Polish air chief was in cockpit in Kaczynski crash

Image caption,
The plane crashed on its way to a commemoration of the Katyn massacre

Poland's air force chief was in the cockpit of a plane that crashed killing Polish President Lech Kaczynski, a Polish investigator has said.

But Edmund Klich said there was no sign that Gen Andrzej Blasic had pressured the pilots to land in bad weather.

A second unidentified non-crew member also was in the cockpit just before the crash on 10 April, investigators say.

The plane crashed as it tried to land at Smolensk in Russia, killing Mr Kaczynski and 95 other senior Poles.

"It was General Blasik... He may have wanted to get a sense of the situation," Mr Klich told Poland's TVN channel.

"There is no sentence [in the black box recordings] indicating direct pressure on the crew to land such as 'We really need to land'.''

However, Mr Klich added: "Of course, you can also mount pressure by the sole fact of being there."

'In full working order'

Mr Klich is a member of Poland's investigative committee, which is also taking part in the official Russian inquiry into the crash.

The investigation has already confirmed that the crew were repeatedly warned about poor weather.

Alexei Morozov, head of Russia's technical commission examining the crash, said earlier this month that air traffic controllers had warned twice that visibility was 400m (1,312ft) and that "there were no conditions for landing".

Four minutes before the crash, another Polish plane that had landed earlier that morning said visibility had dropped to 200m, he said.

The Tupolev-154 presidential plane was in full working order when it crashed, Mr Morozov said, according to a report by Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

He said systems at the Smolensk airport where the plane was trying to land were also operating normally.

The plane was flying President Lech Kaczynski and the other passengers to an event commemorating the 1940 Katyn massacre of more than 20,000 Poles by Soviet forces.

Shortly after the crash, there was speculation that passengers may have put pressure on the crew to land in Smolensk, though Polish officials said at the time that there was no evidence to substantiate such claims.

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