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The Poseidon Adventure Begins for Boeing

July 19, 2011
P-8A aircraft, being built for U.S. Navy, completes first flight.

The first production version of Boeing's P-8A completed its maiden voyage earlier this month, taking off from Renton (Wash.) Field and landing three hours later at Boeing Field in Seattle.

The P-8A is the first of six low-rate initial-production (LRIP) aircraft Boeing is building for the U.S. Navy as part of a $1.6 billion contract awarded in January.

The successful flight marked LRIP-1's completion of final assembly in the company's Renton factory and transition to mission-system installation and checkout in Seattle, Boeing said.

Boeing will deliver LRIP-1 to the Navy next year in preparation for initial operational capability, which is planned for 2013.

"This is the first P-8 that will go directly to the fleet in Jacksonville, Fla., so the aircraft's first flight is an important milestone for the Boeing team and our Navy customer," said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president and P-8 program manager. "We're on plan to get LRIP-1 to the Navy in 2012."

The first Boeing P-8A Poseidon production aircraft completed its maiden test voyage on July 7.Capt. Michael Moran, program manager for Naval Air Systems Command's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft program office, said the P-8A "represents the next generation of maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft."

"The fleet is actively preparing to receive the LRIP-1 aircraft and begin the transition," Moran said in a news release.

The Navy plans to purchase 117 of the Boeing P-8A anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to replace its P-3 fleet.

Production Team Includes Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, GE Aviation

A derivative of the next-generation 737-800, the Poseidon is being built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.

In order to efficiently design and build the P-8A aircraft, the team is using "a first-in-industry, inline production process" that borrows from Boeing's 737 production system, the company said.

All aircraft modifications unique to the P-8A are made in sequence during fabrication and assembly, Boeing noted.

This is the first P-8A to include a new CFM56-7BE engine configuration that is now standard on all delivered next-generation 737s. The configuration boasts modifications to the high- and low-pressure turbines, according to Boeing.

"Coupled with drag reduction improvements that Boeing started phasing into 737 production earlier this year, it will result in lower fuel consumption and maintenance-cost savings," Boeing said.

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