Cessna Commits to Bend

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The people of Bend, Ore. are likely sighing relief today after Cessna CEO Jack Pelton said the Columbia Aircraft plant will be maintained and there will also be "significant" investment in the company if Cessna is the successful bidder for Columbia's assets. "It will stay in Bend, Ore.," Pelton told a crowded news conference at AOPA Expo in Hartford on Thursday. "That's where the workforce is." Pelton also said Cessna's booming facilities in Kansas are at capacity and there's no room to accommodate Columbia production. Pelton said the intention is to continue production of the existing Columbia line and to ramp up production to 250 airplanes a year. He also hinted the Columbia plant will be involved with future production of the Next Generation Piston line of aircraft but he did not elaborate.

Pelton said he first approached Columbia about buying the company at Sun 'n Fun in 2006 but it wasn't until the Oregon company was on the brink of bankruptcy that he could sign a letter of intent. There are other bidders for the assets but Cessna has to be considered the odds-on favorite.