Supply chain risk management and Sales and Operations planning teams for both Airbus, Boeing and other commercial aerospace aircraft producers are likely hard at work today after news of the powerful explosion at the Zodiac Aerospace factory located in Washington State last night.

According to various news reports, the explosion that occurred at Zodiac’s Newport Washington plant was felt miles away, injured at least seven persons, and prompted the evacuation of surrounding homes and businesses due to strong chemical odors. At least one person was reported to be in critical condition. A report indicates that that the power of the explosion lifted an entire floor off its foundation, caused multiple areas to collapse and toppled large pieces of machinery. Thirty people were reported to be working at the plant at the time of the explosion.

According to a published Reuters report, the plant itself produces resin-impregnated honeycomb core and composite panels used by various other Zodiac production facilities to produce aircraft lavatories, galleys, overhead bins and other structures. Zodiac serves as one of the largest suppliers of aircraft interiors for multiple commercial aircraft producers.

In a mid-December posting, Supply Chain Matters called attention to a media report indicating that a component shortage involving new lie-flat airline seats occurring at Zodiac was suspected of causing delayed shipments of brand new Airbus and Boeing airplanes. Three months ago, the head of Airbus’s passenger jet business called attention to suppliers of cabin equipment, speculated to include Zodiac, indicating their failure to get to grips with chronic production delays was “unacceptable”. Thus the pressure on this supplier to step-up and meet production requirements might have been high.

This incident will, in all likelihood, continue to be of concern to commercial aircraft producers for the coming weeks as Zodiac assesses and communicates the potential impact on current and future interior equipment supply commitments.

Stay tuned.

Bob Ferrari