GREENVILLE, SC. — On Wednesday, June 19, a FedEx Express aircraft will be permanently grounded at a new home at USAeroTech Institute in Greenville, S.C., where it will serve the training needs of aviation students.
After arriving from the FedEx hub in Indianapolis, the 727 will be towed to its permanent home at USAeroTech, where students there will learn about the mechanical aspects of large aircraft.
“FedEx 727 freighters, once the backbone of FedEx’s domestic fleet, are being retired and replaced with Boeing 757s,” Beth Rush of FedEx Express Aircraft Acquisitions and Sales, said. “Donating these retired aircraft provides the critical hands-on training on large aircraft that is important to the skill set of the next generation of aircraft technicians.”
To date, Rush said, FedEx has donated more than 70 727s to aviation schools, colleges and local community airports and fire departments for training purposes. The donation to USAeroTech is the company’s first in the State of South Carolina. FedEx, she said, is upgrading its fleet with more fuel efficient, lower emission aircraft under a company fleet modernization program.
“Like most airframe and powerplant schools, we have always used small aircraft for lab time,” said Mark D. Spang, a partner with USAeroTech, LLC. “Curriculum that does include information about bigger planes is presented only in theory and students learn about these aircraft on the computer, by watching videos or reading text books. Due to the generosity of FedEx, our instructors will soon be able to demonstrate to students how systems work on large aircraft.”
Aviation industry estimates indicate a need for more than 600,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians over the next two decades, Spang noted. He said training tools, such as the 727, are essential to fostering interest in the aviation profession.
“If you know the 727, then you can understand and work on other large aircraft,” Spang said. “Students will be able to develop skills that will one day enable them to qualify for important jobs in the aviation industry.”
The 727 should arrive about 11 a.m. where it will be greeted with a ceremony to celebrate the 727’s retirement and its new status as a learning laboratory for USAeroTech aircraft maintenance students.
Traditionally, all FedEx aircraft are named after the children of FedEx employees. The name on the donated aircraft is “Atima“, which is an old Sanskrit name meaning “Proud.” “Atima” is a 727-200F, registration number N236FE that first flew on April 18, 1977 and has logged over 69,437 hours of flight time.
A 727 weighs in at about 191,000 pounds when loaded and has a tail height of 34 feet. It is capable of reaching a top speed of 685 mph and an altitude of 36,000 feet.
“With a wingspan of 108 feet, measuring 153 feet from nose to tail, and a maximum passenger capacity of 189, I am pretty sure that this is the biggest plane to ever land at Greenville Downtown Airport,”said Joe Frasher, director of the Greenville Downtown Airport. “The pilots of the 727 plan to perform a low pass fly over before landing. This one-time event will be exciting to watch.”
If you would like to watch the 727 land, a good spot to view the action is from the new community aviation themed park at the Greenville Downtown Airport, one of the two observation areas at the airport, at the terminal building located at 100 Tower Drive, or at the Runway Cafe which is located at 21 Airport Road Extension. The aircraft will be available to tour for free by the general public at USAeroTech’s school, located at 8 Opportunity Place (on the grounds of Greenville Downtown Airport) about an hour after the plane lands up until 7 p.m.
USAeroTech is a professional aircraft maintenance training facility located at the Greenville Downtown Airport (GMU) in the Upstate of South Carolina. USAeroTech offers an accelerated one-year training program that prepares students for the FAA examinations leading to certification as an airframe and powerplant mechanic (A&P certificate). Classes are held 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 48 weeks and consist of classroom instructional time as well as hands-on training. For more information: USAeroTech.net