sealPurdue News

November 1999

New aviation lab lands at Purdue

Sources: Michael Kroes, (765) 494-9957;
Fred Mohr, (317) 757-2737

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- United Airlines has donated a second commercial aircraft to Purdue University's aviation technology department.

The Boeing 737-200, repainted in Boilermaker gold and black, arrived at the Purdue Airport last spring and was dedicated as a life-sized learning lab in a special ceremony today (Friday, 9/10). It joins the Boeing 727-100 that United gave to the university in 1993.

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Like the 727, the aircraft will be used as an on-the-ground laboratory for the 600 students in the three aviation-related majors offered at Purdue; aeronautical technology, aviation administration and flight technology.

"We're delighted with the gift, not only because the 737 has newer technology than the 727, but also because having two large aircraft will allow more students to work simultaneously," said Michael Kroes, head of the aviation technology department. "It will be particularly useful to aeronautical technology students while learning heavy aircraft systems, operations, maintenance and engineering."

The 737 is the most widely used transport aircraft in the world. This particular plane was delivered to United in March 1969 and retired from service last July after completing 57,582 hours of flight time.

Fred Mohr, general manager of United's Indiana Maintenance Center in Indianapolis, said the donation continues the tradition of the airline's commitment to aviation education.

"Purdue's aviation technology department is a primary source of interns and employees for United, so it makes good business sense for the company to contribute to new learning opportunities for students," he said.

Both Kroes and Mohr, along with Don Gentry, dean of the School of Technology, and Ron Utecht, vice president for maintenance operations for United, participated in today's dedication ceremony.

Purdue faculty and United Airlines have a working relationship that dates back to 1992, when the company decided to build the maintenance facility at the Indianapolis International Airport, located about 60 miles south of the Purdue campus. Initially the aviation technology department oversaw an airline maintenance certification program and developed a schedule that allows students to earn a bachelor of science degree in aviation maintenance from Purdue by taking classes at United's Indianapolis facility.

In 1996, the airline began sponsoring research projects for teams of graduate and undergraduate students under the supervision of Purdue faculty. The partnership grew again last summer when faculty members worked with United officials to develop a management-focused master's degree in technology specifically geared for people in the airline industry.

Purdue, which in 1930 became the first university to establish an airport and which was the first university to offer a flight training program for college credit, is one of three universities to receive a retired 737 from United this year. In March, the company gave a 737-222 to Southern Illinois University, and on Sept. 3 a similar plane was dedicated at Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill.

Writer: Sharon Bowker, (765) 494-2077;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Purdue students line up for a good look at the aviation technology department's newest laboratory, a retired Boeing 737 aircraft donated by United Airlines. The plane arrived in West Lafayette on May 8 and was dedicated today (Friday, Sept. 10) for educational use. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

A publication-quality, downloadable photo is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Kroes.newplane

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