777 Freighter conversion program completes first flight tests at NIAR WERX


WERX at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research has completed the first pre-modification baseline test flight for the Kansas Modification Center’s 777-300ERCF passenger-to-freighter conversion program. 

Today’s flight is the first in a series of flight tests scheduled to take place at Air Capital Flight Line over the next several weeks. 

The three-hour flight, piloted by NIAR WERX test pilots Doug Benjamin and Jerry Whites, was conducted to capture data on the aircraft’s systems, which will be used to develop and certify the freighter modifications. Subsequent flights will measure the effects of various flight maneuvers and landing loads, as well as other aircraft systems performance. 

Last week, the State of Kansas approved $35 million in matching funds over the next five years for workforce and economic development through Wichita State’s NIAR WERX Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) program. Also last week, Kansas-based Dynamic NC produced the first structural replacement parts for the conversion program, including a 230-inch aluminum floor beam and a side frame. 

“I am excited for the speed at which the NIAR WERX team has progressed the test program and for the positive engagement we’ve experienced from the FAA – including active involvement of the Wichita FAA offices and the recent visit from FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims,” said KMC president and CEO Jim Gibbs. “The team is functioning at a high level of efficiency.”


WERX, a division of Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research, provides engineering, modification/repair/overhaul, environmental test and flight test/certification services. The NIAR WERX team includes a total of 425 program managers, engineers, contractors, technicians and paid applied learning students. 

About the Kansas Modification Center

Kansas Modification Center, led by President and CEO Jim Gibbs, was established in 2021 to meet the industry’s growing need for MRO and conversion programs. KMC team carries an established ethos in aviation research and development. Located in Wichita, Kansas, the heart of North America’s aerospace industry; KMC brings together the best technologically advanced teams necessary to accomplish one of the most formidable and challenging passenger-to-freighter conversions in today’s stringent regulatory environment.

About Wichita State

Wichita State University serves as the Kansas urban-based research university, enrolling more than 16,000 students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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