24 November 2015
737 assembly line at Spirit Aero, Wichita (photo : Spirit Aero)
WICHITA, Kan./PRNewswire/ -- Spirit AeroSystems Inc. (NYSE: SPR) has begun production of the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) first production P-8A aircraft. Spirit started production on the 737 military derivative in October. With major assembly now underway, the first unit is scheduled to deliver to Boeing in early 2016.
"Spirit is proud to be on the P-8A program providing this important capability to the Royal Australian Air Force," said Duane Hawkins, Spirit senior vice president of Boeing, Defense & Regional Jet Programs. "Spirit has a unique capability to build military specific aircraft in the same 737 commercial production line that is producing 42 airplanes a month. We are able to use decades of experience building the 737 on military derivative programs, which makes the P-8A more affordable and the highest quality possible."
The P-8A program is using a first-in-industry production process and its existing Next-Generation 737 production system to efficiently design and build P-8 aircraft. Spirit is responsible for building 70 percent of the 737 aircraft. The 737-800 fuselage receives military specific in-line modifications before it is sent to Boeing's final assembly facility in Renton, Wash., where all aircraft structural features unique to the P-8A are incorporated in sequence during fabrication and assembly.
AIRCDRE Adam Brown visited Spirit to see the in-line modifications on the first Australian P-8A.
"Our new P-8 will be the first of a new generation of maritime surveillance for Australia. We're particularly excited and proud to get what we think is the best maritime patrol aircraft in the world coming to service in our air force," said RAAF Air Commodore Adam Brown.
Australia has agreed to purchase eight P-8A aircraft. The U.S. Navy is currently under contract with Boeing for 62 P-8As to replace its P-3 fleet and has delivered 31 aircraft to date. Boeing has also completed its initial contract with India to provide eight P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft to the Indian Navy.