American Airlines will buy up to 60 new McDonnell Douglas jets in a multibillion dollar contract that will enable the carrier to retire many of its older wide-body jets, news reports of the deal said.

Airline spokesman Ed Stewart told The Associated Press the airline would have a major announcement Tuesday morning and declined to elaborate. But unidentified industry sources quoted by the Dallas Morning News and Wall Street Journal said American officials would unveil the aircraft order then.The accounts said American is expected to order between 50 and 60 MD-11 wide-body jets, which carry around 320 passengers. The MD-11s have a list price of $100 million, but American's actual purchase price will probably be in the range of $80 million-$85 million per plane, according to industry estimates.

The MD-11 announcement is expected to include a handful of firm orders for the aircraft, with the remainder in options to buy.

American also has negotiated the purchase of as many as 100 MD-80s, a smaller twinjet manufactured by McDonnell Douglas that sells for about $20 million. But wasn't clear whether the carrier would announce an order for that plane as well.

Such an order marks a major victory for McDonnell Douglas in the intense competition with larger rival Boeing Co. and the aggressive European consortium Airbus Industrie.

American, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the biggest U.S. carriers and McDonnell Douglas's most important customer.

The airline has been in the market for new aircraft in part to replace older planes in its fleet. Public concern has been growing over U.S. airlines' aging fleets following several incidents during the past year that suggest wear-and-tear on old airplanes can erode their safety.

American will use some of the MD-11s to replace DC-10s now in its fleet.