Ex-Boeing manager: “just a matter of time before something big happens with a 787”

787-9 testbed ended up with Air New Zealand as ZK-NZC

An ex-Boeing 787 Manager at the Charleston plant has alleged the oxygen supply systems on up to 25% of the 787’s assembled at the site are defective.

John Barnet, a former manager at the plant and 32 year Boeing employee, told the BBC that in the event of a cabin depressurisation, passengers could be in trouble as up to 25% of the emergency oxygen tanks are defective.

He was in his role from 2010 through to early 2017, during which time he claims the faulty parts were fitted.

Mr Barnet’s allegations are that he identified the issue in 2016. During decommissioning for oxygen bottles that had suffered minor cosmetic issues he says he noticed they didn’t discharge oxygen when they should have.


Barnet says the he arranged for Boeing to test undamaged examples and out of 300, 75 didn’t work, a 25% failure rate.

He alleges Boeing prevented any further investigation and even after complaining to the FAA, they told him they weren’t interested as Boeing was already looking into it.

Mr Barnet also underlined the pressure to get production completed on aircraft and get them out to the customer, leaving corners cut and safety compromised.

“…all about speed, cost-cutting and bean count (jobs sold)”. He says managers are “not concerned about safety, just meeting schedule”.

“Based on my years of experience and past history of plane accidents, I believe it’s just a matter of time before something big happens with a 787,” he says.

“I pray that I am wrong.”


Mr Barnet also alleged that substandard parts were fitted to 787’s, some from the scrap bin if it meant getting the aircraft finished on schedule. These allegations have been made by others.

There is plenty of evidence that airlines have been disappointed with the quality of 787-9’s, with Qatar actually refusing to accept any aircraft built at Charleston.

Boeing has denied the claims telling the BBC that: “Every passenger oxygen system installed on our airplanes is tested multiple times before delivery to ensure it is functioning properly, and must pass those tests to remain on the airplane. The system is also tested at regular intervals once the airplane enters service.”

Well they would say that wouldn’t they?

All of this comes after Denis Muilenberg, Boeing’s CEO has testified about the 737MAX saga in front of Congress, raising almost as many questions as he answered. On top of that his obvious exit pathway from the company was highlighted by the new Chairman’s announcement that Muilenberg was barred from any further share or bonus payments until the 737MAX saga was resolved.