7:40 PM

Rumor No More

If you thought that the buzz about Cessna making a play for Columbia was just hangar flying B.S., this press release from Cessna's own site will prove you wrong:

Cessna Aircraft Company, the world’s leading manufacturer of general aviation aircraft and a subsidiary of Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT), said today it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation to acquire selected assets and certain liabilities of the Bend, Oregon-based aircraft manufacturer. According to Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack J. Pelton, “Columbia’s unique capability in the high-end single-engine piston market makes it a perfect complement to our Next Generation Piston product line and could provide our customers with the option of an outstanding low-wing, high-performance piston airplane. We believe the combination of this superb product line and Cessna’s world class support structure and brand will be unbeatable.”
This is far from being a done deal however. Columbia filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy today, opening the door for other "bidders" to throw their cash on the table:
Columbia submitted a motion with the Bankruptcy Court seeking approval of the sale to Cessna and establishing bidding procedures that enable other interested bidders to submit offers and bid at an auction to be held in November. The sale to Cessna is contingent upon the approval of the Bankruptcy Court and the satisfaction of the closing conditions set forth in the LOI, including the execution of a definitive purchase agreement with Cessna.
And if you thought Cessna was still on the fence about building a low-wing product to compete head-to-head with Cirrus, think again. The pull quote below is from Cessna's own press release:
“The sale of Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing assets to Cessna offers the best avenue to maximize value for all of Columbia’s stakeholders and existing and future customers. Cessna is excited about the prospect of adding the Columbia products to its product line and will provide additional capabilities, world-class processes and financial strength to effectively serve existing Columbia customers and grow the business.
This is one of those developments that can change an industry forever. I've always thought that just south of a half a million dollars was too much to pay for a pretty new Skylane with 13 fuel drains and a glass panel. But if the Kings of Kansas can debut a low-wing model in the near future, Cessna will then have something that in my book can rightfully be called a true 'Next Generation' machine.

Oh, and the photo that accompanies this post is a Photoshop "mash-up" of what a low-winger from Cessna might look like...or not. Please do not take this photo seriously, it is really just fun with pixels.

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