Cuba plane crash: Leasing company blames Mexican crew

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The plane came down shortly after take-off from Havana

A plane crash in Cuba which killed 112 people was caused by "human error", the Mexican charter company which owns the plane says.

Damojh Airlines said a study of the data recorders showed the Boeing 737 had taken off too steeply.

Mexican pilots' union ASPA said Damojh's statement, which was released before the official investigation has concluded, was "irresponsible".

The crash was one of the worst to happen in the Caribbean for decades.

The Boeing 737 and its Mexican crew had been leased from Damojh by Cuban state airline Cubana when it came down 20km (12 miles) south of the Cuban capital, Havana.

Eyewitnesses described seeing the jet burst into flames before crashing into a field close to a wooded area near Havana's main airport.

Media caption,
Doctor Jose Luis Castellano described the crash site as "very painful" to behold

Damojh said in a statement that "the crew took off at a very steep angle creating a lack of lift which caused the aircraft to plunge".

The company said it was basing its assessment on data from the plane's data recorders which had been extracted by a team made up of investigators from Cuba, Mexico and the US, and representatives from Boeing and engine manufacturers Pratt & Whitney.

'Defending their interests'

However, the results of the investigation have yet to be released, Mexico's civil aviation authority said.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The crash was one of the deadliest in Cuba in three decades

A spokesman for the Mexican pilots' union said Damojh was "just looking to defend their interests" by blaming the crew before the investigation had been concluded.

Following the accident on 18 May, two former pilots for the company came forward to allege that Damojh had a poor maintenance record.

Mexico's civil aviation authority suspended the company's operations in the wake of the accident. It said the suspension would remain in place pending the outcome of the investigation.

Most of the victims were Cuban, including 10 evangelical pastors and their spouses. Of the 113 people on board, 110 died on impact. Of the three initial survivors, two later died in hospital.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has set up a special commission to investigate the crash.