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Explosion At Kansas Aircraft Plant Injuries 11 People

by Cathy Drummond

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local / see Refreshments

An explosion at a Kansas Aircraft Plant has injured at least 11 people. According to CNBC the plant which is located in Wichita, Kansas, exploded Friday. The Wichita area Aviation plant builds experimental aircraft for Beechcraft and Cessna. Both considered to be aviation giants. Textron Aviation is a subsidiary of Textron, Inc.  

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The location of the blast was confined to Plant 3. Plant 3 is a site for experimental fabrication and composites manufacturing. One such experimental aircraft currently in production is the ‘Skycourier.’  Skycourier is turboprop airplane. It was due to be mass produced commercially in 2020. 

The overall effects of the incident is still under investigated. However, the cause of the explosion as reported was liquid nitrogen.  Liquid nitrogen is normally inert. But certain conditions may allow liquid nitrogen to become unstable. According to Green Car reports liquid nitrogen may be more viable and profitable for an aviation fuel, or jet fuel, than the traditional forms of aviation fuel.  The traditional types of aviation fuel are gasoline based in some cases. According to Aircraft Systems certain fuels are produced for specifically different aircraft.  One fuel type is reciprocating-engine fuel. Also known as gasoline. And turbine-engine fuel. Both of these fuel types are volatile. Reciprocating-engine fuel is more highly volatile than turbine-engine fuel.  

In the case of using liquid nitrogen, which some may consider to be nontraditional, was quite possibly the source of the fuel for the Skycourier being manufactured at the Wichita plant. And as reported by CNBC there was a three-inch explosion in the liquid nitrogen gas line. Nitrogen gas escaped into the air. The initial explosion caused damage to a storage tank. (NBC) reports a building partially collapsed at the site of the explosion, Plant 3. The explosion happened approximately around 8 pm. 

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According to the (Wichita Eagle) at least 14 injuries were reported at the Textron Aviation Plant in Wichita, Kansas. The exact number is not known at this time.  There was a skeleton crew which may have prevented further injuries at the time.  Aviation has been a main stay for the Wichita, Kansas. Textron Aviation is a part of the ‘rich’ history in overall fabric of aviation in the Wichita, Kansas area. And Textron Aviation, being a part of Textron Aviation, Inc, is well entrenched in the Wichita area. 

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