BEND, Ore. (AP) — Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Co. announced Monday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will be acquired by the world's leading manufacturer of small planes.
Columbia, known as The Lancair Co. until 2005, makes premium piston-engine aircraft that seat four people. It launched operations in the mid-1990s, and the current manufacturing facility opened in Bend in 1999.
The company faced financial hardship in 2002, but had managed to boost its work force back to more than 600 employees before a string of furloughs reduced the number to less than 450.
''We have explored many options over the past months,'' Carl Young, Columbia's chief restructuring officer, said in a statement posted on the company Web site. ''This path enables the company to manage its present cash flow and liabilities while pursuing a plan that enables us to continue operating until a final sale can be completed.''
The company cited several events that led to cash-flow problems, such as a hail storm that damaged 67 aircraft awaiting delivery to customers and a recent supply chain disruption.
Cessna Aircraft Co., the world's leading manufacturer of general aviation aircraft and a subsidiary of Textron Inc., said Monday it has signed a letter of intent to acquire ''selected assets and certain liabilities'' of the Bend plane-maker.
Columbia submitted a motion to the Bankruptcy Court seeking approval of the sale to Cessna and establishing procedures that enable other interested bidders to submit offers and bid at an auction to be held in November.
''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,'' Young said.