American Airlines has donated a retired McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jet to George T. Baker Aviation School in Miami, making it one of the few accredited aviation schools in the U.S. to have a commercial airliner on school grounds.
The airline partnered with engineering and construction firm Odebrecht to move the 39-ton aircraft from Miami International Airport (MIA) to the Aviation School. The job required lifting the plane over State Road 112 and LeJeune Road, using a 500-ton crane equipped with a 400-foot telescoping boom, and then hauling the jet to the school.
“Moving the airplane was truly an engineering feat, requiring extensive collaboration between American, Odebrecht and almost a dozen companies and government agencies,” says Peter Dolara, American Airlines’ senior vice president in Miami. “It was a tough job, but we couldn’t be more thrilled for the students at George T. Baker, who will get invaluable hands-on experience with a commercial aircraft.”
The move took place around 1 a.m. on May 20. Miami-Dade County and airport officials had to close a runway and surrounding roads, remove light poles, trees, and fencing, as well as build a temporary gravel road to transport the MD-80 to the school, located adjacent to MIA.
“This is the kind of challenging project we eagerly meet head-on,” says Gilberto Neves, president and CEO of Odebrecht USA. “You can’t just fly an MD-80 into a school parking lot. It takes a lot of planning and careful execution.”
The students at George T. Baker have already gained experience with the MD-80, prepping it for the move by taking off the wing tips and jet engines.
“Here at George T. Baker Aviation School, we pride ourselves on graduating students that are ready to excel in the aviation industry from day one,” says Principal Sean Gallagan. “Thanks to this incredible donation from American Airlines, I can say with confidence that our students are getting some of the best training in the country.”
American is gradually phasing out its MD-80s and replacing them with more fuel-efficient Boeing 737-800s.
The MD-80 donation was made possible thanks to the efforts of partners C3TS; the Federal Aviation Administration; the Florida Department of Transportation; General Crane USA; Miami-Dade County; Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Miami-Dade Expressway Authority; Miami-Dade Aviation Department; Miami-Dade Fire Rescue; Miami-Dade Police Department; Odebrecht; Transportation Security Administration; and T.Y. Lin International.