Another Boeing whistleblower dies—Josh Dean, 45, succumbs to ‘sudden illness’

Dean was in good health and lived a healthy and active lifestyle according to relatives, but died after contracting a fast-spreading infection.

Another Boeing whistleblower has died, this time after contracting a fast-spreading infection.

According to the Seattle Times, one of the aerospace giant’s former quality control auditors Joshua Dean (45) passed away Tuesday after “a struggle with a sudden, fast-spreading infection.”

Dean worked at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems and was one of the first whistleblowers to allege Spirit’s top brass ignored manufacturing defects on the 737 MAX. 

According to the outlet, Dean who lived in Wichita, Kansas, where Spirit is based, was in good health and lived a healthy and active lifestyle, but died after suffering for two weeks in critical condition.

Previously, Dean had filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alleging “serious and gross misconduct by senior quality management of the 737 production line” at the supplier and gave a deposition in a Spirit shareholder lawsuit.

He was fired by Spirit in 2023 and then filed a complaint with the US Department of Labor alleging he was terminated for raising the safety concerns.

According to Dean’s aunt, he went to the hospital two weeks ago after having trouble breathing and was intubated after developing pneumonia and then a serious bacterial infection.

As his condition worsened, he was transferred to a hospital in Oklahoma City and put on a machine that takes over heart and lung function when a patient’s organs don’t function.

Dean was represented by the same South Carolina law firm that represented Boeing whistleblower John “Mitch” Barnett who was found dead from an apparent suicide earlier this year while giving depositions.

Barnett alleged during the depositions that Boeing retaliated against him after he complained about lapses in quality lapses. He was found dead in Charleston, SC near Boeing’s 787 manufacturing facility, from a “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” according to the Charleston County Coroner’s Office. The investigation into his death remains active.

Dean, a mechanical engineer, discovered in October 2022 that mechanics had improperly been drilling holes in the aft pressure bulkhead of the MAX. He alleged that after he brought the issue to his superiors nothing was done.

He claimed that being focused on that problem led to him missing during the same audit that there was also a manufacturing flaw in fittings attaching the plane’s vertical fin to the fuselage and was fired after the discovery triggered a pause in manufacturing at Boeing’s Renton facility.

Shortly thereafter, Spirit announced the discovery of incorrectly drilled holes in the MAX’s aft pressure bulkhead, causing another pause at the Renton plant.

Dean then filed a safety complaint with the FAA claiming that Spirit lied to the agency about the aft pressure bulkhead defects and used him as a scapegoat writing in the complaint, “After I was fired, Spirit AeroSystems [initially] did nothing to inform the FAA, and the public.”

The FAA sent Dean a letter in November stating that it concluded the investigation, but did not reveal the findings.  

Dean then filed his whistleblower complaint with the US Department of Labor, alleging “gross misconduct of senior level Spirit AeroSystems Quality Managers” and wrongful termination.

Following a door plug failing mid-flight on a Boeing 737 MAX in January, one of Dean’s former coworkers at Spirit confirmed some of his allegations.
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