The Fermi observatory is advancing our knowledge of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) through pioneering observations at high energies, covering more than seven decades in energy with the two on-board detectors, the Large Area Telescope (LAT) and the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM). Here, we report on the observation of the long GRB 090217A which triggered the GBM and has been detected by the LAT with a significance greater than 9σ. We present the GBM and LAT observations and on-ground analyses, including the time-resolved spectra and the study of the temporal profile from 8 keV up to 1 GeV. All spectra are well reproduced by a Band model. We compare these observations to the first two LAT-detected, long bursts GRB 080825C and GRB 080916C. These bursts were found to have time-dependent spectra and exhibited a delayed onset of the high-energy emission, which are not observed in the case of GRB 090217A. We discuss some theoretical implications for the high-energy emission of GRBs.