Aviation News

January 13, 2011

VIDEO: Russian Investigators Blame Pilot Error for Plane Crash That Killed Polish President

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Russia on Wednesday announced that a pilot error was the main cause of the fatal plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other officials last year. [VIDEO BELOW]

Wreckage of Polish Air Force Tu-154M 101 in Smolensk, Russia

Wreckage of Polish Air Force Tu-154M 101 in Smolensk, Russia

According to Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, a Russian investigative team released a report on the accident that took place near Smolensk airport in western Russia in April 2010. A total of 96 people, including former Polish President Ryszard Kaczorowski and Chief of Staff of the Polish Armed Forces Franciszek Gągor, were killed

Tatyana Anodina, head of the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK), listed a number of contributing factors to the aircraft accident, including the crew’s decision not to land at another airport despite being informed of unfavorable weather conditions at their destination.

“Before departing from Warsaw, the plane was in a good working condition. There was no fire, explosion or damage during the flight,” said Anodina.


Russia Today produced an extremely detailed recreation of the plane’s approach, complete with ATC and cockpit recordings.

Other errors included in the report were a dangerous drop in altitude despite poor visibility, a lack of correct reactions from the pilot as directed by the automatic Terrain Awareness and Warning System, descending at a speed double than the safe rate and poor collaboration between the crew.

Another significant factor was the insufficient command of Russian language from the crew. The pilots and other staff had to speak Russian with air controllers and MAK never received documents certifying the proficiency in Russian from crew members.

The commission further determined that the presence in the cockpit of Air Force Chief Blasik as well as other officials had a negative impact on the pilots who agreed to land in the non-favorable conditions.

The document will likely be condemned by the Polish government as preliminary reports that indicated similar causes were rejected by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk in December.

In September, Poland first expressed its concerns with the progress of the Russian investigation and informed Russian authorities about them. Poland felt that some information was not transmitted and many doubts the Polish government had remain unanswered.

Poland claimed inefficiency from the Severny airport in Smolensk as the main cause of the accident. However, Anodina remarked that airport officials did not give the plane permission to land at a critical altitude of 100 meters in which it was flying.