Aero Caribbean Flight 883
CU-T1549, the aircraft involved, at Baracoa Airport one month before the crash
|Date||4 November 2010|
|Summary||Crashed following loss of control in icing conditions|
|Site||Near Guasimal, Sancti Spíritus, Cuba |
|Aircraft type||ATR 72-212|
|IATA flight No.||7L883|
|ICAO flight No.||CRN883|
|Flight origin||Antonio Maceo Airport, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba|
|Destination||José Martí International Airport, Havana, Cuba|
Aero Caribbean Flight 883 was a domestic scheduled passenger service from Santiago de Cuba to Havana, Cuba. On 4 November 2010, the ATR 72 operating the route crashed in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spíritus, killing all 61 passengers and 7 crew members aboard.
The aircraft departed Santiago de Cuba en route to Havana around 16:50 local time (20:50 UTC). It was the last flight out of Santiago de Cuba airport before it was closed because of the approach of Hurricane Tomas. At 17:42, the aircraft crashed near the village of Guasimal in Sancti Spíritus province, some 210 miles (340 km) southeast of Havana, after issuing a distress call. Witnesses said the plane was "flying low and appeared unstable ... pouring out smoke and fire", before hearing an explosion.
Medical facilities in Guasimal were put on alert to prepare for emergency patients. However, by midnight they were told to stand down as no survivors were expected.
The aircraft involved was a twin-turboprop ATR 72-212 with Cuban registration CU-T1549, in use with Cuba-based Aero Caribbean since October 2006. It was delivered from the production line in 1995 to its first owner, Simmons Airlines and also with Continental Express as the second one. According to the manufacturer, the plane had accumulated almost 25,000 flight hours in more than 34,500 flights. Aero Caribbean is wholly owned by the government of Cuba.
Passengers and crew
The passengers and crew were of various nationalities.
Search and recovery
In order to allow access to the crash site, rescue workers had to use bulldozers to plow through thick vegetation. The aircraft was completely destroyed by the impact and resulting explosion, and all the victims' bodies were badly burned. Investigators believe that the passengers had no time to react because all bodies were found in their own seats, which helped investigators with identifications. The wreckage burned for hours after the crash. The recovered bodies were to be sent to Cuba's Institute of Legal Medicine for identification.
Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sent a plane with relatives of the victims to bring home the bodies. Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, South African President Jacob Zuma, Polish President Bronisław Komorowski and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, in a message addressing Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, all sent condolences.
The Instituto de Aeronáutica Civil de Cuba (IACC) investigated the accident with assistance from aircraft manufacturer ATR and the French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile (BEA).
In December 2010, the IACC stated that the analysis of the flight recorders did not highlight any technical problem with the ATR 72. The airplane encountered severe icing conditions at 20,000 ft, which were not handled properly, leading to the crash.
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