For a half-century, Cayman Airways has been bringing Cayman-kindness to the skies as our national flag carrier.
CEO Fabian Whorms said the airline’s ‘impeccable’ safety record over those five decades is a major achievement, even after a series of high profile incidents, including an emergency landing.
Mr. Whorms told Cayman 27 there’s plenty to celebrate for Cayman Airways golden anniversary this year, and he said 50 years of safe operations are chief among them.
Back in September, a Tampa-bound Cayman Airways jet experienced an engine failure shortly after takeoff. In November, a Cayman Airways flight to New York turned around after a pressurization issue in the cabin. And just last month, another Cayman Airways jet requested an ‘expedited landing’ on its approach from Chicago when an unusual odor was detected in the cabin.
Of these three incidents, Mr. Whorms said only the September engine failure qualifies as a true emergency. He said safety is always top of mind in the airline’s response to these types of incidents.
“In reality, I would much rather us to err on the side of caution, and I think the traveling public would appreciate that too,” said Mr. Whorms.
He told Cayman 27 a prudent approach to safety has helped the national flag carrier cement a track record that’s hard to match.
“Not many airlines are around in the world today that are 50 years or more old, and those that are do not have impeccable safety records, so we are very proud of the 50 years of completely safe operations,” said Mr. Whorms.
He told Cayman 27 anytime an emergency landing response is prompted, it may cause concern in the community. He explained Cayman Airways’ approach.
“One thing we are not going to do is, we are not going to try and promulgate within the company that we should avoid having emergency landings because it should create too much of a PR nightmare for us,” said Mr. Whorms. “Our approach is, if we are uncertain about something, and it needs to be investigated, the best place to investigate it is on the ground, so let’s get the aircraft on the ground as quickly as possible.”
He told Cayman 27 a complete tear-down of the engine that failed shortly after takeoff on a flight to Tampa last September revealed a failed bearing.
“It was one of the internal bearings, and like I said, that failure occurs on 3 to 4 engines out of 34,000 per year,” said Mr. Whorms.
He said the September incident was a legitimate emergency, as the aircraft was flying on one engine.
However, the November incident, prompted by a cabin pressurization issue, and the December incident where an unusual odor was detected, he said, don’t technically rise to the level of true emergencies.
He said the airline errs on the side of safety.
“We are not going to fly around to try and find out what that smell is, that’s not the smart thing to do, the smart thing to do is to, let’s get this bird on the ground as quickly as possible and then we find out what that smell was,” said Mr. Whorms.
Airlineratings.com has safety rankings of hundreds of airlines that operate all around the world. 409 in total are monitored and assessed in a variety of categories, but Cayman Airways is not among them.
Mr. Whorms told Cayman 27 he can’t guarantee there won’t be an emergency landing today, tomorrow or the next day, but says the airline will always act prudently in an emergency scenario.