TULSA, Oklahoma - The NORDAM Group, one of Tulsa's largest employers, is moving forward in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saying it is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

Hundreds of pages filed in bankruptcy court show the reasons behind the petition for Chapter 11 protection.

For more than 50 years, NORDAM has been a Tulsa staple - designing and manufacturing for the global aviation community.

"This, quite candidly, I'm sure, came as a surprise to many and caught them totally off guard,” said Tulsa Chamber President Mike Neal.

NORDAM said the move came in response to a contract dispute with Canadian-based company Pratt and Whitney, to design and build engine parts for new Gulfstream aircraft.

"They had indicated to us that there were some real challenges around their relationship, around their contract with Pratt and Whitney," Neal said.

NORDAM CEO Meredith Madden said, "This court filing is not what we wanted to do but it is what we had to do. It is the best path forward for our company because it allows our business to operate without interruption."

The petition shows NORDAM was more than $285 million in debt. The documents also show the Siegfried family, who started NORDAM in 1969, tried to help by giving close to $20 million of its own money to the company in an unsecured loan.

"We will be having dialogue with company leaders offering any assistance we can provide, the City can provide and the governor and State can provide,” Neal said.

NORDAM's CEO also said outside of this contract situation, the company is performing well and they continue to pursue new business opportunities.

"There have been many companies that have gone through Chapter 11 reorganization and have come out much stronger companies,” Neal said.

The chamber also said that if there are any layoffs they will help with outplacement with other aviation and aerospace companies hiring in Tulsa in order to keep those employees local.