MiG-29 flights suspended until crash explained

Poland will suspend all flights of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter planes until Friday's crash of one of the aircraft is explained by a state commission, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced at a press conference on Friday.

A Polish MiG-29 plane from the 22nd Air Base in Malbork, north Poland, crashed at 1:57 am on Friday some 50 km east from its base, near Pasłęk, the Defence Ministry has reported. The pilot managed to bail out but did not survive.

The pilot had over 850 hours flight time, including over 600 hours in MiG-29 planes and took part in many national and international exercises, the ministry said.

The Committee for the Investigation of National Aviation Accidents has been dealing with the accident, the defence minister said. "The commission's experts have already gone to the crash site, which has been secured by Military Police," he explained.

The General Commander of Poland's Armed Forces Gen. Jarosław Mika said that the cause of the crash was yet unknown.

Colonel Maciej Trelka, who is responsible for airborne operations at the General Command of the Armed Forces, said that the MiG-29 planes, which have been in service for 29 years, were very safe aircraft and Friday's crash was the first such a tragic incident involving the model.

The pilot was performing night-day training flights, Colonel Trelka also said.

Prosecutors from the National Prosecutor's Office were also sent to the site, the Office said in a statement.

President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Minister Błaszczak offered condolences to the pilot's family.