April 28, 2009 Boeing's P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine and long-range surveillance aircraft has completed its first flight. In the latest development milestone for the plane scheduled to replace the P-3 Orion, the T-1 test aircraft completed a series of systems checks during three hours and 31 minutes in the skies above Seattle on April 25.

Along with a series of on the ground checks, airborne testing of engines, autopilot flight modes and auxiliary power units where undertaken during the flight which reached a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. The operational aircraft will have a 41,000 ft ceiling and a range of 1,200 nmi.

A derivative of the 737-800 (with the wings of a 737-900), the P-8A will is far from the civilian aircraft it resembles, combining anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities with a formidable airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform.

The first five P-8As are currently being assembled by Boeing and major sub-contractors such as CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aviation. Formal flight testing is slated for the third quarter of this year.

The US Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8s, replacing the P-3 Orion (which first entered service in 1961) from 2013.

    P-8A specifications:
  • Wing Span: 123.6 ft (37.64 m)
  • Height: 42.1 ft (12.83 m)
  • Length: 129.5 ft (39.47 m)
  • Propulsion: Two CFM56-7B engines, 27,000 lb thrust
  • Speed: 490 kn (564 mi/h)
  • Range: 1,200 nmi with4 hr on station
  • Ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,496 m)
  • Crew: 9
  • Maximum Takeoff Gross Weight: 187,700 lb (85,139 kg)
  • Via Boeing.