About a dozen hurt in blast at Beechcraft plant in Kansas

December 27, 2019 - 11:28 am

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — About a dozen people were injured Friday when a nitrogen tank exploded at the Beechcraft aircraft manufacturing facility in Wichita, Kansas, causing part of the building to collapse, authorities say.

Fire Chief James Fromme said the explosion happened around 8 a.m. at the facility, which is in the eastern part of the city. A 4-inch (10-centimeter) natural gas line also was severed. He said he had no details on the severity of the injuries.

The cause of the blast is under investigation.

Beechcraft's parent company, Textron Aviation, didn't immediately reply to phone or email messages seeking further information.

County spokeswoman Kate Flavin, the state Fire Marshal's Office and the local lodge of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers also didn't immediately respond to phone messages.

The explosion comes at a difficult time for the aircraft industry in Wichita, which is a major sector of the Kansas economy.

Boeing announced that it would suspend production of its troubled 737 Max jetliner in January, forcing the state to consider helping to pay workers at Spirit AeroSystems, which produces the jet's fuselages. And earlier this month, Textron Aviation announced that it would lay off an unspecified number of workers, most of them in Wichita.

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