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Boeing's recent agreement to acquire 44 passenger 757s on the secondhand market for conversion into freighters and onward lease to DHL Worldwide Express marks another step in the planemaker's bid to grow beyond its historic role as a supplier of new aircraft.

Under terms of the agreement announced last month, Boeing will acquire at least 34 RB211-535C-powered 757s from British Airways with deliveries beginning next July. BA previously had announced its intention to dispose of its 757s in favor of smaller jets. The aircraft will be converted by Singapore Technologies Aerospace's Mobile Aerospace Engineering facility in Alabama and by Israel Aircraft Industries' Bedek Aviation. Upon completion, Boeing will lease the freighters beginning in mid-2001 to DHL, where they will replace 727s. …

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