Boeing Whistleblower Joshua Dean Dies At 45

Joshua Dean a former quality auditor at Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems who raised concerns about manufacturing defects in the 737 MAX has died at the age of 45. Dean passed away on Tuesday following a two-week battle with a sudden illness that left him in critical condition.

Dean had gone public in January with claims that Spirit AeroSystems leadership ignored improperly drilled holes in the fuselage of 737 MAX jets. He was fired from the company in April 2023 and filed a retaliation complaint alleging he was terminated for speaking out.

In a deposition for a shareholder lawsuit against Spirit Dean described flagging a significant defect in the aft pressure bulkhead of 737 MAX fuselages months before his termination. The lawsuit accuses the company of concealing the problem.

Dean’s death comes amid increased scrutiny of Boeing’s safety practices. In January an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9’s door plug blew off in mid-air leading to the grounding of all 171 MAX 9 jets by the FAA and instigating an investigation.

Dean is the second Boeing whistleblower to die unexpectedly in recent months. In March John Barnett was found dead in his truck in a hotel parking lot in South Carolina from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Josh’s passing is a loss to the aviation community and the flying public,” said his attorneys Brian Knowles and Rob Turkewitz. “He possessed tremendous courage to stand up for what he felt was true and right and raised quality and safety issues.”