(Adds detail of derailment, line re-opening from Montana Rail
SEATTLE, July 5 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
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 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
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
Boeing declined to comment on whether it would seek a second
source for the fuselages, as some industry experts have
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
Montana Rail Link, a privately-held company, is
investigating the cause of the accident.
Spirit said it was working closely with Boeing following the
"We are confident that, working together, we will overcome
whatever challenges may be presented," the company said in a
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