December 27, 2019 / 10:52 PM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-Explosion at Kansas aircraft plant injures 15 people

 (Updates number of injured, adds details of incident)
    Dec 27 (Reuters) - At least 15 people were injured on Friday
after a liquid nitrogen line exploded at a Textron Aviation
plant near Wichita, Kansas, potentially setting back the launch
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.
    Company officials said two of victims went to the hospital
in private cars and two were treated at the scene.
    Injuries were limited because only 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.
    A second valve also ruptured, said Kate Flavin, a
spokeswoman for Sedgwick County, and emergency crews vented
nitrogen gas from the affected tanks before doing another search
of the plant.
    No others were found injured and control of the facility was
returned to Textron shortly after noon, but emergency crews
remained on standby at the scene, she 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. Boeing Co        announced in January it would
suspend production of its 737 Max jetliner, which has been
grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes. That move affected
workers at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Boeing's top supplier,
which produces the jet's fuselages.

 (Reporting by Daniel Trotta, Additional reporting by Rich
McKay; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Bill Tarrant and Richard Chang)
  
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