Boeing 737 airline fuselages to be pulled from Montana river

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Boeing 737 airline fuselages to be pulled from Montana river
Work crews remove one of the Boeing 737 fuselages that plunged into the Clark Fork River east of Superior, Mont., on Monday, July 7, 2014. Boeing is deciding what to do with six new commercial airplane bodies that fell off a train in western Montana, including three that slid down a steep riverbank, a company spokeswoman said Monday. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)
Work crews remove one of the Boeing 737 fuselages that plunged into the Clark Fork River east of Superior, Mont., on Monday, July 7, 2014. Boeing is deciding what to do with six new commercial airplane bodies that fell off a train in western Montana, including three that slid down a steep riverbank, a company spokeswoman said Monday. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo)
This Sunday, July 6, 2014 photo by Jerry Compton provided by Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting shows a freight train that derailed near Alberton in western Montana, sending three cars carrying aircraft components down a steep embankment and into the Clark Fork River on Thursday, July 3. Removing three Boeing 737 fuselages could take until Tuesday. Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost said a crew of 50 with eight heavy equipment machines is working in conjunction on the steep bank. (AP Photo/Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting, Jerry Compton)
This Sunday, July 6, 2014 photo by Jerry Compton provided by Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting shows part of a freight train that derailed near Alberton in western Montana, sending three cars carrying aircraft components down a steep embankment and into the Clark Fork River on Thursday, July 3. Removing three Boeing 737 fuselages could take until Tuesday. Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost said a crew of 50 with eight heavy equipment machines is working in conjunction on the steep bank. (AP Photo/Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting, Jerry Compton)
This Sunday, July 6, 2014 photo by Jerry Compton provided by Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting shows part of a freight train that derailed near Alberton in western Montana, sending three cars carrying aircraft components down a steep embankment and into the Clark Fork River on Thursday, July 3. Removing three Boeing 737 fuselages could take until Tuesday. Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost said a crew of 50 with eight heavy equipment machines is working in conjunction on the steep bank. (AP Photo/Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting, Jerry Compton)
This Saturday, July 5, 2014 photo by Brock Sarbeck provided by Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting shows a freight train that derailed near Alberton in western Montana, sending three cars carrying aircraft components down a steep embankment and into the Clark Fork River on Thursday, July 3. Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost says 19 cars from a westbound train derailed. No injuries were reported, and the cause of the derailment is under investigation. (AP Photo/Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting, Brock Sarbeck)
This Saturday, July 5, 2014 photo by Brock Sarbeck provided by Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting shows a freight train that derailed near Alberton in western Montana, sending three cars carrying aircraft components down a steep embankment and into the Clark Fork River on Thursday, July 3. Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost says 19 cars from a westbound train derailed. No injuries were reported, and the cause of the derailment is under investigation. (AP Photo/Wiley E. Waters Whitewater Rafting, Brock Sarbeck)
Train carrying @Boeing 737 fuselages derailed near the town of Superior, Montana http://t.co/I6HgqgH892 (via @SJet_ ) http://t.co/WftOfl8qIN
Train carrying 737 fuselages derails in Montana @SpiritAero @kpaxnews #aviationwatch http://t.co/JGVUke6QlQ http://t.co/LX9iw9iDGK
A train derailed in Montana with 3 @BoeingAirplanes 737 fuselages ! #Avgeek #Aviation @flight_report :) http://t.co/S7Pn27f6tw
A train has derailed and dumped three Boeing 737 fuselages into a river. http://t.co/NeQ2ls2re7
By the looks of it, it's two 737-800s and a -900ER that came off the rails in Montana. Not clear about the fourth. http://t.co/8ZUp7omraF
Boeing 737 fuselages damaged, some fall into river, in US train derailment http://t.co/BX4pkLqhCB http://t.co/0HGqG5ADrx
These fuselages were made at Spirit in Wichita KS headed towards Boeing Seattle! GOP shuts down infrastructure repair http://t.co/O6zDnXuMbR
Train derails in Montana, dumping Boeing fuselages into river. http://t.co/lcMj1z66JQ #trainsplanes http://t.co/c2uNzv4Umv
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(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 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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