Boeing, Spirit Assessing Effects of Train Derailment

 - July 7, 2014, 11:57 AM
Boeing now builds forty-two 737s a month at its plant in Renton, Washington. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems have dispatched a team of experts to the site of a July 3 train derailment in Montana to assess the damage to six 737 fuselages, three of which slid down an embankment and into the Clark Fork River. Of the 19 cars that derailed near Rivulet, Montana, several also contained assembles for the 777 and 747.

Video and still footage from the scene showed a major split near the front of at least one of the 737 fuselages. According to Boeing, inspection of fuselage panels and a lower lobe for the 777 as well as a leading edge flight surface for the 747 showed no damage. Boeing said it would ship the widebody parts to their final assembly site in Everett, Washington, “over the next several days.”

The BNSF Railway train originated in Wichita, Kansas, where Spirit Aerosystems builds 42 of the 737 fuselages per month. Those assemblies arrive in Renton, Washington, where Boeing “stuffs” them with systems and completes final assembly of the airplanes for delivery to customers.

A Boeing spokesman told AIN that the company hasn’t yet determined whether or not the incident might disrupt production of the 737. “Once we have completed our assessment of damages and determined our next course of action, we will decide what to do with the fuselages,” he said. Meanwhile, transportation authorities continue to investigate the cause of the derailment.