Boeing was poised to issue stop-work notices to long-lead parts suppliers for the C-17 late last week, marking the first steps towards the full closure of the last major California-built aircraft assembly line. Boeing's action comes after almost two years of warnings to the US Air Force that it would be faced with shutting down production unless it received a commitment for additional aircraft.

The company has committed $100 million to protect deliveries of 22 C-17s - seven in 2007 and 15 in 2008. Boeing is thought to have identified customers for 18 of those aircraft: four each for Australia and Canada, one for the UK, three for the USAF that Congress looks set to add funding for in 2007, two for Sweden and four for a pool of NATO countries. However, Boeing is understood to be willing to protect only those 18 aircraft and has decided to stop paying suppliers to produce parts for the other four.

Source: Flight International