Train Derailment Spills Plane Fuselages Into Clark Ford River

A shipment of Jetliner fuselages was damaged in a train derailment, and in a few cases rolled into a river. The event created an odd scene where the river appeared to be an airplane graveyard.

The train was loaded with six 737 fuselages and other parts for 747 and 777 wide body jets. The derailment occurred near Rivulet, Montana on the 3rd of this month.

Three of the fuselages tumbled, intact, down an embankment, two which ended up partially submerged in Clark Ford River. A fourth was completely torn apart because of the train derailment.

The fuselages and other parts were heading for a Boeing plant in Seattle. What effects this will have on the production of Boeing aircraft is still unclear.

Boeing currently produces about 42 737s a month, so a constant supply of parts is crucial. This particular shipment of fuselages was coming from Spirit Aerosystems in Witchita, Kansas. The two companies have worked closely together on this incident.

An official release from Spirit said, “”The Spirit team’s resolve was tested with an even greater challenge as recently as the 2012 Wichita tornado. We are confident that, working together, we will overcome whatever challenges may be presented.”

The train operator has also been quick to respond to the derailment.

The train belonged to Montana Rail Link (MRL), which has yet to determine the derailment’s exact cause. A spokeswoman for the rail company said that there were no reports of injuries and that MRL teams were working quickly to get the plane parts out of the river.

The train also carried shipments of alcohol and soybeans, both of which appeared to be fine. According to the MRL, no alcohol or soybeans spilled.

Until repairs are made, trains carrying Boeing parts will be rerouted to avoid the derailment site. The line should reopen today.

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The big question now is, what will this mean for Boeing?

Some experts have speculated that the firm will need a new supplier for fuselages. Boeing has not commented on its future supply-chain plans.

“Our team of experts is assessing the damage. We will know more once our experts have completed their inspection. Once we determine the extent of damage we will assess what, if any, impact there will be to production,” According to Boeing spokesman Doug Alder.

Only one thing seems clear: the image of this train derailment will be remembered for some time.

(Image Credit: Kyle Massick/Kings5)