The decision was the latest step in a long-running battle over subsidies for airplane sales that might be settled eventually only through trans-Atlantic negotiations.

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The World Trade Organization’s appellate body affirmed Monday that Boeing received at least $5 billion in improper subsidies from the U.S. government to develop its 787 Dreamliner and other jet models, giving it an unfair advantage over its European rival, Airbus.

European and U.S. officials said the ruling generally upheld findings that the WTO released in March 2011.

The decision was the latest step in a long-running battle over subsidies for airplane sales that might be settled eventually only through trans-Atlantic negotiations.

Both the European Union and the United States claimed victories in the latest ruling.

The WTO has no enforcement mechanism, and both sides pointed to different aspects of the ruling in their efforts to seek more negotiating leverage.

European leaders said Monday that they were delighted that the appeals judges confirmed that the United States had improperly subsidized Boeing’s aircraft development, while U.S. officials maintained that the subsidies were smaller than those that Europe had provided to Airbus.

In an earlier case, WTO investigators found that Airbus had benefited from four decades of improper subsidies to vault past Boeing to become the world’s top jet builder.

That ruling concluded that Airbus had received $15 billion in loans from European governments at below-market interest rates and several billion dollars in grants to produce the A380 superjumbo jet and five other best-selling models.

The trade panel did not quantify the savings from the lower interest rates, but it said that Airbus could not have introduced many of its models when it did without the loans.

Rainer Ohler, the head of public affairs at Airbus, said Monday that Boeing’s Dreamliner, a lighter-weight passenger plane that has outsold Airbus’ midsized models, “is now to be called the ‘Subsidy-liner.’ “

But Ron Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, said that, from the various rulings, “It is now clear that European subsidies to Airbus are far larger — by multiples — and more distortive than anything that the United States does for Boeing.”

European supporters of Airbus had focused much of their complaint on research contracts that Boeing received from NASA and the Pentagon since the late 1970s to develop lightweight carbon composite materials that the manufacturer subsequently used in the design of the Dreamliner. As much as 50 percent of the 787’s primary structure, including the fuselage and wings, is made of composite materials, more than any other large civil aircraft.

U.S. officials said $2.6 billion of the subsidies that the panel found were from NASA. The appellate body also found that tax breaks that Boeing received from such states as Washington and Kansas also represented improper subsidies.

Boeing has said about $2 billion in government export subsidies had already been eliminated, though they were included in the WTO’s reports.

The ruling concluded that Washington state’s 2003 tax break for aerospace was an improper subsidy to Boeing, but “far less harmful than the Europeans alleged,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement Monday.

Gregoire said that once the WTO adopts the appellate decision later this month, the state will have six months to decide how to respond.

In one change that favored Europe, the appellate body added $476 million in subsidies in Kansas to the tally, which had previously focused on those from Washington.

European officials complained that the state and local subsidies continued while the case was under investigation.

But Robert Novick, a lawyer for Boeing, said the appeals judges also lowered the WTO’s assessment of the harm that the U.S. subsidies had caused Airbus in terms of lost plane sales.

Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.