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FedEx donates jet to aviation technology

Generous gift to upgrade COA program

By Jon Leckie Editor-in-Chief
On May 14, 2013

College of Alameda's Aviation Maintenance Technology program got a lift March 12, when the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees approved a recommendation to accept the donation of a Boeing 727 from the FedEx Corporation.

"It is rare that this type of opportunity comes along, and it is essential to the upgrading of equipment as part of the Aviation Maintenance Technician program," said a report presented by College of Alameda President Jannett Jackson. "It will afford us the opportunity to equip our students with current equipment, which will enhance their future employability."

According to the report, the donation is the result of three years of negotiation between College of Alameda's Aviation Maintenance Department and FedEx, the brainchild of aviation faculty member Dan Gunther, who passed away last year. The plane was flown into Oakland International Airport on Feb. 20, and has begun a process of reconfiguration for the donation.

 "FedEx makes sure the plane is inoperable, and will not be able to fly. But the systems will work," Jackson said. "Most of the systems we have now are dated more than you on the board."

The college's new airplane will be housed at their aviation facility located at 970 Harbor Bay Parkway in Alameda, in between the Oakland International Airport and the Chuck Corica Golf Complex.

The location has housed College of Alameda's aviation facility since 1973, when the Port of Oakland's Board of Commissioners signed a grant deed for just over an acre of land to the Peralta Community College District. The grant deed allows the college and the district use of the land in perpetuity as long as they maintain its use for aviation maintenance training.

"This donation will enhance the existing training program with a state of the art aircraft that is still flying and in the inventory of many commercial airlines and aviation businesses, unlike the older aircraft currently being used as training devices," the report said.

In order to store the plane, the college must make a few minor changes to the facility, including pouring concrete pads under the aircraft's front and rear landing gear and laying asphalt under the entire span of the plane.

It was also recommended that the current fence line of the adjacent aviation facility be extended to allow faculty and students easy access to the plane. The college and the district have been in talks with Interim Director of the Port of Oakland Deborah Ale Flint on a temporary storage solution until modifications to the property can be completed.

College of Alameda is one of only six colleges receiving an airplane; others include Sacramento City College, and City College of San Francisco, the only other public aviation maintenance technology program in the Bay Area.

The wingspan of a Boeing 727 stretches 108 feet, measures 153 feet in total length and has a maximum passenger capacity of 189. The plane weighs in at 191,000 pounds with a tail high of 34 feet. Three Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofans produce a top cruising speed of 605 mph with a range of 2500 miles at 40,000 feet.

"If you think of the size of a football field, the wing span is about that wide, and the entire plane takes up about three-quarters of a football field," Jackson said.

According to Jackson, all of the program's graduates have already been placed in jobs at major airlines and Rolls Royce. "This will be a major boost to our already successful Aviation Maintenance Technology program," she said, "and will enhance our ability to offer aeronautics system training."

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