Boeing P-8A Poseidon makes maiden flight

Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon T-1 test aircraft made its maiden flight on April 25, taking off from Renton Field at 10:43 am and touching down at Boeing Field in Seattle at 2:14 pm Pacific Time.
The new-generation maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) performed a series of flight checks, reached a maximum altitude of 25 000 feet, and landed after three hours, 31 minutes in the air.
“This is a significant accomplishment for the P-8A team, as it moves us one step closer to delivering the next maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to the warfighter,” said Capt. Mike Moran, P-8A programme manager for the US Navy.
“Today’s flight is a clear demonstration of the programme’s commitment to delivering this critical capability on time and the result of a tremendous effort by the joint Navy/Boeing team.”

Prior to takeoff, the P-8A team completed a limited series of flight checks, including engine starts and shutdowns. During the flight, test pilots performed airborne systems checks including engine accelerations and decelerations, autopilot flight modes, and auxiliary power unit shutdowns and starts.
“This is an exciting day for the P-8A program and a tribute to the hard work of the entire team,” said Bob Feldmann, Boeing vice president and P-8 programme manager. “We understand the needs of the US Navy and maritime patrol community, and we are dedicated to meeting every one of our future milestones on or ahead of plan.”

The integrated Navy/Boeing team will begin formal flight testing of the P-8A during the third quarter of this year. Before that, Boeing will paint the aircraft, install additional flight test instrumentation and conduct a series of ground tests.

The P-8A, a derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems and GE Aviation. The team currently is assembling and testing the first five P-8As.

The Navy plans to purchase 108 P-8As to replace its fleet of turboprop 1950s-generation Lockheed Electra P-3C aircraft. Initial operational capability is planned for 2013.

The former commander of the European Union’s antipiracy Operation Atalanta yesterday called for more MPA to support the fight against sea gangs, while several speakers at last month’s Sea Power for Africa symposium identified a shortage of MPA along the continent’s coast as a major shortcoming in securing the oceans.