The ongoing investigation about the presidential plane crash has brought new information to light. However, many details still remain to be cleared and confirmed.
In an interview with radio TOK FM, the spokesperson of the Military Prosecutor’s Office, Col. Zbigniew Rzepa, denied that passengers’ screams had been recorded by the black boxes under investigation. Russian media had reported that the last moments before the plane crashed were accompanied by panicking voices coming from the passenger’s cabin.
However, there are apparently no recordings yet from the last 30 minutes of the flight, according to Rzepa. The only recorded noise so far seems to have come from the crew and not from the cabin.
The two flight recorders, which contain flight parameters and voice recordings, are considered to be one of the missing jigsaw pieces to fully reconstruct the presidential plane crash, in which a delegation of 88 dignitaries died near Smolensk on Saturday 10th on their way to commemorate the victims of the Katyń massacres in 1940.
While the two black boxes are still being examined in Moscow by Russian investigators, Polish military prosecutors, who initiated a separate investigation last week, asked for permission to access the recordings as well. The recordings couldn’t be fully decoded yet and the identification process of the already available voices is still ongoing. Matching the voices with the flight crew has turned out to be especially difficult, for which another helping hand could accelerate the investigation.
So far, there seems to be consensus that the plane crash was due to pilot error. It has been furthermore confirmed that there doesn’t seem to have been any pressure on the crew from the passengers. Having ignored the Smolensk air traffic controllers’ warnings, the pilot attempted to land despite severe weather conditions in heavy fog. Having been too low, the Tu-154M hit two trees before the machine went out of control and crashed about 300 meters short of the runway near Smolensk.
Another factor raised by the investigation commission is that the pilot did not fully take into account the flight characteristics of the aircraft, as Tupulevs tend to lose height faster than other planes.
Further details about the investigation concerning the causes and circumstances of the plane crash are expected to be revealed within the next few days. As the late Polish President Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria Kaczyńska have been interred during a monumental memorial ceremony in Krakow last Sunday, other funerals continued to take place on Monday. Reportedly, twenty victims still need to be identified.