Skip to comments.Polish President's pilots 'knew plane was doomed': Investigators
Posted on 04/15/2010 10:57:55 PM PDT by ketelone
WARSAW: Investigators blamed pilot error on Thursday for a crash that killed Poland's president, as harrowing details emerged of how the crew knew they were doomed after hitting trees while trying to land in Russia.
As Poland's national unity fractured over plans to bury president Lech Kaczynski in a castle alongside kings and heroes, officials released the first results from analysis of the plane's black box flight recorders.
"The crew was aware of the inevitability of the coming catastrophe, if only due to the plane shaking after the wings hit the trees -- which we are certain happened," Poland's chief prosecutor Andrzej Seremet told commercial radio.
Colonel Zbigniew Rzepa, a Polish military prosecutor, said the pilots of the Russian-made jet were aware of the imminent crash as the last seconds of the voice recordings "were dramatic", but did not elaborate.
But Russian investigators found no evidence that "any of the high-ranking passengers forced the pilots to land in Smolensk", Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a source close to the investigation as saying.
The Polish presidential Tupolev Tu-154 crashed in thick fog Saturday near the western Russian city while taking a delegation to a memorial service for a World War II massacre.
All 96 people on board, many of them senior Polish military and political figures, were killed.
Officials said Thursday that a "special security procedure" was being implemented for the arrival of US President Barack Obama and other foreign leaders for the funeral in Krakow, with around 80 planes set to land there Sunday morning.
With a cloud of ash spreading across northern Europe from an Icelandic volcano, Poland closed its airspace in the north of the country on Thursday until further notice, but a White House spokesman said that Obama was keeping his plans to fly.
Protests have erupted over the choice of Krakow's historic Wawel castle, the resting place of Poland's past kings, a saint and national heroes, for the burial of the president and his wife Maria.
Hundreds of people rallied in Warsaw, Krakow, the Baltic port of Gdansk and Poznan in the west on Wednesday, while more than 42,000 people have joined a Facebook campaign against the decision.
The hierarchy of Poland's powerful Roman Catholic urged critics to calm down in the dispute.
"We must respect the decision," Bishop Stanislaw Budzik, secretary-general of the Polish Bishops' Conference, was quoted as saying by Poland's PAP news agency.
"The intention is to commemorate all victims of a disaster unprecedented in Polish history," Budzik said.
As debate raged over Kaczynski's burial site, questions also mounted over the cause of the crash.
Russian investigators said Thursday that initial findings from the jet's data and flight voice recorders said the crew may not have been aware of the particularities of the plane when they repeatedly tried to land.
"An analysis of the evidence, including the first results from the decoding of the black boxes, shows that an error in piloting led to the disaster," the Interfax news agency quoted a source close to the investigation as saying.
The official said it appeared that the plane tried to land by levelling out its oblique descent approach to a horizontal angle in a bid to compensate for the bad weather.
But the source said a "particularity of the plane is that if its speed of descent is more that six metres per second, when the plane equalized and goes into a horizontal flight it loses altitude," the source said.
Speculation that the pilots were under pressure has centred on a spat in 2008, when Kaczynski tried and failed to order a pilot to land in Tbilisi while on a show of support for Georgia during its brief war with Russia.
On Saturday, Kaczynski's delegation was headed to a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, when thousands of Polish officers were slaughtered by the Soviet secret police in 1940.
Thousands of people queued for a third day Thursday to pay their respects to the conservative, nationalist Kaczynski and his wife, whose bodies are lying in state at the presidential palace in Warsaw.
An early presidential election is expected on June 20.
The bodies of 34 more crash victims were flown home to Poland Thursday.
Coffee. Keyboard. Monitor. Wall!
You mean like a stopover in Smolensk?
For bay area FReepers:
Honorary Consul of Poland
785 Market St., Suite 1120
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone (415) 777-4445
Fax (415) 778-8123
Nice of you to post that. We were escorted into the building by two young security men. They very much appreciated our handshakes and condolences.
Now, the 727 was a fine plane, of which thousands were ultimately made; but it had some dicey characteristics on landing, which early on caused accidents and near-accidents.
Boeing finally revised the landing procedure to keep it safely airborne until touchdown; mainly by flying it onto the deck hot. (Sounds like a carrier landing to me!)
Anyone who has actual experience flying a 727, feel free to comment.
Maybe the Tupolev has a similar problem that the pilots were not adequately trained for.
[[I wonder whether anyone ever called a Tu-154 stew a "Tupolev honey?"]]
Was Kacznski Assassinated? [Poland/Russia Plane Crash]
Dont forget the President of the Central Bank. The whole military brass and head of the economic system is gone.
ABC News: Vladimir Putin to head investigation into Polish president’s death
Supreme commanders of the Polish Army killed in plane crash
POLISH PRESIDENT DIES IN PLANE CRASH (AND 88 OTHERS)- CONFIRMED
Thanks, Arthur. Good info.
“Speculation that the pilots were under pressure has centred on a spat in 2008, when Kaczynski tried and failed to order a pilot to land in Tbilisi while on a show of support for Georgia during its brief war with Russia.”
Great opportunity to do a dirty deed quietly.
Glad to help, FRiend. Pilots didn’t know how to handle the plane?
“Pilots didnt know how to handle the plane?”
Above their pay grade, perhaps?
Wasn’t the report that it was a Russian Plane sent to pick up Poland’s Admin for the memorial? If the plane was not a Poland plane used by Poland Gov’t, then why did they get on it? Or did I misunderstand?
what kind of airport has tall trees so close to the glidepath?
Did Kaczynski have a problem keeping himself under ‘control’
a la Bubba? If not I’d say the comparison is unfair.
Bless your heart for that. Very touching.
Hey, somebody has to keep you awake Null!;-)
It was not my intention to compare the two men, just to put a frame of reference for Americans to understand why there is a controversy there.
First denied missile defense from the USA, then decapitated by the
First denied missile defense from the USA, then decapitated by the USSR Russia.
Yes. And now a cloud of ash covers a lot of Europe. It appears symbolic.
sure I’m sure that was what the Russian were thing too.
My instincts tell me Putin knew the plane was doomed as well.
The Russian Media, Unfortunately during Obama’s Regime, is probably much more truthful and Objective than Ours!
I spent an hour on your page.
Awesome is an understatement.
I am most intrigued by Galilee of the Nations and will pass that on to my Jewish friends;-)
I googled the phrase “Oblique descent” last night, and one of the responses was a Google book about physics. It may be a translation problem... However, it sounds like they are making stuff up trying to make it sound all professional-like. Trying to talk over people’s heads.
Besides, there are just too many inconsistencies in what has been reported by authorities TO the press...
Don’t get me wrong... I actually trust one or two UK papers, and would trust the Pravda most times over the vast majority of our media. However, this is a REALLY big thing, and Putin’s hands are not clean regarding the media in the country. The implications are very serious if it is found Russia is not being completely truthful about the accident (or more directly Putin because he put himself ultimately in charge of the whole thing). There is more to say that there is some sort of cover-up going on, IMHO than not. Too many conflicting reports...
My apologies, I was being Sarquastic about Our Extremely Rotten Media here today. I never believe a word of any Russian Media, especially whena Disaster like this happens the night before PUTIN is alleged to be planning on APOLOGIZING to the Polish People for a Russian Atrocity against them......It wasn’t going to happen....the KGB is very effective..... and now it just by coincidence will never Happen.....:-(
The Russian report seems to imply that the pilots not only made errors, but did not know how to properly fly that type of plane. I find this extremely difficult to believe. One would think that a plane carrying so many high ranking officials would be flown by the best pilots in the country.
Do you have a ping list for the crash? If so, would you please add me to it? Thank you. :)
Any chance of anything “planted” during the maintenance/repairs/renovations in Russia back in December? Or, do I remember the cold war and spy movies too well?
Worth rereading Jack Cashill’s Book on Ron Brown’s Crash and all that was involved with Two of Our Best Air Force Pilots and then the Search thrown off by Hundreds of miles for hours as if to give site cleaup! Yhese had to be the Best of Pilots of Poland.
“the crew knew they were doomed after hitting trees”
As a pilot, I find this to somewhat of an understatement.
Thanks for the info. I appreciate it.
From what I understand a female Polish official who gave up her seat on the plane at the last moment said that she had flown “many times” on the plane, and with those pilots. Since the plane had been in use for so long, and there were so many on board of an important stature politically and militarily I don’t think they would leave the flight to inexperienced pilots, do you?
I’m still wondering why Poland would allow the plane to be fixed in Russia, and exactly what was worked on while it was there...
No apology necessary! :)
The left in Poland is outraged Kacznski will be buried in a place of honor so they are having a hissy fit. What a bunch of losers.
The great circle route from DC is just dandy!!!
There is a valley just prior to the runway approach. Fog from it can obscure the pilot’s view of the runway. The Polish pilot tried to get around that by coming at the runway from an angle, then banking hard to try and line up with the runway.
Any plane loses altitude when the wings are banked. This plane is more unforgiving than most. The runway is also a ‘downramp’. It’s highest point is at the end this plane was approaching, so the pilot must deal with the dropping incline.
The pilot gambled on a sharp turn, and then when he leveled off, the plane dropped more than he could compensate for, and the fog obscured visual references to the ground, especially that end of the runway.
One wing clipped a tree, spinning the plane causing the other wing to hit the ground and the plane cartwheeled across the landscape just prior to, and off to the side, of the normal runway approach.
They had landed THAT PLANE at THAT AIRPORT, just a few days prior to this accident.
.....Putin is personally supervising the investigation...
In fact, he seemed eager to do so.
Wow, your translation actually makes sense, but I’m not sure I understand the translation algorithm. ;)
Lefist loons are everywhere, but Poland has a fiery spirit of freedom. Too bad their geographical location is brutally unfair.
Thank you for that info. I didn’t know that. Do you happen to remember where you saw that fact? (I’m going to try to put together a collection of facts and refs. for my blog like I did for some other stuff a while back (like the OU Bombing)). I would love to be able to include that detail because I think it’s important.
This youtube video was purportedly taken right after the crash.
The video part appears to be real. Compare the image at 0:21 to this RIA Novosti photo:
The audio part seems to have gunshots and warnings to get away. Interesting.
Thanks. So it’s just a case of a translation that’s too simplified as far as “oblique descent”. After reading the entry in the book I found at google I got that they were trying an angular approach just couldn’t follow that through the explanation. Your explanation allows me to “see” it better. It also does make a big difference as far as believing the story the Russians are trying to tell. I still don’t understand the discrepancies in the reported details though — they seem to have been changing almost daily up till this point. Plus there are a lot of unanswered questions, IMHO.
Plus, in the back of my mind I’m aware that they guy in charge until the election was Kaczynski’s opponent politically and I worry about the Polish governments ability to really say it was something else even if it truly was, frankly. BUT, still this explanation leaves a little more possibility for it truly being an accident.
GUNSHOTS??? For what possible reason??? Do they still treat people like rabid dogs over there?
Seems odd that Polish leaders would die, thus saving Russia the monstrous embarrassment of having to explain the WWII massacre of Polish officers by Russians, that Russia denied for 30 years...
Just a coincidence, I suppose.
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