Tough Task Pulling Boeing 737 Fuselages From Montana River

Jul 7, 2014

Three Boeing 737 fuselages landed in the Clark Fork River west of Missoula after a train derailed.
Credit Kagan Yochim @TripwithKagan / Twitter

A Montana Rail Link spokeswoman says it took about 12 hours to remove the first of three commercial airplane bodies that fell into the Clark Fork River after a train derailed.

Spokeswoman Lynda Frost said Monday that specialized machines are pulling the 20-ton fuselages attached to 50-ton flatbed cars from the embankment one at a time at a rate of 20 feet per hour.

Frost says the most difficult fuselage to retrieve was removed safely Sunday. Crews are working on the second fuselage Monday and plan to remove the third by Tuesday.

She says crews are attempting to remove the fuselages and their flatbed cars without causing any additional damage.

Three other Boeing 737 fuselages fell off the train during Thursday's derailment 50 miles west of Missoula. Boeing officials are assessing the damage.

This story was first posted July 7 at 9:15 a.m.

Removing three Boeing 737 fuselages from the Clark Fork River in western Montana following a train derailment could take until Tuesday.

Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost says progress at the site on Sunday is slow as a crew of 50 with eight heavy equipment machines worked in conjunction on the steep bank.

No one was injured when 19 cars from a westbound train derailed Thursday about 10 miles west of Alberton. The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

The train carried six fuselages. Three others also fell off but stayed on land.

Boeing says it has experts at the scene to assess the damage.

The fuselages were traveling from a Spirit AeroSystems plant in Wichita, Kansas, to a Boeing facility in Renton, Washington, to be assembled into airliners.