Tags: pilot | error | suspect | crash

Pilot Error Blamed on Polish Air Crash

Thursday, 15 Apr 2010 09:36 AM

WARSAW – Russian investigators said on Thursday that black boxes from the air crash that killed Poland's president showed pilot error was to blame, as protests grew over the late leader's burial site.

Hundreds have taken to the streets and tens of thousands joined a Facebook campaign to lay president Lech Kaczynski to rest in Krakow's historic Wawel castle alongside royalty, a saint and past national heroes.

In Moscow, a report said first analysis of data recorders from the jet, which crashed near the Russian city of Smolensk en route to a World War II memorial, showed the crew were unfamiliar with the plane's handling.

"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 on its fourth and final attempt the Russian-made Tupolev Tu-154 plane tried to land by levelling its altitude after descending, in a bid to compensate for heavy fog in the area.

"A particularity of the plane is that if its speed of descent is more than six metres (20 feet) per second, when the plane equalized and goes into a horizontal flight it loses altitude," the source said.

Interfax said two of the black boxes found at the scene of the crash were being examined by Russian and Polish investigators at a defence ministry investigation centre in the Moscow region. A third is being examined in Poland.

Air traffic controllers have said the crew repeatedly ignored advice to land at another airport. Investigators have already ruled out fire or an explosion.

All 96 people on board the plane were killed. They were heading to a memorial service at Katyn, near Smolensk, for 22,000 Polish officers and troops killed by Soviet forces in World War II 70 years ago.

Poland on Thursday continued to count the cost of the crash, as a military aircraft carried home the body of Ryszard Kaczorowski, 90, a leader in exile who kept the dream of freedom alive during communism.

Kaczorowski was president of the London-based Polish government-in-exile from World War II until Warsaw's communist regime fell four decades later.

Poland's top four military commanders and state bank governor Slawomir Skrzypek were also among the dead.

Poland's interim president Bronislaw Komorowski said Thursday the choice of a new central bank chief depends on expert legal opinions due late this week, "so next week I'll be more likely able to say what my position is."

An early presidential election to replace Kaczynski is expected on June 20.

US President Barack Obama, Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev and Britain's Prince Charles are among the foreign dignitaries who are set to attend the increasingly controversial funeral.

Around 200 people demonstrated in central Warsaw late Wednesday and hundreds more took to the streets of the Baltic port of Gdansk, Poznan in the west, and in Krakow itself.

The nationalist and deeply Catholic Lech Kaczynski, in office since 2005, was a highly divisive figure at home and abroad. His identical twin, former prime minister Jaroslaw, is leader of Poland's conservative opposition.

But thousands of people queued for a third day Thursday to pay their respects to Kaczynski and his wife Maria, whose bodies are lying in state at the presidential palace in Warsaw until the funeral.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved

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WARSAW – Russian investigators said on Thursday that black boxes from the air crash that killed Poland's president showed pilot error was to blame, as protests grew over the late leader's burial site.
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2010-36-15
Thursday, 15 Apr 2010 09:36 AM
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