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Originally published July 25, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Page modified July 28, 2014 at 11:15 AM

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Boeing 737 fuselages scrapped by Montana recycling firm

Damaged in a Montana train derailment earlier this month, fuselages for six 737s were crushed and baled this week, and their remains were expected to be removed by Saturday.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Six 737 fuselages caught in a Montana train derailment were crushed and baled this week, and their remains should be removed by Saturday, the manager of the scrapping operation said Friday.

Pacific Steel and Recycling’s Missoula, Mont., branch recycling manager, Mason Mikkola, said in an interview that the company brought out a portable baler it uses to crush cars, and turned the six 737 bodies into large metal cubes.

“We’ve never done fuselages before,” Mikkola said. “This is something a little different.”

A Boeing spokesman declined Friday to provide an update on the state of the six fuselages.

Representatives from Boeing and its insurance company were on site, Mikkola said.

“They are documenting, making sure every single piece of those fuselages gets scrapped,” Mikkola said. “We are hand picking up anything that broke off.”

He said he expected the fuselages to be completely bailed by Friday evening and that on Saturday his crew will scrape the ground for any remaining pieces of metal.

Boeing wants all of the fuselage remains to be shredded, he said, and Pacific Steel’s shredding plant outside of Boise will do the job.

Mikkola said he doesn’t know what Boeing will do with the mixture of shredded aluminum and titanium, but said he can’t imagine it being sold locally.

“I assume most of that stuff will get exported,” Mikkola said. “Not much interest domestically because of the mix of alloys.”

A total of six 737 fuselages came off the train when it derailed July 3 near Alberton, Mont. Three went down the riverbank toward the Clark Fork River, with two landing in the water. One fuselage near the tracks was seen broken in two.

The airliner bodies were being shipped from Spirit AeroSystems, which builds the fuselages in Wichita, Kan., to Boeing’s Renton plant that assembles 737s at a rate of 42 a month.

The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.Brandon Brown: 206-464-2164 or brbrown@seattletimes.com



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