Good news for Boeing: Executive headhunters should take James Bell off their lists. In Bellevue yesterday, the company's chief financial...

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Good news for Boeing: Executive headhunters should take James Bell off their lists.

In Bellevue yesterday, the company’s chief financial officer and interim chief executive for part of the year said he has no desire to leave the company, despite some expectations that he might be lured away. He also predicted a settlement of the Airbus subsidies dispute and discussed the future of the Everett-built 767 jet.

Bell provided much-needed stability at Boeing by serving as acting chief executive and CFO for four months between the March resignation of Harry Stonecipher and the July appointment of current chief James McNerney.

During his short tenure in charge, Bell made a favorable impression. If McNerney had rejected Boeing’s advances, Bell might have found himself permanent CEO.

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Yesterday, after a speech to the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, Bell ruled out moving to the top spot elsewhere.

“I’m really not interested in leaving the Boeing company,” he said. “I’m really pleased working with Jim McNerney.”

Bell gave an upbeat assessment of Boeing’s business prospects.

On the commercial side, he said he expects a settlement of the subsidy dispute between the United States and Europe now before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“I don’t think [the WTO case] will run the whole course,” Bell said, though he gave no detail.

“We really are working our way through it so we can reach a settlement,” he said.

Asked if slowed-to-a-crawl 767 production is likely to end, Bell’s response betrayed a creeping doubt that the 767 is still the aircraft of choice for the Air Force tanker contract.

“I don’t know whether it’ll be a 767 or another platform,” he said.

If the Air Force requirements that emerge from a Pentagon-commissioned tanker study remain close to the original specifications, Bell said he expected the 767 to win the reopened competition.

But if not, “we may respond with a different platform,” he said. “Whatever platform it’s on, we’ll be there.”

If the 767 tanker solution is abandoned, production of the jet will end. It’s unclear what other aircraft Boeing might have in mind to turn into a tanker.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com