Founder Suing Columbia Aircraft


Columbia Aircraft founder Lance Neibauer is suing his former company for severance and for payment for rights to manufacturing processes he invented when he owned the firm. The company, which makes the certified Columbia 350 and 400 high performance aircraft (and is not to be confused with Lancair, the kit-build company Neibauer also founded) was taken over by its principal investor, the Malaysian government, and Neibauer was kept on as an employee until he was terminated in April 2006. Six months later, according to the Bend Bulletin, Neibauer launched a lawsuit claiming severance of $1.55 million. And in a separate action, launched in the last few weeks, Neibauer is claiming Columbia owes him $100,000 and $400,000 more over the next four years under an agreement signed in 2002. Neibauer claims the 2002 deal entitled him to $500,000 in annual payments of $100,000 on his departure from the company for the rights to composite technology he developed for the aircraft. Neibauers suit says the first payment was due at the end of last month. Columbia recently announced it is recalling employees furloughed six weeks ago as the company sold off excess inventory and retooled for more efficient production. It sold 47 aircraft in the first quarter of this year, one more than it did in the same period last year.