Polish sources have speculated that late president Lech Kaczynski may have insisted his pilot continue flying against orders from air traffic controllers.
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SBS

12 Apr 2010 - 12:46 PM  UPDATED 23 Aug 2013 - 2:09 PM

Polish sources have speculated that late president Lech Kaczynski may have insisted his pilot continue flying against orders from air traffic controllers, resulting in a crash which killed him and 96 others.

The president and several senior government officials were flying to Russia to mark 70 years since Soviet troops massacred 20,000 Poles in the Katyn forest.

"The pressure of the day, the pressure of the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre - the ceremony was so huge that all aboard the aircraft wanted very much to land," leading Polish defence analyst Gregorsh Haldanowich told the ABC.

British newspaper the Guardian and the New York Times reported that Kaczynski had a history of pressuring pilots to land depsite bad conditions.

Previous case

On a flight to Tbilisi during the war in Georgia, Kaczynski reportedly entered the cockpit after the pilot said it was too dangerous to land. The pilot refused to yield to the president's will, landing instead in Azerbaijan.

Attempts were subsequently made to sue the pilot for failing to obey orders, but the case was thrown out by prosecutors, the Guardian reported.

“If someone decides to become a pilot, he cannot be fearful,” Kaczynski reportedly said. “After returning to the country, we shall deal with this matter,” the NY Times quoted Polish newspaper Dziennik as reporting.

Polish president Lech Walesa also suggested the president may have insisted on landing despite the severe fog blanketing the approach to the airport, but said it was too early to lay blame, the Guardian reported.

Pilot suffers depression

Despite receiving a medal for his service, the pilot suffered depression in the wake of the incident, the NY Times said.

The flight voice recorder has been recovered, the New York Times reported, but no transcripts of conversations in the cockpit have yet been released.