Train

Last derailed Boeing 737 fuselage removed from Clark Fork near Alberton

2014-07-08T18:55:00Z 2014-07-24T17:07:06Z Last derailed Boeing 737 fuselage removed from Clark Fork near AlbertonBy KIM BRIGGEMAN of the Missoulian missoulian.com

ALBERTON – The last of three Boeing 737 fuselages that slid down a steep embankment to the Clark Fork River in a train wreck last Thursday has been retrieved.

Lynda Frost, spokeswoman for Montana Rail Link, the company responsible for the recovery, said the commercial jetliner body that had been partially submerged in the Clark Fork River downstream from the Fish Creek interchange in Mineral County was hoisted up to track level by noon Wednesday.

The first was removed Sunday in a lengthy process that closed MRL tracks until 7 p.m. The second was cleared by 4 p.m. Monday, Frost said.

For the most part, rafters and kayakers on the lower stretch of the Alberton Gorge were able to float by throughout the recovery efforts.

In all 19 cars derailed in the wreck on the afternoon before Independence Day. They included six that carried 737 fuselages and others carrying parts for a Boeing 747 and a 777. The jet parts were en route from a fabricating plant in Wichita, Kansas, to final assembly plants in the Seattle area – in Renton for the 737s and Everett for the 747 jumbo jets and 777s.

A statement from Boeing on Monday said there was minimal damage to the latter parts but a team of experts on the scene was assessing damage to the fuselages. The three on the river bank had visible scrapes and, in at least one case, a break in the upper shell.

A Boeing spokesman said Tuesday the company isn’t likely to have a comment for several days.

According to Steve Wilhelm of the Puget Sound Business Journal, the team will have some tough choices to make on the body shells.

“The question is not if it can be repaired, it’s a matter of how much money do you want to spend on it,” the president of an aerospace analyst company in San Diego told Wilhelm. “Since they are brand-new fuselages, and probably bare, the economic consideration may be tending more toward repair; that’s a possibility.”

The 737s are Boeing’s smallest and most popular commercial aircraft, and the company bumped up production earlier this year to 42 a month. According to the company website, the planes ranged in price from $76 million to $109.9 million in 2013, depending on the model.

An industry analyst in 2009 told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer “nobody pays list price and the discount is normally at least 15 percent.”

Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at (406) 523-5266 or by email at kbriggeman@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(14) Comments

  1. David1
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    David1 - July 10, 2014 6:00 pm
    Well, I'd like to see some coverage in the press about what will happen to those fuselages. Your post has shed some light, but I'd like a little more coverage of this episode in the "life" of those fuselages.

    I can understand only the skins have some damage, but the stresses, etc., of rolling, sliding down those banks, coming to a sudden stop, etc., is not something that I think those fuselages were designed for. They've experienced next thing to a full-blown crash.
  2. Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria
    Report Abuse
    Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria - July 10, 2014 4:43 pm
    @bitters
    Sarcasm:
    'A tongue of which the user speaks of something the complete opposite of what the user means. It often has the best comedic value.'

    "Is your car stuck in the mud?"
    "No, no, of course not. I'm only practicing how to spray mud using my tires. "
  3. Bittersweet
    Report Abuse
    Bittersweet - July 09, 2014 5:28 pm
    "I know a manufacturer ran by the government would be much safer, more efficient, and obviously less costly."

    I just threw up a little in the back of my mouth.
  4. BJackson
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    BJackson - July 09, 2014 4:13 pm
    Geeze David, they have not even inspected them yet, from the many pictures I have seen, they need to be fully inspected to find out what damage happened, the skin of the plane is really insignificant, it is the structure of the plane that makes the plane safe, skin can be replaced as long as the frame is no compromised. My mother in law worked for Boeing for over 40 years, you would be amazed at how much skin damage happens when they are being produced on the assembly line and it is just replaced. And really, with the amount of plane being produced each month, the chance of you flying on one of these particular planes is pretty remote.
  5. David1
    Report Abuse
    David1 - July 09, 2014 11:33 am
    I believe Faxn is parodying my earlier comment. Doing so, he/she distorts what I said, which in no way advocated a government takeover of Boeing or any other company. All I'm pointing out is a suspicion of what private companies do to save costs. I'm not implying the government should do it, instead.

    These fuselages, all 6 of them, should be scrapped, salvaging only undamaged parts for new fuselages. There should be no decision to put any of those fuselages into service, regardless of how little damage there is.

    I wish the Missoulian, if it had any guts, would approach Boeing and question them carefully, on what they plan to do with these recovered fuselages. I think we, as potential fliers, need to know what Boeing, or any other company in similar circumstances, will do with damaged product.

    If the Missoulian won't do it, the Associated Press should.
  6. BJackson
    Report Abuse
    BJackson - July 09, 2014 10:05 am
    Greg, as long as it is repaired back to the proper specifications, would not bother me to fly in it at all, do you ever really know what the plane you are flying in has gone through in the past? They don't exactly announce all of the things a particular plane has gone through in their safety briefing!
  7. retiredmsla
    Report Abuse
    retiredmsla - July 09, 2014 9:12 am
    Dial planefax.
  8. Yz250
    Report Abuse
    Yz250 - July 09, 2014 8:32 am
    David, I am sure you are unaware that MRL received the award for railroad of the decade. They received this award because of there unparalleled safety record. They spend a lot of time and manpower in repairing and servicing there tracks. Remember, unlike railroads that have there tracks through open space land, there tracks are along cliffs and mountains. Maintaining these tracks can be very difficult, MRL does a very good job at what they do.
  9. Greg Strandberg
    Report Abuse
    Greg Strandberg - July 09, 2014 7:57 am
    Did Boeing make a profit last year? Ah heck...let's get Engen to sue them anyways. We still need to make up those lost Smurfitt-Stone manufacturing jobs.
  10. Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria
    Report Abuse
    Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria - July 09, 2014 5:27 am
    I'm suspicious of Boeing too. It's not like they have a reputation to uphold. The government should either use the EPA to regulate them out of business or just forcefully take over their company through eminent domain. I know a manufacturer ran by the government would be much safer, more efficient, and obviously less costly.
    Private enterprise must go. This is America for Gods sake.
  11. BJackson
    Report Abuse
    BJackson - July 08, 2014 10:05 pm
    Typical liberal response, it figures!
  12. Z-man
    Report Abuse
    Z-man - July 08, 2014 9:31 pm
    Does Boeing have a "dings and dents" discount warehouse? Maybe we should know just how much repair work has been done on any given aircraft that flies with passengers at 30,000 feet.
  13. Greg Strandberg
    Report Abuse
    Greg Strandberg - July 08, 2014 9:00 pm
    Yeah, would you want to fly on that plane if you knew it was in the river? Should passengers know that?
  14. David1
    Report Abuse
    David1 - July 08, 2014 7:32 pm
    I'm interested in what will be done with those fuselages. Patched up and put into service? I'm very suspicious of private companies seeking to reduce financial losses by cutting safety corners. I would hope these fuselages never see service and that what parts are unaffected go into new fuselages.

    Perhaps Boeing's insurance co. will indemnify the loss & in turn sue MRL for negligence in maintaining its rails.
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