Poland Called Soviet-Era Planes 'Flying Coffins'

The jets were old but also fast
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2010 3:58 PM CDT
Poland Called Soviet-Era Planes 'Flying Coffins'
People light candles and lay flowers in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

As Poland wrestles with the death of President Lech Kaczysnki and 96 others in today's plane crash, attention is turning to the pilots' actions and the Soviet-era plane involved:

  • The pilots ignored orders not to try to land because of heavy fog, reports AP.
  • The plane involved is a 20-year-old Soviet-era Tupelo 154 that had been overhauled in December. Wall Street Journal blogger Marcin Sobczyk notes the planes were nicknamed "flying coffins" in Poland.

  • So why are Polish leaders using such old planes? An Economist blogger who flew in one notes that the Tu-154 "was dated, noisy and not that comfortable, but it had one great strength, I was told. A three-engined jet, it was significantly faster than the modern, two-engined airliners widely used by other governments for long-distance VIP transport. ... This speed played a role in keeping the plane in Polish government service."
(More Poland stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.