US airframer Boeing commenced the flight test programme on the Indian Navy's first P-8I aircraft on July 7. Tail number IN320 took off from Boeing Field in Seattle at 0915 local and landing three hours and 49 minutes later after demonstrating flying qualities and handling characteristics.
The second P-8I aircraft, tail number IN321 performed its initial flight on July 12. Taking off from Renton Field at 15:29 and landing two hours and 14 minutes later at Boeing Field in Seattle. During the flight, Boeing test pilots performed airborne systems checks and took the P-8I to a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet prior to landing.
The P-8I is a long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, based the Boeing 737-800 commercial airplane. The Indian Navy had ordered eight aircraft from Boeing on January 1, 2009. Boeing commenced the manufacture of the aircraft in December 2010, after completing the final design review (FDR) in July, and the first P-8I, IN320, had its first flight on September 29, 2011. (Click each link for related stories and photos).
|Indian Navy Boeing P-8I IN320 and IN321 face each other|
As per Leland Wight, the Boeing P-8I program manager,
"The program is on plan and the Indian Navy is excited for the P-8I to join its fleet,". The two aircraft will now undergo extensive mission systems installation and checkout work in the coming weeks.
By December, the aircraft are expected to be handed over to Indian Navy personnel who will then commence training and familiarisation in the US. Boeing expects to make formal delivery to the Indian Navy in mid-2013 after which the P-8I's will fly to India.