Spirit AeroSystems Whistleblower Dies After Sudden Illness

Spirit AeroSystems manufacturing production line.
Photo Credit: Spirit AeroSystems

Joshua Dean, a former quality control inspector at Spirit AeroSystems, passed away after the battle with a fast spreading bacterial infection at the age of 45.

Mr Dean had reportedly been in a critical condition for the past fortnight. He had reportedly spent the last few days on life support. The infection was brought about by an antibiotic resistant bacterial strain.

According to a report carried by the Seattle Times, Mr Dean had “been in good health and was noted for having a healthy lifestyle”.

A Spirit spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Josh Dean’s family. This sudden loss is stunning news here and for his loved ones.”

Manufacturing Defect Concerns Raised

Prior to his death, Dean raised concerns about manufacturing defects in Boeing’s 737 MAX fuselages, a component Spirit AeroSystems supplies.

According to news reports, Dean flagged these issues with his superiors but alleges they were ignored.

He was dismissed by the company after reporting concerns with the manufacturing process on a fuselage pressure bulkhead.

Following his termination in 2023 Dean subsequently filed a whistleblower complaint alleging retaliation.

Spirit AeroSystems is one of Boeing’s major parts and components suppliers. The supplier derives approximately two thirds of its business from the US airplane manufacturing giant.

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Photo Credit: NTSB.

The supplier has been at the centre of recent manufacturing and quality control issues. These arose from a mid-air incident in January involving a Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft.

Last month Boeing revealed that it had been in talks with the supplier. Under discussion was the potential reintegration of Spirit AeroSystems manufacturing operations back into its operation.

In a statement made to Reuters in March, a Boeing spokesperson stated: “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Boeing Employer Safety Stand-down. Photo Credit: Boeing

Previous Boeing Whistleblower Death

Another Boeing whistleblower, John “Mitch” Barnett, who was in the midst of giving evidence in court proceedings, died by suicide in March this year.

He, like Mr Dean alleged that he had been subject to retaliation by his employer after he raised similar quality concerns.

Both Mr Barnett and Mr Dean were represented by the same law firm. While both deaths are a tragedy, it’s important to note there is no evidence to suggest a connection between the two events.

Both incidents highlight the importance of listening to industry employee concerns about safety and quality standards without prejudice.

Spirit AeroSystems has not yet commented on the specifics of Mr Dean’s case.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
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