The Polish plane that crashed in Smolensk, western Russia, on April 10th had only four people on board, audio recordings of the pilot’s communuications with the control tower suggest.
According to the recordings found by Jadzia Donatowicz, the Polish pilot said that there were four people on the plane, indicating that the plane was empty apart from the four crew members.
This recording contradicts official statements that there were either 96 people or 132 people on the plane, including many top Polish civilian and military leaders.
The Polish pilot of the crashed plane IGA 703 communicates the information that there are four people on board as part of a routine exchange with the control tower as he approaches Smolensk airfield to land:
The Polish pilot says in Russian in the final sentence of the communication:
PILOT: “tolko posadka… a u nas CZIETYRJE czielovieka.”
“only landing… and here (on board) we are FOUR people.”
The audio recording could provide corroboration to a video clip that has emerged in which four gunshots can be heard being fired among the wreckage of the plane in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
It has been speculated that four gun shots were fired to kill the survivors of the crash.
The cockpit of the crashed plane appears to be in relatively good shape, and some of the crew could have been expected to have survived.
According to the official investigation, however, the crew were among the most difficult to identify by DNA analysis in Moscow where all the bodies were allegedly taken.
The audio recording suggesting that there were only four people on board the plane — the four crew members — would correlate with the four gun shots, and with the theory of four people being killed by four shots.
None of the video footage of the crash site has shown any dead bodies or parts of bodies or the personnel belongings of crash victims.
Officials have given different figures for the number of people on the plane.
Russian officials at first said that 132 people were on the plane and 3 had survived. Polish officials said that there 89 people and 7 crew members ob board, totalling 96.
Every flight has to have a precise flight plan declared on arrival and departure including the number of passengers and crew. It is, therefore, not clear why there should be discrepancies.
In addition, the time point of the crash is not clear.
Russian investigators analysing the black boxes recovered from the crash site have said the plane crashed at 8:56 am CET.
But a Polish journalist alerted his newsroom at 8:49 am CET of the crash.
The black boxes stop recording at 8:41 am CET, making this the moment when the plane most likely crashed into the ground.
Smolensk air controllers are supposed to have lost contact with the plane at 8:39 am.
Already at 8:25 am, messages appear on Russian internet forums saying: „Something happened with the Polish airplane at our airport – all fire fighters are on alarm.“
The revealtion that only four people may have been on board the doomed plane will spark speculation that the military and civilians were abducted and killed in Poland.
Alternatively, the Polish delegation could have flown to Smolensk in different planes, adhering to security protocols. These planes could have been redirected to another airport and the passengers murdered on landing.
It is considered extremely improbable that so many Polish leaders would have ignored every security protocol and gone on the same plane together. But if they had been murdered elsewhere, a single plane crash could have been staged to explain their disappearance at the same time.
Adding to the mystery of who was on board, Polish journalists did not fly with the Presidential plane that April 10th morning as usual, and there appears to be no footage showing the Polish delegation boarding the plane at Warsaw.
President Lech Kaczynski is supposed to have made a call using a satellite phone to his brother shortly after 8 am, but it has been speculated that a voice synthesiser could have been used.
Also, Kaczynski usually phoned his brother, Jaroslaw, after he landed – and not before, it has been stated.
Another audio recording of the doomed flight suggests that the pilot had no problems with visibility with the pilot confirming „Haze“ at 8 kilometres.
The term „Fog“ is used to describe weather conditions when there is visibility under 1 kilometre in aviation terminology.
The plane appears to have been landing on the non standard side of Smolensk airport where there is dip in the landscape, according to maps:
It has been confirmed by Polish authorities, in the meantime, that the body of the man found in Poland was the missing signals officer Stefan Zielonka.