and documentation of problems. In essence, Dean’s comments shed light on a corporate culture where the emphasis seemed to be on avoiding unnecessary noise and trouble. Even at the expense of addressing and rectifying potential issues.

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In April 2023, Dean faced termination from his position at Spirit AeroSystems. The company cited his failure to identify a separate issue during his role as an internal inspector as the reason for his dismissal. However, Dean believed this explanation to be a pretext. Months following his termination, he lodged a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Boeing Whistleblower.
Boeing Whistleblower.

In his complaint, Dean alleged that he unjustly made a scapegoat by Spirit Aero Systems. He asserted that despite raising concerns about safety issues within the company, Spirit took no action to inform regulators or the public about the issues he had flagged. This sequence of events suggests a contentious relationship between Dean and Spirit Aero Systems, with Dean maintaining that his termination was unjust and retaliatory.

Following a notable incident in January, where a plug door detached from a Boeing 737 MAX 9 during an Alaska Airlines flight, Dean’s former colleague, Lance Thompson, publicly supported Dean’s assertions in an interview with the Seattle Times.

Thompson echoed Dean’s claims, stating that safety took a back seat to meeting production deadlines at Spirit Aero Systems’ Wichita plant. He further alleged that managers at the plant actively encouraged workers to conceal defects rather than address them.

In March, an audit conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into both Boeing and Spirit Aero Systems yielded troubling findings. The audit revealed that both companies had failed to adhere to quality control requirements. This development underscored the seriousness of the issues raised by Dean and Thompson, suggesting systemic shortcomings in ensuring safety and quality within the aerospace manufacturing process.

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In November, Dean took action by filing a complaint with the Department of Labor, alleging that his termination from Spirit AeroSystems was unjust. This case was still ongoing at the time of his passing, leaving unresolved questions about the circumstances surrounding his employment termination.

In an interview with NPR in February, Dean expressed his belief that Spirit’s decision to terminate him intended to send a message to other employees. He suggested that the company was attempting to silence dissent by demonstrating that outspoken individuals would face consequences. Dean’s remarks shed light on the potential motives behind his termination and the broader culture of fear and intimidation within the company.

Dean’s passing occurred within a short span of less than two months following the death of John Barnett, another whistleblower known for his persistent efforts to raise concerns regarding relaxed safety protocols at Boeing. Barnett’s tragic demise unfolded on March 9 in Charleston, South Carolina. Where he discovered in his truck with what authorities characterized as a suspected “self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

This incident took place amid ongoing depositions related to a dispute over alleged retaliation by Boeing against Barnett. Authorities are currently conducting an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding Barnett’s death, adding another layer of complexity to the already concerning narrative surrounding whistleblowers within the aerospace industry.

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When questioned about the recent deaths of his two clients, which have ignited speculation and conspiracy theories on social media, Knowles responded to TIME magazine with caution. He expressed his reluctance to engage in speculation and emphasized the importance of waiting for evidence from the investigating authorities before drawing conclusions.

However, Knowles stressed the significance of encouraging individuals to speak up without fear. He highlighted the critical role of whistleblowers in holding companies accountable for their actions and ensuring transparency and safety in various industries. Knowles’s remarks underscored the delicate balance between seeking justice and avoiding unfounded assumptions in the wake of tragic events.

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