Well THAT blows!
The Automotive News article mentions that it should be around 'til '05 though and goes on to say that Ford admited that it wouldn't be needed when the new "car-based" ute shows up in '07. So it COULD be around awhile.
Personally, I think they're wrong about the Aviator being too much like the Explorer. If you go look at the Ford SUVs, ALL of them, you'll see that the Aviator resembles the Navigator more than anything. True it's the SIZE of the Explorer/Mountaineer but interiors, exteriors are nothing alike, and the drivetrain is TOTALLY unique.
After talking to my buddy that owns the Lincoln dealer, I think the biggest reason Aviator isn't selling is that it's too well hidden within the Lincoln lineup. All you see is Navigator this, and Navigator that. And to be honest, I think most people don't even know there IS an Aviator. Even on the lots, you can't tell it apart from the Nav.
What the hell, I guess I'm driving Lincolns best kept secret.