Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (27 January 2021) – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) has announced today that it will allow the Boeing 737 MAX to operate passenger flights, subject to close oversight. The ban on the aircraft operating in Cayman Islands’ airspace has also been removed. The changes come into effect on 27 January 2021. This follows similar decisions by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The decision follows the approval of extensive modifications to the design of the aircraft, to how it is flown, and to pilot training. This includes modifications to the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), as well as other key safety changes aimed at preventing further accidents.
The removal of the airspace ban will allow foreign operators of the aircraft to fly into Cayman Islands’ airspace. All airlines, however, will need to go through the necessary steps to return the aircraft to service, including pilot training.
The aircraft was grounded following two tragic accidents (Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29, 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019). The UK, including the Overseas Territories (OTs), was one of the first countries to act, preventing the aircraft from using its airspace.
The US FAA is responsible for the initial type certification (approval) of the Boeing 737 MAX, as it is manufactured in the USA. The CAACI has based its decision to allow a return to service on detailed information from the FAA, EASA, Boeing and the UK CAA.
The CAACI is working with Cayman Airways, currently, the only operator of the aircraft in the territory, as it safely returns the Boeing 737 MAX to service. Prior to this, we will undertake a full review of the airline’s return to service plans including its pilot training programmes and implementation of the required aircraft modifications.
Notes to editors:
Cayman Airways has two 737 MAX aircraft on the Cayman Islands register.
The main modifications to the aircraft that allow a safe return to service are:
- Flight Control Computer (FCC) software changes, so that both of the aircraft’s Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor inputs are used by the aircraft systems (rather than previous one);
- Safeguards against MCAS activating unnecessarily, due to a failed or erroneous AoA sensor;
- Removal of the MCAS repeat command;
- Revised limits on the MCAS command authority;
- Revisions to flight crew procedures and training requirements;
- Implementation of an AoA ‘disagree’ alert indication that would appear on the pilots’ primary flight displays;
- Cross FCC trim monitoring, to detect and shutdown erroneous pitch trim commands.
Background info to augment:
The CAACI has full designation for safety oversight as a UK Overseas Territory (OT), and is one of only three OTs to enjoy such delegation. The CAACI is responsible for both technical and economic regulation of the Cayman Islands’ aviation industry. In addition, the Cayman Islands is classified as Category 1 by the USA Federal Aviation Administration under their “International Aviation Safety Assessments” programme that evaluates a country’s civil aviation authority’s ability to effectively regulate its aviation industry. The requirement for such rating lies with the CAACI being assessed as having technically qualified and highly experienced staff to effectively oversee the aviation industry in accordance with established standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).