Human error behind Polish Presidential aircraft: Russia

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Vinay Shukla

Moscow, Jan 12 (PTI) Russia today blamed human erroras the prime cause of the crash that killed Poland''s PresidentLech Kaczynski and 95 others, saying the crew of thepresidential aircraft were forced to land in bad weather by adrunk Polish air force commander.

Kaczynski and 95 others, including his wife, died inApril 2010 when their Tu-154 plane crashed while trying toland in Smolensk, Russia, while there were no survivors.

Officials of the Interstate Aviation Committee, whichinvestigates crashes in much of the former Soviet Union, saidtoday that the pilots were pressured to land by Poland''s airforce commander, Gen. Andrzej Blasik, who was in the cockpit.

They said he had a blood-alcohol level of about 0.06per cent, enough to impair reasoning.

Presenting the report IAC chairperson Tatiana Anodinasaid that the preparations for the president''s flight involvedgrievous mistakes.

"There were profound deficiencies in selecting andtraining the crew, assessing the readiness for the flight anddetermining alternative airports," states the report.

Further, when Lech Kaczynski''s plane took off fromWarsaw, the crew did not have the actual weather forecast.

The IAC committee defines the major reason for thecrash as "the crew not taking a timely decision to divert theplane to an alternative airport, in spite of receivingpunctually and repeatedly the information about weatherconditions at Smolensk-Severny Airport; the minimal weatherrequirements for this airport being set much lower."

Other important reasons include "descending to analtitude profoundly lower than the norm with the ground cuesbeing out of sight" and "the crew not reacting in due mannerto the repeated signals of the alarm system and early warningsystem."

"These reasons led to the plane striking obstacles andthe ground in a human-directed flight, the demolition of theplane, and the death of the crew and passengers," TatianaAnodina was quoted as saying by Russia Today TV.

A strong contributory factor to the crash was thepresence of the Polish Air Chief in the cockpit, which had a"psychological impact" on the crew, the report said.

"The presence in the cockpit of the Polish Air Chief[Gen. Andrzej Blasik] and the [Foreign Ministry''s] chiefprotocol officer, and the expected negative reaction of themain passenger had a psychological impact on the crewmembersand influenced their decision to land in any conditions,"Anodina said.

"The engines were operating until the impact withthe ground," she underscored ruling out any terror suspicion.

It has also been confirmed that the airfield inSmolensk, Smolensk-Severny, and its equipment were suitablefor accepting flights of all types of aircraft, including theYakovlev-40 and Tupolev-154.

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