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Boeing CFO repeats 787 deliver target

The tail fin of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is seen at the 2010 Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, southern England July 19, 2010. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty/Files

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Boeing CoBA.N is confident it can deliver the first 787 Dreamliner in the middle of the first quarter of 2011, the chief financial officer of the world's largest aerospace and defense company said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley, James Bell reiterated the updated delivery target for the long-delayed carbon-composite commercial aircraft.

Last week, the company announced another Dreamliner delay -- this one related to a a delay in the availability of a Rolls-Royce PlcRR.L engine needed for the final phases of flight testing. The plane is already more than two years behind schedule.

He said the Boeing, the second-largest commercial plane maker after AirbusEAD.PA, still aims to announce by year end its decision on whether to re-engine the hot-selling narrowbody 737 or make a new plane.

“Our customers haven’t shown a real interest in a re-engined airplane,” Bell said.

Bell also said that Boeing’s defense business is sound and will be stable even if Boeing does not win a contract to build a new U.S. Air Force tanker fleet.

“We are starting to see a lot more opportunities presented in the international defense market,” Bell said. “We’re in business to stay in that segment.”

Boeing and Airbus parent EADS submitted bids to build 179 new planes worth up to $50 billion so the Air Force can start phasing out its Boeing KC-135 tankers, which average 50 years old.

Shares of Boeing, a Dow industrials component, were down 31 cents at $61.79 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Derek Caney