Lew Platt confirmed that the head of the commercial division, Alan Mulally, and Jim Albaugh, head of the company's space and defense business, were both on the list.

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LE BOURGET, France — Boeing is down to a shortlist of “five or six” potential new chief executives, including two internal candidates, Chairman Lew Platt said today.

Platt confirmed that the head of the commercial division, Alan Mulally, and Jim Albaugh, head of the company’s space and defense business, were both on the list, and denied reports that the job had been turned down by an external candidate.

“No job offers have been made,” he told a meeting of reporters covering the Paris Air Show. “Nobody’s turned us down.” He declined to identify any of the three or four external candidates.

Chicago-based Boeing Co. is still without a permanent boss three months after CEO Harry Stonecipher was forced to resign after admitting an affair with a female executive.

Platt said interim CEO James Bell had been doing an excellent job and could not be ruled out as a possible candidate, although he was “unlikely” to be chosen and was not currently on the shortlist.

“He is already much more in my mind today than he was three months ago,” Platt said. “He’s not actively being considered as a candidate today but I’ve had discussions with several board members about the quality of the job James has been doing.”

Bell has been with Boeing for 32 years but was appointed chief financial officer only in 2003, but Platt said the ideal candidate would be someone who had led a company or major division “over some sustained period of time.”

Platt dismissed suggestions that the company would not appoint a new CEO until December. “A lot of things would have to go wrong for it to take until December,” he said.

The Boeing chairman also firmly denied rumors that Airbus’ chief salesman, John Leahy, a U.S. national, was on the shortlist.

“He wasn’t even on the long list,” he said.