Investigators probe Polish crash landing; pilot dismisses talk of heroism

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish authorities are investigating what went wrong on a passenger jet yesterday that forced the pilot to put it down without landing gear.

LOT airlines says the Boeing 767 suffered "a central hydraulic system failure" that kept the wheels and the entire undercarriage from extending. A team from Boeing is on the scene to inspect the aircraft and offer advice on removing it from the runway.

Aviation experts say the failure of an entire undercarriage was unprecedented for a Boeing 767 and highly unusual for any plane.

But passengers are describing the landing as so smooth they didn't realize the plane was touching down on its belly, not its wheels. And in a country still focused on last year's crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, Poles are hailing the pilot as a hero.

The pilot, Tadeusz Wrona, is dismissing such talk as "exaggerated." He says the safety of the 231 passengers and crew was a worry even after the plane stopped, because of the smoke and fires the landing produced.

And he joked that he did hear one passenger in the back complain about feeling a bump.

(Copyright 2011, The Associated Press)

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