Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 30, 2014

Boeing Still Picking Up the Pieces From Montana Derailment Involving Fuselages

Boeing is trying to assess the damage to fuselages for its 737 model that had been on their way to final assembly at a plant in Renton, Wash., but were caught up in a train derailment Thursday.

The fuselages, from a Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas, were being carried on a train operated by Montana Rail Link, the nation’s eighth largest railroad, which has more than 900 miles of track in Montana, Idaho and Washington and connects with the BNSF Rail Road.

Three of the fuselages ended up in the Clark Fork River; three others were on land but may have been damaged.

The accident is an object lesson in the importance of rail delivery to the supply chains of big manufacturers such as Boeing. Despite the accident, Federal Railroad Administration data show that derailments have sharply declined in the past several years with 1,274 last year compared to 2,305 in 2005.

Boeing said in a statement Monday, “A team of experts from Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems continues to assess damage to six 737 fuselages resulting from the July 3 train derailment near Rivulet, Montana. Once we have completed our assessment of damages and determined our next course of action, we will decide what to do with the fuselages.”

Boeing also said that rail cars involved in the derailment carrying assemblies for the 777 and 747 “have been inspected and their content appears undamaged. They will be shipped to the Boeing final assembly plant in Everett, arriving over the next several days.”

Spirit AeroSystems said it delivers 42 737 aircraft per month to Boeing and last month announced it had completed 5,000 Next-Generation 737 deliveries to Boeing.

The Montana accident took place the same day Boeing announced that it had delivered 239 Next Generation 737 aircraft to its customers so far this year.

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