Cayman plane-spotters will have a rare treat this weekend when Cayman Airways Limited (CAL) conducts a flight with one of its 737-8 Max aircraft.
It will not be a commercial flight though. The aircraft will wing its way to Miami to undergo routine maintenance.
CAL’s two Max aircraft have been in an active maintenance program and have not flown since the airline voluntary grounded its fleet in March 2019, becoming the first airline in the world to do so.
The Boeing-manufactured Max 737’s have been grounded by aviation authorities around the world following two fatal crashes in which there were no survivors.
“For almost a year, the grounded Max aircraft have been maintained under an active storage maintenance program as specified by the Manufacturer,” explained CAL President and CEO, Fabian Whorms, himself a former aircraft engineer.
“Routine maintenance flights become necessary over time as part of this maintenance program and are being conducted in coordination with the CICAA and Boeing," he added.
This weekend’s maintenance flight of VP-CIW, operating from Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA), will be operated by Captain Stephen Coe and Captain Perry Panton.
Joining the flight will be an observer from the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority (CICAA) and a representative from the manufacturer, Boeing.
The flight is likely to be either late Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning to avoid airport congestion at ORIA.
The date for the maintenance flight of the second Max (VP-CIX) is early to be early next month.
CEO Whorms also said: "In addition to the upcoming maintenance flights, we are planning to shortly ferry VP-CIW to a US-based maintenance and storage facility to conduct some required maintenance work and to prepare the aircraft for return to service, which is generally expected to occur later this year."
He added that CAL’s second Max aircraft, the new VP-CIX, which has not been in service since its March 2019 delivery, does not require the same level of maintenance at this time.
That aircraft will “remain in the current active storage maintenance program on Grand Cayman.”