CAL completes another MAX 8 maintenance flight

Boeing Max 8 Plane takes off at Owen Roberts International Airport.

Cayman Airways said it has completed a second Boeing 737 MAX 8 maintenance flight on Tuesday.

The hour-long flight, which departed and landed at Owen Roberts International Airport, was described by Cayman Airways as “a necessary part” of the airline’s maintenance programme for its MAX 8 fleet.

“Approved by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands, the flight was conducted at approximately 41,000 feet, looping between Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands, with Captain Steven Coe and Captain Perry Panton in command,” read a statement from the airline.

According to Cayman Airways, the flight data was monitored remotely by Boeing engineers, who subsequently passed the flight with “flying colours”.

Although the MAX 8 aircraft, VP-CIX, which completed Tuesday’s maintenance flight, was handed over to Cayman Airways more than 20 months ago, it has not yet flown any commercial route because of global grounding of the aircraft type in March last year.

The planes were grounded following two fatal crashes that claimed the lives of 346 people.

The VP-CIX is one of three MAX 8 planes that have been leased by Cayman Airways. A fourth was ordered but not built before the international grounding was announced. Cayman had taken delivery of two of the planes, but the third remains at a Boeing facility in the US. The other MAX 8 that had been delivered to Cayman Airways was flown to California for maintenance in April this year.

The VP-CIX is being housed in a hangar at Owen Roberts, but is going to be flown to California.

“The aircraft will soon be ferried to Victorville, California, to have some required Boeing modifications accomplished prior to the anticipated ungrounding of MAX 8 aircraft later, in accordance with the manufacturer’s Return To Service (RTS) plans, which will be subject to final approval by various regulatory authorities across the world,” said the statement.

Last month, the US Federal Aviation Administration released for public review an early version of its new airworthiness directive for MAX aircraft. The document calls for a mixture of software upgrades, new pre-flight safety procedures for pilots, and the installation of new equipment.

The FAA will launch a 45-day public consultation period into the proposals. If accepted, the airworthiness directive would be a legally enforceable federal regulation, that would mandate the changes required before MAX planes are allowed to return to commercial flights.

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