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The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

Boeing: flying off the handles

It’s not everyday that a whistleblower who is exposing a company’s poor manufacturing processes which are putting 10s of thousands of people’s lives at risk supposedly kills himself right before

But for John Barnett, the whistleblower who came out against Boeing, that’s exactly what happened.

Boeing has been under public scrutiny as a result of a string of incidents regarding the quality of their planes following and preceding the death of a former quality manager. The former manager was leading a lawsuit against the company alleging that the company was being negligent to quality issues in the manufacturing of their planes.

Boeing’s former quality manager, John Barnett, died locally, in downtown Charleston. He worked at the North Charleston plant from 2010 until retiring in 2017.

While Barnett’s death is officially categorized as a suicide, the circumstances of his death are suspicious. To add to the coincidence of his death amid his legal ambitions, he told a family friend a month or so before his death that if he died, it was not suicide. Adding that he’s probably going to end up dead. I don’t trust that one bit.

His concerns regarded the quality of the planes, especially the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing’s newest plane designed for long distance flights.

One of the issues he spoke on was the alleged deliberate substitution of sub-standard parts for standard ones as a result of the push to get as many planes manufactured as possible. As well as an issue regarding oxygen masks on the 787, that being that only a quarter of them work.

This issue, and really the greater issues of quality manufacturing within Boeing, originate from its merger with a military oriented aircraft manufacturer, McDonnell Douglas, in 1997. Leading up to this point, Boeing was coming off of one of its biggest successes, the Boeing 737, an industry paragon that set the standard for airfare in the future. Their merger with MD symbolized a switch in their business strategy and a resulting drop in the quality of their product.

The first major project the merged companies would focus on was the Boeing 737 Max, an updated and refurbished version of the original which would provide airliners with a new and improved method of transportation.

However, it was not that simple, as Boeing was a heavily engineering, quality first company before the merger, and MD was a finance, marketing motivated business. This influence from MD, and Boeing also later sold some equity to investors for more profit.  That influence eventually led to the Max having multiple issues, and eventually being grounded as a whole by the FAA after two crashes which were the result of a technical error in the plane’s software which was swept under the rug by the company, even after the first crash. The two crashes would result in the deaths of 346 people.

Can anyone really be mad at the public for being highly suspicious of a company like Boeing with a questionable whistleblower suicide, and simultaneously having more than triple the amount of incidents as their leading competitor, AirBus? I don’t think so.

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