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$26M Cessna bid catches Columbia

 

In a move to further broaden its single engine product portfolio, Textron Inc.’s Cessna Aircraft Company announced it was the successful bidder for select assets of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company, a Bend, Oregon-based producer of high-performance, single-engine aircraft.

The bid of $26.4 million was the high bid in The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon.

Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack. J. Pelton said "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."

Cessna is the world’s largest general aviation manufacturer in terms of annual unit sales, producing single-engine piston aircraft, turboprops and a full line of business jets.

Columbia has produced more than 600 aircraft in its 10-year history.

"The Columbia 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."

Once the transaction was completed last month, the Bend operation took on the Cessna name and became one of six Cessna manufacturing facilities.

Cessna intends to rename the current Columbia product line to become the Cessna 350 and the Cessna 400.

Cessna and its network of authorized dealers and service centers plan to integrate sales and support of the former Columbia aircraft, 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 very important for Cessna customers to enjoy a seamless, high-quality experience throughout our entire product line – from the SkyCatcher all the way up to the Citation X. It only makes sense that we fully embrace these two new aircraft and their owners as members of the Cessna family," Pelton said.

MADE IN CHINA

Cessna also announced it will partner with Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) to manufacture the new Model 162 SkyCatcher light sport aircraft (LSA).

SAC is a subsidiary of China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), which is a government-owned consortium of aircraft manufacturers.

The company made the announcement last month during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Cessna will design the aircraft and handle American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) compliance work, as well as provide on-site personnel to oversee manufacturing, quality assurance and technical design.

SAC will be responsible for assembling the SkyCatcher.

Founded in 1951, SAC is a civilian and military aircraft manufacturer with 16,000 employees in Shenyang, China. Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Spirit AeroSystems and Singapore Aerospace are just a few of SAC’s clients.

Cessna unveiled a proof-of-concept aircraft in July 2006, to gauge market response and then announced in July 2007, it would proceed with development of a light sport aircraft, dubbed the Cessna 162 SkyCatcher. An introductory price of $109,500 USD will hold for the first 1,000 orders and then increase to $111,500 USD. Orders have already approached 900.

The SkyCatcher features an exclusive Garmin glass cockpit – the G300 – and a Teledyne Continental O-200D 100-horsepower engine designed specifically for the LSA. The aircraft will cruise at speeds up to 118 knots and will have a maximum range of 470 nautical miles. It will be capable of Visual Flight Rules/Day/Night operations.

The aircraft has a maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds, a service ceiling of 15,500 feet, a useful load of 490 pounds and a usable fuel load of 24 gallons. Its cabin width at shoulder height is 44.25 inches, and two cabin entry doors and forward pivoting seats give access to a 12.5 cubic-foot baggage compartment.

The SkyCatcher has tricycle landing gear with a castering nose wheel and standard dual toe-actuated disc brakes. The aluminium aircraft will meet ASTM standard F2245 for light sport aircraft.

First flight of the prototype SkyCatcher is set for the first half of this year and deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of 2009. Cessna expects to produce up to 700 a year at full-rate production.

More information visit www.cessna.com.