Boeing Pushes 7E7, Ponders Fate Of 757

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An engineer who has worked on most of Boeing's commercial aircraft programs will now head the new 7E7 Deamliner team. Boeing announced that Walt Gillette, who has worked at Boeing for 37 years, will spearhead the team to bring the company's 11th commercial-jet project to life. Boeing's board of directors will decide whether to go ahead with the program by early 2004, and if so, debut the aircraft in 2008, when we'll all see if the costs incurred in development of the jet can be offset by its sales. While the 7E7 enjoys Boeing's full optimism, the same can't be said for the older 757. The aerospace giant is debating whether to continue manufacturing the aging airliner, which was first introduced in 1982. Boeing has built 1,000 757s since its launch via Eastern Airlines but now has only 18 orders on the books. Of those, 11 are being delayed by Continental Airlines, after it disclosed a need to "renegotiate the terms of delivery" of those jets scheduled for delivery in 2005 and 2006. The airline claims the current state of the industry does not allow for the addition of jets within the next few years. However, Continental cannot pull out of a previous commitment, which calls for delivery of five 757s in June 2004. "The '57 is clearly getting to the end of its life," Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Alan Mulally admitted at the company's annual briefing for investment analysts in Los Angeles in May.