British Airways is studying Boeing's proposed 7E7 as a replacement for its 21 767-300s.

BA general manager fleet and network planning Robert Boyle says the airline is "talking closely with Boeing. With any new aircraft that has the potential to meet the needs in our fleet - and the 7E7 meets that criteria - we are willing to get in on the ground floor on aircraft specifications."

Boyle will not detail numbers of aircraft required or when BA would want them, but says its decision will be influenced by the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft competition. BA's 767s are part of a bid by the Tanker and Transport Service Company to convert them into in-flight refuellers for the Royal Air Force. A decision is due in December.

Boyle says the 7E7 development timeframe would be compatible with BA's requirements. Boeing is scheduling first deliveries of the yet-to-be-launched aircraft for 2008.

"We believe if the tanker deal was successful, if we would replace the aircraft with the 7E7, it would be compatible with the Boeing programme," Boyle says, adding that BA is talking to Airbus about its response to the 7E7. "We are keen to ensure a choice."

Source: Flight International