Low CAL flyby investigated

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands confirmed Thursday afternoon that it is investigating a report regarding a low-flying Cayman Airways aircraft.

Low flyby

Photo of a Cayman Airways jet making a low flyby at Owen Roberts International Airport.

‘As the investigation is on-going, details of the report cannot be disclosed at this time,’ concluded the two-sentence statement issued by the CAACI.

The CAACI’s statement follows confirmation on Wednesday from Cayman Airways that it had suspended two of its pilots pending an investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The national flag carrier declined to give out any other information, including why and when the pilots were suspended; and whether they flew jets or Twin Otter aircraft.

‘We are cooperating with the Authority in their investigation and cannot comment any further,’ CAL added.

Information received by the Caymanian Compass indicates the incident involved a low ‘flyby’ at Owen Roberts International Airport by one of Cayman Airway’s jets to mark its retirement from service. On the website airfleet.net, that aircraft -known by its serial number VP-CYB – is given the status of ‘Stored’ with a remark of ‘1/2009’.

The Caymanian Compass has also received a series of photographs taken of the low flyby showing the aircraft, with its landing gear up, flying low over the airport runway. At its lowest, the aircraft appears no more than 30 feet above the ground.

In the final frame in the series of photographs, which shows the aircraft from behind as it gains altitude leaving the airport, the words ‘Farewell VP-CYB’ are imprinted.

Low flybys have long been a way of showing off for pilots, especially in the military. Low flyby’s have been depicted in several motion pictures, including the Tom Cruise hit Top Gun.

However, there have been several cases of low flybys with commercial aircraft, many of which lead to the pilot’s firing.

Last year a British pilot for Cathay Pacific was fired after doing a gear-up low flyby at Boeing Field in Seattle with a new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which was estimated to be only 28 feet off the ground at its lowest point.

As reported in the CaymanianCompass on Thursday, there are also unconfirmed reports that an air traffic controller at the airport was also suspended, but the Cayman Islands Airport Authority declined to answer the question and referred the Compass to the CAACI. However, the CIAA has not denied the report since its publication in the newspaper.