3:13 PM

at Columbia

Aero-News Network is all over the story breaking out of Bend, Oregon this week, explaining that just two weeks after Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing laid off 59 workers, now Bing Lantis has resigned as Chief Executive Officer of the planemaker. Columbia has also announced the temporary furlough of 185 employees, in order to give the company the opportunity to “refine production and more aggressively pursue Lean Manufacturing and Lean Enterprise processes improvements.”

This restructuring comes on the heels of a series of blows that Columbia took last year. From ANN:

As Aero-News reported earlier this month, Columbia laid off approximately 10 percent of its workforce, in an attempt to curb the effects from a series of financial roundhouses the company took in 2006. Despite achieving record sales and deliveries for the year, the company was also hit with a six-month certification delay for its Garmin G1000 glass panel installation. Just over two months after that certification was achieved, the planemaker was hit with a freak June hailstorm that necessitated the refinishing of more than 60 aircraft parked on the ramp, awaiting delivery.

The remaining 335 employees at Columbia will continue to deliver customer aircraft at the normal rate of four aircraft per week, which should be welcome news to anyone with a deposit in their order book.

I have to say, of all the layoffs we've seen over the years when so many deplorable companies shipped their jobs offshore, it gives me great pleasure to say that Columbia is not one of them. They seem to be doing this restructuring in a very classy way:
Columbia will continue to provide medical benefits for furloughed employees and dependents. The company will also invite furloughed employees to participate in Lean Manufacturing training sessions to prepare for their return to work, and will maintain contact with them regarding their status and anticipated Return to Work dates. The company also plans to provide a return-to-work cash incentive.
On a somewhat brighter note, in looking at the Columbia site today, I came across what might be the coolest web photo gallery out there. If you're a pilot, do yourself a favor by clicking here and checking it out yourself.

As an Oregonian, I am very proud to have the home of one of the slickest single-engine models just a couple of hours drive from my house, though the drop-dead gorgeous Santiam Pass, which cuts through the heart of the beautiful Cascade Range. As I have told myself many times, maybe this summer is the one where I'll actually get over to the Columbia plant for a VIP media tour, if such a thing exists.

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