NIAR and Erickson Precision Ventures unveil inaugural aircraft conversion program


Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) WERX and Erickson Precision Ventures LLC announced their first collaborative passenger to freighter (P2F) conversion program of an Airbus 321.  

In May, the duo announced a collaborative agreement to perform as many as 24 conversions per year beginning in 2023, including modification, maintenance and engineering of the aircraft.

“The NIAR team, resources and facilities offer 321 Precision Conversions a unique opportunity to add an expansive mod center to our portfolio of installation facilities," said Gary Warner, Erickson Precision Ventures president. “The scale of the operations here in Wichita are truly impressive, and seeing the level of support from Wichita State University levels gives us all the confidence in the future of the program.”

The A321 P2F conversion is the newest addition to the NIAR WERX portfolio, which also includes P2F and special mission conversions. 

“We’re thrilled to add another aircraft to the NIAR conversion portfolio,” said NIAR WERX Executive Director David Jones. “The agreement with Erickson Precision Ventures allows us to continue to train and prepare Wichita State and WSU Tech students for careers in aviation maintenance and engineering, while expanding the expertise and capability of the Wichita and Kansas workforce.”

Growing training opportunities for WSU and WSU Tech students

In addition to full-time engineers and engineering students at WSU-NIAR, the conversion program will involve the efforts of WSU Tech students through the Get to WERX program. Get to WERX is an earn-and-learn program that offers full-time, paid employment with NIAR WERX while progressing through WSU Tech’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program and simultaneously earning credits towards the Bachelor of Applied Sciences degree in Organizational Leadership and Learning at Wichita State.

“We have seen the incredible impact made on students’ education when starting day one with employment and day two with their education,” said Sheree Utash, President of WSU Tech. “Through the Get to WERX program, they gain real-world, practical experience under the mentorship of experienced engineers and mechanics at NIAR WERX. This collaboration increases and diversifies the opportunities our students have to gain invaluable lessons, experiences and skills.”

WSU President Rick Muma has championed the NIAR WERX MRO program as a critical component of WSU’s vision for providing applied learning opportunities to its students and fulfilling its mission to be an economic driver for Kansas.

“Over the past year or so, the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul program has been an essential driver in fueling the talent pipeline through career training and education for our students, as well as full-time employment for aircraft and engineering professionals in southcentral Kansas,” said Muma. “The MRO has also been a fundamental force in advancing the overall prosperity of Kansas by further establishing our reputation as the Air Capital of the World.”

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