Man who raised concerns about Boeing dies from sudden infection, family says

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH/Gray News) – A whistleblower who raised concerns over the Boeing 737 Max planes at Wichita’s Spirit AeroSystems has died.

Family members said Joshua Dean died this week from a sudden infection.

According to the Dean family, what started as breathing issues a few weeks ago turned into a serious bacterial infection.

Dean died Tuesday morning.

KWCH reports that Dean filed a complaint with the FAA alleging misconduct by managers on the 737 production line and claimed that Spirit AeroSystems fired him in retaliation.

In a statement, Dean’s attorneys, Brian Knowles and Rob Turkewitz, called his death a loss to the aviation community and flying public.

Dean began working at Spirit AeroSystems in 2019. He was laid off during the pandemic but returned in 2021 as a quality auditor, assigned to inspect a part needed to maintain cabin pressure in the 737 Max.

In October 2022, Dean raised concerns about mis-drilled holes in the rear fuselage, reporting those issues to managers. He said nothing was done.

This was about a year before Boeing publicly acknowledged the issue at Spirit AeroSystems.

A deposition Dean provided detailed the issues and claimed that the company failed to disclose those issues to investors. Dean is not named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit started Spirit AeroSystems fired Dean in April 2023 for falsifying paperwork concerning his audit.

Dean told CBS News at that time that he believed his firing was retaliation for raising quality issues.

Dean had filed a safety complaint with the FAA regarding the mis-drilled holes and with the Labor Department for wrongful termination.

Dean’s attorneys provided the following statement this week:

“He possessed tremendous courage to stand up for what he felt was true and right and raised quality and safety issues. Aviation companies should encourage and incentivize those that do raise these concerns.”

Spirit AeroSystems also offered a statement regarding Dean’s death:

“Our thoughts are with Josh Dean’s family. This sudden loss is stunning news here at Spirit and for his loved ones.”