Spirit AeroSystems workers began building the first part — a bonded aluminum panel — for the Indian navy’s first long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, called the P-8I.
The plane is based on Boeing’s 737 commercial jet. Spirit AeroSystems designs and builds the 737 fuselages, nacelles and pylons.
The panel in production this week will later be installed on the fuselage’s upper lobe to support an antenna.
“Today marks the P-81 program’s move from the design phase to the build phase,” said Boeing P-8I program manager Leland Wright in a statement. “We’re on schedule and the Indian navy is looking forward to receiving the first plane. ”
In mid-2011, Spirit will ship the P-8I’s fuselage to Boeing’s facility in Renton, Wash. for final assembly.
India is the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft. It has eight on order.