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Sun, Apr 15, 2007

Kent State Returns Retired FedEx Plane To Sender

727 Was Offered For Proposed Aviation Maintance Program

There will be no landing of a decommissioned FedEx Boeing 727 at Ashtabula County Airport (KHZY), OH this week.

The decision not to accept the donation by Kent State University-Ashtabula campus officials last Monday came after KSU officials had called it a cornerstone for the tech program, currently under development, according to the Ashtabula Star Beacon.

"It was a generous offer from FedEx, but the program is not up and running yet," said Frank Vaccarello, KSU-Ashtabula campus public relations director. "We are confident the class will be approved by the Ohio Board of Regents."

In actions that might have influenced the KSU decision, concerns over safety factors were raised by two airport tenants in a letter sent Friday to KSU-Ashtabula Dean Susan Stocker.

The Ashtabula County Airport Authority and the airport managers, meanwhile, had been making preliminary preparations to receive the large aircraft this week.

The tenants, who rent hangar space, asked KSU officials to reconsider storing the plane at the airport in a letter written by their attorney.

Dr. Isaac Netty, director of KSU's aviation programs, expressed disappointment in the attitude taken by the tenants through their lawyer, criticizing the plans for the FedEx donation.

"I'm grateful to Scott Wilson of Lakeside Aviation (airport operations management) and the airport authority board for trying to work with us. I'm disappointed that the two airport tenants refused to compromise to benefit education," Netty said Tuesday.

"We shall continue to explore other areas of partnership with FedEx officials. I am appalled about the comments made by the tenants regarding the plane offer."

Asked if the airport tenants' complaints played a role in the decision to decline the FedEx plane, Vaccarello replied, "Yes it did. Also, we do have to get a building up first. Our main campus development department notified FedEx officials Tuesday thanking them for their generous offer."

"There might be a better fit later on, like something a little smaller than a 727. This could have been a wonderful extra for us. We would have stood out for sure," Vaccarello said.

FMI: www.kent.edu/regional/Campuses/ashtabula.cfm, http://www2.ashtabula.com/detail.asp?id=4831

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