The Name Is Columbia

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Lancair Certified aircraft has officially changed its name to Columbia Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (CAM) and appeared at Oshkosh with a new logo, new features on its aircraft and its biggest presence to date. Randy Bollinger, V.P. of Marketing and Sales told AVweb, "We knew there was confusion [in distinguishing Lancair certified from Lancair kit aircraft]," he said. But Lancair grew concerned when research showed that the confusion ranged "...from the consumer all the way up to the NTSB." It seems when the NTSB reported a crash, "they would just identify the airplane as a Lancair -- but we have never had a crash in a certified airplane." Regardless, the change didn't confuse buyers. This week began with six new Columbia 400s in front of CAM's tent. By Wednesday all had sold -- each for roughly $475,000. Several more orders were taken as well. CAM expects to build 175 airplanes by the end of this year and 230 next year. International sales centers are open in the U.K., Germany, Brazil, and Australia. Over 230 Columbias are already in service.

The name change permeates other areas -- with Jepp Charts on the Multi-function Display (MFD) called E-Charts and the soon-to-be certified de-ice called E-vade (cute). The portrait orientation of the MFD lets the pilot view the entire approach plate at a glance. The de-ice system will be available in a few months and they are taking orders for the $25,000 system on current orders. Existing Colombia aircraft can be retrofitted as well. The system won't be known ice certified, but is as "simple as pitot heat." The pilot turns it on before entering potential icing conditions or as needed to get out. With over 230 Columbias in the field and new ones produced at four per week, the company has bolstered its support system. The Columbia Aircraft Repair and Maintenance Association (CARMA), now offers 70 service centers nationwide. "Now Columbia customers have good CARMA," said Bollinger. (Just smiled politely ... maybe you'll get a ride.)

Columbia expects to announce a 2006 edition at AOPA Expo this year, but don't look for anything more than a new paint scheme. Bollinger admits that pressurization and retractable gear are in the long-term vision. "The fuselage was designed with space for the gearbox. That's why the gear are placed where they are."