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P-8A schedule unscathed by Boeing strike

Boeing has reaffirmed that it will meet the P-8A Poseidon's schedule targets despite the impact of a 57-day machinists strike.

Next year's first flight, scheduled for the third quarter, remains unchanged, and the first operational unit is set to enter service in 2013, Boeing says.

The nearly two-month work stoppage by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has prompted Boeing to reassess development and delivery schedules across its entire civil aircraft portfolio. The results of that review are scheduled to be announced next week. Boeing executives have warned about a day-for-day delay for the 787, as well as additional time to ramp back up to full production status.

However, the 737-800ERX-based P-8A will be immune from the impending round of schedule delays for other civil aircraft. The P-8A is assembled in a separate facility with its own production workforce. Its overall schedule and budget is largely intact, although it has not escaped development problems.

In 2007, increased costs forced the US Navy to subtract one of seven test aircraft and delay building the second tranche of the test fleet by one year, according to programme budget documents. As a result, the USN adopted an integrated test team approach to complete the evaluation phase on time with one fewer aircraft in the test fleet.

The P-8A's schedule performance is being closely watched. So far, the programme has been a relative success story for the Department of Defense's chequered policy of modifying commercial aircraft for military purposes.

The US Army was forced to abandon the Bell Helicopter ARH-70 - a converted Bell 407 - after production costs tripled and schedules slipped several years. The navy has faced similar cost overruns and schedule delays converting the AgustaWestland EH101 into the VH-71A presidential helicopter, which is managed by Lockheed Martin.

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