Icing, pilot error blamed for Cuba air crash

HAVANA, (Reuters) – Icing and pilot error caused the  Nov. 4 crash of a Cuban Aero Caribbean passenger plane in which  the 68 people on board were killed, the Cuban government said  yesterday.  

Investigators found that “extreme weather conditions” led  to a “severe” build up of ice on the plane that, “combined with  errors by the crew in the handling of the situation, caused the  accident,” the Civil Aeronautics Institute said in a  statement. 
 
It said the plane, an ATR 72-212 twin turboprop, built by  ATR, a joint venture of Europe’s EADS and Italian group  Finmeccanica, had been in good condition and functioned  properly before plummeting to the ground in central Cuba. 
 
On that day, Cuba had the unusual condition of a cold front  sweeping down from the north while a small hurricane brushed  along the island’s eastern tip. 
 
The combination of cold air and very high humidity from the  storm created conditions conducive for icing unusual on the  tropical island, airplane experts told Reuters.  

Most planes flying that day remained at lower altitudes to  avoid icing, they said.  
The institute said the Aero Caribbean plane flew at 20,000  feet (6,036 metres) after taking off from the eastern city of  Santiago en route to Havana on the northwest coast.  

The victims included 28 foreigners from 10 countries.  
ATR said the plane was 15 years old, had flown almost  25,000 hours and had been operated by state-owned Aero  Caribbean since 2006.

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