A 34-year-old FedEx jet is scheduled to make its final taxi next week to Pima Community College’s Aviation Technology Center, where it will be used to train hundreds of students preparing to enter one of Tucson’s most vibrant industries.

The Boeing 727-200F – valued at $800,000 – is being donated to the College by FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp.

“As we retire this 727 from our fleet, we are proud to give back to the aviation community,” said David Sutton, managing director of Aircraft Acquisition and Sales for FedEx. “The donation of this aircraft by FedEx is just one example of the many ways we support educational endeavors, reflecting the community spirit shared by all FedEx employees in the communities where we live and work.”

Students in PCC’s Aviation Technology Program will use the nearly 200,000-pound jet as a giant classroom where they will receive state-of-the art, hands-on training in three specialized areas of concentration: Airframe and Powerplant; Avionics; and Structural Repair.

PCC Interim Chancellor Dr. Suzanne L. Miles welcomed the donation, saying it represents a commitment to education by one the country’s best-known companies.

“This generous donation by FedEx helps our Aviation Technology Program continue training students to the highest levels,” Miles said. “The training we provide is why our students are in great demand with such aviation industry leaders as Bombardier, Ascent and Marana Aerospace Solutions.”

To celebrate the donation, a reception and ceremony will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 31 at PCC’s Aviation Technology Center, which is on the grounds of Tucson International Airport. The center includes a 10,700 square-foot hangar, where students work on a variety of aircraft models, from single-engine Piper and Cessna airplanes to commercial jet aircraft. Tours of the new FedEx jet will follow a brief ceremony.

The donated 727-200F was built in 1978 as a passenger jet for now-defunct Braniff Airways. FedEx bought it in 1990, converting it to transport cargo throughout the United States. The jet – stretching 153 feet from nose to tail and 108 feet from wingtip to wingtip – was capable of reaching a top speed of 685 mph and an altitude of 36,000 feet.

The 727-200F joins two Boeing 727-100 jets, including a Boeing 727-116 donated by FedEx in 2003. The 727-116 had begun service in 1968 as a passenger jet in South America. Federal Express purchased it in 1979. Tom Hinman, Aviation Technology Program manager, noted that PCC has been fortunate in receiving several small and large aircraft donations since 1992. Notably, the Dash-8 aircraft was donated by Bombardier in recent years. However, the 727-116 donated by FedEx had been the only operable jet donated until the 727-200F. In their time in use by the College, the 727-100s have trained hundreds of Aviation Technology Program students.

“A full 50 percent of the PCC program’s curriculum now is based upon commercial jet aircraft, whereas most other airframe and powerplant schools include only the smallest of aircraft in their curriculums,” Hinman said. “Those that do teach the bigger planes do so in theory only.”

For Adolfo Arellano, who is pursuing his Associate of Applied Science in Aviation Technology at PCC, learning on a commercial jet is vital to his career. The 24-year-old Amphitheater High School graduate is working part-time at Marana Aerospace Solutions while he completes his degree. At Marana, he does airframe and powerplant work on Boeing 747s, 757s, 767s and Airbus A320s, among others.

“The 727 is Boeing’s backbone – it was the first jet with a complex mechanical system,” said Arellano, who plans to transfer to either Eastern New Mexico University or Embry-Riddle University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in management and aviation. “If you know the 727, then you can understand and work on all of the other Boeings. It allows you to be more efficient in your work, too.”

PCC’s Aviation Technology Program is highly regarded in the aerospace industry. A recent story in Inside Tucson Business called the program “one of the best kept secrets among many in the Tucson region.” Many veterans are among its students, as discussed in a story that appeared in the Arizona Daily Star.

PCC’s intensive program offers certificate and degree opportunities in Airframe and Powerplant, Avionics, and Structural Repair concentrations, and requires some students to take more than two years to complete all their requirements. Most Aviation Technology Program students combine at least two concentrations.

Since 2000, FedEx has donated 53 of its Boeing 727 aircraft to various organizations for educational purposes.

“Our program is one of the best in the business,” Hinman said. “The donation of this jet shows how business and education can work together to ensure the ongoing prosperity of our community. It is the job of all leaders to create future leaders, and that is exactly what Federal Express is doing here. They are a model corporate citizen and it is a privilege to work with FedEx in this partnership.”

What: Arrival and Turn-over Ceremony

When: 10 a.m., Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Where: PCC Aviation Technology Center, 7211 S. Park Ave. (on the grounds of Tucson International Airport)

Details: FedEx is donating a Boeing 727-200F aircraft to PCC’s Aviation Technology Program. Tours of the aircraft will follow a brief ceremony

Info: 206-5910

About FedEx Express

FedEx Express is the world's largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date with a money-back guarantee.

About FedEx Corp.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $42 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.

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