CAL ‘looking at all options’ over Max 8 problem

| 05/04/2019 | 94 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Airways 737 Max 8 jet

(CNS): Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has not ruled out a change in the plan to replace the Cayman Airways fleet with the new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, given the grounding of that model in the wake of two fatal crashes and problems the manufacturer has not yet solved. Answering questions in the Legislative Assembly on Friday about how the situation was impacting the national flag carrier and what was happening with compensation and the future delivery of two more Max 8’s, Kirkconnell did not say that CAL was going to switch to another type of aircraft but he did say that the airline was “looking at all options including fleet replacement”.

When Chris Saunders (BTW) suggested that the public had lost confidence in the aircraft and the damage was done even if the problem gets solved, Kirkconnell did not make a commitment that CAL would not be flying the 737 Max 8’s in future but he did commit to ensuring that the concern would  be among those weighed during the current review of the airline’s situation before any decisions were made.

Kirkconnell said that discussions were happening about the right equipment for Cayman Airways and that he would be looking to the airline’s expertise and pilots to help decide what are the best and safest planes the airline should fly.

There are still no indications from Boeing about when it will have made the necessary software upgrades to address the in-flight computer problem, which is believed to cause the planes to dive when pilots are trying to climb. Following further confirmation that this was likely to be the cause of both the recent 737 Max 8 crashes, Dennis Muilenburg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Boeing Company, issued a statement Thursday saying the airline had a responsibility to eliminate this risk and knew how to do it.

“We’re taking a comprehensive, disciplined approach, and taking the time to get the software update right. We’re nearing completion and anticipate its certification and implementation on the 737 MAX fleet worldwide in the weeks ahead,” he said. “We regret the impact the grounding has had on our airline customers and their passengers.”

He added that the update, training and additional educational materials that pilots want will eliminate the possibility of unintended Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) activation, the system believed to be at fault, and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again.

Kirkconnell said that the grounding of the aircraft had not had a significant impact on CAL because it had been able to fill the gaps with its existing fleet, and that other airlines using 737 Max 8’s flying into Cayman had also replaced the aircraft.

So far, the various airlines flying to Cayman have continued to bring guests, he said. CAL has also identified aircraft it can contract if it needs to supplement the current active fleet and has already done so on occasions, the minister explained.

Although CAL has two new Max 8’s that have been grounded, it still has one of the old 737’s that they were meant to replace. Two more Max 8’s were not due to arrive until next year.

The original question asked by Alva Suckoo (NEW) included a query about compensation, which the minister said was part of the discussions that were ongoing with Cayman Airways, the leasing company and Boeing. The minister said that CAL had mitigated all of the risk that were posed by the grounding and had contingency plans in place until the end of the summer, when further decisions will be made. 

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Category: Business, Transport

Comments (94)

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  1. Joe b says:

    For those interested in the recent spate of accidents involving Boeing’s newest 737 variant, the real story of what is going on behind the scenes is largely not being reported.

    It was interesting to note that President Trump alluded to the problem in a roundabout way, but unless you are a pilot you probably missed the point. In essence, President Trump was saying that technology is a poor substitute for a qualified pilot in command.

    One of the most basic skills a pilot learns from day one is Energy Management of the airplane. If the plane is too slow, it will literally drop from the sky. Too fast and the wings/airframe can come apart with disastrous consequences.

    In the history of commercial aviation in the US and western countries, the first crop of pilots to enter commercial service were the post WW II pilots. Those guys were the real deal and not only hand flew almost all of their hours, but also in some of the most demanding conditions.

    The second wave were the airport kids who just fell in love with the idea of being a pilot and scrimped and saved to take lessons. Both categories of pilots were skilled in the art of aviation.

    With the explosion of second and third world travel, there were not even close to the number of skilled pilots to fly the thousands of new generation planes coming out of Airbus and Boeing. Unlike Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong airline that was almost exclusively piloted by British pilots, the new Asian airlines wanted Asian pilots to man the cockpits, often with disastrous results. Asiana flight 214 crashed in SFO in 2014 because the pilots did not know how to hand fly the plane when the ground-based approach ILS was out of service.

    Boeing, the FAA, and worldwide aviation agencies track not only accidents, but also INCIDENTS, which are events that were going sideways, but didn’t result in a crash. The number of unqualified pilots from Asia and Africa was plain to see in the number of errors being committed on a daily basis. (And recorded in these Incidents).

    To make a long story short, Airbus saw this eventuality decades ago and implemented automatic safety systems in anticipation of unqualified aircrews. Boeing resisted for a lot of very good reasons, but after the Asiana crash, the Chinese government basically told Boeing to “idiot-proof” the 737 as China would end up being the biggest purchaser of that model.

    Since Boeing had opted not to add automated control systems (which often override pilot’s inputs) they were forced to apply a Band-Aid solution which, unfortunately was not done well. Only one sensor was driving some very complicated algorithms which worked against the pilot’s decision-making inputs.

    The fact that the Asian and African pilots were essentially unqualified is highly embarrassing to the respective governments and Boeing kept it quiet.

    When ALPA, the pilot’s union, reps found the system was added without informing the pilots, they went insane.

    However, what they DON’T know, is that the MCAS system can be enabled or disabled per plane, and can be done remotely on a real time basis via uplink.

    The US airlines management, due to the superior training and piloting skills opted NOT to activate MCAS, but the Asian/African carriers DID. That is why most of the “crappy” airlines self-grounded while all the major US airlines are still flying without a problem.

    It’s a very PC issue, but basically comes down to 30-40% of the global pilot population are really not qualified to be pilots, but more just data input managers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are so wrong on this issue my friend.Maybe if your dear friend up north had not shut the government down in December the workers would have completed thier work and may have found a sollution to what is abviously a Boeing mess up with engine size.This marks the end of the 737 Max and the opening of many investigations.We need to send them back.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman wanted Caymanian pilots right? Better make sure the computer that flies the plane works.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Lol what?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Denver flight is averaging 2 hour delays in both directions! I’m confused as to whether this would be put in to the performance indicators for Cayman Airways in it’s attempt to be the top caribbean airline in two consecutive years or whether it would go unnoticed!

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  3. Minnie Branch says:

    Thank you, Moses Kirkconnell, for your thoughtful response to this critical decision. I hope that the result is to can these Boeings and go to a more reliable and responsible manufacturer. Boeing is going to have so much turmoil going on in the next few years as a result of their mistakes and, really, their greed that their planes will not; can not get the attention needed to put them in the air anytime soon.

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  4. Icarus says:

    Fact, Boeing maxed out the max 8 way beyond it’s safety envelope, facilitated by the NTSB. This is not like a software crash where maybe the only death is your data, human lives are at stake. I would not wager on a just a software update fixing this either. The only option I would be satisfied with is a change of plane and preferably not a Boeing.

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  5. Juniper says:

    I’ll walk or swim before I get on one of those death traps.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Our SUPER Negotiating Team that got us such a good deal on the Max 8s can SURELY negotiate some more and get us the different replacement aircraft for these Max 8s. GO SUPER TEAM GO!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you sure about SUPER negotiating team? Have you seen the terms of their agreement to lease? Don’t be certain of everything you hear.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ll fly on the Max 8 without hesitation. Both accidents could have been avoided if the pilots had accurately used their manuals and received proper training. Critical manfunctions happen on a regular basis with all manufacturers and all major airlines. Turning off the the malfunctioning system would have solved the problem. I’m pretty sure everyone is now fully aware of what to do if the problem arises again notwithstanding any updates Boeing may introduce. Try reading the Nasa Aviation Safety Reporting System. You’ll see just how often critical errors happen across the board. Pretty shocking how often pilots have to spring into action to save an aircraft from catastrophic failure.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Lion Air Pilots were not informed. The Ethiopian Ilots are reported to have followed Boeing’s recommendations.

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    • Jotnar says:

      Except that on the Lion Air case a) the manuals had nothing on the MCAS system, other than a definition. https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/boeing-737-manual-mcas-system-plane-crash-1.5065842 b) there was no transition training provided by Boeing, nor did Boeing suggest any was needed.

      And in the Ethiopian case the pilots did implement the suggested approach by Boeing post Lion Air – they turned off the MCAS and used the manual trim wheel – and it didn’t work! https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/report-that-crashed-737-crew-shut-off-mcas-raises-ne-457224/

      So basically your entire post suggesting that the pilots were to blame is BS. As is your suggestion that “everyone is now fully aware of what to do if the problem arises again” – other than kiss their a££ goodbye.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually read past the headline and you will see the issue is far more complicated. The pilots had actually switched MCAS back on after initially turning it off, but if they were already in a max dive position it would have been too late. That’s what’s implied if you read the entire article. I’m not blaming the pilots, I’m sure they did their best but clearly there was a solution to the malfunction as it also happened previously with other pilots and they were able to save the flight.

    • Anonymous says:

      You go right ahead and fly them.
      Stop making excuses for Boeing trying to past the biggest screw up in avaition history off on pilots lack of training.This is the end of the 737 Max.Send them back.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The problem is that Boeing had to make the plane so that it would fly itself because most countries do not have enough trained (by a military) pilots to fly all the planes. Most of these “pilots” can not fly a plane. They only push buttons, pull levers and watch dials. When there is a mechanical or digital error and the plane needs to be flown by a human they are lost. America did not pull their planes because American pilots are trained to actually fly a plane.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s all about the lease terms, surely. Maybe kx can use this as a wedge to wiggle out of the lease agreements. Maybe not. Who knows.
    https://airleasecorp.com/press/air-lease-corporation-announces-delivery-of-first-of-four-new-boeing-737-max-8-aircraft-with-cayman-airways

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Back in the early 1960s, when the Boeing 727 tri-jet was first introduced, there were a few crashes and lots of people thought it was doomed and would never be a commercial success. The 727 went on to become one of the most successful airliners ever made, with some even still flying in various parts of the world, particularly in cargo. Cayman Airways even had a couple of them in the 1980s, and passengers loved them. Perhaps, 50 years from now, people will reflect back on the Max in the same way.

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  10. C says:

    If you had a choice and you know 50% of CAL’s fleet comprise of Max8’s would you choose CAL or another airline? It would be good business sense for CAL to renegotiate and return these planes as the Cayman flying public, some tourists and even CAL staff will feel more comfortable. These planes were unaffordable anyway and can be traded in for two 737 700’s which will cost half the price. The 700’s have the range and capacity required for all CAL routes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      700’s …really??

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    • Anonymous says:

      So are you saying we shouldn’t fly American, United or Southwest either? Such stupidity..You don’t throw out a completely good aircraft because one part is malfunctioning..You fix the part and put in back in service…

      If the brakes went out on your car and caused you to have an accident, would you throw your car away or would you fix the brakes??

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      • be safe says:

        Yea if it is going to kill me smhs

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        • Anonymous says:

          So you are saying the plane will still kill you if they fix the problem or if you fix the brakes on your car the car will still kill you? SMH..oh the stupidity!!! you can’t make this stuff up..

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  11. Anonymous says:

    * Pilot training problem. On LionAir, pilots were never even told about the MCAS, and by the time of the Ethiopian flight, there was an emergency AD issued, but no one had done sim training on this failure.

    * Economic problem. Boeing sells an option package that includes an extra AoA vane, and an AoA disagree light, which lets pilots know that this problem was happening. Both 737MAXes that crashed were delivered without this option. No 737MAX with this option has ever crashed.

    Trevor Sumner
    @trevorsumner

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Airframe problem. They wanted to use the 737 airframe for economic reasons, but needed more ground clearance with bigger engines.The 737 design can’t be practically modified to have taller main landing gear. The solution was to mount them higher & more forward.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    We won’t have much use for any planes if just one media celebrity posts about this regime’s stance this week against equality, the judiciary, and human rights. Dunces in charge.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes what a wonderful future we have- held hostage by hollywood’s social media gestapo. Whatever their flavour of the day is. Legitimate constitutional questions should not be abandoned because of fear of some famous person posting an uninformed and biased opinion and projecting their reality, worldview and cultural biases on other countries.

      To them we are just a bunch of monkeys who eat turtle meat in a rich tax haven paradise. So let’s not let fear of what they say get in the way of a legitimate, legal, and necessary judicial process.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    i a native and am sceptic about getting on one of the max’s…even if boeing say it ok…lost confidence…

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    • R Boeing new aircrafts safe to fly? says:

      Did the also not have problems with another aircraft. I believe the 787 some time ago?

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    • Anonymous says:

      * Aerodynamic problem. The airframe with the engines mounted differently did not have adequately stable handling at high AoA to be certifiable. Boeing decided to create the MCAS system to electronically correct for the aircraft’s handling deficiencies.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The rest of the world would be great fun for you to stay in Cayman.

  15. Anonymous says:

    American has been cancelling one flight a day to and from Miami..Flight 378 has not operated in sometime. They have taken that aircraft to operate another route.

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    • Roger Davies says:

      So I noticed, I checked my recent confirmed booking online and found it had been substituted with the earlier morning flight to Miami. Lucky I checked as American failed to notify me of the schedule change by e mail as they usually do, otherwise I would have been stranded.

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    • Anonymous says:

      United has been cancelling their Houston flight as well..

  16. Anonymous says:

    DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT reassign the Boeing Max planes into service again. Everyone I speak to says they support CAL but will not fly on these planes… including me.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So do you think that every airline will stop flying them after they are fixed?.. American, Southwest and United will start flying them again so your choices will be minimal..

      This is a machine. It can repaired. Almost every day, planes develop issues and have to be repaired and not just the one Cayman Airways flies. You can’t live in fear otherwise you would never get in your car again..Imagine how many recalls have happened over the years with them..

      It is very unfortunate that two of these airplanes had to crash before this issue was determined but you don’t just throw away a completely good aircraft because a sensor and its software needs to be replaced.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The problem is that the issue was essentially determined when the first aircraft crashed. The second appears to have been the result of arrogance and a calculated risk. Problem is they seem to have gambled with lives, and lost. The aircraft may be old but good, but the manufacturer has a lot more making up to do than saying ooops and fixing it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Glad to know you spoke to yourself about this very important issue and came to this important decision.

  17. Passenger says:

    Dear CAL, in terms of customer service, I don’t want to die.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    better get in there with the refund request before the bigger boys do.

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  19. Elvia says:

    well I for one will never fly on one

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  20. Anonymous says:

    A321 NEO and A220. Better, cheaper to operate and more efficient, and not fundamentally a 60 year old design (which the 737 is).

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Just get red of these Max 8’s, replace them with brand new 800’s!!! And PLEASE, PLEASE make sure they have entertainment inside. I was disappointed when I flew the Max and discovered that it had no entertainment system!!! Come on!!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Boeing no longer builds the 800 series. The last orders are being filled, but that line is closed

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      • Anonymous says:

        Incorrect. The 700 series orders are being finalized, however 800 and 900 are still open for new orders.

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    • Anonymous says:

      agree on the entertainment but don’t get rid of the MAX..Perfectly good airplane..Just fix the problem..

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Ditch the jets, buy brand new Dash 8’s or similar, forget the long routes and concentrate on being a solid regional airline with routes into Central America and other points in the Caribbean. Make a profit.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Which caymanian you know is going to get on a Dash 8 prop plane and go to Miami? This would be the end of the airline.

      Only one way to make a profit, get the maxes back in the air and get rid of government interference and let the airline people run it properly.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Please stop fueling anti-caymanian propaganda. The first airliners operating in and around the cayman islands were all piston propeller then turbo propeller aircraft and no “caymanian” had a problem flying on them until the 1980’s with the transition to the jet age with the BAC 1-11 was introduced to expand into further markets. If KX has to scale back operations to stay in business like what could be very likely in this case(two brand new jets sitting idle not making money), I’m sure the public would be glad to fly a turboprop to Miami and still have a national airline than go bankrupt.

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    • Cess Pita. says:

      I will repeat a question I raised right after the Max 8 announcement- did Cayman Airways approach Airbus to see what they had to offer. I never got an answer which means almost certainly they did not. If not why?, as the airline has a duty to the long suffering taxpayer to get the best deal and not be hoodwinked by Boeing’s super salesmen.As sure as eggs are eggs the annual sky high subsidy (forgive the pun) will increase dramatically this year.

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      • Jas says:

        You can’t switch to Airbus planes that easy. The CAL pilots are trained on Boeing planes. It’s a different plane. Requires extensive new training.

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      • Retired Captain says:

        For CAL to switch to Airbus equipment would be a nightmare as the airline has so much invested in Boeing, i.e. parts, training, etc. However having said this, I am by no means saying its a bad or unfeasible option.

        What needs to happen is for the airline to cancel the remaining 2 Max8 aircraft and negotiate to have the fleet be 800s or heck even 900s (though the 900 is probably a bit too big). It is not Boeing per se thats the issue here, rather its the Max8/9 model that the travelling public has lost confidence in.

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        • Anonymous says:

          No, I have lost confidence in Boeing. Their handling of it has been horrific. Lion Air was a tragic accident. Ethiopian a calculated commercial decision that went fatally wrong. They gambles with my life and that of millions of others. They thought the risk was acceptable. It was not!

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        • No max 8 needed says:

          Cayman air is wet leasing a MD80 now. We do not have the load factor to support the max 8s
          10 people from NYC and 20 from Tampa. Why does CAL not buy the A220-100 which can fly 3100 miles with 114 passengers. We do not need bigger planes. CAL is buying too much of a plane with the Max 8. Please stop the madness.

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          • Anonymous says:

            How is the Denver flight being catered for? Are there stops?

          • Anonymous says:

            Just went to Tampa on the MD 80 plane, that C A L leased, its an old junk plane, 155 passengers with only 5 Seats across, very long and noisey with the engines on to the body in the back of the plane, could not hear my music playing with earphones paint flacking off on the inside, bumpy ride and the crew spoke very little english, hope never have to ride this plane again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh that worked well for the others that tried. Stupid idea 3:35. Has to be the stupidest idea posted today.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Better yet. Ditch the whole airline.

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      • Say it like it is says:

        8.46am Good point, it’s cost the taxpayer several hundred million dollars over the years and this year’s deficit will break all records. Time to swallow the national pride and spend this money on education, health and roads.

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      • Juniper says:

        You obviously weren’t paying attention after hurricane Ivan. When the outside world had forgotten about us, Cayman Airways was the only airline/entity flying us aid. Our national airline is a life line during catastrophic natural disasters.

    • Anonymous says:

      No A220’s are ideal. Dash 8’s are too small and only make sense for flying to Cayman Brac, Little Cayman and Montego Bay from Grand Cayman.

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