767s not saved

Boeing has confirmed that it will cease production of its 767 widebody jets unless it receives a significant order from the US Air Force.

Boeing was originally planning to make a decision to shut down operations by mid-2005, but new orders revived the fortunes of the 767. The company received 19 new orders for 767s in 2005 and now has a backlog of 30. It delivered 10 of the planes last year.

The company had hoped to build 100 767s for the Air Force as a tanker, but the $23 billion deal fell through in 2004. The government is still seeking to replace its aging tanker fleet, with likely candidates including Boeing’s 767 or 777, but Boeing told analysts the company won’t wait for a final deal once its backordered 767s are built.

Boeing has also reiterated that it will soon be replacing its 737 jet. It is planning to replace the single-aisle aircraft with ones using low-cost composite airframes, such as those being built into the 787. Boeing executives have suggested a 737 replacement could be in service between 2012 and 2015.