Pima Community College is getting a whopper of a donation: one that weighs nearly 200,000 pounds.
A retired Boeing 727 is due to touch down next week at its new home in PCC's Aviation Technology Center at Tucson International Airport.
There, it will serve as a giant classroom in the college's aviation program, helping students grasp the mechanical complexities of larger commercial aircraft.
The 34-year-old jet, valued by the college at $800,000, is a gift from cargo carrier FedEx Express, which formerly used the aircraft as part of its quick-shipping network.
In the past decade or so, FedEx has made dozens of similar donations to museums, fire departments and aviation-mechanic schools. This is its second donation to PCC since 2003.
Jim McCluskey, a spokesman for FedEx Express, said the firm is upgrading its fleet to Boeing 757s, which are newer and more fuel-efficient. The company has a longtime practice of giving away older aircraft for education and training purposes.
"The last thing we want to do is just park them out in the desert. We'd rather donate them to allow them to be used," he said.
FedEx prides itself on contributing to the communities in which its employees live and work, McCluskey said.
"We have a lot of proud FedEx people in the Tucson area and the state of Arizona," he added.
College officials said they're thrilled with the gift, due to arrive Tuesday.
"The donation of this jet shows how business and education can work together," said Tom Hinman, who manages PCC's aviation technology program.
The college has received a handful of other donated aircraft over the years, but the FedEx jets are the only ones in working order, Hinman said.
PCC's aviation program, founded in 1969, is one of the college's original programs. It serves about 100 students a year.
Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4138.