Letter: Pilots are confident about safety of MAX 8

With the impending service entry of Cayman Airways’ new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, Cayman Airlines Pilots Association (CAPA) would like to offer to the traveling public our professional position on the loss of Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

CAPA has intentionally remained quiet from the open forum until now, history having shown that it takes about thirty days post-accident for the information to be collected to offer a substantial preliminary report. The result of the preliminary findings has pointed to an anomaly with the aircraft Angle of Attack (AoA) sensors which are fitted to varying degrees on all large transport aircraft. The preliminary report infers that the anomaly with the AoA sensors provided faults to a computer which in turn sent faulty information to the aircraft stabilizer trim system. This erroneous information created a non-normal operating condition: however, it is our considered position that notwithstanding the anomalies created by such an event, a well-trained and knowledgeable crew should be able to identify the errors and take appropriate corrective actions.

While not discounting the previous mentioned faults, it is also worthy to note that this aircraft flew several flights in the previous days with this underlying issue and the crews managed to complete their flights successfully. Post-accident investigations have proven that there are always a series of events by both human and hardware that contribute to any accident. Therefore, it is CAPA’s position that when the final report is issued, the likely conclusion will be that human factors as well as hardware issues contributed to the fatal outcome of Lion Air Flight JT610.

It is also undeniable that regardless of the age of any mechanical equipment, there will be component failures and subsequent rectification actions which will require human interaction. The MAX family of aircraft received type certification from both the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), neither of which have found it necessary to deem the aircraft unsafe. Therefore, based on our recently completed training on the MAX, which exceeded the requirements of the FAA, coupled with our professional knowledge, CAPA has a high level of confidence in the safety of this aircraft. We should also point out that two of Cayman Airways’ competitors are flying this very type of aircraft into Grand Cayman and are clearly of the same persuasion.

Lastly, but most importantly, CAPA can assure the traveling public that safety is our highest priority when operating any aircraft, and we will never prioritize economics or schedule over the safety and comfort of our valued customers. We look forward to having you on board the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

Captain Gary R. Hydes
CAPA President

Captain Adrian R. Miller
Chairman, Safety Committee