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."
(Read more Poland stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
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.