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Russia Blames Polish Pilot Error For Smolensk Crash.

Russia has blamed the Smolensk air crash which killed the Polish president and nearly 100 other people in April on Polish pilot error.

The Polish crew failed to heed bad weather warnings because they were afraid of displeasing President Lech Kaczynski, Russian investigators said.

The presence of Poland’s air force commander in the cockpit drove them to take “unjustified risk”, they said.

Poland’s prime minister has cut short a holiday in response to the report.

A government spokesman said Donald Tusk was returning to Poland for talks with Poland’s lead crash investigator, Jerzy Miller.

Last month, Mr Tusk sharply criticised a draft version of the Russian report.

Russia’s handling of the disaster had previously been widely commended.

President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, spanning the country’s military and political elite, were killed when their airliner came down in heavy fog near the western Russian city of Smolensk. There were no survivors.

They had been on their way to a memorial ceremony for Poles massacred by Stalin’s secret police at Katyn during World War II.

Tatyana Anodina, head of the Inter-state Aviation Committee (Mak) in Moscow, told reporters that the final report had been handed to Polish colleagues.

The Soviet-made Tu-154 plane, she said, had been in good condition when it took off from Warsaw en route to Smolensk’s Severny airport, and it suffered no engine or flight system failures.

The jet was piloted by Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk (left) and Major Robert Grzywna

Before impact, there was no fire, explosion or other damage in the air, she continued.

The disaster resulted directly, she said, from the crew’s failure to heed weather warnings and land at a different airport.

“During the flight, the crew were repeatedly informed of inadequate weather conditions at the destination airport,” she said.

“Despite this, the crew of the Tu-154 did not take a decision to switch to a back-up airfield. This may be considered as the start of the extreme situation aboard the plane.”

The Russian investigation found “substantial deficiencies” in the training given to Captain Arkadiusz Protasiuk and his co-pilot, Major Robert Grzywna, Ms Anodina said.

The two men had feared a “negative reaction” from President Kaczynski if they switched to the other airfield, according to the Russian investigator.

“The main passenger’s expected negative reaction… placed psychological pressure on crew members and influenced the decision to continue the landing,” she said.

The jet’s flight recorder caught one of the crew saying “He’ll get mad”, in an apparent reference to the Polish president’s determination not to alter his schedule.

Poland’s air force commander, Gen Andrzej Blasik, added to the pressure by entering the flight deck, Ms Anodina noted.

“The presence of the Polish air force commander on the flight deck up to the aircraft’s impact with the ground put psychological pressure on the crew captain to decide on continuing descent in a situation of unjustified risk, dominated by the goal of making a landing at any cost,” she said.

According to pathology tests, alcohol was found in the blood of Gen Blasik in a concentration of 0.6 grams per litre – just above the drink-driving limit for most EU states.

Investigators found that a top Polish foreign ministry official, Mariusz Kazana, had also entered the flight deck at one point.

At the news conference in Moscow, they played back the flight recorder tape of the pilots’ final minutes, including conversations with Russian air traffic controllers.

Just before the recording ends, an automatic recorded message in English from the plane’s Terrain Awareness and Warning System can be heard exhorting the crew to “pull up, pull up”.

In December, Mr Tusk described a draft of the Russian report as “unacceptable”, saying some of its conclusions were unfounded.

Without revealing details, he said it did not comply fully with the Chicago Convention which regulates international air travel.

“This negligence and mistakes, or lack of positive reaction to what Poland has been asking for, all these things allow us to say that some of the report’s conclusions are without foundation,” he added.

On Wednesday, Mak official Alexei Morozov said his investigation had amended its report with regard to technical criticisms made by Polish investigators.

But other amendments suggested by the Poles relating to responsibility for the crash were not included in the report as they were non-technical, Mr Morozov said.

These amendments would, he added, be contained in an appendix to the report.

Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother, former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, recently said he doubted that the body entombed in a Polish cathedral last year was that of his brother.

“When I saw the body that was brought back in a coffin to Poland, that person did not look like my brother,” he told reporters last month.

BBC Full Report

January 12, 2011 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Poland criticises Russian ‘Smolensk Report’

Polish PM Donald Tusk has criticised an investigation by Russia into a deadly plane crash which killed the country’s president in April.

He said it was “unacceptable” and some conclusions “without foundation”.

Russia recently handed Poland a draft report of the incident after months of investigation, though it has not been made public.

Former President Lech Kaczynski and other senior officials were among 96 people killed in the crash.

The plane came down near the western Russian town of Smolensk.

‘Without foundation’

Without revealing details of the report, Mr Tusk said it did not comply fully with the Chicago Convention which regulates international air travel.

“From the Polish point of view, the draft report from the Russian side as it has been sent is without question unacceptable,” he said in televised comments to reporters in Brussels.

“This negligence and mistakes or lack of positive reaction to what Poland has been asking for, all these things allow us to say that some of the report’s conclusions are without foundation,” he added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited Poland last week and reiterated a promise to cooperate over the crash investigation.

Poland’s first couple – along with other leading political and military figures – were on their way to a memorial ceremony for the World War II Katyn massacre when their plane crashed in poor weather on 10 April.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was praised for his sensitive handling of the situation in the aftermath of the crash, which killed all those on board.

KRAKOW TOURS

 

December 17, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Poland decides on new President today

KRAKOW TOURS – The people of Poland are voting in a run-off election to determine the country’s next president. Observers say the final result between Bronislaw Komorowski and Jaroslaw Kaczynski could be close.

Mr Komorowski has been acting president since his predecessor, Mr Kaczynski’s twin brother Lech, was killed in a plane crash as he travelled to Russia in April.

Results are expected to be released on Monday.

The election has been dominated by the crash. Poland’s first couple and 94 other people died when their plane came down in Smolensk on 10 April as they flew to attend a memorial ceremony for the World War II Katyn massacre.

The contests pits the business-oriented Bronislaw Komorowski from the ruling centrist Civic Platform against the conservative Jaroslaw Kaczynski of the main opposition Law and Justice party.

Mr Komorowski won 41.5% in the first round and Mr Kaczynski 36.5%. Eight other candidates were eliminated.

Final opinion polls before Sunday’s voting got under way suggested a close call, with floating voters certain to be pivotal.

Komorowski’s support ranged from 45 to 54%, and Kaczynski’s from 42 to 45%, AFP news agency reports.

Mr Komorowski’s supporters see him working well with Prime Minister Donald Tusk in trying to curb fiscal deficit.

Mr Komorowski, 58, said at his rally on Friday: “You have the choice between a politician who harbours resentment and grudges, and the future, with an optimistic vision of Poland.”

Mr Kaczynski’s supporters hope a victory for their candidate would curb cuts in public spending.

He said on Friday: “This election began with a tragedy. I hope it will end with a great success for Poland.”

Mr Kaczynski, 61, served as prime minister but was voted out of office in 2007.

The BBC’s Adam Easton in Warsaw says Mr Kaczynski has tried to present himself as a changed man, prepared to compromise with opponents, in the wake of his own personal loss.

The Polish president has a role in foreign affairs and the power to propose and veto legislation, although policy is set by the prime minister.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton avoided taking sides during her visit to Poland on Saturday.

“Whichever candidate is chosen, the United States will continue to be your friend and partner,” she said.

July 4, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

   

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