NEW ROCHELLE, NY & SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR (Aug. 22, 2013) For the first time in the company’s history, FedEx has donated a Boeing 727 aircraft to a university in Central America. The Salesian-run Don Bosco University in San Salvador, El Salvador, was selected as the recipient and the donation of the plane was coordinated with help from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The Salesians are widely considered the world’s largest private provider of vocational training, including training in highly skilled trades such as aviation mechanics.
The plane will serve as a hands-on training tool for hundreds of aviation students in El Salvador. Students have the opportunity to take skills learned in the classroom and apply them while learning about the mechanical aspects of large aircraft.
“FedEx 727 freighters, once the backbone of FedEx’s domestic fleet, have been retired and replaced with Boeing 757s,” says David Sutton of FedEx Express Aircraft Acquisitions and Sales. “Donating these retired aircraft provides the critical hands-on training on large aircraft that is important to the skill set of the next generation of aircraft technicians.”
FedEx has donated 74 727s to aviation schools, colleges and local community airports and fire departments for training purposes. The donation to Don Bosco University is the company’s first in Central America and one of several donated internationally.
Sutton notes that over the next two decades the aviation industry estimates a need for more than 600,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians. The positions will provide attractive salaries to students wanting to pursue an aviation career and training tools, such as the 727, are essential to fostering interest in the aviation profession.
Daily life for youth in El Salvador is a constant struggle. Dealing with poverty, instability and high levels of violence, youth without access to educational opportunities face an impossible climb out of poverty. According to the World Bank, close to 35 percent of El Salvador residents live in poverty. The Salesians working and teaching in El Salvador are empowering youth to create their own opportunities for success now and later in life.
Practical education, like aviation mechanics, is more important now than ever for El Salvadoran youth. While the country ranks high for economic indicators, 12 percent of youth ages 15-24 are unemployed, and 41 percent are underemployed. A chronic lack of opportunity can cause frustration and disenchantment among young men and women who all too easily get involved in gangs and other damaging activities.
By teaching skills such as aircraft maintenance, mechanics, electronics and engineering, Don Bosco University offers advanced educational and employment opportunities for vulnerable youth, which in turn prepares students for participation in their country’s continued economic development. The newly donated FedEx plane will further support the university’s goal.
“Sooner or later, in the course of vocational education, students need to stop studying and get their hands dirty.” says Adam Rudin, director of the Salesian Lay Missioners program at Salesian Missions. Rudin traveled to El Salvador to represent Salesian Missions when the plane was delivered in late June. “Thanks to FedEx, hundreds of students at Don Bosco University now have the opportunity to practice what they have been taught.”
Don Bosco University was the first university accredited at a national level and is part of the worldwide Salesian University Network. It has a student body of approximately 6,000 students and maintains a strong link with the productive sector through technology transfer programs, continuous education courses, consultancy services for companies and research. Since 2005, Don Bosco University has been offering an aviation maintenance technician program which is a certificate program with international regulations that maintains strong linkages with enterprises and institutions like Aeroman and the Salvadoran Air Force.
“This aircraft will allow the development of specialized practices for our students in aviation maintenance and other areas, such as mechatronics, automation, electronics and mechanics,” says Federico Huguet, president of the University Don Bosco. “Access to this technology will contribute to the holistic development of our students, ensuring better technical preparation in their University training. With this donation, FedEx is transforming the teaching of aeronautics in El Salvador and certainly in Central America.”