Boeing to end production of the 717 jetliner

&to=http:// ' target=_blank>Boeing Co. will take a $615 million pretax charge to write down development costs for a delayed Air Force refueling tanker contract and to end production of the 717, its smallest &to=http:// ' target=_blank>jetliner.

The charge will shave 48 cents a share off the company's fourth-quarter earnings, the Chicago-based company said today. Boeing was expected to earn 50 cents a share, according to the average estimate of 19 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Boeing, the second-biggest commercial aircraft maker, is focusing on bigger, more expensive planes as it tries to regain market share from Airbus SAS. The company last year delivered just 12 of the 100-seat 717, while losing bids against Bombardier Inc. and Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA, the biggest makers of commercial jets with 100 seats or fewer, informs Bloomberg.

Boeing is to end production of the 717 in 2006 to instead renew its focus on medium to large-sized aircraft, most specifically its forthcoming medium-sized 7E7 Dreamliner, which will fly into business in 2008.

It also is having to fight harder for defence contracts, battling &to=http:// ' target=_blank>European companies such as EADS, which owns Airbus, analysts said.

Meanwhile, Airbus, which overtook Boeing as the world's number one civilian aircraft maker, will launch its giant double-decker A380 plane on Monday, reports the BBC News.

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