McDONNELL DOUGLAS is examining ways of keeping MD-11 production profitable through to the end of 1996 but says that one option - temporarily halting the line for much of 1996 - is considered "the worst-case scenario".

"It's definitely a far-out option," says the company, which still hopes to deliver 18 or 19 MD-11s during 1995.

MDC's Douglas Aircraft (DAC) division is focusing on the next two years of production, when it still hopes to be making between ten and 15 MD-11s for Saudia Airlines and the Saudi Arabian military as part of the $6 billion deal announced in 1994 by President Clinton.

The Saudi Arabian order is vital for DAC. The threat of closing down the line is being widely interpreted as further pressure on the US Administration to help the huge order through.

"That's not for McDonnell Douglas to suggest," says the company, which is expected to make its decision on the future of MD-11 production by the middle of this year. Other options include bringing forward deliveries now scheduled for 1997 and beyond, or slowing production to about one a month.

DAC holds firm orders for 45 MD-11s and "other commitments" for a further 85. It delivered 17 aircraft in 1994, against 42 in 1992.

Source: Flight International