AEROSPACE; Boeing extends life of C-17 line; The Long Beach plant where the military transport is assembled will remain open until at least 2010.

Southern California's last major airplane factory got a reprieve Tuesday as Boeing Co. announced it would keep open its Long Beach production line for the C-17 Air Force transport for at least six more months. With no new orders, the sprawling...

The decision was based on "continued bipartisan congressional support and increasing signs that the U.S. Air Force has requirements for 30 additional C-17s," a Boeing executive said.

The Air Force has been constrained by a congressional mandate that it also upgrade aging C-5 cargo planes. The Pentagon is weighing whether the upgrades are worth the cost, but the study is not expected to be completed until 2010, or after the C-17 line was scheduled to be shuttered.

"We believe they've bought enough time that we can bridge over," Wynne told the Dow Jones news service in Paris.

The plane, a workhorse that has transported troops, supplies and casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been in production since the early 1990s. The program has been one of Boeing's largest, generating about $3 billion in annual sales.

Also on Tuesday, Boeing's commercial aircraft division received a major boost as Century City-based International Lease Finance Corp., the world's largest airline leasing company, ordered 63 passenger jets, including 50 787 Dreamliners.

The Dreamliner, which has yet to be flown, is assembled in Seattle.

At list prices, the deal is potentially worth $8.8 billion, though the leasing company is likely to have paid far less because of discounts often given to large purchasers.

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