Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Senator Jerry Moran visit campus to discuss new 777 passenger-to-freighter project

Governor Laura Kelly and Senator Jerry Moran paid campus a visit Wednesday to speak about the expansion of the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Program (MRO).

The press conference was held at WERX on WSU’s NIAR campus and hosted multiple speakers who spoke of their excitement for the expanding Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Program (MRO). 

The media and students were also taken on a tour of the 777 passenger aircraft, which will be converted by the Kansas Modification Center into a freight plane to meet the growing needs of the e-commerce and express cargo market.

Jim Gibbs, president of the Kansas Modification Center, said that they decided to put an MRO station in Kansas at this facility because of the support that they get from the university, local manufacturers, and local city council members. Gibbs said that in the next ten years, he sees thousands of employees working for this facility. 

“I would like to congratulate all of you here today for the accomplishment of bringing this aircraft here to Wichita,” Gibbs said.  “So it is very difficult to convince an operator to bring an asset of this size and this value to a company that has not done a lot of MRO’s.

“Over the next 25 months, we will hope to continue to surprise our competition, the OEM, and our customers with the delivery and the performance of the modifications we do on this aircraft.”

Lena Alhallaq/ The Sunflower

Governor Laura Kelly said that her administration will be a partner to help complete this project.

“Together, we will strengthen our aviation sector for now and for future generations,” Kelly said. “Luckily, there is no better state than Kansas to take full advantage of the 777 passenger freedom project.”

Kelly said that education has an important role of being in charge of shaping the future generation of aviation workers.

“Here in Kansas, our colleges and universities play a simple role in our state’s continued success,” Kelly said. “They take a dynamic approach to .. creating jobs, nurturing the next generation of thinkers, and responding to their communities needs.”

Kelly said that technical education programs at WSU attract young aviation workers. She said that she looks forward to future collaborations and announcements like this one.

“Today is just the beginning of something big, which will boost our economic development opportunities for our state and community for years to come,” Kelly said.  “I’m really excited to see this project move forward and become one of the many reasons Wichita is known as the air capital of the world.”

Senator Moran said that the composition of this community is made up of entrepreneurs, workers, an education system rooted in research, and technical skills.

“A country that is in desperate need of people who know how to use their brains and their hands to make something happen .. you get what we have happening here today, what this moment represents, which is just a moment in a long history of a better Wichita and a better Kansas because of this one circumstance that we are announcing today,” Moran

Moran said that other cities in this country would love to be the air capital of the world, and the competition is great.  

“Wichita is, and will remain, the air capital of the world because of the assets that we just talked about.  We are on the path to a better future, a brighter future … We have the best companies, the best employees, the latest technology, the latest developments,” Moran said.