The deal is worth $7.2 billion at nominal list prices.

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Boeing confirmed today in a Washington, D.C., signing ceremony an agreement to sell 60 of its new mid-size widebody jet to the six major airlines in China. The deal is worth $7.2 billion at nominal list prices.

Boeing also announced that the jet formerly called the 7E7 would henceforth be designated the 787, continuing the company’s 7-series model numbering.

And it signalled that a substantial amount of work on the plane will be sent to China from Boeing’s supplier partners.

Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Xiamen Airlines will each receive at least one jet in time for the opening of the 2008 Olympics in August 2008.

All six airlines will get the long-range, 223-seater model, the 787-8. Boeing did not disclose how the 60 jets would be divided among the carriers.

In a conference call with journalists, Mike Bair, who heads the new jet program, said the redesignation of the model number to 787 was carefully timed to please the Chinese customers.

“We felt it was appropriate to honor this Chinese order in some way,” said Bair, “The numeral 8 is good luck in China. 787-8s for the 2008 Olympics made a nice package for them.”

Boeing had announced in June that the new plane’s rudder would be made in China, at the Chengdu plant of China Aviation Industry Corporation.

Bair said additional contract work will go to China through Boeing’s major sub-contracting partners. This suggests that some of the major Japanese work on the 787 airframe will be farmed out to China.

“Our expectation is that there’s a fair amount of this airplane that ultimately is going to produced in China,” Bair said.