December 13, 2007 Boeing has started production on its P-8A Poseidon fuselage, the anti-submarine test plane that will replace the P-3 Orion. The first fuselage components were loaded into a holding fixture on the factory floor of the Spirit AeroSystems’ Wichita facility, in a ceremony that included U.S. Navy Personnel.
The initial parts and other fuselage assemblies will be constructed on Spirit's existing Next-Generation 737 production line. Spirit will ship the first P-8A fuselage to Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Renton, Washington, for aircraft assembly in early 2008, with full production expected to commence in 2013.
"The P-8A fuselage sections will be built using our standard processes, which in the end means lower costs and shorter flow-times," said Buck Buchanan, vice president and general manager of Fuselage Structures and Systems, Spirit AeroSystems. Boeing's industry team is currently performing the program's System Development and Demonstration phase, which includes building five test vehicles: three flight-test and two ground-test aircraft. The first test aircraft will be delivered to the Navy and fly in 2009.
The P-8A is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, the P-8A combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system designed for maximum interoperability in the future battle space.
The Boeing-led Poseidon industry team includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aviation.