Tu-154 communications reveal no technical problem

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Preliminary analysis of communications with the Polish state Tupolev Tu-154 which crashed at Smolensk has not indicated technical problems with the aircraft.

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, chairing a technical meeting to update progress on the inquiry into yesterday's accident, heard evidence from Alexander Bastrykin, the investigative committee chief of Russia's federal prosecutor's office.

During the meeting Putin inquired about communications between flight controllers and the aircraft crew.

Bastrykin says that, while the information will be examined in greater detail in Moscow, the record "confirms no problem with the aircraft".

He adds that it also supports the claim that the pilots were informed of the poor weather conditions, but nevertheless took the decision to land.

Investigators in Moscow have started analysing the cockpit-voice and flight-data recorders from the aircraft.

Russian transport minister Igor Levitin informed the technical meeting that the quality of the cockpit-voice recording is "satisfactory".

"There is every possibility of obtaining reliable information about the flight," he says. Work is also under way on decoding the flight-data recorder.

All 96 occupants, including the Polish president, senior politicians and high-ranking members of the armed forces, were killed when the aircraft came down in woodland during its approach to Smolensk's northern military airport.