Boeing 737 fuselages damaged in train derailment

SEATTLE Sun Jul 6, 2014 12:06pm EDT

1 of 7. Three Boeing 737 fuselages lie on an embankment on the Clark Fork River after a BNSF Railway Co train derailed Thursday near Rivulet, Montana in this picture taken July 4, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kyle Massick

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A train derailment in Montana this week damaged a shipment of jetliner fuselages and other large parts on its way to Boeing Co factories in Washington state from Spirit Aerosystems, Boeing said on Saturday.

It was not yet known if the accident might affect production of planes, the company said. Boeing's production depends on a complex supply chain that deliver many parts just in time for assembly, but the company often has the ability to prevent minor problems in logistics from idling its factories.

Boeing said a BNSF Railway Co[BNISF.UL] train loaded with six 737 narrowbody fuselages and assemblies for its 777 and 747 widebody jets derailed in Montana while en route from Wichita on Thursday.

A total of 19 cars in the 90-car train derailed in the incident about 18 miles (30 km) east of Superior, Montana, said Rail Link Montana. The rail company links with BNSF to carry freight from Billings in southern Montana through the state to Spokane, Washington where it links back to BNSF.

Of the derailed cars, three cars carrying 737 plane fuselages went down an embankment and into the Clark Fork River.

Spirit Aerosystems, based in Wichita, Kansas, builds all of Boeing's 737 fuselages and Boeing currently produces 42 finished 737s a month. So the six fuselages involved in Thursday's derailment represent 14 percent of Boeing's monthly production of 737s.

Boeing declined to comment on whether it would seek a second source for the fuselages, as some industry experts have suggested.

The cause of the derailment was not yet known, said Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost, but added that speed was not considered to be an issue. There is a 35 mph (48 kph) speed limit on that section of the track, which is curvy as it tracks the Clark Fork, she said.

The line was being reopened on Saturday afternoon, Frost said. There were no injuries in the accident.

Boeing said it had experts at the scene "to begin a thorough assessment of the situation."

Montana Rail Link had called in three contractors to undertake the recovery of the derailed cars, Frost said, but she did not have details of the state of the freight in the derailed cars.

Montana Rail Link, a privately-held company, is investigating the cause of the accident.

Spirit said it was working closely with Boeing following the incident.

"We are confident that, working together, we will overcome whatever challenges may be presented," the company said in a statement.

Spirit shut down temporarily in April 2012 after a tornado severed power lines and damaged buildings in the region. At the time, Boeing said its production system had a cushion to help it handle those disruptions.

The train also was carrying fuselage panels for the 777, and a leading edge flight surface for the 747, the company said.

"Our team of experts is assessing the damage," Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said in a statement on Saturday. "Once we determine the extent of damage we will assess what, if any, impact there will be to production."

Boeing reported on Thursday that it delivered 342 jetliners in the first half of the year, including 239 737s, a brisk pace but less than half of its goal of delivering between 715 and 725 jetliners this year.

BNSF confirmed the derailment, but referred questions to Montana Rail Link.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott and Frances Kerry; editing by Diane Craft)

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Comments (4)
theovulator wrote:
No problem. They can buff that right out.

Jul 06, 2014 6:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
morbas wrote:
More examples of outdated RR gauge, we need to modernize to a gauge wider than two horses abrest; designed 2000 years-ago for Roman chariots. Would that Boeing push Congress for an infrastructure new deal.

Rail infrastructure redesign to wider gauge is needed. The present gauge is ad-hock, accommodating two abreast horses. This a standard defined by a Roman Empire 2,000 years-ago. The gauge was adopted only to accommodate existing carriage tooling. With heavier freight, and the demand for longer tank cars, unbalanced top heavy cars present derailment catastrophe in the waiting.
Congress must open up infrastructure projects to enable USA economics. Reduce/eliminate naval shipping that uses waste grade oil fuel. Switch to North/Central/South America Rail infrastructure to include a Trans-Bearing Strait route as a matter of efficiency. Re-Engineer rail gauge for reliability and speed. Make Truck/rail/freeway portals at interstate intersections, thus reducing fuel consumption and promoting local electric transport. Build national level canals for water distribution relieving drought by using excessive fresh water run of. We might then improve CO2 sequester by irrigating our mid plane deserts. One of the canal paths through the Rockies could be coupled with a SF to Denver Maglev 2G space ramp using a common power generation infrastructure. Thus promoting Maglev transit as a spinoff of Space Access Maglev launch capacity.
We should build on a strategic infrastructure designed to make USA a Global transportation hub, linking Americas (North Central South) to the old world. Not because this is easy or hard, because this will be our challenge, we must be willing to better mankind.

Jul 06, 2014 6:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
theovulator wrote:
Great points. Perhaps I, and others, could add further ideas?

Here’s mine.

How about a way to increase the electrical output of all coal, oil, and/or natural gas consuming power plants?

A solution that would perhaps increase their electrical output by a factor of 2 to 3 times. Without ANY ADDITIONAL CONSUMPTION OF THE FUEL THAT RUNS THEM. You know, all those greenhouse-gas-producing power plants that, we all rely on but, are the target of so many?

Would anyone be interested in that?

Sterling engines. What’s that? Look it up.

Everything, besides nuclear, used in power plants to produce steam to run the generators produces greenhouse gases. But once the steam powers those generators and then condenses into water, it’s piped up to the top of cooling towers and sprayed out to cool it further and then send it down the river.

What a waste.

A very much more efficient use would be to do this:

Send that very hot water that is just shy of being steam, before it goes to those cooling towers, through an array of sterling engines, hooked up to generators, thus producing 2 to 3 times, or even more, of the electricity that is produced now as things are currently.

Why is this not being done already? Probably mainly because this is 100 year old technology and the patents are expired.

But certainly the government could get behind this.

Seeing that favorable legacies are these days so difficult to successfully perpetually grasp. Absolutely this COULD BE a GREAT legacy for the current administration to embrace. Win-win all around. Huge reductions in greenhouse gases, or, looked at another way, double or triple the output of energy from power plants for the SAME amount of input of fuels.

Sterling engines are already being used out west attached to solar collectors. They run on heat differentials of as little as less than 10°.

Not just musings, but something too seriously consider.

Jul 06, 2014 11:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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