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American Airlines and Spartan College Group Picture

American Airlines made an unusual donation to Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology Friday morning.
The company presented the school with two auxiliary power units or APUs from MD-80 aircraft the company has retired.

The school will use the units for hands-on training for its students.

An APU is a small jet engine usually housed in the tail of a jetliner. It's used to provide electricity to power the aircraft on the ground, while the plane's regular jet engines are shut off.

The donations come just days before the newest class of students begin training. Victor Yanez is one of those students. He grew up in El Paso and came to Tulsa to get his education.

"In my area, there was only community college, which did not give that much hands-on experience as Tulsa would provide," he said.

Wayne Thomas with American Airlines said, “The AMT craft, Spartan is one of the premiere schools in the world today, it was the country at one point, now the world today; but that craft is extremely valuable to those of us in the aviation industry, it's the safety of our airplanes."

Students usually work on a typical turbine engine at the school, but with the new engines, they'll have a taste of a new piece of technology and additional skills.

Thomas said, "So these are ones that we actually operate today. They'll get their hands on technology that's actually in use today and be able to touch it, feel it and work with it."

It's that kind of hands-on learning that has Spartan growing.

Monday, more than 300 students from all over the country will start the program here in Tulsa. According to Spartan Education group CEO Peter Harris, it's the biggest class in nearly a decade.

"Aviation in Tulsa is big; it's one of our biggest industries," Thomas said.

It’s something Yanez said he's excited to be a part of.


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