American Airlines Donates Aircraft Engine To Chicago A&P School

Mark Miner, VP of Tech Ops at American Airlines, speaking at the unveiling ceremony for the engine at Aviation Institute of Maintenance Chicago.

Mark Miner, VP of Tech Ops at American Airlines, speaking at the unveiling ceremony for the engine at Aviation Institute of Maintenance Chicago.

Credit: Lindsay Bjerregaard/Aviation Week

CHICAGO—Students training to become technicians at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) in Chicago will now have access to a large commercial aircraft engine during their studies. American Airlines donated a Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 engine on March 27 during a ceremony at the 2023 Aviation Technician Education Council Annual Conference, which is taking place this week at AIM’s Chicago campus.

The engine was previously installed on an American Airlines MD-80 and removed in 2017 as part of the airline’s plans to retire the aircraft type. The engine first entered service in 1998 with TWA, flying 19,677 cycles and 38,856 hr. during its 19-year service life.

“It will be the largest engine by far that we have at the facility,” says Joel English, executive vice president of AIM. “It will allow our students to put their hands on the type of engine that they’re going to go work on when they go to American Airlines. It’s obviously great for us and great for our students, but it’s also great for American because they need students who have confidence in the technology.”

Although American officially retired the MD-80 in 2019, the JT8D engine still powers in-service aircraft, such as the Boeing 727 and 737-200, at other airlines. Some Part 147 schools train students with older, non-commercial aviation technologies, so this engine is expected to help bridge the gap for students hoping to work with airlines.

“As you walk around the floor [at AIM Chicago] you see reciprocating engines that are useful in general aviation aircraft. I think this engine helps bridge what these students will be going into in their future,” says Mark Miner, vice president of Tech Ops at American Airlines. “While it’s not the latest technology, it is representative of a lot of the way that the newer technology operates, especially in large aircraft.”

American first partnered with AIM in 2022, signing a memorandum of understanding that guarantees top students interviews at the airline. Eligible students are also offered financial assistance for certification exams and toolboxes.

“When we announced our partnership with AIM, we made a commitment that it would be more than just American’s banner on the wall. It was to make sure that we truly created a pipeline from the school to our hangar,” says Evie Garces, vice president of line maintenance at American Airlines. As part of the partnership, American holds monthly engagement events where team members go on site at AIM and students can visit American’s hangar.

American is also sponsoring AIM Chicago’s first team to compete in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, which will take place April 17-20 at MRO Americas in Atlanta. The team has been working side by side with American Airlines technicians at its facilities to prepare for the competition.

The Chicago campus is AIM’s newest and largest of 14 locations across the U.S. It opened in September 2021 and has 162 students enrolled. The campus has several aviation industry partners aside from American, including United Airlines, AAR and LAUNCH Technical Workforce Solutions.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.