WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) WERX has received its first Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft.

As part of its rapidly growing Maintenance Repair and Overhaul program (MRO), WSU-NIAR WERX, in conjunction with the Kansas Modification Center, will convert the passenger aircraft into a freighter that will be transferred to an external client to meet the growing needs of the e-commerce and express cargo market.

The Kansas Modification Center, led by President and CEO Jim Gibbs, is a newly formed business aimed at meeting the industry’s growing need for MRO and conversion programs.

Leaders say this will provide student opportunities, economic growth, and cement Wichita’s future as the Air Capital of the World.

“Wichita is and will remain the Air Capital of the World because of the assets we just talked about. We are on the path for a better future, a brighter future based upon our past, but based upon what we are doing to make sure we don’t lose that designation,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

“Today is just the beginning of something big which will boost our economic development opportunities for our state for many years to come,” said Gov. Laura Kelly. “We are really excited to see this project move forward and become just one of the many reasons why Wichita is known as the Air Capital of the World.”

The 777 conversion program will provide unique applied learning opportunities for WSU engineering and WSU Tech airframe and powerplant mechanics students.

“These applied learning experiences for our students also help mitigate the cost of higher education. They’ll earn a paycheck for their work and will relieve a significant financial burden for many of them in their lives,” Wichita State University President Dr. Richard Muma.