Engine-failure during take-off is the most likely cause of t he 11 July crash of a Cubana Cuban Airlines Antonov An-24, in which all 39 passengers and five crew are believed to have died, says the Cuban aviation authority.

The aircraft crashed into the sea, at night in good weather, within 2min of take-off from Santiago de Cuba on a flight to Havana. The officials blame the accident on a failure of the left engine at low height and speed, followed by loss of control by the crew, although they have not explained how the information was deduced.

The recovered cockpit-voice-recorder has yielded no clues, but the authorities say that that the aircraft was serviceable at the time of departure, the maintenance records were complete, and the crew was suitably qualified.

A Russian accident report confirms that airframe corrosion was the cause of the 18 March inflight break-up of a Stavropolskaya Aktsioneraya Avia Antonov An-24 in Chechnya, Russia, killing all nine crew and 41 passengers. Airframe failure had been suspected because the aircraft's tail section was found 1.5km (0.8nm) from the rest of the wreckage.

Now the investigators say that the tail broke off in the cruise at 17,700ft (5,400m), ascribing the failure to a combination of aircraft age (it was built in 1966) and high recent utilisation on a charter operation in the humid weather of the Congo. Maintenance had since been carried out on the tail section, the report says.

Source: Flight International