The P-8A: From Fuselage to First Flight

September 29, 2016 in Defense

The first Australian P-8A Poseidon aircraft takes off for its first flight on May 6, 2016 at Renton Field.

Matthew Thompson/Boeing

The first P-8A Poseidon aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force completed its journey from fuselage to first flight on its way to final preparations and delivery to the customer. The 737-based P-8 journey begins in Wichita, Kansas where the 737-800 aircraft fuselage is built at Spirit AeroSystems and then travels by rail to the Boeing Commercial Airplanes 737 factory in Renton, Wash. There it joins a 737 production line dedicated to P-8 aircraft where it receives its wings, tail, engines and is readied military systems.

The P-8 is what is known as a Commercial Derivative aircraft, a process whereby a commercial airplane is converted for military purposes. In this case, the P-8 uses a first-in-industry in-line production process to capitalize on the efficiencies and streamlined production systems of the existing commercial 737 factory. From Renton the 737-800 P-8 aircraft (featuring -900 wings for additional strength) flies to the nearby Boeing Defense, Space and Security P-8 Mission Systems Installation and Checkout facility. At this facility, the aircraft receives its final military systems and sensors before it is tested and delivered to the customer.