Poseidon adventure

The start of final assembly is always a significant milestone. But in this case it’s a historic adventure as well.

Boeing Renton employees received the first fuselage from Spirit AeroSystems earlier this month, and final assembly is underway on the first P-8A Poseidon - the multi-mission maritime aircraft that Boeing and our partners are building for the U.S. Navy

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Members of the P-8A team greet the first fuselage at the Renton factory.

The historic part is the fact that with the arrival of this fuselage from Wichita, the Renton site has opened manufacturing operations on our new Final Assembly Line 3. It’s the latest chapter in Boeing’s long and successful Renton legacy – as we begin building a military derivative of the best-selling airplane in the world, the Next-Generation 737.

That legacy, our company historian reminds me, features an impressive list of Renton-built military aircraft over the years, including:

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A depiction of the P-8A over Mount Rainier.

The P-8A Poseidon is a derivative of the 737-800. As the team puts it, the Poseidon will be a “long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft” for the Navy.

And here’s a key piece of this story: the P-8A program benefits from and builds on the proven production system and performance of more than 5,655 Boeing 737s delivered to date.

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First flight of sorts – as the P-8A fuselage swoops into position by crane over the factory floor.

Thanks to Commercial Airplanes and Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) teams working closely together as one Boeing team, the program has moved from “design” to “build” rapidly. Production started on the P-8A fuselage for the first test aircraft at Spirit in December, and it was completed on schedule last month. This approach enables the program to build the aircraft in a moving line - as we do with commercial versions of the 737 - with major military changes built and integrated up front as the aircraft goes through final assembly in Renton.

This is a significant change. In contrast with other business models that modify “green tail” commercial airplanes to fit military applications, the Poseidon will be ready with all provisions to “plug-and-play” its required mission systems.

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Click on the image to view a short video about the arrival of the first P-8A fuselage in Renton.

One interesting side note to this story is that the opening of the P-8A line in Renton coincided with opening day for baseball in Seattle earlier this month. In fact, the fuselage, carried by rail, rolled past the sold-out crowd at Safeco Field during the bottom of the second inning of the Seattle Mariners’ opener.

BCA is scheduled to hand off the first P-8A Poseidon to IDS later this year, with subsequent mission systems installation, flight test, and delivery of the first aircraft to the U.S. Navy in 2009.

By the way, the home team won their opener. And we believe the P-8A is going to be a winner too.

Comments (6)

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

It's amazing how far the 737 has come - and Renton for that matter. Especially given the nature of this industry. Manufacturing industries are under pressure now in the weak economy, but Boeing & Boeing-partner factories keep delivering The Goods.

You guys got the Right Stuff.

Replacing an airplane that has been so successful - and one that has been super adaptable for so many diverse missions - will certainly be the toughest yet for the Boeing Company.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

The P-8A Poseidon makes a very good replacement for the aging but venerable P-3 Orion, though the P-8A may not have the ability to loiter the same way like the P-3, it has the advantage of speed that is very necessary in today's world, good job, I can't wait to see it!

I think as the time comes and their is a need to replace the many of the transport, electronics, and tanker aircraft in the military's inventory, it is important for Boeing to have these kind of aircraft on the design table when the call for the competing designs come from the Pentagon to replace it's inventory.

I think Boeing's future in supplying the armed forces in the future looks bright.

Kevin (Calgary,Alberta,Canada):

Hey Randy, (Sorry,off topic again!)

Check out the NASA Astronomy picture of the day for 29-April-2008 titled "Airplane Flight Patterns over the USA". It's pretty neat!

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080429.html

TC (Mt. Vernon, WA):

And most importantly, raked wingtips for a 737.

Michele Verçosa (Sao Paulo, Brazil):

P-8A Poseidon in one word: astonishing!
:c)

pat gorman (kent, wa):

After flying the P-3C and working R&D for many years, Boeing hired me to help design and build the P-8A mission system.

Working on the replacement to the airplane I flew, cursed and loved for sixteen years has been an honor. I envy the next generation of Naval Aviators who'll get to fly it- and we're doing our best to minimize their "curses" and maximize the "love".

The Navy is just starting to realize that they're not getting a straight P-3 replacement. The communications, weapons and sensors on the airplane, in combination with the situation awareness provided by the workstations and interfaces, and 737 reliability and ease of logistics, will provide a whole new level of operational performance.

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