Polish president’s plane crash: Prosecutors release new transcripts confirming 3rd party in cockpit
Pressured by the leak of a local radio station, the Polish Prosecutor’s Office has released black box transcripts from the presidential plane that crashed in Russia in 2010. It confirms that unauthorized people were in cockpit, instructing the pilots.
The transcript, along with two expert opinions, was published by the Polish Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday.
The office said that the release was meant to dissipate speculation after a leaked and allegedly not-entirely-correct version was published earlier in the week by Polish radio station RMF.
In the released documents, which are believed to be based on a new expertise carried out some time after February 2014, transcripts of cockpit recorders are placed in a detailed timeline with occasional commentary. They also contain an ‘identity’ column, with possible speakers identified by letters, and there are several columns defining the quality of recording and the certainty with which the meaning could be understood, on a 1-4 scale.
No key is given for the identities, however, some speakers are specifically marked as “third party.” One such person denoted as DSP is seemingly instructing pilots, who are reluctant to land on a military airfield in Smolensk due to poor visibility.
Media reports, including that of RFM, have identified DSP as Polish Air Force commander General Andrzej Blasik. The expert opinions of those who prepared the two documents released by the prosecutors have partly focused on this issue.
Prosecutor Andrzej Artymowicz’s assessment is bolder and directly attributes certain phrases said in the cockpit to Blasik – an unauthorized party on the flight deck.
Some of the statements point to Blasik putting pressure on the pilots seconds before the crash, encouraging them to proceed with the landing. These include: “You’ll fit safely” and “the fact is, we have to do it.”
Other comments seem to be giving directions the pilots, including: “do not move”, “under the wings” and “on my mark.”
The prosecutor’s version of the transcript also confirms the theory that Blasik remained in the cockpit up to the moment the plane hit the ground. The last phrase attributed to him is “100 meters,” referring to the distance from the ground, which was uttered 22 seconds before impact.
Artymowicz notes that the new transcript, which is part of a 107-page document, was prepared by a group of seven aviation experts, including an investigator, pilots and an aviation psychologist.
A second expert, Grazyna Demenko, concludes that the voice heard on the recording does not belong to the pilots, but refrains from directly identifying it.
The transcript reveals that the crew was indeed concerned about the weather conditions before the landing and talked about not proceeding with it. The crew was apparently warned by Smolensk air traffic control to be ready for another landing attempt at the height of 100 meters.
The Polish presidential plane crashed while trying to land on April 10, 2010. President Lech Kaczynski and his entourage were en route to a ceremony commemorating the 1940 Katyn Forest Massacre, in which thousands of Polish officers were executed by Joseph Stalin’s secret police.
The crash took the lives of all 96 people on board, including the Polish president and his wife, the head of the National Bank, top military commanders and other high-ranking officials.