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Beechcraft Plant Explosion Injures Over a Dozen Workers in Wichita Kansas


More than a dozen workers were injured late last month, after a ruptured nitrogen line triggered a massive explosion at the Beechcraft aircraft manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kansas.

Beechcraft Explosion Heard and Felt for Miles

The explosion on the east side of Wichita erupted shortly after 8:00 a.m. on December 27th, causing the partial collapse of a building that houses the company’s composite manufacturing operations and experimental aircraft fabrication.

The blast was felt up to five miles away, with several witnesses comparing the explosion to a sonic boom or earthquake.

“There was dust and debris, even from the other side,” one Beechcraft worker told the Wichita Eagle. “Dirt in the air permeating through the walls coming down the hallways and stuff like that.”

15 Beechcraft Workers Suffered Injuries Ranging from Minor to Serious

Of 15 workers injured during the explosion, four received treatment at the scene.

Nine people – seven by ambulance and two in private vehicles – were taken to Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, including four who were treated and released that same day.

One patient was listed in critical condition, but was upgraded to serious shortly after arriving. Three were initially listed as serious, but one was later upgraded to good and two others to fair. The final patient arrived at the hospital in good condition.

Wesley Medical Center received five patients, including two who were treated and released by mid-afternoon. The remaining patients were all listed as stable.

Beechcraft’s parent company, Textron Aviation, later confirmed that all workers and visitors to the facility had been accounted for. Fortunately, the blast occurred during a one-week shutdown, and only a skeleton crew was onsite at the time.

Beechcraft Plant Explosion Began When 3-Inch Liquid Nitrogen Line Ruptured

Authorities quickly determined that a 3-inch liquid nitrogen line had ruptured, setting off the explosion.

“The lines that were ruptured as I told you earlier were shut down, we’re currently off-gassing a couple of tanks to one-inch valves, which is going to take about 30-45 minutes to off-gas the rest of the nitrogen,” Daniel Wegner, deputy fire chief for Sedgwick County, told reporters later that day.

So far, it’s not clear why the nitrogen line ruptured. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the Beechcraft plant explosion.

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