96, Including Polish President, Were Killed In The
A transcript from the cockpit voice
recorder carried by the TU-154 which crashed in heavy fog in
Western Russia in April shows that the pilots were warned by
Russian aviation authorities to not attempt the landing at
Smolensk. The resulting crash killed Polish President Lech
Kaczynski, his wife, and 94 others.
The transcript included the final 39 minutes of the flight. It
was published by Polish officials Tuesday. The Associated Press
reports that the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk was
anxious to publish the report in part to quash rumors and
conspiracy theories that have been reported by what he described as
The transcript shows that Russian air traffic controllers
advised the pilots of the plane not to land, and it also recorded
the terrain avoidance equipment repeating "pull up, pull up." The
aircraft clipped a tree, which caused it to flip over and
The recordings do not give a definitive answer to questions
about who might have been in the cockpit, and whether the pilots
were under pressure to attempt the landing. The delegation was
running late to a ceremony in Smolensk, and according to the
transcript, President Kaczynski's chief of diplomatic protocol
Mariusz Kanzana did visit the cockpit about 15 minutes before the
landing attempt. When he was told about the poor weather and the
possibility of not being able to land, he reportedly says "well,
then, we have a problem."
The pilots also reportedly talked with the pilots of a plane
carrying Polish journalists which had landed successfully earlier.
They talked about the thick fog and deteriorating weather, but also
said the presidential plane could try to land. The New York Times
reports that the transcript shows that the pilot, Arkadiusz
Protasiuk, was told by Russian controllers “There are no
conditions for landing.” “We’ll make an attempt,"
Protasiuk responded, "but if the weather isn’t good,
we’ll leave for a second round.” A few minutes later,
controllers told the pilot to climb from his altitude of 325 feet.
“If we fail to land, we are reascending on autopilot,”
No official cause for the accident has been determined by
Russian and Polish aviation officials investigating the crash.