GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — In the wake of a second tragic, fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in less than five months, this time in Africa, Cayman Airways has grounded its two new planes. After an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board, airlines around the world using Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft began suspending them from service.
CAL president and CEO Fabian Whorms said that while the cause of the crash was so far unknown, passenger and crew safety was the first priority for the national flag carrier.
“While the cause of this sad loss is undetermined at this time, we stand by our commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first by maintaining complete and undoubtable safe operations, and as such, we have taken the decision to suspend operations of both our new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, effective from Monday, March 11, 2019, until more information is received,” he stated as he offered condolences to the loved ones killed yesterday.
Whorms said Cayman Airways is currently working in coordination with both the Boeing Corporation and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) to monitor the investigation into Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
He offered assurances to customers that the airline will take “all prudent and necessary actions required for the safe operation of the Max 8’s” before they are returned to service. In the meantime, some “relatively minor, but necessary schedule and capacity changes will be needed over the next few days” in order to manage the shortage of planes that pulling the aircraft has caused.
“We appreciate the understanding and support of our customers as we implement these changes, and apologise in advance for any inconveniences that may be caused,” Whorms said.
CAL received its second Max 8 just a few days ago but safety issues were raised about the aircraft after the Lion Air disaster in Indonesia last October, when the plane went down into the Java Sea less than 15 minutes after take-off, killing the 189 people on board. Boeing and the United States Federal Aviation Administration issued alerts and directives to emphasise the need for flight crews to carry out a set of prescribed procedures contained within the 737 Max operating manuals.
At the time Cayman Airways said it had already incorporated the procedural and training elements necessary to comply with the prescribed Boeing and FAA instructions and said it remained confident in the aircraft.
While no link in the cause of the two crashes has yet been made, both airlines involved were said by experts to be well run with good safety records. Ethiopian Airlines said Monday that the cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder had both been recovered from the wreckage, which will help determine the cause of the crash shortly.
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service