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Business Observer Thursday, Apr. 22, 2021 1 year ago

College lands $2M aircraft engine as gift to train students

The Pratt & Whitney PW6000 turbofan engine weighs 5,000 pounds.

PUNTA GORDA — Miami area aviation industry attorney and executive Patrice Robinet has donated a $2 million engine to Charlotte Technical College for student training purposes.

The apparatus, a Pratt & Whitney PW6000 turbofan engine, will be part of Charlotte Technical College’s new program launching at Punta Gorda Airport in August 2021, according to a statement. The Charlotte County airport is an aviation extension campus for CTC, the release adds, and the engine will provide hands-on learning experience for aviation airframe and powerplant mechanic students. In addition to being worth more than $2 million, the engine weighs 5,000 pounds.

Stephen Nowell, founding manager of the CTC Aviation and Powerplant program and a 40-year veteran of the aviation maintenance industry, says Robinet’s donation puts CTC students in “an elite category.”

“While knowledge of turbine engines is required for the FAA’s A&P certification exam, mechanic training rarely involves experience with a new turbine of this caliber,” he adds in the statement. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime training opportunity.”

As a turbofan, the PW6000 offers higher thrust and fuel efficiency, with lower noise, allowing flights in a broader range of airports. Designed for use in 100-passenger aircraft, the engine was first adapted for use in 2005 in the LAN Airlines Airbus A318 passenger plane — the same Airbus model used by Allegiant Air flying from Punta Gorda Airport today, the release states.

Frank Rodriguez of Intrepid Aerospace and Sam Albornoz of Aerotech Ops (ATOPS) have been coordinating delivery of the engine from Miami to Punta Gorda over the last several months.  The engine was delivered by ATOPS on its flatbed truck April 22. “Our students will graduate with true ‘front-line’ experience,” Nowell says. “That’s something few schools can offer. In fact, most use non-airworthy military engines for training.”

In anticipation of the engine’s delivery, CTC instructors Martin Ricciuti and Jamie Trudeau engineered and fabricated the engine stand on site at the program’s hangar located at Punta Gorda Airport, the release states.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, Intrepid’s vice president of sales & marketing, is also an advisory board member for CTC’s A&P program. Understanding just how important a new-generation jet engine is to world-class student instruction, Rodriguez began making calls to his aviation-related contacts several months ago, the release states. Since jet engines like this can be disassembled and sold for its precious metals, it took some convincing for its owner to part from it, the release adds.

“Sam Albornoz identified the potential donation from Halcyon, and since we both share this passion for aviation education, we were able to convince Mr. Robinet that CTC would be a worthy recipient of such a valuable asset and educational tool,” said Rodriguez in the statement. “We’ve all worked together with CTC to assemble all the fundamentals, in instructional staff, curriculum and now, equipment, for a world-class program. This is an important step forward for CTC and for Florida aviation.” 

Opened in Port Charlotte in 1980, Charlotte Technical College offers more than 20 different career training programs for full-time, part-time and dual enrollment students.

Robinet is the founder and managing director of Halcyon Aviation Capital, which finds and sells end-of-life and other aircraft engines. Prior to Halcyon, Robinet was a partner at Akerman LLP, where led the aviation practice, among several other career stops.



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