Cayman Airways’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are once again cleared for regular service.
The approval from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) came on Wednesday, following 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 global fleet of the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two tragic accidents in 2018 and 2019; Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29th, 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10th, 2019.
The UK, including the Overseas Territories (OTs), was one of the first countries to act, preventing the aircraft from using its airspace.
Cayman Airways grounded its two new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft on Monday March 11, 2019, one day after the Ethiopian Airways disaster.
With the clearance now given to resume operations, a statement from The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands (CAACI) said fight operations will however be subjected to “close oversight”.
The decision follows the extensive manufacturer modifications to the design of the aircraft, how it is operated, pilot training, and a series of other key safety changes aimed at preventing further accidents.
The CAACI release said the removal of the airspace ban will also 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.
Cayman Airways is currently the only operator of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the territory.
The CAACI Agency prior to the aircraft returning to service, it will undertake a full review of Cayman Airways' return-to-service plans including its pilot training programmes and implementation of the required aircraft modifications.
A statement is expected from Cayman Airways on its schedule for bringing the aircraft back into service.
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.
It is responsible for both technical and economic regulation of the Cayman Islands’ aviation industry.
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).