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FedEx 727 is gift for training

Mon., May 14, 2012

Spokane airport has big plans for retired full-size jet

Spokane airport firefighters, other emergency responders and college students are soon going to have a large jet aircraft to use for training.

FedEx Express is donating the airframe of one of its retiring Boeing 727-200s to Spokane International Airport.

The airport board last week voted to accept the donation.

FedEx Express is replacing 727s with new Boeing 757s to gain greater fuel efficiency and to reduce emissions, said Jim McCluskey, spokesman for the company.

“We’re trying to find good homes for these aircraft,” he said.

The 727 is expected to arrive in Spokane on May 23. It will be among more than 50 aircraft donated by the company in the past several years for community use.

“It’s a pretty big deal to have an actual live aircraft of that magnitude to work on,” said Todd Woodard, airport spokesman. “It’s a great asset.”

Among its uses, it will provide realistic training for emergency aircraft evacuations.

In addition to being used by emergency responders, the aircraft may be opened up for student instruction in Spokane Community College’s aviation program.

The engines are being removed, leaving the airframe behind for training.

According to Boeing, the 727 in its day was the largest-selling jet aircraft in history. Production began in the early 1960s, and by 1972, orders passed the 1,000 mark.

When production ended in 1984, a total of 1,832 were built. Today, the 737 has surpassed that total.

The 727’s tri-jet arrangement along the tail is easily recognized.

A triple-slotted trailing edge on the wing flaps combined with new leading-edge slats to give the 727 greater handling in landings and takeoffs at lower speeds, the company said. As a result, it could serve communities with smaller airports.

A later cargo version could carry 58,000 pounds of freight, Boeing said.

Communities selected for the donated aircraft go through a selection process to ensure the planes will be put to good use, McCluskey said.

Citylink begins new routes

Citylink, the free bus service in Kootenai and Benewah counties, is beginning its newly reorganized routes today.

A budget reduction has forced elimination of one of three urban-area routes and realignment of the other two.

In the process, planners increased bus frequency to one hour from the 85-minute interval on the outgoing service.

Service ends at 10 p.m.

Among the reductions, service will not extend to Stateline, but will cover areas west of Coeur d’Alene to Post Falls on a new blue route.

A green route will serve downtown Coeur d’Alene and areas north to Honeysuckle Avenue in Hayden in loop fashion, with buses running in both directions.

The urban routes carried 575,000 riders in 2011.

The system is undergoing a $500,000 budget reduction. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe is continuing its support of the service but has reduced how much it’s contributing.

Rural service between Coeur d’Alene and the Coeur d’Alene Casino will not be affected.

Bike to Work Week

Bike to Work Week in Coeur d’Alene starts today with a kickoff ride at 7:30 a.m. beginning at Riverstone Park. Riders will get a police escort down Northwest Boulevard to City Hall, 710 E. Mullan Ave.

Riders are encouraged to participate by riding to work or school.

A moonlight ride will start Friday at 9 p.m. at Riverstone Square. The ride will go down the Centennial Trail to Higgins Point. Headlights are required.

A team bicycle event featuring a series of challenges will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Community Garden at 10th Street and Foster Avenue with a wrap-up celebration there at noon.

For more information, go to the city’s website at, or contact Monte McCully at (208) 292-5766.

Spokane’s Bike to Work Week is May 20-26.

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