KU Endowment commits up to $8.1 million to buy new university airplane

Kansas University Endowment is bankrolling a new airplane for KU, at a cost of up to $8.1 million.

The new plane will replace one that KU purchased 17 years ago.

The plane is a large purchase, KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling said. But not unlike a family car, its usefulness will be spread over a period of time.

“We look at this as support over 15 to 20 years,” he said.

KU currently owns one plane, plus a share in a second plane. KU Endowment funded both of those purchases, and KU pays ongoing expenses.

The planes are used largely for KU Medical Center’s medical outreach program serving rural Kansas. Other uses include administrator travel and KU Athletics recruiting trips.

The new plane will be a Cessna Citation CJ4 business jet, hoped to be in use by the end of this year.

The plane it’s replacing is a Cessna Citation Bravo, which Seuferling said has logged 6,800 flight hours and more than 5,000 trips in the 17 years since KU bought it.

KU Endowment agreed to provide KU with a grant not to exceed $8.1 million to buy the new plane. The old plane will be sold or traded in, which will trim the cost of the new one, Seuferling said.

Seuferling said providing for aviation travel is an example of a way KU Endowment helps the university with needs for which there are no other funds available.

KU Endowment’s executive committee agreed to fund the plane in response to a formal request from the university.

The agreement follows a two-year study process. Seuferling said that helped determine it was time to replace KU’s old plane.

“You want to be at the point where you have really realized the majority of its useful productive life cycle without enduring expensive maintenance going forward and downtime for repairs,” he said.