An ATR 72-212 turboprop operated by Cuba’s Aero Caribbean crashed on November 4 in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spiritus, killing all 61 passengers and seven crewmembers. Flight 883, en route from Santiago de Cuba to Havana, lost contact with air traffic controllers at about 5:40 local time, after declaring “an emergency situation.”
Last month a Miami jury found Gernando Hernandez, a Cuban agent, guilty of conspiracy to murder in the 1996 shootdown of two unarmed, civilian airplanes flown by Cuban exiles. Hernandez and four others were also found guilty of separate offenses related to spying.
Brothers to the Rescue has ceased operations. Since the early 1990s, the Miami-based Cuban-exile group had flown Cessna 337s and other light general aviation airplanes in search-and-rescue patrols off the coast of Cuba as thousands of Cubans fled the Communist island. In recent years, the group has drastically reduced its activities as Cubans sought modes of escape less dangerous than makeshift rafts and small boats.
Cuba’s flagcarrier Cubana de Aviacion and domestic operator AeroCaribbean are seeking between 20 and 30 regional airliners that it wants to introduce beginning in 2008. It is considering the following twin turboprops: Ukraine’s Antonov An-148, the Russian Ilyushin Il-114, the French-Italian ATR 42/72 family, the Canadian Bombardier Dash-8Q Series and China’s Y-7/MA-60.