Boeing has opened a new aircraft production facility near Boeing Field in Seattle where mission systems will be installed and tests will be carried out on Boeing’s new P-8. The aircraft, which is based on Boeing’s Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, is intended for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance roles. The P-8 aircraft will be assembled in Renton, Washington and, following final assembly, will make a short flight to the new facility to be given its finishing touches.
The facility will initially handle the completion work for the P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the U.S. Navy and the P-8I aircraft for the Indian navy, and will also be used to finish aircraft for future P-8 customers. The U.S. Navy plans to purchase 117 P-8A aircraft which will replace its existing P-3 fleet, with initial operational capability scheduled for 2013. Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first P-8I to the Indian navy by January 2013, with the remaining seven aircraft due by 2015.
Boeing says it is using a proven in-line production process to efficiently design and build the aircraft, with all aircraft modifications unique to the P-8 made in sequence during fabrication and assembly.
“The new factory is a great fit as Boeing transitions to building production aircraft, in part because it allows us to incorporate a leaner workflow," said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president and P-8 program manager.
As part of the U.S. Navy System Development and Demonstration contract Boeing received in 2004, the team is building and testing six flight-test and two ground-test aircraft. The first three flight-test aircraft are currently completing testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.