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  • ​Cayman grounds 737 Max, but biggest users keep flying

​Cayman grounds 737 Max, but biggest users keep flying

Cayman Airways has suspended operations with its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, but major operators are keeping faith with the type.

The Cayman suspension follows the crash of an Ethiopian 737 Max 8 on 10 March that killed 157 – 149 passengers and eight crew. The aircraft was operating flight ET302 on the Addis Ababa-Nairobi route, and crashed 6min after take-off. Investigations are ongoing.

"While the cause of this sad loss is undetermined at this time, we stand by our commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first by maintaining complete and undoubtable safe operations, and as such, we have taken the decision to suspend operations of both our new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, effective from Monday March 11, 2019, until more information is received," says Cayman Airways president and chief executive Fabian Whorms.

Cayman Airways operates two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The aircraft’s three biggest operators – Southwest Air, American Airlines, and Air Canada – tell FlightGlobal they will continue operations. Cirium's Fleets Analyzer shows that Southwest operates 34 examples, American 24, and Air Canada 24.

Overall, there are 371 examples of the re-engined 737 in service. Boeing’s orderbook to the type stands at 4,618 examples.

“Our heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the passengers and Employees on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302,” says Southwest.

“As Southwest operates a fleet of 34 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, we have been in contact with Boeing and will continue to stay close to the investigation as it progresses. We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft.”

American and Air Canada offered similar statements.

The Ethiopian disaster follows an accident involving a Lion Air 737 Max 8 on 29 October 2018 that killed 189 when it crashed in the sea some 12min after taking off from Jakarta. The cause of the Lion crash has yet to be established, but investigators know that the jet experienced flight-control problems within 2min of becoming airborne, with fluctuating altitude and automatic nose-down trimming as it attempted to climb to its cruise level.

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