Investigators say poor crew training led to Kaczynski plane crash

MOSCOW. January 12. KAZINFORM Flaws in flight preparation and poor pilot training led to the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 other top officials in April 2010, Russian investigators said in a new report released on Wednesday; Kazinform refers to RIA Novosti.

"The technical commission has established that serious organizational flaws, poor pilot training and preparation of this particularly important flight at a special [Polish] air regiment base led to the catastrophe," said Tatyana Anodina, the head of Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK).

She also said the presence of Kaczynski and other high-ranking state officials on board the Tu-154 plane influenced the pilot's decision to attempt a landing in poor weather conditions and low visibility.

Investigators dismissed the poor condition of infrastructure and landing equipment at the airfield, as well as actions by air traffic controllers, as factors that could have contributed to the tragedy.

Head of the MAK technical commission Alexei Morozov said on Wednesday that air traffic controllers did not give the plane permission to land at a critical altitude of 100 meters (328 feet).

The crew was allowed to descend to 100 meters, and in line with the international rules had to make a decision whether to land or go for a second landing attempt.

"However, no reports came from [the crew], and the plane continued descending on its own," Morozov said.

In essence, the new report does not change much the conclusions of the first report released by Russian investigators in October of last year.

The first MAK report was first presented to the Polish authorities on October 20, and blamed pilot error for the crash in heavy fog, but in mid-December Poland sent it back to Moscow with 150 comments and queries. Prime Minister Tusk said that parts of the report were "unacceptable."

Polish experts said they were dissatisfied with the documents provided by Russia. Most of the complaints concerned a lack of technical details about the Severny airport in Smolensk at which the plane was due to land; Kazinform cites RIA Novosti.


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