UT plans to replace 30-year-old plane with $5.2M turboprop

KNOXVILLE Tenn.

The University of Tennessee plans to sell its nearly 30-year-old plane and replace it with a new $5.2 million plane.

UT officials said they think they can get about $825,000 for the 1978 Beechcraft King Air 200 and put it toward a new Beechcraft King Air 350 twin-engine turboprop.

The old plane, which UT bought in 1985, has logged almost 13,000 flight hours. Officials estimate it has exceeded the national industry average for use by about 21 percent.

Maintenance costs have made owning it less cost-effective, said UT Chief Financial Officer Gary Rogers. An engine overhaul two years ago cost $600,000.

The plane was grounded for nearly six weeks last year because of maintenance and performance issues.

Rogers said a new plane would also bring the advantages of new warranties, equipment upgrades and pilot training.

UT officials use the plane mostly within the state for operations and university business.

The old plane has seen its own share of controversy. Former UT President John Shumaker resigned in August 2003 when other officials began questioning his lavish spending and personal use of the plane.

UT Vice President Hank Dye announced earlier this month that he would reimburse the university for half of the cost of a $1,600 flight that he, UT President John Petersen and others took to Bristol in August to meet with university supporters at a NASCAR race.

Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

– Associated Press



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