Seems backwards…even time-consuming and costly, doesn’t it? And yet, that was the conversation in years past when military capabilities were added to a non-military aircraft.
Until now. Enter the P-8A Poseidon, a military aircraft built for the U.S. Navy. When that product was designed, Boeing asked the question: “How can we do this better and cheaper?” The answer: In-line production. Make the military version part of the commercial production line.
Seems simple, but it was an industry-first.
For the P-8A, based on the 737-800 platform, it all begins in Wichita, KS where the fuselage is built by Spirit AeroSystems on their commercial line, just using materials and adding structural changes specifically engineered for the P-8A. Work continues in Renton, Washington in the same Boeing Commercial Airplanes 737 production facility where the company builds 42 airplanes per month. And then the military systems specialists add the final pieces. The result? Faster production, dramatic cost savings, a customer who receives their aircraft when they need it.
In-line production for the P-8A has been so successful – reducing production time from the first jet to the current jet by 50 percent and reducing cost by more than 30 percent – that Boeing is moving even more work from the final “mission equipment installation” phase back into the commercial production line. And they plan to use the power of in-line production on other commercial derivative programs too.
How has this helped the U.S. Navy? Check out Capt. Dillon’s comments here .