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‘Like a ticking time bomb’: At Least 20 More Boeing Whistleblowers Come Forward

Published: June 5, 2024
The first Boeing 737 MAX 7 aircraft sits on the tarmac outside of the Boeing factory on February 5, 2018 in Renton, Washington. (Image: Stephen Brashear via Getty Images)

According to reporting by the New York Post, at least 20 whistleblowers are “in the process of making their concerns about safety and quality issues at the aerospace giant (Boeing) public.”

Among them is one former employee of Boeing and one former employee of one of the company’s key contractors who say that despite the recent unrelated deaths of two other Boeing whistleblowers they are as determined as ever to tell their stories about alleged dangerous practices at the scandal-plagued manufacturer. 

Roy Irvin, a past Boeing employee, and Santiago Paredes, who worked for Spirit AeroSystems, are two of the 20 whistleblowers in the process of coming forward. 

From 2011 to 2017, Irvin was a quality investigator at the company’s North Charleston, SC facility, and was tasked with ensuring the $250-million 787 Dreamliner planes were fit for use before they left the factory floor.

He said he had to push back almost daily over serious safety and quality concerns he found on the planes that were on the “flight line,” or in other words, found to be fit to fly. 

Irvin alleges that the planes were not fit to fly and that he found himself forced to be “insubordinate” when calling out the flaws. 

“Missing safety devices on hardware or untightened hardware means that you’re not going to be able to control the airplane if those fail,” Irvin explained to The Post. 

“The safety device is on there. If the fastener is not secured correctly, it’s going to fall off and you’re not gonna be able to control the airplane,” he added.

Irvin worked with John Barnett, another Boeing whistleblower who was found dead in his truck in the parking lot of a hotel he was staying at with a gunshot wound to the head. Barnett was in the process of testifying against Boeing at the time of his death. 

Authorities initially reported that the wound was self-inflicted, however this official explanation has since been called into question. 

Irvin told The Post, “I’m always looking behind my mirror to make sure nobody’s car’s following me. 

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist… but I talked to [Barnett] about a week before he passed away. I can’t imagine him giving up like that. Even if he had other problems. I think he would have fought this to the end.

“I’m not gonna say I don’t believe it (the suicide), but it really doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t add up. You can quote me on that.”


Hundreds of defects

Santiago Paredes was a production inspector for Spirit AeroSystems for 12 years prior to leaving in 2022. 

He told the post that he was shocked when he first arrived at the company after witnessing first hand hundreds of defects on the production line. He said he was pressured to keep quiet.

“I was at the end of the production line and so I was supposed to be looking at the finished product before they shipped it to Boeing,” Paredes told The Post.

“Instead I saw missing parts, incomplete parts, frames that had temporary clamps and missing fasteners, dents in the parts, damaged parts, cut rivets, issues that might occur but should be fixed before they got to me.

“Everything I was seeing was like a ticking time bomb.”

He said the people he reported to nicknamed him “Showstopper” because delays in production would occur after he would write-up deficiencies. 

“They always said they didn’t have time to fix the mistakes. They needed to get the planes out,” Paredes said, adding that. “I also was afraid to look at the news every day and see that something had happened to a plane in the air. It was a nightmare.”


Dozens of whistleblowers

Charleston, SC attorney, Brian Knowles, who represents whistleblowers including both Irvin and Paredes, and the late Barnett, told The Post that his law firm is fielding dozens of calls from potential whistleblowers.

“Most of the people we’re hearing from are current employees. These are not disgruntled employees,” Knowles said.

“In many cases they love the company. It’s not about bringing down the company — it’s about getting it back on track.

“Boeing says they are open to hearing criticisms but in reality they are not being addressed internally and many are retaliated against for speaking out.”

Joe Buccino, a Spirit AeroSystems spokesperson said the company “encourages people to come forward with concerns and we’ve made it easier to do that.”

A Boeing spokesperson emailed a statement to The Post, saying that Boeing “takes very seriously any allegation of improper work or unethical behavior.”

“We continuously encourage employees to report concerns as our priority is to ensure the safety of our airplanes and the flying public, and we will take any necessary action to ensure our airplanes meet regulatory requirements.”