Keshorn’s gets CAL’s youngest jet
By Vernon Khelawan Thursday, August 23 2012
THE promise made by Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar to have one of Caribbean Airlines’ (CAL) aircraft adorned with the name Keshorn Walcott, this country’s only gold medallist at the recently concluded London 2012 Olympics, has been kept.
Late last week the fleet’s youngest Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft, registered Y-SXM (St Maarten) and just about a year old, was brought into the hangar at Piarco after it landed from a North American flight and in just about an hour had Keshorn Walcott’s name painted on the fuselage, before almost immediately taking off on a flight to New York.
Walcott created the greatest upset at the London Olympics when he threw the javelin 84.58 metres to cop the top spot in the field event, which for decades have been dominated by the Europeans making himself the youngest winner ever in that sport.
Chairman Rabindra Moonan told Business Day, the process took very little time to be completed. When asked why the choice of the B-737 and not one of the larger B-767s, the first of which is expected to arrive in the country tomorrow, Moonan gave three reasons for the decision.
He said the company wanted the name to be on the youngest aircraft of the fleet and secondly the B-737 has a lower profile (stands lower to the ground) and the name could be more easily seen, whereas the B-767, although a much older aircraft, stands very high off the ground. Additionally, the B-767s would be used almost exclusively on the London service and that’s where the Olympics were held, while the B-737 is on all CAL’s North American and Caribbean services, “where we need to send the message of our success”.
Moonan said that in the not-too-distant future, a small ceremony will be held at Piarco to officially mark the event.
Meanwhile the airline’s third brand new turbo prop ATR, registered TTC, which arrived a week ago and is awaiting its final certification, was pressed into service at the weekend to take members of the Defence Force to Tobago for celebrations marking the 50th Anniversary of the country’s Independence. While the aircraft cannot carry fare-paying passengers until the company gets the green light from the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (TTCAA), it was allowed to transport the soldiers to the sister isle.
As for ATR # 4, no set time has been given for its arrival in Port-of-Spain, the brand new aircraft is ready for delivery and has been for some time, although Business Day has been informed that arrangements are currently being made to raise the money (US$19 million) to pay for the plane, which will be registered TTD whenever its gets to Trinidad.
Although the first of the two B-767s leased from Lan Chile is expected tomorrow, it would not operating the transatlantic service because there would still be some legal and certification issues to be completed.
Those aircraft were specifically chosen to do the POS-London Gatwick (LGW) service which began last June 14, but some regulatory and oversight challenges debarred that from happening, forcing CAL to lease a similar aircraft for the service.
Robert Corbie, acting CEO, told Business Day last week that while the aircraft are on the ground they would be used for refresher training for both cockpit and cabin crews. It is anticipated that the TTCAA would do everything in its power to have the certification process concluded in the shortest possible period, to allow the aircraft to begin their transAtlantic flights.