December 27, 2019 / 6:39 PM / a month ago

Explosion at Kansas aircraft plant injures 11 people

Dec 27 (Reuters) - A liquid nitrogen explosion at a Textron Aviation plant near Wichita, Kansas, injured 11 people on Friday, potentially setting back the introduction of a new aircraft under development, county and company officials said.

Emergency medical services took 11 people to the hospital, one of them suffering potentially serious injuries, Dr. John Gallagher, director of Sedgwick County EMS, told a news conference.

Injuries were limited because a skeleton crew was on duty during the holidays, said Deputy Chief Daniel Wegner of the Sedgwick County Fire Department.

The explosion in a 3-inch liquid nitrogen gas line also damaged a storage tank, causing nitrogen gas to vent out of the building, Wegner said.

News video from the scene showed what appeared to be a steam cloud billowing out of the damaged building. The gas was not harmful, Wegner said.

Damage was contained to Plant 3, a site for composite manufacturing and experimental aircraft fabrication including that of the SkyCourier, said Stephanie Harder, a spokeswoman for Textron.

The SkyCourier, a utility turboprop under development, is due to enter service in 2020, Textron has previously said. Harder said it was too early to determine what damage the prototype aircraft under production may have suffered.

Textron Aviation, a unit of Textron Inc, makes Beechcraft and Cessna aircraft. The Wichita-area economy has long been supported by aircraft manufacturing. (Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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