By Karen Di Piazza
In December, Cessna Aircraft Company acquired selected assets of Bend, Ore.-based Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. during a bankruptcy auction, submitting a high bid of $26.4 million. Wichita, Kan.-based Cessna is the largest general aviation aircraft manufacturer, in terms of annual unit sales.
Cessna first announced the move to buy Columbia, a manufacturer of single-engine, composite piston aircraft, in September. The Bend operation will take on the Cessna name, becoming one of six Cessna-owned manufacturing facilities.
“This brings together two top aircraft design and production companies,” said Jack Pelton, Cessna’s chairman, president and CEO. “This offers the global GA community the widest range of propeller aircraft, along with world-class product support.”
Pelton thanked the 400-plus Columbia employees for their continued hard work and dedication during the bankruptcy process.
“We look forward to welcoming them to the Cessna family,” he said.
At present, Cessna produces single-engine piston aircraft, turboprops and Cessna Citation business jets. Columbia has produced more than 600 aircraft in its 10-year history.
“Columbia’s models are a good fit with our existing product line,” Pelton said. “We look forward to providing existing Columbia owners with improved levels of service and support and introducing new customers to these outstanding aircraft.”
He said Cessna plans to make significant investments in Bend, in people and in its operations, to bolster customer satisfaction and business profitability. He said the company would continue to improve quality, reliability and performance, as Cessna strives to deliver customer value and fulfill its commitments.
Pelton said Columbia’s current 350 and 400 products would be renamed the Cessna 350 and 400. Columbia’s turbocharged, high-performance, low-wing aircraft models will brand Cessna’s piston line as top-drawer. Cessna said its 350 will feature Garmin G1000 avionics, a GFC700 flight-control system and a Teledyne Continental TSIO-550-C engine. The 400 will offer the same features with dual turbochargers for the engine. Cessna said its 400 model is one of the fastest piston planes in the world, with a top speed of more than 235 knots.
Cessna and its network of service centers and authorized dealers plan to integrate sales and support of the former Columbia aircraft; Cessna parts distribution will become the source for parts.
The company said it intends to develop direct communications with current Columbia owners.
“We feel it’s very important for Cessna customers to enjoy a seamless, high-quality experience throughout our entire product line—from the 162 SkyCatcher light sport aircraft all the way up to the Citation X,” Pelton said. “It only makes sense that we fully embrace these two new aircraft and their owners as members of the Cessna family.”
For more information, visit [http://www.cessna.com].