Utah economic officials may not know until 1993 if and where McDonnell Douglas Corp. will build a new commercial aircraft manufacturing plant for the MD-12 jumbo airliner.

Gov. Norm Bangerter, accompanied by a group of state economic-development officials, met with Douglas Aircraft Co. officials Monday for an update on the company's site-selection process for the MD-12 manufacturing plant. Salt Lake City is one of nine cities bidding for the jumbo airline plant."The bottom line was McDonnell Douglas didn't think there would be any kind of announcement before the end of the year," said Stan Parrish, executive director of the Department of Community and Economic Development, explaining that delays could push the announcement into 1993.

The decision has been delayed by the ongoing negotiations with Taiwanese investors, in which McDonnell Douglas proposes to sell 40 percent of its commercial jet airliner group to Taiwan Aerospace Corp. There are indications the Taiwanese might buy only a 25 percent share of the operation. The investor group is expected to make a final decision later this month.

Analysts say the decision to build the manufacturing plant hinges on aircraft orders for the new plane and an influx of capital from foreign investors to pay for the new plant. The aircraft is intended to compete with Boeing Co.'s successful 747-400.

"We are still evaluating the nine candidate communities. The process has taken longer than we first anticipated," said John Thom, spokesman for Douglas Aircraft Co. The other candidates are Tulsa, Okla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Belleville, Ill.; Mobile, Ala.; Shreveport, La.; Houston and Fort Worth, Texas; and Mesa, Ariz.

In September, the state submitted a bid package containing more than $500 million in government incentives. Other than requesting more information or clarifications, McDonnell Douglas has been tight-lipped about the selection process, state officials said.

When Utah entered the bidding for McDonnell Douglas Corp.'s proposed commercial aircraft manufacturing plant last year, company officials said the aerospace giant could make a site selection as early as October 1991.

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Then company officials said the decision would be made in the first quarter of 1992, which ended Tuesday. No announcement was made.

Company officials say the decision if and where to build the plant will be made "later this year," Thom said. "We expect to have an announcement later this year just as we anticipate to launch the project later this year."

Given the complex nature of the negotiations with the Taiwanese, Parrish said he is not surprised by the delay. "It's to be expected. In this business, you just have to live with it. It's not like it's the only game you have in town, but it sure would be a nice one if we would get it."

The plant could employ up to 12,000 workers.

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