FAST planes save money for OU staff, faculty, student groups
Those who fancy jetting around on a private aircraft have the option to do so with the OU Department of Aviation.
Approved student groups, faculty and staff can charter a plane at rates competitive to buying plane tickets separately on a commercial airline.
The Faculty and Staff Transportation (FAST) program allows OU authorized personnel to fly on their five-seat Beechcraft BE58 Baron or a seven-seat King Air C90B to any part of the nation.
The planes are first and foremost used for the training of student pilots, but they also can be used as a charter during downtime.
Currently, Baron users are charged $1.91 per mile and King Air users are charged $2.95 per mile. The service is charged on a per plane basis rather than per passenger so travelers could achieve maximum savings by filling a plane to capacity.
The service fees include a $30 pilot prep fee as well as a $30 per hour wait fee at the destination. The fee has increased by 4 percent since the fall of 2009 because of soaring fuel and maintenance costs, said Kenneth R. Carson, director of the aviation department.
One of advantage of the service is the locations. Planes depart from Max Westheimer Airpark in Norman, saving time spent traveling to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.
“We suspect that a significant advantage of business aviation is the ability to fly to the final destination more directly,” Carson said. “Additionally, time constraints associated with commercial aviation is all minimized by business aviation.”
Commercial flight constraints could include security screening, parking and transportation costs and arrival and departure times.
The planes also are not limited to regional trips.
“Both planes are capable of flying to Texas or the Florida panhandle, as well as to Iowa and Colorado. Longer flights would require a landing to refuel,” Carson said.
He also said flights to Canada and Mexico are possible, as long as the pilot in command complied with international flight procedures.
On average, the program carries out three to five trips every month. The University Development Office, athletics department and the Health Sciences Center are among the top users of the FAST service.
Since the program’s inception in 1991, no student organization has requested use of the FAST services. In the event of a request, it would be reviewed by OU’s Risk Management Office, and would need to comply with the insurance policies of the aircraft and university.