Aviation News

April 15, 2012

Boeing 737 Fuselage Factory, Other Aerospace Builders Suffer Direct Hit from Kansas Tornado [UPDATED]

A collapsed building at the Spirit AeroSystems complex in Wichita. (Photo by KWCH12, via Twitter)
A collapsed building at the Spirit AeroSystems complex in Wichita. (Photo by KWCH12, via Twitter)
[UPDATES BELOW]

The Spirit AeroSystems complex in Wichita that builds every Boeing 737 aircraft fuselage suffered a direct hit from a tornado on Saturday, damaging at least 10 buildings and knocking out power.

The adjacent Boeing Defense, Space and Security facility also suffered extensive damage, a nearby Hawker-Beechcraft building lost part of its roof, and the Kansas Aviation Museum also suffered damage, according to reports.

There were no reports of injuries and all workers were accounted for, but additional searches of damaged buildings were to be conducted Sunday.

The Wichita Eagle reported that at Spirit, “six buildings were significantly damaged and four others had major damage.”

Spirit’s VP of Corporate Communications, Debbie Gann, told Wichita’s NBC affiliate KSN that the facility “had substantial damage,” “roofs and siding have been torn off” and that electricity has been cut off. She added, “It looks like most of our operational capability is intact.”

Spirit announced on Twitter that it was shut down until further notice.

 

In addition to 737 fuselages, Spirit’s Wichita plant builds the cockpits for most Boeing commercial aircraft.

Boeing was still assessing the impact of the damage on their production operations.

Part of a Boeing 737 fuselage found blown against a fence next to the Spirit factory. (Photo by Jeff Herndon, via Twitter)

Part of a Boeing 737 fuselage found blown against a fence next to the Spirit factory. (Photo by Jeff Herndon, via Twitter)

Boeing’s Wichita facility performs maintenance and modifications to military aircraft. A company spokesman said it suffered a “direct hit.”

A recently-restored Boeing B-47 Stratojet on display at the Kansas Aviation Museum, across the road from Spirit, was also damaged, according to the Eagle.

Part of a massive severe weather outbreak in the nation’s midsection, the Wichita tornado also damaged about 100 trailer homes and knocked out power to thousands, miraculously without any serious injuries reported.

 

UPDATE 4:30 PM ET:

  • Spirit says production is suspended until at least Wednesday. Employees are not to report to work unless contacted directly.
  • Boeing Defense says its operations are closed until at least Tuesday.
  • Hawker Beechcraft says its damage is limited and expects to be in business on Monday.
  • New aerial photos of the Kansas Aviation Museum show flipped and damaged aircraft.