The Daily Mirror has breaking news out of Havana, Cuba that a passenger 737 with between 104-107 passengers (crew number unknown) has crashed just after takeoff. Based on early reports from the Mirror, it seems unlikely to have any survivors, bursting into flames upon returning to the ground.
According to the report it was a domestic flight to Holguien, Cuba which would support it as a Cubana aircraft. It looks like it was most likely CU972. However, that aircraft (Anotonov AN-158) would not have had 104 passengers as its max capacity is just 99 passengers, Jason Rabinowitz has noted that Blue Panorama has been running Cubana routes for four months with a 737-400.
A Twitter user (Matt Blakeley) reported that it was an “American” flight but it is unclear if it was an American Airlines aircraft or simply a flight headed to America. The closest American Airlines flight to have departed would have been AA1334 but the information on Flight Stats suggests that flight was delayed but that would also be normal if there was a ground delay following an incident.
CNN is reporting that in fact it was a Cubana 737 however, they do not have any in their fleet (and it would be difficult to get them unless through the secondhand market due to trade restrictions with the US). Due to the maintenance difficulties, Cubana has had it would be more likely that CNN had the carrier right and the aircraft would have been incorrectly identified. Mr. Rabinowitz has confirmed that there was an aircraft swap from the AN-158 to a 737-400 operated by Blue Panorama.
Jason Rabinowitz has reported that a Blue Panorama 737-400 has been flying domestic Cuban routes on Cubana’s behalf for several months.
According to the report the aircraft crashed around 12:30 PM near the airport and close to a school. No reports of injuries or deaths on the ground have been reported as of yet. Fox News is reporting that there could be survivors as some were rushed in ambulances to hospitals. Another report has suggested that at least three have survived but remain in critical condition at area hospitals.
It’s always a good idea to review safety information before you fly, I always look for exits and count the rows from them when I board, even on familiar aircraft.
While details are limited right now, I will try to update with details.