A Boeing 737-200 crashed on takeoff from Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport today. The airplane was being was being operated by Cubana de Aviacion and had 104 people on board.

The flight was departing for the Cuban city of Holguin and crashed at 12:08 p.m in a field of yuca-root plants. There were reports of a large plume of black smoke near the crash site. Three passengers have been reported in critical condition.

The airplane was being rented by Cubana in an attempt to remove aging airplanes from their fleet to reduce maintenance issues and delays.

“Among the difficulties created by the U.S. trade embargo is our inability to acquire latest-generation aircraft with technology capable of guaranteeing the stability of aerial operations,” said Cubana’s director general Capt. Hermes Hernandez Dumas.

Cubana de Aviacion, commonly known as Cubana, is a national airline based in Cuba, and is the countries largest airline. The airline was founded in 1929 and currently operates a fleet of 14 airplanes.

About Greg Thomson

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 7,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, and flying for a regional airline. Greg took a 5 year hiatus from flying and worked in software development and marketing. He has since returned to flying as a cargo pilot. Greg enjoys educating and helping pilots improve their professional lives and is passionate about applying technology and new methods to help with traditional challenges.