Crew error led to Polish plane crash, Russians conclude
Mourners at a makeshift memorial outside the presidential palace in Poland after a plane crash killed the president in April 2010.
January 12th, 2011
08:43 AM ET

Crew error led to Polish plane crash, Russians conclude

The crew was at fault in a Polish plane crash that killed the country's president and nearly 100 other people last April, a Russian-led investigation found Wednesday.

The crew should have decided to divert to another airport in light of "repeated and timely" warnings about bad weather in Smolensk, Russia, the Interstate Aviation Committee concluded.

The presence of a Polish Air Force commander in the cockpit may also have contributed to the crash, the IAC said, noting that he had alcohol in his blood at the time of the crash.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and many top Polish officials died in the crash as they headed to a memorial service to mark a World War II massacre.

The crew of the Polish presidential plane was under psychological pressure to land the plane at Smolensk, fearing Kaczynski would react negatively to a decision to divert the plane, IAC chair Tatyana Anodina said.

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Filed under: Poland
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Alex

    crew error? really? russia and putin must think the world is stupid

    January 12, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • chindokae

      The Russians are telling the truth. The Polish pilots flew their plane into the ground. CFIT is always a pilot error. They tried to land when they should have diverted.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trueman

      You are right Alex. From The IAC report we can conclude that the air traffic controllers and their information are not needed to land a plane. ... what a irony and nonsense

      January 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • maciejz

      Hello Everyone. I am a Pole and a healthy thinking I can only say after I looked carefully at the facts presented by the Russian and Polish. Unfortunately, we as Poles ought to admit that we gave the body (rear part of the body). The flight was totally unprepared in terms of logistics and security. We did not have on board a Russian interpreter who would help in dealing with the tower at the airport in Smolensk. The flight was delayed and none of the persons on board would not agree to land at another airport as this would delay the arrival of the delegation to celebrate the festivities. Pressure was superior to the pilots and the guys took a very risky maneuver that is landing in tragic conditions. How did it on our say: a risk is fun ... There is nothing to offend the Russians just have to admit that certainly most of the blame lies on our side.

      January 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy

    Of course the Russians would say that! After all, we can always trust whatever the Russians say, right?

    And I loved that little tidbit about alcohol being a contributing factor. Riiiiiiight.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. biggerthanyou

    Ok and?

    January 12, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. Rita Keays

    What a Crock If this wasnt blatant terrorism I dont know what it. What has become of real honest journalism?

    January 12, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Basia from Poland

    You need to be born here and live here in order to understand the whole situation. Probably I wouldn'tunderstand many American situations as I wasn't born in your culture. I've studies it but it's not enough. The point is that Russians always lie. They try to hide the truth from us. But what hurts me most and makes me angry is that our Polish government is supporting them. We will never know the truth. As I followed the whole investigation of the crash here throug all the months it makes me mad that Polish society is treated by its own government like a peck of idiots. I wish it was you (the Americans) who would have carried out this investigation. I'm sure that then we would be much closer to knowing what actually happened.

    January 15, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Voytek from Poland

      Dear Basia, today you could see what was happened. Today we finaly know that russian crew of control tower led polish crew to the crash. We know that from scripted dialogue between tower and the plane. Thank you Basia that you didn't belive in russian version!

      January 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natalia, Slupsk, Poland


      January 19, 2011 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Red

      Basia im also a pole, and i must say youre an idiot

      March 6, 2011 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Kamila also from Poland

      Well Basia, polish society truly is a society of idiots! Especially those who are screaminh that Russia lies!

      April 10, 2011 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. s siryk

    IAC has made a video which explains how it happened,

    Russian officials do make bad things, but not on that case. Polish officials, though, have shown they are not much better. The same can be said about some polish er... non-officials. "Russian always lie" – I like it, it is nice. Nationalism and prejudgment stinks no matter where it comes from and it seems like no nation is immune to that.

    January 15, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark from California

      s siryk: You should rely more on facts. After reading the Russian report, I was rather convinced that the pilots had enough information to go elsewhere. After reading today's transcripts from the control tower, I am shocked. The Russian controllers made several mistakes, and the information they provided was in a few cases incorrect. What is really surprising, is the pretty quiet reaction of the Polish officials so far. They should have been much more vocal about those issues. And I must agree with the comments from Poland: in this case, the Russians lied, which is completely silly. Why not tell the bitter truth? Please tell me. It could really calm the emotions.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Krystian

    Somebody from CNN should be transmitting whatever is happening right now in Warsaw.

    January 18, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. Patryk from Poland, 18 years old

    It's obvious that Russia ain't gonna tell us all the truth.. according to Basia, it's sad that our goverment did nothing to fight against this. Russian guys kept crucial evidences for their own throughout investigation time.. in fact, there was almost no investigation... but what you guys can know, sitting and watching CNN.

    January 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sergey

    Russian just published all records of control tower, including phone and radio. Everybody can read it.

    Btw, not long before this accident, pilot of president's plane has decided not to land in Georgia due to weather condition. He was fired soon after that and second pilot (Arkadiush Protasyuk) got his place. He knew very well what could happen to him if he wouldn't land this plane where president wanted.

    January 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark from California

      Sergey: yes, probably there was pressure from President Kaczynski on pilots. Nevertheless, the pilot you mentioned wasn't fired. The President had no power to do that and the only thing he could do is to shout a few expletives at him. Actually, the pilot got a medal from the minister of defense for is professional behavior.

      January 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaweĹ‚

      If they were (which of course could be) it doesn't mean , that Kaczyński was behind the steers. No doubt it had to be a experimental landing test aimed to prove if there is a possibility to land or not. THe crew were mistaken by the wrong data from the tower. They fought they were at 100 meters while they were at 40 or less in real.

      January 19, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Michal

      Not quite fired; in fact the pilot received a medal fro what he did from the minister of defense. What is interesting is that captain Protasiuk who flew the plane on 10 April was the second pilot on that same flight. Of course there was pressure. Now, given that, plus all the other well known facts about how Kaczynski's teams refused to land at other airports (suggestion by Russians well before the trip) and turned down the offer from the Russians to take their navigator on-board of that flight, the picture boils down to a grim conclusion: Kaczynski and his "team" drew up the recipe for their own demise. Too bad they took so many innocent people with them.

      January 20, 2011 at 6:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. ciekaf

    What about no news on cnn or other US media about dialogs of Rusian control tower crew?

    January 19, 2011 at 4:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Paweł

    It's obvious it was sabotage but I'm affraid it's not possible to prove it right now.
    There are some people who can see the truth ... please read this article: until it will be deleted.,, You will find all answers.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Sergey

      This is very quick conclusion. If you put it this way, I'd say – it's obvious this is Polish provocation, but I'm afraid it's not possible to prove it right now.

      Did you, people, think when you writing? Why would Russia do it? What was benefit for Russia, may you explain? Just kill some Polish executive for fun? This is ridiculous.

      January 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sergey

    2 Mark from California:
    I am not an expert in this business. I talked to some former Russian pilots, they said it was Polish pilot's mistake. I read transcripts – it seems for me that pilots were wrong and that caused the crash. Did Russian controllers make mistakes? I don't see it, but if they did, it wasn't factor number one. They insisted Polish pilots to go to other airport, they said weather was bad, but pilots chose to land.
    And also, don't forget, it is a military airfield, they don't have all the equipment they have on civilian airports.
    Also, IAC is not Russian organization, they have like 25 Polish specialists.
    In conclusion, Russians gave access to all records and transcripts, you can read it. Polish officials, from an other hand, constantly accuse with no arguments at all. In this conflict Russia looks much better, than Poland, in my eyes. Definitely, you can think differently, I am OK with that, I am just expressing my opinion.

    PS And for sure, I will not say something like "the Poles always lie" or "Americans always lie" or something like this.

    January 19, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sergey

    Frankly speaking, I think Polish officials are just selling their corpses. They trying to put responsibility to Russia to make impression Russia is a threat for them (and maybe get some additional help from West) and to have some leverage to press on Russia. That stinks. Probably they do what should be done and maybe they will have some benefits from that, but it stinks nevertheless.

    January 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michal

      C'mon people. Anybody with common sense already knows the rough truth: most of the blame goes to the Polish pilots. They messed up , should not have been landing – end of discussion. And nobody in the Polish government or the committee claims otherwise. Problem is that Anodina and the MAK played their ball a wee bit too hard thinking it's OK to say it was all wrong on the Polish side while the Russians did their job as they should have. Well, they didn't, and that's what ticks Poles off.

      January 20, 2011 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Sure you are right. The same with those 21000 polish officers (POW taken by USSR) who shot themselves in the back of their heads in 1940.
      Just so that Poles could blame Russia.

      January 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paweł

    Thx for constructive post Sergey. According to Basia there are some barriers to understand this matter. Maybe my words were inappropriate. You are right that I'm not allowed to accuse anyone without proofs. Nevertheless this matter stinks and brings to my mind another tragedy that had happened not so long ago before Smoleńsk. I mean plane crash with polish general Wladysław Sikorski on board. He was also inconvenient to some people as Kaczyński, who f.ex was involved in Georgia matters.
    Suming up, we are not to judge. God will do this fairly some day. But we have brains to look at problems from different perspective.

    January 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sergey

    2 Michal: Yes, I think you are right. It exactly what happened – some Polish high executives were too stubborn to "obey" to "russian occupants" even when it was for their own safety, killed themselves, the crew and many innocent people. After that some Russian administrators tried to make it look like they are saints (this was just plain stupid, they just gave a handle to accuse those controllers), after that some Polish politicians tried to score a few points on that, after that some Russian politician tried to score points for themselves, too. And now Russians, Poles, Americans folks, who have no connection to those politicians at all, blaming each other to be liars and jerks. Very good, yeah.

    Guys, be calm, please. We all know what caused a crash. It doesn't mean I don't care about people who have been killed. I am Russian and I feel sorrow for those Poles who have been killed in the crash. But shuffling off the blame to Russian controllers is just pointless now, it could be beneficial for those politicians, not for you and me.

    I am sorry if I hurt someone's feelings.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
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