Pilots Likely Not Pressured In Russian Crash
A review of the cockpit voice recorder of the Polish government aircraft that crashed in Russia last week revealed no evidence of pressure from any of the passengers on the crew to proceed with a landing they'd been warned not to attempt by air traffic controllers. "The flight recorder, whose tapes are being deciphered, did not register any pressure on crew members," an unnamed official with the Russian committee investigating the accident told Interfax News. The theory was floated shortly after the crash based on the knowledge that the pilot had been told by ATC to divert to a safer airport and because Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who died along with 94 others in the crash, had tried to force a pilot to land in poor weather in Tblisi in 2008. The pilot in that case defied the president and diverted. In this case, it appears it was all the pilot's idea. Anatoly Muravyov, an air traffic controller on duty at the time, told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that the aircraft had not been cleared to land and all he and his colleagues could do was watch and wait. He said the "pilot's desire to land at any costs" was, in his opinion, a factor in the crash.
The investigators said the crew likely had a few seconds to consider the result of their decision as the plane struck trees before disintegrating. "One could say that 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," Andrzej Seremet, Poland's chief prosecutor, told a Polish radio station. The aircraft was packed with Polish officials and dignitaries on their way to a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of a massacre of Polish citizens by Russian secret police in the Katyn Forest during the Second World War.