NIAR WERX Expands MRO Program Capabilities


Wichita State University’s (WSU) National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) WERX program is expanding its MRO capabilities under a new agreement with Erickson Precision Ventures. The agreement includes cooperation on a range of modification, maintenance and engineering projects for Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

NIAR will be completing maintenance and conversions for Erickson subsidiary Erickson Aero Tanker, which is specialized in aerial firefighting aircraft. It began performing virtual and physical engineering and modification of MD-87 aircraft for Erickson last year, and the extended contract will involve modification programs for Airbus A321 and Boeing 757 aircraft.

In Q3 of this year, NIAR WERX will also begin performing passenger-to-freighter (PTF) conversions for Erickson. The work will add the A321 and 757 to its PTF conversion portfolio and NIAR WERX says it expects to perform 12-24 conversions per year for Precision Aircraft Solutions, a subsidiary of The Erickson Group, Ltd.

According to a representative for NIAR WERX, its MRO program is “growing at exponential rates.” Due to the partnership with Erickson and the recently announced expansion of Kansas Modification Center’s 777-800ERCF PTF conversion program—for which NIAR WERX is providing the engineering, certification and modifications—NIAR WERX expects to add up to 1,500 jobs over the next five years.

To recruit for these roles, it has launched a new workforce pipeline program called Get to WERX, which offers full-time paid employment for students as they progress through WSU Tech’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program. The first cohort of 12 students began the program in January and a spokesperson for WSU Tech says it plans to expand its next cohort to 25 students. It is currently accepting applications for the second group, which will begin classes on Aug. 29. The school is also hoping to recruit individuals from outside the Wichita area by offering a $1,000 relocation bonus provided by the Greater Wichita Partnership.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.