Cessna Aircraft broadened its single-engine aircraft line yesterday after the company submitted the winning $26.4 million bid for bankrupt Columbia Aircraft, a Bend, Ore.-based producer of high-performance, all-composite piston singles. The Wichita manufacturer disclosed at the NBAA Convention in September that it had signed a letter of intent to buy Columbia, though the bankrupt airframer still had to be formally auctioned. The transaction is expected to be finalized by Tuesday.
“This is a significant day as it brings together two top aircraft design and production companies to offer the global general aviation community the widest range of propeller aircraft, along with world-class product support, all under the Cessna brand,” said Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton. “I would like to thank 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.
“The Columbia models are a good fit with our existing product line,” Pelton added. “We look forward to providing existing Columbia owners with improved levels of service and support and introducing new customers to these outstanding aircraft. We plan to make significant investments in Bend, in people and operations, to bolster customer satisfaction and business profitability.”
After the deal closes, the Bend operation will take on the Cessna name and the current Columbia 350 and 400 models will become the Cessna 350 and 400. Cessna and its network of authorized dealers and service centers plan to integrate sales and support of the former Columbia airplanes, and Cessna parts distribution is expected to become the source for parts.
Cessna also intends to develop direct communications with current owners. “We feel it’s important for Cessna customers to enjoy a seamless, high-quality experience throughout our entire product line…It only makes sense that we fully embrace these two new aircraft and their owners as members of the Cessna family,” Pelton said.
According to Cessna, Columbia’s low-wing, high-performance, turbocharged airplanes raise the top end of the Cessna piston product line. The Teledyne Continental TSIO-550-C-powered Cessna 350 will feature an all-composite airframe, Garmin G1000 avionics and autopilot, while the 235-knot Cessna 400 will offer the same features with dual turbochargers.