Whistleblower who worked for Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems dies after short illness

A whistleblower who worked for Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems died Tuesday.

Joshua Dean, who lived in Wichita, Kansas and was formerly a quality auditor for company, had an infection that came on suddenly and quickly spread, The Seattle Times reported. He was 45.

Dean’s aunt, Carol Parsons, told the newspaper that he spent two weeks in critical condition. He had gone to the hospital after having trouble breathing and was later intubated and developed pneumonia and MRSA.

Dean was among the first whistleblowers to allege that leaders at Spirit turned a blind eye to deficiencies in Boeing’s 737 MAX. He gave a deposition in a shareholder lawsuit filed late last year and made a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Our thoughts are with Josh Dean’s family. This sudden loss is stunning news here at Spirit and for his loved ones,” Spirit told USA TODAY in an emailed statement.

Dean told The Wall Street Journal that he was fired after he pointed out misdrilled holes in fuselages. “It is known at Spirit that if you make too much noise and cause too much trouble, you will be moved,” he said in January.

A Spirit spokesperson told the Journal at the time that the company would defend itself against the lawsuit and disagreed firmly with the allegations.

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Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, who also had raised concerns about manufacturing practices at the company, was found dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound in March.

The news comes as Boeing’s safety culture is under intense scrutiny after a 737 MAX 9 lost a section of fuselage during a January Alaska Airlines flight. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun recently announced he will step down by the end of the year.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at ndiller@usatoday.com.

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