Monday, April 12, 2010

'VIP passenger syndrome' may have contributed to Polish plane crash

The role of the Polish president in the air crash in which he and 95 others died has been called into question amid suggestions he many have put pressure on the pilot to land despite bad weather warnings.

Russian aviation experts claimed that "VIP passenger syndrome" could have played a part in causing of the tragedy, as it was disclosed that Lech Kaczynski had previously tried to sack a pilot who refused to land a plane for him in dangerous circumstances.

Black box recordings have confirmed that the pilot, Arkadiusz Protasiuk, an experience airman serving with the Polish air force, had ignored warnings to divert to another airport because of heavy fog.

However, it has been suggested that Mr Kaczynski did not want to miss a ceremony for the 22,000 Poles massacred by Soviet forces in the Second World War and may have urged the air crew to continue trying to land the plane.

Viktor Timoshkin, an aviation expert, said: "It was quite obviously 'VIP passenger syndrome'. Controllers suggested that the aircraft's crew divert the plane to an alternate route. I am sure that the commander of the crew reported this to the president. But in response, for whatever reasons, he had a clear order to land."