Truly, God moves in a mysterious way. As Maria Zakharova, the Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote on her Facebook account, some people in Poland continue “indulging in endless fantasies” with surprising persistence.
They are looking for new pretexts to blame Russia for the Tupolev-154 jet crash near Smolensk in April 2010, which claimed the lives of then Polish President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of other top-level Polish officials. The Poles allege that the disaster was organized intentionally.
In response to the question about the reasons of the endless fantasies Sergei Melnichenko, CEO of the Flight Safety International Consulting and Analytical Agency, said: “Until recently, there were accusations of an explosion on board. Today, they are going to bring Russian air traffic controllers to justice. Actually, our agency comments only on the failures either in the sky, or on the ground that led to an accident. But here we can see sheer politics. I have nothing further to add to the information that became public immediately after the Interstate Aviation Committee (the CIS civil aviation coordinating body) published its resolution. By the way, the IAC technical commission worked not only with the experts of the Russian Defense Ministry but also with the authorized representatives and technical experts from Poland. It fully complied with Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation.”
Incidentally, as recorded in the IAC document published on February 11, 2011, “it was Polish aviation experts who detected on the basis of the record of onboard voice recorder that General Andrzej Blasik was in the cockpit while the aircraft was on final approach track. The results of examination of his psycho-emotional state carried out by the Russian and Polish aviation psychologists showed that “indifference of A. Blasik, the commander of the Air Force of the Republic of Poland, to the extremely dangerous situation affected the jet captain’s decision to lower the altitude without taking terrain features into account.”
And then: “Based on the carried out analysis, the technical commission made a conclusion that the fact of A. Blasik’s presence in the cockpit was in the cockpit until the aircraft collided with the ground, was one of the links in a chain of accident causes of the accident. His presence there put psychological pressure on the captain of the aircraft who made a decision to continue descending in the conditions of unjustified risk with the key goal of landing “by all means.”
It is noteworthy that, according to the available data, the facts of pressure on the pilots of Poland’s 36th Special Transport Regiment on the part of high-ranking passengers occurred previously, too.”
And what exactly happened earlier? It is known that Arkadiusz Protasiuk, a 35-year-old captain, was at the controls of the Tupolev-154. Two years before he faced with a similar situation. Protasiuk was a co-pilot of the Polish presidential aircraft. Then, in the midst of the South Ossetia conflict, Polish President Lech Kaczynski flew to Tbilisi with an impressive “Georgian support team.” He was accompanied by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, Estonian President Toomas Ilves and Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis. Grzegorz Petrucuk, the commander of the crew, disobeyed the order of Lech Kaczynski who was notorious for his stern temper. Moreover, he refused to go directly to Tbilisi with the reference to the ICAO ban on flying over the war zone. As a result, the “support team” was transported to the airfield of the Azerbaijani city of Ganja instead of Tbilisi and had to get to the Georgian capital by car. Interestingly, the Polish Defense Ministry characterized Petrucuk's actions as perfectly correct. He was even awarded a medal and ... dismissed from flights of particular importance.
Everything seems to be clear. The crew got in a tricky situation over the Smolensk airfield. They were afraid of Lech Kaczynski’s anger. Less than three minutes before the crash, the following phrases were recorded in the cockpit: “I don't know but if we don't land here, he’ll go at me” and “He’ll get mad.”
“The crew arbitrarily continued to descent below 100 meters, the set altitude of a go-around flight maneuver,” said Alexey Morozov, the head of IAC Technical Commission, at a press conference on the disaster in August 2011. “They realized that the jet was above the glidepath. This fact is confirmed by the set vertical speed twice as high as the reference speed when flying on the glide. The conclusion of the Polish experts that the data of the landing zone manager confirmed the crew’s opinion on the correct approach to landing is unjustified and refuted by the actual actions of the crew.”
So, the situation is clear but obviously not to everyone. Especially to those who are arranging “dances on the bones” of the deceased senior-most officials in Poland and insisting on re-examination of extremely specific investigated reasons for this terrible accident. In doing so, someone is trying to add fuel to the already knotty and smoldering relationship between Russia and Poland.