Boeing’s [NYSE: BA] first P-8I aircraft for the Indian Navy began its official flight test program July 7, taking off from Boeing Field in Seattle at 9:15 a.m. and landing three hours and 49 minutes later after demonstrating flying qualities and handling characteristics. The flight went as planned with all test objectives met.
The P-8I is one of eight long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft Boeing is building for India as part of a contract awarded in January 2009. During the coming months, Boeing test pilots will put the P-8I, a Next-Generation 737-800 derivative, through its paces over a U.S. Navy test range west of Neah Bay, Wash., and a joint U.S./Canadian test range in the Strait of Georgia.
„Today’s flight is another on-time milestone for the program,” said Leland Wight, Boeing P-8I program manager. „We’ll start out testing the P-8I’s mission system, which includes its sensors and communication systems. The team then will transition to 'stores’ tests during which the P-8I will carry inert weapon shapes under its wings to demonstrate that the aircraft is capable of carrying all the weapons the Indian Navy will use during regular missions.”
The stores the P-8I will carry will have the identical shape and size of real weapons, including the Harpoon anti-ship missile, depth bombs and torpedoes.
„This is an important milestone for the program and sets the stage for operational testing and weapons certification as we move closer to P-8I aircraft joining the Indian Navy,” said Rear Adm. DM Sudan, assistant chief of Naval Staff (Air), Indian Navy.
P-8I flight and weapons testing follows on the heels of similar testing for the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon. P-8I is a variant of the Poseidon.
In order to efficiently design and build the P-8I and the P-8A, the Boeing-led team is using a first-in-industry, in-line production process that draws on the company’s Next-Generation 737 production system. Assembly is complete on the second P-8I aircraft and it will make its first flight in the coming weeks.
The P-8I features open system architecture, advanced sensor and display technologies, and a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment. P-8I aircraft are built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.
The Boeing-led team is on track to deliver the first aircraft to the Indian Navy in 2013.