American Airlines, the largest private employer in Tulsa, is donating one of its MD-80 aircraft to Tulsa Tech. The plane, which American is retiring from its MD-80 fleet, will provide students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program at Tulsa Tech with an opportunity to gain practical experience by working on a commercial aircraft.
Tulsa Tech offers a cutting-edge, FAA-approved curriculum to train certified technicians who can repair, maintain and inspect aircraft. The donated MD-80 will provide students with hands-on experience as they hone their newly acquired skills.
“At American Airlines, we are committed to helping future mechanics and engineers have access to the current technology and services,” said Bill Collins, American's Vice President – Base Maintenance. “We are thrilled to donate one of our MD-80 aircraft to Tulsa Tech, which will help them provide a new generation with new opportunities for world-class training and practical experience.”
A special donation ceremony is being held today at American's Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering (M&E) Base, which employs more than 6,500 people. American's Tulsa base is the world's largest private maintenance facility, providing heavy maintenance work for its MD-80, Boeing 737, Boeing 757 and Boeing 777 fleets. American's Boeing 767 fleet is maintained at the airline's maintenance facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
The donated MD-80 aircraft began flying for American on Aug. 27, 1985. During its life, the aircraft traveled more than 36 million miles, or roughly 75 trips to the moon and back. If the aircraft had been operated continuously, without stopping, it would have flown for 3,055 days.
“Over the past several years Tulsa Tech and American Airlines have developed a mutual partnership on many levels. Until now, one of the most appreciated has been the assistance various American Airlines maintenance personnel provided over the years, on their own time, helping our instructors,” said Dr. Kara Gae Neal, Superintendent and CEO, Tulsa Tech. “We are overwhelmed with the generosity American is showing with this tremendous donation of an airworthy MD-80 aircraft. We are confident that our students will benefit from continued professional support from American Airlines.”
This is the fourth MD-80 American has donated for educational purposes. The other donations include:
- Feb. 9, 2011 – Aircraft provided to the Museo del Nino (Children's Museum) in San Juan, Puerto Rico
- May 20, 2010 – Aircraft provided to G.T. Baker Aviation School in Miami
- March 21, 2009 – Aircraft provided to the Miguel Such Vocational School in San Juan, Puerto Rico
The American Airlines Tulsa M&E Base has also donated other items to Tulsa Tech, including a Boeing 727 tail dock, wheels and brakes, CF-6 engines and an MD-80 nose cone. American maintenance employees have also volunteered their time to help instructors become experts on this new equipment.
American is replacing its MD-80 fleet with Next-Generation Boeing 737-800s. In July 2010, American announced it would order 34 additional 737-800s, to be delivered in 2011 and 2012. This order is in addition to the 84 new 737s that began entering American's fleet in April 2009, when the company launched its replacement plan for its MD-80 fleet.