Derailment Fuselages Shredded, Cubed

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Photo: Michael Gallacher/Missoulian

Photo: Michael Gallacher/Missoulian

The Boeing 737 fuselages that tumbled into a river in Montana a few weeks ago are now roughly rectangular bales of scrap metal likely headed for the faraway places they may have gone as pieces of completed aircraft. As we reported July 5, 2014, the aircraft parts were on their way by train from Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita to Boeing plants in Washington when the train derailed and dumped them in the Clark Fork River. Based on the photos there was never any chance they'd become parts of flying airplanes but there were a lot of components that didn't appear to be damaged. However, hauling the aluminum tubes up the mountainside didn't prove practical and that's when Pacific Steel and Recycling, of Missoula, Montana, went into action according to the Seattle Times

The metal scrapper normally turns cars into cubes but it hauled its crushing machine to the site of the derailment to make quick work of the high-tech hulks. "We've never done fuselages before," company spokesman Mason Mikkola told the Times. "This is something a little different." Workers used a crane-mounted pincer to slice sections of the fuselages, which were then fed to the crusher/compactor. Mikkola said Boeing officials were on hand to ensure that not a scrap of the wreckage was missed. The Times said Boeing wasn't anxious to talk about the future of the greenish hunks of aluminum, steel, titanium and various other materials but Mikkola said they're likely headed offshore. “I assume most of that stuff will get exported,” Mikkola said. “Not much interest domestically because of the mix of alloys.”