The newest plane in Cayman Airways’ fleet will be out of action for around two weeks after being damaged in stormy weather over the weekend.
The Saab 340B+ aircraft, which transports passengers between Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, sustained damage while parked on the tarmac at Owen Roberts International Airport on Saturday morning.
Airline officials said a strong gust of wind had caused the plane to shift and collide with a ground power cart. Images of the plane show a substantial dent in the nose and a smaller gash in the fuselage.
According to Cayman Airways the fiberglass nose cone can be replaced, but the damage to the fuselage requires a structural repair to be designed by the manufacturer.
It is the second time the Saab prop plane has been out of action after being damaged while parked up overnight at Owen Roberts airport. In March, the aircraft sustained minor damage from the jet blast of a private aircraft as it was maneuvering on the ramp at the airport. Cayman Airways initially used its two Twin Otter planes, which previously served the route, as backup. Now the airline has rented an interCaribbean Airways Embraer 120 turboprop to fill in until the Saab is back in action.
Airline CEO and President Fabian Whorms said, “The severe weather conditions experienced on Saturday morning subsequently became Tropical Storm Colin after passing over Cayman, and whilst it is very unfortunate that the aircraft was damaged during this severe weather, we are at the same time very pleased that interCaribbean was able to mobilize one of their E120 aircraft and crew so quickly to help us ensure minimal disruption for our valued passengers.”
Despite the two incidents, Mr. Whorms said the aircraft had proven extremely reliable in its four months of full-time service on the Brac route.
“Unlike the other aircraft types in our fleet, we currently only have one Saab 340 aircraft, but its strong dispatch reliability has ensured that there have been virtually no unplanned service interruptions for mechanical reasons,” he said.