ANN has confirmed that
a large percentage of the Columbia Aircraft manufacturing
work-force was laid off Monday, due to the reported lack of
critical avionics components needed to finish the aircraft. "Nearly
300" staffers were notified Monday that they were furloughed until
components of the Garmin G1000 glass panel system were delivered in
sufficient quantity to re-start the production line.
Garmin recently notified Columbia of an inherent problem in
the AHRS (Attitude, Heading & Reference System) of its G1000
integrated avionics system that will delay shipments of the Primary
Flight Display used in the Columbia 350 and 400. The problem limits
aircraft operations to VFR only and causes an inability for
Columbia to issue a Certificate of Airworthiness to customer
specifications for delivery.
A Columbia staffer noted that other manufacturers were also
reporting problems in getting necessary deliveries of a critical
component of the G1000 and that they were in the "same boat" as
A Columbia statement reports that, "The resultant supply chain
stoppage and business interruption is forcing Columbia Aircraft
Manufacturing to furlough a portion of its direct workforce as the
production line grinds to a halt until the issue is resolved and
parts shipments commence. Customer Care, Factory Service Center,
Sales, Marketing and Engineering will continue to provide the same
level of support during the interim period until parts shipments
enable production to begin."
Columbia officials learned of the problem from Garmin last week
after other aircraft manufacturers reported attitude failure modes
within the Primary Flight Display. 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. According to Garmin, all G1000 Primary Flight Displays
manufactured on or after May 1, 2007 are suspect.
"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."
Majid confirmed that Columbia furloughed nearly 300 employees
from its manufacturing facility. He also stated that it is possible
that the Company will have to furlough additional employees if
Garmin is unable to resolve the issue and resume component
"Unfortunately, this problem is completely out of our
control. I am deeply troubled to have to once again ask our
valued employees to make this type of sacrifice as the result of
supply chain issues. We will do everything in our power to
resolve the situation as quickly as possible, but unfortunately I
am not in a position to commit to a timeline at this point," Majid
said. The Company is in constant contact with Garmin management and
is supporting their efforts for a quick and proper solution.
Just last month, Columbia announced a healthy second quarter for
the high-performance aircraft manufacturer, having delivered 55 new
Columbia 350 and 400 aircraft in the second quarter of 2007, more
than double the number delivered during the same period in 2006.
While the Columbia's 2007 delivery pace was ahead of the figures
posted in 2006, company officials cautioned that comparing 2006 to
2007 could lead to misconceptions.
"Early 2006 was very challenging for us and our second quarter
deliveries in particular were severely hampered by a freak hail
storm that delayed delivery of a 66 aircraft," said Columbia
President and CEO Wan Majid. "That said, our deliveries are right
on plan for 2007, and sales demand has been strong through the
first half of the year."
Despite strong sales activity, supplier issues have brought a
number of aircraft manufacturers to a virtual standstill or
necessitated delays in aircraft production schedules... and a
number of them were associated, also, with avionics. Eclipse's
switch to a new vendor for its AVIO avionics suite, and the
redesign of that system several months ago, cost the company a
number of months in production delays.
The Garmin delays, if widespread, may affect quite a few
manufacturers and create shortages throughout the GA industry, as
the G1000 has achieved a high OEM adoption rate among such
companies as Cessna, Diamond, Mooney, Piper and others.
ANN is looking into this issue and its effect on other
manufacturers. We expect to update this report as soon as we can
contact affected parties during normal business hours, later