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Jul 31, 2012 5:01 PM

Pima Community College flying high with new jet

TUCSON - Pima Community College got a jumbo sized gift on Tuesday. FedEx donated a Boeing 727 transport plane to the Aviation Technology Center.

The jumbo jet is 34 years old but it's still operational and it's worth $800,000.

Originally built as a passenger jet in 1978, the 200,000 pound 727 was bought by FedEx 12 years later and converted into a transport jet.

Because FedEx is upgrading its fleet the old timer could have gone to the scrap yard, but FedEx had a better idea.

"It makes much more sense than parking them in the desert, so we want to give the students a hands on asset that they can actually train on," said Beth Rush, Contracts Administrator for FedEx.

The 727 will be converted into a classroom for PCC's Aviation Technology Center giving students hands on training. "We're preparing a workforce we want them to be competitive, we want them to be on the cutting edge, and this is what it takes. This is what it takes to have a classroom, a laboratory and the support of the industry," said Johnson Bia, President of the PCC Desert Vista Campus.

Over the past 12 years, FedEX has donated 53 Boeing 727's to various organizations for educational purposes. This is the second one given to PCC.

Makayla Garcia graduates from the program next week. She says the hands on experience is invaluable. "Like you said we're hands on we get more practice than all the other aviation programs out there," said Garcia.

PCC has received other donated aircraft but the two 727's from FedEx are the only aircraft still operational.

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