It’s clean-up and assessment time at Textron Aviation’s East Wichita facility, Plant 3, after crews have gone in and surveyed the damage. The cause of the blast that wreaked havoc on the facility on Friday, injuring 11 workers, has been found, which is good news. Even better is that of the 11 employees who were injured, all but one has been released from the hospital. And the injury picture could have much worse had the explosion happened during peak manufacturing hours. Because of the holiday, the manufacturing site was staffed with only a skeleton crew, and Textron Aviation says that it's focusing on its employees' needs at this time.
In an email to Plane & Pilot, a Textron Aviation spokesperson said that, "The priorities at this time include continued care and support of our employees who were injured and assistance to those who were otherwise impacted, determining the structural integrity of the building, ensuring the safety and security of our employees and response team personnel, and coordination and cooperation with all investigations as to cause."
It has been widely reported that the cause was a liquid nitrogen line that ruptured, causing the explosion. Even if that is so, the reason the line failed apparently remains a mystery.
While there's been widespread speculation that the mishap would affect the SkyCourier program, this appears to not be the case. While the building damage assessment continues, the location of the company’s Cessna SkyCourier development program in Plant 3 appears to have not been impacted. The SkyCourier was announced last year (2018), and at this year’s (2019) National Business Aviation Association in Las Vegas, Textron Aviation told reporters that it had earned orders for up to 100 of the planes, a deal that could be worth close to half a billion dollars, based on retail costs.
The site was also home to development of other Cessna products in addition to the SkyCourier, but understandably the company hasn’t discussed specifics of those potentially affected programs.
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