Cayman Airways has sent one of its Boeing 737 MAXs to California in anticipation of the aircraft returning to service. The plane flew from Georgetown to Victorville earlier today for some necessary modifications. Cayman Airways remains bullish about the MAX and expects the aircraft type to get cleared to fly later this year.
Both of Cayman Airways’ MAXs now at Victorville
Cayman Airways had ordered four Boeing 737 MAXs. In the scheme of things, it’s a small order. But for an airline with just seven aircraft in its fleet, the arrival of the MAXs promised to revolutionize operations at Cayman Airways.
The airline took delivery of two leased 737 MAXs before the aircraft type was grounded in March 2019. The third MAX has never left Boeing’s factory, and the fourth is yet to be manufactured.
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The two 737 MAXs Cayman Airways received were VP-CIW and VP-CIX. Cayman Airways received VP-CIW in November 2018 and VP-CIX in March 2019 – just before the worldwide grounding. VP-CIX has never operated any commercial flights for Cayman Airways.
VP-CIW flew up to Victorville in late February. Earlier today, it was VP-CIX’s turn. The plane left Georgetown’s Owen Roberts Airport just after 08:00 on Monday morning. After tracking across the Gulf, the top of Houston, and into New Mexico, the aircraft banked left and headed over Arizona and into the Southern California Logistics Airport at Victorville. VP-CIX touched down at 11:18 local time. Total flying time was five hours and 12 minutes.
In a statement, Cayman Airways said the plane flew to California for modifications in anticipation of it returning to service later this year. The statement said;
“The aircraft (VP-CIX) will soon be ferried to Victorville, CA, to have some required Boeing modifications accomplished prior to the anticipated un-grounding of Max 8 aircraft later, in accordance with the manufacturer’s Return To Service (RTS) plans, which will be subject to final approval by various regulatory authorities across the world.”
Today’s flight follows a successful maintenance flight
Today’s 4,295-kilometer flight came just days after the plane successfully completed a maintenance flight. On Tuesday, August 18, VP-CIX flew for around one hour as part of a mandated maintenance program.
That flight cruised over Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands at 41,000 feet. The airline says its engineers and Boeing’s engineers were monitoring the flight remotely and that the plane performed well.
Cayman Airways hitches its fortunes to the MAX
Cayman Airways’ hopes of a late 2020 return to service for the 737 MAX may prove to be optimistic. But the airline has long been bullish about the MAX.
While regulatory agencies around the world, including the FAA, have been going over the 737 MAX with a fine-tooth comb, Cayman Airways expressed confidence in the plane’s ability to fly late last year.
In November 2019, Captain Dave Scott, vice president of flight operations for Cayman Airways, told the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly that he had confidence in the MAX.
After a simulator session testing the newest MCAS system, Captain Scott hitched his fortunes to the aircraft type.
“I have no doubt that when the aircraft is recertified, it will probably be one of the safest aircraft in the sky,” he said.
Understandably, the airline is keen to get the MAXs back in the air. Cayman Airways is relying on the MAXs to fly it into the future. Whether that happens as soon as they hope remains an open question.