Cayman Brac’s airport reopened Friday to small aircraft only after a fire truck flipped over on the runway during a “speed test” on Thursday morning causing the temporary closure of the facility.
Cayman Airways was forced to cancel weekend jet flights between the Brac and Miami, Cuba and Grand Cayman as a result of the incident.
Passengers were being rebooked on flights out of Grand Cayman or on the smaller Saab 340 and Twin Otter planes between the Brac and Grand Cayman.
The crumpled truck and debris which lay on the runway late Thursday afternoon had been moved Friday and smaller aircraft cleared to land. However air safety regulations require at least two fire trucks to be on standby for a jet to be able to land, meaning all scheduled flights on the Boeing 737 plane will have to be cancelled or re-routed through Grand Cayman until a replacement truck is shipped to the Brac.
There are no scheduled flights between Monday and Thursday next week and airline officials are hopeful full fire service capabilities will be restored by next weekend.
Cayman Airways flight changes
Friday January 6
KX 105 jet service cancelled
Passengers on the above flight are being re-booked on existing and additional turbo prop flights with our Saab 340 and DH6 Twin Otter aircraft
Saturday January 7
KX 102 from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman cancelled
KX 123 from Miami to Cayman Brac cancelled
KX 126 from Cayman Brac to Miami cancelled
Passengers on the above flights are being re-booked on jet flights to Grand Cayman with Saab 340 and Twin Otter connections to Cayman Brac.
KX 844 from Cayman Brac to Havana cancelled
KX 845 from Havana to Cayman Brac cancelled
Passengers on the above flights are being re-booked on jet flights between Grand Cayman and Havana.
Sunday January 8
KX 105 from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac cancelled
KX 406 from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman cancelled
Passengers on the above flights are being re-booked on existing and additional turbo prop flights with our Saab 340 and DH6 Twin Otter aircraft.
ORIGINAL STORY (Jan. 5): A fire truck flipped over on the runway at Cayman Brac’s airport during what officials described as a “mandatory speed test” Thursday morning.
Two firefighters were injured in the accident, which caused the temporary closure of the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport.
An accident investigator from Grand Cayman was flown into the Brac by helicopter Thursday afternoon to assess the scene. The injured men were flown to hospital in Grand Cayman on the return flight, according to a senior firefighter.
Bystanders said the truck flipped completely before coming to a rest on a grassy verge on the edge of the runway.
The roof was crumpled and the side of the vehicle was sheared off by the impact. It was still in place, surrounded by scattered debris, midway through Thursday afternoon as investigators assessed the scene.
There were no flights scheduled in the immediate aftermath of the incident, which happened at 11:37 a.m., and it remained unclear at press time whether Thursday evening’s flights into the Brac would be able to land.
Fabian Whorms, CEO of Cayman Airways, said the greater concern in the medium term was the loss of fire truck support at the airport. Air safety regulations require at least two fire trucks to be on standby before a jet can land, and the accident leaves the fire service with just one working truck at the airport.
Government officials said the accident occurred during speed testing of the fire trucks Thursday morning.
“Cayman Brac Firefighters with the Cayman Islands Fire Service Aerodrome Unit were conducting a mandatory speed test on the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport runway when the fire truck they were driving turned over,” according to a statement.
“The two firefighters who were inside the fire truck have been transported to the local hospital for evaluation and treatment.”
Ronnie Dixon, a senior officer at the fire service, said the vehicles have to be tested on a regular basis to ensure they meet the requirements to provide support at the international airport.
He said it was not immediately clear what caused the truck to flip, and the accident will be investigated.
Staff from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Fire Service, other aviation officials and the Public Works Department were on site mid-afternoon.
Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer Witney Tatum and a qualified accident reconstructionist were flown to the scene by helicopter to investigate.
Albert Anderson, CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, told the Compass the airport was closed to allow officials to carry out their investigations. Speaking at 3 p.m. Thursday he said he expected the Twin Otter planes to be cleared for landing by evening and the truck to be moved in time for the Saab to land, at least by Friday morning.
The airline has three jet flights scheduled over the weekend and Mr. Whorms said the Twin Otter planes and the Saab prop plane would likely be called into service to ensure passengers were not too inconvenienced.
He said the airline is monitoring the situation and would reshuffle its fleet and schedule as required.