Accessibility links

Poland Issues Cockpit Transcript from Doomed Presidential Jet


A Polish transcript of cockpit conversations during the last minutes before the plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski, shows pilots screaming and cursing as the jetliner hit a tree.

The black box, retrieved from the crash site in western Russia, recorded flight controllers telling the Polish pilots on April 10 that thick fog in the city of Smolensk had created bad landing conditions.

The transcript shows the warning from controllers coming 16 minutes before the crash that killed Mr. Kaczynski, his wife, and an entourage of top military officers and Polish dignitaries.

The transcript also shows the plane's automatic warning system repeatedly alerted pilots of imminent danger two minutes before the crash, urging them to pull up. It is not clear why the pilots did not heed the warnings.

The Polish Interior Ministry published the dramatic 40-page transcript on its website Tuesday.

Russia handed over copies of the documents Monday.

The Polish delegation was running late for a planned memorial ceremony near Smolensk commemorating the Word War II Soviet massacre of some 22,000 Polish army officers and intellectuals.

The doomed plane's timeline triggered widespread speculation that President Kaczynski himself may have contributed to the crash by encouraging pilots to disregard warnings from flight controllers.

The transcript shows no evidence the president intervened.

However, about 15 minutes before the crash, the pilots told the head of Poland's diplomatic protocol, Mariusz Kazana, who was in the cockpit, that the plane could not land because of thick fog.

A translated transcript shows Kazana replying, "then we have a problem." Several minutes later, Kazana tells the pilots the president has not yet decided what the pilots should do next.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

XS
SM
MD
LG