An aircraft composites facility in Washington state exploded, injuring five and potentially impacting the supply chain of global aircraft manufacturers.
The July 14 explosion halted production at a Zodiac Aerospace SA aircraft interiors composites plant in Newport, Wash. The facility supplies Boeing's commercial jetliner production in Washington as well as Airbus Group SE and other airplane manufacturers.
The incident injured five employees and extensively damaged the plant. Officials are investigating the cause of the explosion, which apparently occurred in the plant's pre-preg treater that impregnates reinforcing fabric with plastic resin.
“The cause of the explosion is not known and will be investigated both internally as well as with local and government officials,” Zodiac said in a July 15 news release. “The assessment of the consequences of this explosion is underway.”
A Boeing spokesman said in an email that the company is working with Zodiac to, "mitigate any potential impacts" related to the incident. Airbus stated in an email to Plastics News that it is “monitoring and assessing the situation.”
Zodiac said July 17 that 20 of the site's 104 employees were in the Newport plant when the explosion occurred. One person was in critical condition as of July 16. Zodiac said it has sent a crisis and counseling team to the site.
In the same update, the company said the facility suffered “important damages” and that the first facility shows only the prepreg production line was damaged. Teams are assessing options to restart production inside the preserved parts of the plant or at another location.
The Newport plant covers about 22,000 square feet and is one of six Zodiac operations in Washington that employ more than 2,000, making it the second largest aerospace employer in Washington after Boeing, and one of the top 10 employers in Pend Oreille County. Newport, with a population of about 2,100, is on the Washington-Idaho border.
The Newport facility is part of the cabin and structures division of Zodiac, a global company based in Plaisir, France.