As the prices of airplanes start to drop, universities begin to look into replacements

Jamison Lamp

Jamison Lamp

SDSU and USD have looked into their aircraft needs over the last two years and after extensive studies, are looking for alternative options for funding.

“One-and-a-half to two years ago, we started looking at the need of the aircraft (a 1975 Cessna 310R) needing to be replaced,” Mike Reger, vice president of administration, said. “Historically, USD and SDSU have had airplanes, while others use them as well.”

Reger said they had looked into selling both SDSU and USD’s planes, valued at a couple hundred thousand dollars each.

“The issue is still on the table,” Rep. Larry Tidemann, chair of the appropriations committee, said. “It is not the emphasis it once was. The state does not have the money and is not going to find it. We have looked to the Aeronautic Board for loans.”

Tidemann stressed the importance of getting legislation in place, in the event that the universities would purchase a new plane or planes.

“Prices on planes have come down immensely,” Tidemann said.

The possibility of each university purchasing individual planes becomes more likely as prices drop.

“There was a study group over the summer,” Reger said. “They looked at the use, log books and travel data.

“At the time there was no good answer. There was no money to buy a new plane,” Reger said.

A new plane with pressurized cabin would cost over a million dollars.

“The biggest problem is the unpressurized cabins,” Reger said.

Without pressurized cabins, airplanes cannot fly over 12,000 feet. This prohibits flying if there is questionable weather.

“We need to have people flying at the safety they deserve,” Tidemann said.

The aircraft at SDSU is used for regional trips to conferences, meetings and other important events.

Reger said regional use is the most cost-effective. On average, using the airplane for a trip to Pierre and back costs approximately $300.

Typically, the airplane is used for the administration, but the Students’ Association (SA) and other entities on campus do use the plane.

“I have not used the airplane,” SA Vice President Eric Hanson said. “Another issue we face is the amount of space; we generally have 15 to 20 people when we travel.”

Students share in the inevitability of the airplane needs.

“I would say that now is not the best time, but it is something that will end up coming back anyway,” freshman agricultural business major Jeremy Noem said.

“It’s a discussion that needs to be happening,” Hanson said.

“We are not giving up. Something may come together,” Tidemann said.

#1.882063:2611663653.jpg:DSC_0040.jpg:SDSU’s airplane is a 1975 Cessna 310R and was rated in fair condition in a Legislative summer study.:Kaitie Krack