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Wed, Nov 28, 2007

Cessna Confirms It Will Purchase Columbia Assets

Say Hello To The Cessna 350 And 400

Columbia Aircraft is officially no more. Tuesday evening, Cessna confirmed news that surfaced early that afternoon... that the planemaker was the high bidder for select assets of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Company.

Calling the purchase "a move to further broaden its single engine product portfolio," Cessna confirmed its bid of $26.4 million was the high bid in the Tuesday auction before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon.

"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 – one of the most trusted names in aviation," said Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack. J. 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."

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

"We plan to make significant investments in Bend, in people and operations, to bolster customer satisfaction and business profitability. We will continue to improve quality, reliability and performance as we strive to deliver customer value and fulfill our commitments," Pelton said.

Once the transaction is completed -- which Cessna expects to occur by December 4, 2007 -- the Bend operation will take on the Cessna name and be 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. "Current Columbia aircraft owners should feel very secure knowing their investment will now be supported through our vast global customer sales and service network."

Cessna currently offers eight single-engine piston models, beginning with the recently launched Cessna 162 SkyCatcher light sport aircraft. The SkyCatcher joins seven other high-wing piston models – the 172R, the more powerful 172SP, the new diesel-powered 172TD, standard models 182 and 206, and turbo-charged 182 and 206 models. The new Cessna 350 and Cessna 400 models add low-wing, high-performance and turbocharged piston aircraft options to the top end of the Cessna piston product line.

The Cessna 350 sports an all-composite airframe, Garmin G1000 avionics and GFC700 flight control system, and Teledyne Continental TSIO-550-C engine, while the Cessna 400 will offer the same features with dual turbochargers for the engine. The 400 is one of the fastest piston aircraft in the world with a top speed of 270 miles per hour -- more than 235 knots.

FMI: www.cessna.com, www.flycolumbia.com (still active, for now)


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