Boeing Commences Build of New Zealand’s First P-8A Poseidon Aircraft
Boeing P-8A team members and Spirit AeroSystems employees have laid the keel beam for New Zealand’s first P-8A aircraft. The ‘keeling’ process was accomplished at Spirit AeroSystems’ facility in Wichita, where all Boeing 737 fuselages, nacelles and pylons are built.
On Thursday (March 17, 2022), Boeing announced the start of building of New Zealand’s first P-8A Poseidon Aircraft. Boeing P-8A team members and Spirit AeroSystems employees have laid the keel beam for the aircraft in a process called ‘keeling’ at Spirit’s facility in Wichita, Kansas, where all Boeing 737 fuselages, nacelles and pylons are designed and built. Keeling is a major production milestone in the building of any ship or airplane and represents the cornerstone of Boeing’s latest P-8. The keel runs the length of the fuselage belly, and due to the innovative in-line approach to the build of commercial derivative aircraft pioneered on the P-8A, the keel beam is different from the typical 737 keel beam. The P-8 keel includes unique aspects of the aircraft’s configuration, such as the integration of an internal weapons bay.
In today’s announcement, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the U.S., Rosemary Banks, said,
“Today’s keeling ceremony is the beginning of a new era for New Zealand’s maritime patrol and response capability. Our four P-8A Poseidons will better equip our defence forces to extend their reach into the Pacific and beyond, working with our partners and friends.”
Also commenting on the production milestone, Boeing’s P-8 Program Manager for New Zealand, Brian Stuart, said,
“The excitement of seeing this come together was contagious. Not only are we kicking off the journey to the first New Zealand P-8A delivery, but we are strengthening our relationships with suppliers like Spirit as well as our U.S. Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force customers.”
The panel and other fuselage components will be completed on Spirit’s existing production line and the P-8 fuselage will then be shipped to a Boeing Commercial Airplanes facility in Renton, Washington for final assembly. Next, the Boeing Defense, Space and Security team will install mission systems and complete testing before delivery to New Zealand later this year. In total, four Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will replace New Zealand’s current fleet of aging P-3K2 Orion aircraft.
The New Zealand Defence Force is one of eight global P-8 customers. Current operators include the U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Indian Navy, the UK’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force. The P-8 fleet has accumulated over 400,000 mishap-free flights hours. The aircraft is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. The versatile platform is capable of broad area maritime and littoral operations, as well as humanitarian and search & rescue missions.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading supplier of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, as well as global services. The aerospace giant tops the list of the largest U.S. exporters, providing a significant positive impact to America’s annual GDP. Boeing supports government and commercial customers in over 150 countries and employs more than 160,000 team members worldwide. As Boeing continues to deliver for customers, they are committed to their legacy of aerospace leadership in technology and innovation and living the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity.