The AP-3C Orion (P-3) is the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) maritime patrol aircraft. Australian Aerospace has been supporting the deeper maintenance of the 18 aircraft P-3 fleet from Richmond Air Base near Sydney since 1993.


Innovative solutions

Between 1997 and 2001 Australian Aerospace carried out the Project Kestrel rewing program for the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 fleet to extend their life to 2025. The Kestrel program earned Australian Aerospace the 2001 New Zealand Defence Industry Award for Excellence.

In 2008, the P-3 Accord was awarded the Engineers Australia Excellence in Engineering Award for implementing the Tactical Common Data Link system which enables the P-3 to transmit real-time images of the surrounding environment to troops on the ground.

P-3 Accord

Together with the Commonwealth of Australia and British Aerospace, Australian Aerospace formed the P-3 Accord in November 2005. The accord provides upgrades, maintenance and logistics support to the P-3 fleet to ensure effective support until the program withdrawal date in 2018. The accord’s main focus is the P-3 Block Upgrade Program (BUP) which is a coordinated series of capability upgrades to the mission systems.

Safety By Inspection Program

Airbus in Australia Pacific started the Safety By Inspection (SBI) program at Richmond in April 2008. The established fatigue life of the P-3’s critical structure was originally forecast to expire on the fleet-lead aircraft in early 2008. The P-3 Safety By Inspection Program enables the effective management of the aircraft structure beyond the established fatigue life.

SBI involves inspections of major structural components using non-destructive testing techniques to detect and/or prevent fatigue cracking well before it could become a threat to the safe operation of the aircraft.

Australian Aerospace and the Maritime Patrol Systems Office received a high commendation at the ADM Defence/Industry teaming awards for the SBI program.