I admit the reputation of that airplane preceded it so much that my family tried to discourage me from boarding it. But inside, it looked just like any other airliner. It was louder than normal, but, frankly, after landing in Moscow I started thinking the safety concerns were overblown.
The infrastructure at the provincial airport in Smolensk may not have been suitable for landings at limited visibility, and this may have been the actual cause of the crash. Considering the thick fog on approach and a tired post-Soviet airport, would any other aircraft have landed there in such conditions, even if Polish government had managed to replace the Tupolevs with Embraers, as it was recently planning to do?
According to Russian officials, the pilot ignored all warnings and tried to land in Smolensk while the Russian air-traffic control was asking to divert the plane to the Belarusian capital Minsk or to Moscow.