Flying Lessons Blog

“I Pray Boeing Pays” Found Scrawled in Suicide Note of Safety Whistleblower

May 17, 2024

A Boeing whistleblower who was found dead in his truck in Charleston, South Carolina two and a half months ago, died by suicide, the city coroner announced today. Sixty-two-year-old John Barnett was found in his pickup truck with a gunshot wound to the head and a gun in his hand.  Additionally, the coroner explained that security camera footage of Barnett’s truck showed no one entering or exiting it from the time Barnett was seen backing it into a space at the Holiday Inn the night of March 8, until hotel personnel discovered his body the following morning. And while the coroner’s statement brings to an… Read More…


Boeing to Face Criminal Charge in 737 Max Crashes

May 14, 2024

The Department of Justice is resurrecting a criminal charge against Boeing that it set aside three years ago, a development that could lead to Boeing executives sitting at the defendant’s table in a Texas courtroom. Late Tuesday, federal prosecutors told Judge Reed O’Connor, that the plane maker had failed to live up to promises to behave better than it had during the design and certification of the troubled 737 Max. Within five months in 2018 and 2019, two 737 Max airliners crashed killing 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Boeing pled guilty to misleading regulators during the design of the airplane. The government had alleged… Read More…


The Worrisome Death of a Second Boeing Airliner Quality Critic

May 1, 2024

Joshua Dean, a 45-year-old safety auditor at the plant assembling Boeing 737 Max fuselages, died unexpectedly in Wichita on April 30th. He was stricken with an illness that came on quickly and defied treatment. His lawyer, Brian Knowles, said until his hospitalization two weeks ago, Dean was in robust health. “He would take care of himself, go to the gym, do yoga, eat right, drink protein shakes,” Knowles told me, adding, “He had like four undergraduate degrees. He had considered at one time, going to medical school and was really smart.” A mechanical engineer, Dean worked in Wichita since 2019 for Spirit Aerosystems, a key… Read More…


Is Boeing Management Shakeup Linked to Criminal Investigation?

March 25, 2024

Boeing’s much-discussed but hardly assured shake-up was announced early this morning. The company CEO, David Calhoun will resign at the end of 2024, and the president of the Commercial Airplane division, Stan Deal leaves immediately. Chairman of the Board, Larry Kellner will not run for reelection to the post he has held for the past 5 years. “The eyes of the world are on us, and I know we will come through this moment a better company,” Calhoun said in a letter. How strong the desire was to improve in areas beyond those linked directly to the bottom line is debatable. I suspect what finally… Read More…


Hasty Words With Lasting Consequences – a Look Back at MH 370’s Characters

March 7, 2024

Everybody makes mistakes. But of all the hasty words that have been uttered that turned out not to be the best, a small phrase Malaysia’s then Prime Minister Najib Razak used in 2014 when speaking to reporters about the missing flight Malaysia 370, has had the most impact on the still unsolved mystery. MH 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared 10 years ago on March 8th. While there is still no official determination of what caused the Boeing 777 to veer off its path and head into the South Indian Ocean killing 239 people, thanks to Razak lots of people think they know what… Read More…


Boeing’s 90 Day Deadline from the FAA Follows Thousands of Days of Doing Not Much

February 28, 2024

There’s something very theatrical about the Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement on Wednesday that Boeing had 90 days to clean up its act.  It sounds serious. It sounds tough. And that is probably just what the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, Mike Whitaker had in mind. After a day-long meeting with Boeing executives, including company CEO, Dave Calhoun on Tuesday, Whitaker issued a statement saying that the planemaker “must take a fresh look at every aspect of their quality-control process and ensure that safety is the company’s guiding principle.” Whitaker gave Boeing 90 days to come up with a plan because the FAA’s safety standards… Read More…


Early Report on 737 Max Near Disaster Documents a Predicted Production Line Failure

February 7, 2024

NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect new information from Boeing regarding quality control inspections. Read through to the end for details. I’m all for the National Transportation Safety Board doing its job, and planning, of course, to dig into into the final report a year or two from now. But for any curious air traveler, engineering geek or disaster buff, what happened to Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 last month is no mystery. The report aligns quite neatly with a prediction more than a year ago on Ed Pierson’s podcast Warning Bells. The 737 Max production line in Renton, Washington was “chaos at its… Read More…


“A Rambling Shambling Disaster” Anonymous Insider Reveals How 737 Max Flew with Door Plug Unbolted

January 24, 2024

An Anonymous commenter on the aviation industry news site leehamnews.com has provided a lengthy and what he or she claims is a first-hand account of how the door plug blew out on Alaska Airlines flight 1282 on January 5th, turning the short journey into a nightmare for all onboard. Editor-in-Chief Scott Hamilton published the astonishingly frank account of what led to the near disaster with the disclaimer that while the details are uncorroborated the production quality control systems described are accurate. On Thursday, Boeing’s Renton factory workers will participate in a “safety stand down.” At the same time, dozens of inspectors from the Federal Aviation… Read More…


On the Horizon, More Lawsuits Against American Airlines for Flight Attendant Potty Pictures

January 22, 2024

Expect one or more lawsuits to be filed against American Airlines perhaps as early as this week, in the still-difficult-to-comprehend case of a flight attendant taking videos of young female passengers using the airplane bathroom. In addition to 36-year-old flight attendant Estes Carter Thompson III who faces federal criminal charges, American has already been sued civilly for failing to prevent his sordid behavior in September 2023, even though it had received complaints about Thompson. “American Airlines employees had complained,” about the flight attendant’s “inappropriate, sexual conduct prior to his filming of Plaintiff,” according to the complaint filed by Paul Llewellyn, a San Francisco attorney. Llewellyn… Read More…


Air Force Officer & Miss America Winner Need to Co-Exist In a “Man’s World”

January 16, 2024

I don’t like fart jokes.  I think scatological discussions should be confined to a physician’s office. I gave up watching the HBO TV show “Veep” because it was not credible. Not the concept of a female vice president, the notion such a character would use men’s genitalia as her constant frame of reference.  Ditto for the movie Bridesmaids. There’s a reason they call this “bro” humor and many women don’t find it funny. All women are created equal if not alike. But generally speaking, women don’t talk or act like men. I have more than five decades of experience with this but argue with me… Read More…


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