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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Wichita State aviation research center gets Boeing plane to convert for air freight industry

By David Schwartz
Published: September 14th, 2021

WERX at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) has received its first Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft, which it will convert into a freighter for an industry client.

The project is part of NIAR’s growing initiative to maintain, repair and overhaul aircraft. The WERX program has engineering and technical students at WSU and WSU Tech work with a faculty team to develop engineering and testing plans for new aircraft and complete aircraft modifications and overhauls.

The Boeing passenger plane will be converted into a freight plane. then transferred to a client in the e-commerce and express cargo market.

“This is an exceptional chance for the students to gain practical, real-world experience, working under the mentorship of experienced engineers and licensed mechanics,” said Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech.

The NIAR WERX team will work alongside the Kansas Modification Center, a new business aimed at meeting the aviation industry’s need for maintenance, repair and overhaul programs. It will own the aircraft Supplemental Type Certificate and license the conversions.

The program to convert the 777 aircraft will allow students a hands-on learning opportunity in Wichita State’s College of Engineering and WSU Tech’s airframe and powerplant mechanics programs.

“This is a rare opportunity for students to gain experience working on an industry program alongside and under the guidance of NIAR’s seasoned team of experts,” noted WERX director Dave Jones. “Our engineers have the unique chance to pass their combined 7,500 years of experience in design, production and testing on to the next generation of aviation professionals.”

Governor Laura Kelly said the new collaboration fits in well with the state’s economic development initiatives. The collaboration “will create new opportunities for commercial aviation while demonstrating the world-class sophistication of our state’s aviation experts,” Kelly said.

Source: The Wichita Eagle

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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