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A Cayman Airways 737 MAX (Photo: Boeing)

Cayman Airways Set to Resume 737 MAX Flights

On Tuesday, Cayman Airways announced the un-grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) rescinded the airspace restriction for the jet. The CAACI joins the United States, Canada, the European Union, Brazil and the United Kingdom in re-certifying the plane.

While the aircraft type flown by Cayman Airways is a 737 MAX 8, the airline will refer to it as the 737-8. The decision is a re-branding strategy similar to Ryanair’s and will help assure passengers that the plane is safe.

First Flights Begin in February

Cayman Airways was the first airline to voluntarily ground the MAX on Mar 10, 2019, before the plane’s worldwide suspension. It also vowed to wait to un-ground it until world regulators had completed in-depth reviews of Boeing’s changes and agreed that it was ready to fly again. Because the Federal Aviation Administration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, Transport Canada, the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority and the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil have officially given the green light, Cayman is ready to fly the MAX again.

The carrier has two Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets in its fleet:

  • VP-CIW: Delivered November 2018
  • VP-CIX: Delivered March 2019

Both jets have been updated with Boeing’s modifications and improvements and have undergone a series of test flights conducted in conjunction with the CAACI and Boeing. Furthermore, the airline has assured the aircraft’s safety through continuous analysis and oversight of the changes. The carrier says it is satisfied with Boeing’s changes, modified operational procedures and training requirements for pilots and maintenance personnel. It expects the jet to return to service in the second half of February.

To further convince passengers that the aircraft is safe, Cayman Airways explained, “There also exists a solid assurance that the aircraft is ready to safely return to the skies from the fact that all of the world’s major aviation regulators and certifying authorities have given the aircraft a level of scrutiny that is unprecedented in aviation history.”

The airline also emphasized that the MAX has already completed hundreds of flights in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, safely carrying thousands of passengers.

Before the jet flies again, Cayman Airways says that it has a series of “final measures” to implement on the plane, explaining that these touches go above and beyond bare requirements.

Successful Test Flight

Cayman Airways has been preparing for the return of the aircraft since mid-2020. In August, the airline’s second 737 Max 8, VP-CIX, completed a maintenance test flight. The flight lasted approximately one hour between take-off and landing and operated out of Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport. Captain Steven Coe and Captain Perry Panton conducted the test at 41,000 feet as the company and Boeing engineers remotely monitored the jet’s operational performance.

According to both the airline and Boeing, the jet “completed the flight with flying colors.” Since then, the company’s MAX jets have been undergoing the required modifications for commercial service. The company will join American Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, GOL Airlines and Aeromexico to return the 737 MAX to service. American, GOL and Aeromexico are already flying the jet, while United and Alaska plan to resume flights on Feb 11 and Mar 1, respectively.

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