In the eye of the storm due to repeated incidents on its aircraft in recent months, Boeing is once again at the heart of a macabre affair. A former employee of the American aircraft manufacturer, John Barnett, 32, was found dead in the United States on Saturday, the BBC reported late Monday evening.

This former quality manager at a South Carolina factory had become a whistleblower on problems encountered by Boeing planes since his retirement in 2017, regularly expressing his concerns about the company’s production and safety standards.

At the time of his death, John Barnett was in Charleston, South Carolina, attending a lawsuit he filed against Boeing after he retired for health reasons. Last week, he was questioned by the aircraft manufacturer’s lawyers, then cross-examined by his own lawyer. He was to be questioned again on Saturday. His failure to respond to calls led to searches of his hotel.

It was in the parking lot of the establishment, in his truck, that he was found dead. He died from an apparently “self-inflicted” wound, the South Carolina coroner’s office said Monday, meaning he likely committed suicide. Police have launched an investigation into his death.

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For several years, John Barnett has been warning about problems he observed on the 787 Dreamliner production lines, where he worked. In 2019, he notably claimed to have observed workers, under pressure, installing defective parts, coming from trash cans, on planes. He also claimed that up to a quarter of emergency oxygen systems could be faulty and therefore not work when needed.

“I have yet to see a plane departing from Charleston that I would have put my name on to say that it is safe and airworthy,” he even told the New York Times in 2019. allegations strongly denied by Boeing. “However, a 2017 review by the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), confirmed some of John Barnett’s concerns,” the BBC points out.

Boeing said it was “saddened” to learn of the death of its former employee. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends,” added the company in a press release relayed by the British media. His lawyer described his death as “tragic”.