Tupolev 154: Plane That Was Carrying Lech Kaczynski and Officials
A Tupolev 154 (Tu-154) Has Been Identified As The Plane That Was Carrying the Polish President and Officials When They Were Killed
A Tupolev 154 plane was carrying the Polish Presidnet Lech Kaczynski and around 95 others when it crashed in the forest outside of Smolensk Russia, and although this plane was 20 years old, according to the Wall Street Journal, it has been overhauled in December 2009 and had not logged too many hours in the air.
The pilot had attempted to land the plane about four times while trying to navigate heavy fog. It is thought that the plane hit some trees before it crashed, so it must have been flying really low. It crashed just one kilometer short of the runway just before 11am local time.
Russian media reported that the airplane's pilot ignored warnings to abort his landing outside of Smolensk and land instead in Minsk or Moscow.
According to the WSJ, the Polish media is reporting that the crew of the plane had reported problems before the plane tried to land, although what those problems may have been have not been confirmed.
This plane was operated by the Polish Air Force. It underwent engine maintenance and a complete new interior in December and was updated and modernized. It had logged about 5000 hours of flying time making 1800 flights. This is not considered a lot of flight time, but a plane that is meant to carry officials does not make unnecessary flights.
These planes were designed in the mid 1960s and is considered the 'workhorse' of the Soviet airline fleet. It is designed to be hardy and to operate in difficult conditions. It is still the standard airline for routes flying within Russia and other close states. It is considered the fastest civilian aircraft in operation.
Other Tupolev 154 Crashes
The tragedy on April 10 in Russia is not the first crash involving a Tupolev 154. Some other crashes in recent years have included:
On July 15 2009 a Tu-154 crashed while flying from Armenia to Iran, which killed 168 people.
On September 1 2006, a Tu-154 skidded off the runway in Mashad, Iran and caught fire, which killed 80 people.
Just about two weeks earlier, on August 22, 2006, about 170 died when a plane crashed in the Ukraine while on route to St. Petersburg.
In 2004 a Tu-154 crashed due to a Chechen suicide bomber while on route to Sochi. 46 people died.
Two crashes occurred in 2002, one on July 1, when a plane collided with a cargo plane over Germany killing 71 people and then on February 12 when a plane crashed southwest of Tehran, killing 119 people.