Sorting by


One Boeing whistle-blower killed himself but it hasn’t stopped more speaking out

Keeping up the fight

Pierson refuses to fly on a 737 Max. Last year he boarded a flight that was supposed to be using a different aircraft, but got off when he realised it had been switched to a Max. 

Knowles would do the same. “For years now, my wife and I have not flown Boeing,” he says. They check what type of plane will be used, through Google Flights. 

Knowles sometimes pauses for extended periods during our interview, thinking, and speaks carefully when he resumes. It’s been a tough year for him. Just a few weeks after Barnett’s suicide, another of the whistle-blowers he represented – Joshua Dean – died following a bacterial infection. He was 45. 

Dean worked in quality audits at Spirit Aerosystems. It was once part of Boeing, was sold off in 2005, and may now be taken over again by its previous owner. Spirit remains one Boeing’s biggest suppliers, making fuselage sections for the 737 Max. 

In 2022, Dean “discovered mis-drilled and mis-aligned holes”, says his lawyer. “He wrote up his findings, submitted his report to management, and they just shelved it.” He was sacked a few months later, but soon Spirit admitted that it had indeed found mis-drilled holes, a flaw that was significant enough to delay deliveries of the aircraft. 

Dean’s accusations emerged in a lawsuit against Spirit, which has said it will “vigorously defend” the case. 

“Josh was a really smart guy, he had three degrees,” says Knowles. His job was to be a “quality person”, but that describes the man as well. 

Barnett’s family, meanwhile, are determined to continue his legal fight. They have issued a statement saying that “while Boeing may not have pulled the trigger, the company is responsible for his death”. 

Knowles has heard many arguments from Boeing over the years, defending their manufacturing standards and their treatment of whistle-blowers. But if they were all true, he says, “we wouldn’t be talking”. 


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button