It’s being reported by Cuba’s state-run television that a 737 crashed shortly after takeoff from Havana today, at around 12:30PM local time.
Accidente aéreo ocurrió con un Blue Panorama arrendado por Cubana de Aviación. Su destino era la provincia de Holguín, en el oriente del país. Ambulancias y bomberos en la pista.
— CubaTV (@CubaTVSITVC) May 18, 2018
The plane was apparently bound for Holguín, in Eastern Cuba, which suggests to me that this was flight CU972. The Mirror reports that the plane was carrying 107 passengers, and all reports suggest that there were casualties, though exact numbers haven’t yet been revealed. The pictures don’t look good, sadly.
#Video Boeing 737 de la aerolínea #CubanaDeAviación se estrelló poco después de despegar del aeropuerto Internacional José Martí de #LaHabana; según la agencia estatal #PrensaLatina, partía rumbo a Holguín, oeste de Cuba.
Llevaba 104 pasajeros a bordo. pic.twitter.com/RMVtSdFBh0
— DAVID ROMERO VARA (@DAVIDROMEROVARA) May 18, 2018
Conmoción en #Cuba ante accidente áereo en #LaHabana con más de 100 personas a bordo. No se habla de otra cosa, la gente al tanto de la #NoticiaEnDesarrollo https://t.co/Os1iEePGZL @LeiaDCienfuegos @janycfgos @thiduymad @Magurrio pic.twitter.com/dL2T2qpN6W
— Roberto Alfonso Lara (@LaraRoberto06) May 18, 2018
I’m seeing media reports suggesting that this was a Cubana 737, though Cubana doesn’t operate any 737s themselves (they only have two turboprops and four IL-96s). Instead it would appear that this was a 39 year old Global Air 737-200, with the registration code XA-UMZ. Global Air is a Mexican charter company that has a fleet of three 737s, and at least one of them was being leased to Cubana.
Cuban state media makes a point of saying that this was a “foreign crew,” which suggests to me that this was a full wet lease (meaning that a Global Air crew was operating the flight on behalf of Cubana):
“Sources of the Ministry of Transport indicate that with a foreign crew the ship was heading from Havana to Holguín with 104 passengers.”
My thoughts and prayers are with those onboard and their families. This isn’t a great year for aviation safety so far. Last year we didn’t see a single fatal commercial jet crash, while this year we’ve seen at least four airliners crash, including two jets and two turboprops.
I’ll update this post as we learn more.
(Featured image courtesy of aeroprints.com)