Diversity & Inclusion
Education / Workplace culture

Northrop Grumman retired a test plane. Now it’ll help Anne Arundel public schools train aircraft mechanics

After retiring from radar development in 2018, the Sabreliner will now help a new generation of mechanics take off.

This Sabreliner plane is staying active in retirement. (Photo via Anne Arundel County Public Schools/Facebook)

For years, a midsize jet played a key role in developing Northrop Grumman’s radar systems. Now, in retirement, it’s helping to train the next generation in Anne Arundel County.

On Monday, the aerospace and defense technology company formally transferred ownership of the 1972 Sabreliner N160W to Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS).

The test plane will be part of AACPS’ push to train aircraft mechanics via its Aviation Technician Maintenance Program. Northrop Grumman is moving it to Tipton Airport at Fort Meade, where students will have access to it.

“The aviation industry continues to break barriers in the skies both for military and commercial applications,” AACPS Superintendent George Arlotto said in a statement. “Our students want to be a part of that innovation, we want to help them be a part of it, and our partnership with Northrop Grumman and Tipton Airport is a key part of making that a reality.”

Northrop Grumman has a sizable presence in Linthicum near BWI at a site the company acquired from electric pioneer Westinghouse in 1996. The twin-engine Sabreliner aircraft started as a transport plane for Westinghouse executives, and was then used as a test plane by Northrop Grumman, said company mission systems VP of Operations Jeanie Wade. 

The plane was used as a detection target as Northrop Grumman developed radar systems, and often flew over Maryland. In a statement, Wade said it was part of “every significant Northrop Grumman air-to-air and surface-to-air radar development program” while active. In 2018, it entered retirement as Northrop Grumman brought on a new fleet.

But like many who complete their working years, now it has an opportunity to give back. Alongside the plane, Northrop Grumman is also donating parts and equipment for the program, which will be available starting in September. The school district is also in the process of applying for Federal Aviation Administration approval, which will allow it to prepare students for FAA certifications in airframe or power plant maintenance. It will also allow students to continue studying and earn more certifications at Anne Arundel Community College.

Northrop Grumman also had a second, silver Sabreliner that went into retirement. The rest of the public can now view it at the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum.

Companies: Northrop Grumman

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