‘F*ck Boeing’: Quality Control Whistleblower Blamed Company in Suicide Note, Coroner Confirms

John Barnett Boeing
Hixton Brothers Funeral Homes, AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File

The Boeing whistleblower who died suddenly in the middle of his lawsuit against the aerospace company has been confirmed to have committed suicide and directly blamed his former employer for it.

John Barnett spent 35 years at Boeing as a “dedicated” quality control manager in aircraft manufacturing, receiving numerous awards before retiring, his obituary states. He died at 62 years old of what police described as a “self-inflicted wound” on March 9 in South Carolina, Breitbart News reported.

Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal’s report was finally released on Friday, confirming that Barnett had shot himself in the head with a pistol, and a suicide note was found next to his body.

“FUCK BOEING!!!” was handwritten in capital letters, according to a Fox News review of the note. 

“I can’t do this any longer,” Barnett continued. “Enough!”

“Bury me face down so Boeing and their lying ass leaders can kiss my ass,” the whistleblower added.

“Mr. Barnett’s last words make clear that while Boeing may not have pulled the trigger, the company is responsible for his death,” Barnett’s lawyers, Robert Turkewitz and Brian Knowles, said in a statement that Fox News obtained on Tuesday:

Mr. Barnett’s family wishes to thank the coroner, the responders, and all those who have reached out with kind words and support. It is hoped that John’s legacy will be his brave and courageous efforts to get Boeing to change its culture of concealment to one that places quality and safety first.

The attorneys explained that investigators had proven that Barnett had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and panic attacks before his suicide, which occurred during a lawsuit he had brought against Boeing for alleged retaliation against him for raising safety concerns. 

Barnett’s lawyers continued:

His mental condition was a result of the retaliation and hostile work environment he was subjected to in response to his complaint that Boeing senior management was pressuring workers to disregard processes and procedures required by law to be followed, allowing defective parts to be installed on the airplanes, and disregarding and ignoring problems that he believed pose a potential threat to the flying public.

Barnett was one of multiple employees who blew the whistle on safety malpractices at the airplane manufacturer, beginning with a 2019 interview with the New York Times in which he recalled being removed from an aircraft project after alerting his manager to debris that could have shorted out the plane’s electronic functions and caused a fire. 

“I said, ‘I won’t sign off on it. I won’t accept it.’ So, I was removed from it,” Barnett, who went by the nickname “Swampy” in the interview, told reporter Natalie Kitroeff. 

“It was delivered without being cleaned,” he asserted.

Barnett was adamant that debris like nuts, bolts, fasteners, rags, bubble wrap, trash, and tools were being left in the machinery portions of planes due to carelessness.

“It’s sloppy, but just shooting from the hip, I mean, 40 percent of this is critical stuff. I mean, look, you got metal shavings floating around the electronics equipment,” he said.

The former Boeing worker also said that hundreds of defective parts went missing from the North Charleston manufacturing plant one day, which he later found out were installed in planes against safety advice.

“I think it’s highly likely they’re on airplanes, absolutely…One of my inspectors was telling me, ‘Hey, this is what happened’…and we tried to tell him he couldn’t do it,” Barnett recounted.

The inspector said, “Don’t worry about it,” Barnett claimed.

Even though he filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), he did not see Boeing being held accountable.

When Kitroeff asked Barnett if he would fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, he replied, “No, ma’am. You couldn’t pay me. Uh-uh.”

“Just understand what you’re getting into,” he said, directed at travelers. “I mean, understand that just because it’s a brand new airplane from Boeing don’t [sic] mean that it was built right.”

In a late 2019 interview with BBC, Barnett also brought up concerns over Boeing’s plane oxygen systems, saying up to a quarter of them could be faulty during emergencies. 

Shortly before his death, Barnett told TMZ that the aerospace giant was letting its 737 Max 9 jets return to the sky too quickly after a gaping hole opened next to passengers on a January Alaska Airlines flight, forcing an emergency landing. 

Boeing has denied Barnett’s claims of safety hazards, a local NBC affiliate reported

In what Fox News deemed an “unrelated” move, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun has announced his resignation by the end of 2024.


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