The Royal New Zealand Air Force's (RNZAF's) first and second P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) are now being manufactured by Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems teams in the US.
They laid the keel beam for the second aircraft on March 16 at the Spirit facility in Wichita, Kansas, where the company designs and builds all Boeing 737 fuselages, nacelles and engine pylons. The so-called keeling ceremony marked the second keel moving through the factory while attendees were able to view the first fuselage, line number 9449, on a rail carriage ready to depart for the Boeing Commercial Airplanes facility in Renton, Seattle, Washington.
Once at Renton, the aircraft will be assembled and then Boeing Defense, Space and Security employees will install mission systems prior to delivery later this year. The aircraft keel runs the length of the fuselage belly, but the keel beam on a P-8 is different from that of a typical 737. The P-8 keel includes unique aspects of the P-8 configuration, such as integration of an internal weapons bay. Four Boeing P-8A Poseidon MPA will eventually replace New Zealand’s current fleet of six ageing P-3K2 Orions.