Russia blames pilot for crash of Polish presidential aircraft

The Russian commission investigating the crash of the Polish presidential aircraft on April 10, 2010, has presented its final report today. According to the Chicago convention, the Russian authorities were responsible for preparing the report as the crash occurred on their territory.

The report establishes that the pilots were responsible for the crash as they ignored warnings about bad weather conditions. Investigators furthermore conclude that the pilots still tried to land the aircraft due to the high indirect and direct pressure put on them – president Kaczynski had once dismissed a pilot who refused to follow the presidential order to land in Tbilisi during the Russian-Georgian conflict in 2008 because it was too dangerous; furthermore, the commander of the Polish air force had entered the cockpit and pressed for a landing (Russian sources state that alcohol was found in his blood). Lastly, the Russian investigators said that the pilots were insufficiently trained for landing on the former military airport.

A preliminary version of the report had been given to the Polish government last October, however, its quality was heavily criticised by the government and various media outlets. In the new report, too, the Russian side seems to fail to acknowledge failure on their side, e.g. the fact that the request for a so-called ‘leader’ (a Russian pilot familiar with the Smolensk airport) was ignored and that equipment at Smolensk did not work properly (some of it completely failed) on the day of the crash.

The presentation of the report will thus neither improve Polish-Russian relations (which had warmed up shortly after the crash) nor set a stop to the accusations of and conspiracy theories that had arisen following the crash.

The complete report (English version, pdf)

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