Columbia Lays Off 300, Cites Garmin G1000 Delay

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Columbia Aircraft of Bend, Ore., announced on Monday evening that it laid off about 300 workers after avionics supplier Garmin said it would delay shipments of the primary flight display used in the Columbia 350 and 400. Garmin said the delay was caused by "an inherent problem in the AHRS (Attitude, Heading & Reference System) of its G1000 integrated avionics system," according to Columbia's news release. The problem limits aircraft operations to VFR only and prevents Columbia from issuing a Certificate of Airworthiness for customer delivery. "This latest supplier-driven interruption is very frustrating," said Columbia President Wan Majid. "Our recovery plan was masterfully executed earlier this year and deliveries have been proceeding on target. In fact, Columbia has delivered 220 aircraft in the past four quarters -- our best performance in company history. However, we simply cannot continue to complete and deliver new aircraft without the functionality and reliability that customers demand. Unfortunately, this means that we have no alternative but to furlough portions of our workforce until the issue is resolved." Columbia said the production line will "grind to a halt" until the issue is resolved and parts shipments are restored. Columbia said it had been selling and delivering aircraft at a record pace in 2007. "The chief concern is that the avionics supplier is unable to definitively confirm when the problem will be resolved or when parts shipments will resume to Columbia," the company said in the news release. "According to Garmin, all G1000 Primary Flight Displays manufactured on or after May 1, 2007, are suspect," Columbia added. Majid said further layoffs may be necessary if Garmin is unable to quickly resolve the issue and resume component shipments.