The crash's site, satellite view:
Cruel fatal irony.Georgian private television station Imedi in the ill-fated reportage about “Russia’s aggression” also reported “death” Polish President Lech Kaczynski. As the Polish TVN24 with reference to the head of the Georgian diaspora in Poland David Gamtsemlidze, in Saturday’s [March,13] half-hour film, which reported that “Russia attacking Georgia,” and “death of President Mikheil Saakashvili, and said that as a result of bombing killed and Lech Kaczynski. According to the TV, blow up the plane, in which he allegedly flew to the aid of Georgia.
Georgian television station Imedi “bury” the President of Poland
Last edited by Moroz; 13 Apr 10, at 20:28.
So please don’t live under delusions Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Russia were incomparable – since they entirely were - and read books probably 1000% more true than the one you mentioned, e.g. written by these people:
Alan Bullock - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (1991)
Józef Czapski - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
English) Józef Czapski (1987). The inhuman land. Daniel Halévy, Edward Crankshaw, Gerard Hopkins. London: Polish Cultural Foundation. pp. 356. ISBN 0-85065-164-6.
Gustaw Herling-Grudzi?ski - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A World Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labor Camp During World War II, Penguin Books, reprint edition, 1996, pp. 284, ISBN 0140251847.
Anne Applebaum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gulag: A History
While if you meant rather not denying overall comparability of both systems, but this angle “Russians were victims too, and not main culprits at all”, I feel I’ve already answered to this (and you can find more answers in books). But if you have any other doubts (for instance, I don’t know why you think that Nazis/Bolsheviks different ways to power have any meaning here – both camps ultimately gained dictatorship by terror and ruled by it; also don’t underestimate role of other nations in fall of Eastern Bloc), feel free to contact me in new thread or via PM. I can’t promise answering immediately since I’m very busy and under stress now, but ultimately I shall answer.
It appears that the airport DID NOT have a precision approach aids or even METAR (meteorological observation) let alone RVR (Runway Visual Range) information.
The control tower could only guestimate visibility by just looking outside. Also the Airport does not meet ICAO standards.........however since it was a military airbase it did have surveillance radar and a NAVAID comparable to our military TACAN (which is still a none-precision aid). Additionally the surveillance radar itself can be used as a navigational device if functional (very much like a PAR-Precision Approach Radar) where the controller provides vectors and altitudes.
The article bellow draws two conclusions that I happen to agree with:
One- The Captain was influenced to go against aviation norms, training, experience, professionalism, and his better judgment due to pressure from the high ranking officials on board.
Two- The aircraft was flying PAR approach and was following the controller’s instructions as far as airspeed, altitude, and heading when it collided with the terrain.
I tend to side on the second scenario which seems more like something a pilot might try...........but when you do that, you put all your faith in the abilities of the controller calling the shots, the same control tower that told them landing is not advisable due to heavy fog.
The Polish accident: circumstances
David Learmount on April 12, 2010 3:28 PM
As more information emerges about the accident flight, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand the justification for its planning and execution in the marginal weather that prevailed.
On 10 April the Polish air force Tupolev Tu154M operating the presidential flight took off from Warsaw for the 800km journey to Smolensk Severny (Smolensk North). The latter is a former air force base, recently decommissioned by the military but now used as Smolensk's sole civil/military airport since the recent closure of nearby Smolensk Yuzhny (Smolensk South).
Smolensk airport has no precision approach aids, and meteorological observations provided there do not meet ICAO specifications. For example they can provide estimated visibility from the control tower, but not runway visual range. There were no special arrangements made for the presidential flight, according to our sources. Three days earlier (7 April) the same aircraft had flown the identical trip carrying the Polish Prime Minster, so the crew of the presidential flght should not have faced any unknowns.
The presidential flight was to be carried out in daylight, but fog was forecast at the destination airport. About 90min before the Tu-154 was due to arrive, a Polish air force Special Air Transport Wing Yakovlev Yak-40 carrying journalists landed at Smolensk in fog. About 30min before the presidential flight was expected, a Russian air force Ilyushin IL-96, bound for Smolensk carrying Russian Federal Security Service staff, was ordered to divert because the weather was below minimums. In Russia, air traffic control can give orders to military flights, but both the Polish air force flights had civilian status, so they could only be provided with advice and information.
When an aircraft hits the ground on the approach, it is self-evident that it was lower than it should have been at that point. The answer sought in all approach accidents is why it was too low. The Russian authorities say conversation between the crew and ATC was normal, and the pilots did not report any technical problems. Initial scans of information from flight recorders also suggests no problems with the aircraft.
If that is the whole truth, we are in the familiar realms of human factors.
If a pilot is determined to land from an approach in marginal conditions, it is tempting for him/her to continue descent below the minimum descent height (MDH) for the approach aid in use, hoping to see the runway through the fog, and relying on seeing the ground below the aircraft so as to avoid collision with it. In the case of the presidential flight, according to air transport regulator Rosaviatsia's chief, Alexander Neradko, the aircraft was so low that it hit an 8m high tree when still 1,200m from the runway threshold. At that point on a standard 3deg approach glideslope it should still have been at 60m height, says Neradko.
But whatever the height of a theoretical glideslope at 1,200m, this flight should not have descended even as low as 60m (182ft) on this approach without the pilots being able to see the runway - and with the reported visibility being 400-600m in fog, they could not have done. The airport has no precision approach aids, and the status of the aids it has have not been confirmed by the authorities yet.
So why would pilots have ignored their minima? Widespread press speculation suggests pressure from the senior military personnel on board influenced the captain, but it's not at all clear how they could know that. Pilots flying their country's president would not need external pressure to feel the need to land successfully - they would supply their own. The only safeguard would have been the discipline needed to stick to the rules and disappoint nearly 100 of Poland's top officials by insisting on diverting a long distance away from Smolensk, and thus from Katyn, where the President was due to lead his retinue in honouring the memory of Polish soldiers who died in a Second World War massacre 70 years ago.
When it closed as a military base in October 2009, Smolensk Severny had surveillance radar and a Russian RSPB beacon, almost identical to the western military aid TACAN (tactical air navigation), which operates in an overlapping frequency band. RSPB, like the civilian VOR/DME, offers bearing and range from the beacon, but slightly more accurately than its civil counterpart. It is still, however, not a precision approach aid. The status of the RSPB and the airport surveillance radar on that day is not known at present, but if surveillance radar were available the crew could have been provided with non-precision lateral and range guidance on the approach to the runway, which in this case was runway 26. Reports suggest that ATC was providing vectoring guidance, but what kind is not clear.
As a final caveat, it has not yet been possible to check some of this information with official organisations, so any input from industry professionals is welcome.
Thanks for finding that, Ararat. When all is said and done, I believe they will figuratively bury the pilot for poor judgement.
It is obviously a major airport, and the row of what appear to be IL-76 bears this out. Looking at the angle of the rubble relative to the runway axis, it looks to me that they were using some variety of non-precision approach, maybe a TACAN equivalent or ASR.
In simple terms, this means you have a decent azimuth path to the runway, but no true vertical guidance. Lacking vertical guidance (some sort of glidepath), there is often an irresistable urge to do what is called a "duck under" when you arrive at your minimum altitude. Seeing nothing but white ahead (no runway), but bits and pieces of ground flashing by below, the pilot thinks "If I descend just a tiny bit more, I'll be in the clear and have the runway in sight." It appeared he did just that, and crashed short.
In a properly-conducted approach, you reach your minimum altitude, and never, ever, descend below it without a strict set of visual cues that you do in fact have the runway in sight, and can land safely.
I have just joined this forum and would like to share some of my own insight and/or knowledge on the subject of the air disaster that claimed 96 lives including that of the acting President of the Republic of Poland.
The aircraft in question was a passenger craft, operated by an elite squadron of the Polish Air Force. Managed by no cost spared operation, with qualified and capable multilingual pilots having thousands of hours in the air. Crew were particularly carefully chosen when the President was on board. It was a Tupolew 154M craft manufactured in 1990. Just in December 2009, having flown just 5000 out of it's typical life expectancy of 25000 hours, it was sent back to it's manufacturer Tupolew, for major service (complete airframe and propulsion system check and overhaul) and technological (navigation & others) equipment upgrades. Incidentally back in January, this same airplane (side number 101) had flown 2-3 times fully loaded from Poland to Haiti and back, carrying Polish rescuers when the earthquake killed many thousands of Haitians. In essence, this was hardly used, extremely carefully pampered aircraft. The flights were known to have been cancelled many times, when even the smallest glitches appeared in the two Tu-154Ms in the fleet.
I will not dwell much on political aspects of this crash, although the possibility of sabotage and malicious wrongdoing is yet to be analyzed and eliminated. Considering the complicated relations between Poland and Russia then and especially NOW, including the prominent list of passengers besides the President . This potential cause should in particular be taken into consideration.
1. The aircraft had arrived to Smolensk airspace on a relatively short flight from Warsaw. Below was a prevailing light fog with low (100m) cloud base. Less than 60 minutes prior, another Polish Air Force plane, this time archaic Jak-40 had successfully landed at the same airport. This aircraft carried media people who were to cover President's visit. Also it was reported, that a Russian military plane had landed in the prior 60 minutes before the crash.
2. The reports of heavy fog are not fully confirmed. Shortly after crash, video clips on site do not support the "heavy fog" scenario. Cloudy yes, light fog maybe, but not heavy fog.
3. For the next 30 minutes, the Tu-154M was circulating the skies over Smolensk in anticipation for the weather to improve to make a safe landing. The tower did not close the airport. The tower recommended that landing take place elsewhere. (Clue - Several witnesses on the ground, have made the observation and reported later that they heard the aircraft hovering overhead, thinking that each time the craft is making landing attempts.) It was reported at the beginning by the official Russian sources, that the aircraft made 3 approaches and crashed on the 4th attempt. Today (14-04) it was officially confirmed the pilots made just ONE approach during which they crashed.
3. Finally, the craft made it's one and only landing approach. False are all other prior (Russian sources) reports that there were 2, 3 or 4 landing attempts. During this approach, the aircraft perishes in a deadly crash.
4. During the approach, Tu-154M strikes with it's wings and landing gear many tree tops and a radio antenna located on the approach path +54° 49' 32.77", +32° 3' 38.04", about 500m from the runway. Left wing is partially severed from the craft impairing it's flight controls.
5. The aircraft is now seriously "wounded", the pilots no longer control the flight path. It strikes more trees as it rapidly descends while banking sharply to the left (later reported by eye witnesses). The broken off left wing touches ground and tears a long ditch in the ground before impact. The airplane crashes at high speed into the ground, disintegrating into pieces and killing everyone on board.
Flickr Photo Download: Smolensk, Russia
6 . Initial reports (Russian) following the crash reported that 3 people may have survived the crash and were not listed as dead.
7. Shortly after the crash an accidental witness enters the crash site and while walking amidst the debris and smoldering fire records 1:27 sec film with cell phone camera. Towards the end of the clip, there can be heard gun shots, the eyewitness is seen as running away from the scene.
• The aircraft was flying too low, when it hit the trees and radio tower on approach
• CNN based on Russian reports had mentioned that the craft was descending too quickly, which would have indicated a propulsion problem. This however, I can not support due to insufficient information.
Analysis & remarks:
• The airport in question (Smolensk-Sieviernyj) is a Russian Federation Air Force facility, which does not have to conform to the regime of civil aviation. Polish pilots have many times over the years flown into this airport similarly for Katyn commemoration visits.
• The airport (allegedly) does not have the ILS system. My doubt is related to the function of this airport as military base. This however is the official position of the Russian officials. In view of (official) ILS absence, there is a full reliance on tower to cockpit communications during landing approach. Clearly, the areas for malicious or accidental human error in communications are quite significant.
• During landing approach the Presidential craft was flying too low, missing it’s altitude target by about 50 m (150 ft)
• The craft was likely flying too low during the 30 minute holding pattern (witnesses reported hearing it’s engines during that time). Typical holding patterns in civil aviation call for 6000ft (2000m) altitude. At those altitudes the engine sounds are inaudible for people on the ground. It is not known whether it’s “too low” holding pattern flying altitude was off by the same margin of 50m as during the landing approach
• Why was the craft flying too low? Most likely causes are three:
- Instrument (altimeter) malfunction – technical problem (accidental or sabotage)
- Incorrect altimeter calibration
Wrong information from the control tower (here is the place where the element of malicious sabotage could have taken place)
Co-pilot error while calibrating the instrument with “good” data from the control tower
- Propulsion system problem – lost or inadequate engine thrust (honest technical problem or sabotage)
• In view of flying in the low clouds, the pilot could have been unable to confront the altimeter readings with visual check of the ground
• There were many, conflicting and later verified as illogical or just wrong official Russian statements. It is not known why they were made if they were so grossly off the mark. Accidentally or deliberately.
• Prior to landing approach, the control tower provides the pilot with “on the ground ambient pressure” data needed to properly calibrate the altimeter. The difference in pressure reading to account for 50m in altitude difference is 1.2%, or the difference between 101.3 and 100.1 kPa. This difference is much less than possible variations of ambient pressure due to weather conditions.
• Official Russian reports issued on Sunday (11-04) of cockpit to tower conversations have turned out to be false. It was alleged that the pilots did not understand the Russian language in which the tower issued commands and provided information. All Polish pilots are fluent in Russian and English. Why was this disinformation propagated by the Russian side ?
• The crash site Is seen to be located as vector non-parallel and sharply angled to the axis of the landing strip. This is most likely the cause of sharp banking of the craft immediately after striking the radio tower.
• There are conflicting results of questioning of tower controllers at duty, performed initially after crash by Russian military and later by joined Russian and Polish military investigators.
• The craft had three (3) black boxes on board. Two of them were standard equipment as provided by aircraft manufacturer, the third one was an auxillary unit installed by the Polish Air Force. The two standard boxes can only be deciphered by Russian side. It was reported that the Russian side waited to be joined by Polish investigators before the black boxed were opened. The third black box, will be examined in Warsaw.
I can understand how misinformation has a way of getting out on a high profile crash like this but assuming the terminal aerodome observations listed below is accurate then it is obvious that low visibility and foggy conditions prevailed during the attempted landing. As it is known in the industry there are several types of fog and for it to form you need certain conditions. These are high humidity, low spread between temperature and dewpoint, very light wind, clear sky, and a stable atmosphere. If we look at the terminal weather conditions during their arrival +/- 1hour you will see the perfect conditions for the formation of fog and as the temp and dewpt figures get closer the visibility keeps dropping while humidity keeps increasing to 100%. There was no report of any ceilings or overcast situations. However sometimes fog will turn into a low stratus layer as it dissipates. Also it is well known that you can be over an airport that reports zero visibility with fog but looking down you can clearly see the airport environment and no serious sign of fog.
You will also notice that barometric pressure has not changed much during the day of the accident as the atmosphere remained quite stable.Weather forecasts for the airport Siewiernyj day as the disaster:
10:00Z (1pm) Temp 3°C Dew 2°C Humidity 94% QNH 1025 hPa Visibility 4 kilometers Winds east 14.4 km/h / Mist
07:00Z (10am) Temp 1°C Dew 1°C Humidity 98% QNH 1026 hPa Visibility 0.5 kilometers Winds SE 10.8 km/h / Heavy Fog
04:00Z (7am) Temp 0°C Dew -1°C Humidity 89% QNH 1025 hPa Visibility 4 kilometers Winds ESE 7.2 km/h / Mist
01:00Z (4am) Temp 3°C Dew -0°C Humidity 72% QNH 1025 hPa Visibility 10 kilometers Winds SE 7.2 km/h /
22:00Z (1am) Temp 6°C Dew -0°C Humidity 52% QNH 1025 hPa Visibility 10 kilometers Winds SE 7.2 km/h
BTW, there could be several other factors that contributed or dirrectly caused the accident not mentioned in your list.
It would be best to wait for the official aviation accident investigation report by the pros before we go blaming the Captain. I tend to side with Chogy’s explanation and escape goat theory.
Not necesserely. It could have been a strong downdraft, or a stick pusher malfunction, or upon disconnecting the autopilot the aircraft was trimed too far nose down (Autopilot malfunction)....we do not have enough info to call it....CNN based on Russian reports had mentioned that the craft was descending too quickly, which would have indicated a propulsion problem.
The full post in Russian http://www.bmwclub.ru/vb/showpost.ph...postcount=1177The president's pilot was about 3500 hours in air (according to his father - 1930 hours), one part he flew the Yak-40, part (if you believe the media) as a navigator(!) of Tu-154, and then he has became the commander. As 1rst pilot on the Tu-154 he had only 200 hours. And he was entrusted to carry the president! Did the military pilot to gain experience in the most complex operations in a plane somewhere? Did he to gain the experience of flight in bad weather?
I'm gathered experience over the years, hundreds of complex approaches to different airports. Where and when he gathered it?
As a result, he made a self-confident, school, simple error: he was searching the ground below the decision height. And found it.
Below is a translation of an interview, with Polish Television cameraman Sławomir Wiśniewski, who was one of the first people on crash site. The footage he taped was saved form being confiscated by FSB and widely circulated on the day of the crash. The original interview appeared on April 13th in web based issue of Polish daily - Rzeczpospolita
Widzia?em spadaj?cy samolot - Rzeczpospolita
I Saw the plane falling from the sky.
Piotr Zychowicz 13-04-2010, last actualisation 13-04-2010 03:26
The plane was tilting, suddenly crushing noise. Ball of fire. It crashed – according to the cameraman TVP Sławomir Wiśniewski
Sławomir Wiśniewski was the first peson on the crash site. He was able to film the aircraft remains
Rz: Where were you when the Polish aircraft had crashed ?
Sławomir Wiśniewski: In the New Hotel, located near this military air port, on the other side of the street. I was busy that morning editing film clips.
Suddenly you heard the noise of the jet engines.
Yes, but I thought the aircraft is flying empty. One hour prior, I thought that this aircraft had already landed. Some time before I also heard jet engines. When I heard them again, I thought our delegation had already safely landed, and the aircraft is flying away for some technical reasons, such as fueling up, or is going back to Poland, in order to return again to pick up the President. In spite of this I decided to walk up to the window to see it fly
How far from the crash site was the hotel ? That day in Smolensk was very foggy.
It is true, the fog was quite thick. The line of sight distance from the hotel to the crash site was only about 400m. I know this, because later I measured this and prepared full notes. Both locations were separated by about 400m .
The entire crash site field, the earth was heavily plowed, trees were broken. Aircraft lay in pieces. Some of which were still burning.
What did you see from the hotel window ?
I did not see the whole aircraft in plain view from nose to tail. I only saw the left wing deeply plowing the ground and a fragment of the fuselage. Some emblem marking on it’s side. Those were fractions of a second. The airplane was heavily tilted to the side, maybe 40 deg. to the left. Afterwards, there was a bang and a fiery explosion was visible shooting up in the air. It crashed. In the first minute, I thought that it could have been a small sport plane, maybe military. One way or another I grabbed the camera and ran towards the crash site.
How much time did it take you to reach the crashed plane site ?
As I said, this was about 400 meters. How long could I have run ? A moment. Especially since good part of it was downhill.
Were you the first one on site ?
Yes. Only later I saw the fire brigade arrive.
What did you find there ?
The whole field was plowed, trees were broken down. Crashed aircraft in pieces. Some of them were still burning. I found the black box lying there, which in reality is orange in color. It is seen in the film I made. At that moment, I knew this was our aircraft. I saw the red checker emblem (Polish Air Force). Still, it did not sink in my mind, that this was the aircraft with the President and the whole delegation on board. There were no visible signs, that nearly 100 people perished in front of my eyes.
How is that?
There were no chairs, no suitcases, no bags and especially no scattered human bodies. Only afterwards it became clear that the bodies lay elsewhere. Where I was and walked, fell the tail section, the airplane’s engine and some parts of the fuselage. The human bodies were somewhere deeper in the forest on the right hand side of crash site, near where the center section laid with the landing gear sticking up. This was visible in some of the press photos.
Allegedly, in 1987 you were at the crash site in Kabaty (IL-62 crash 1987 near Warsaw) . Did you see the human remains there ?
Yes, I did run towards that crashed aircraft as well, and I did see the human remains. Because I did not see them at first in the Smolensk crash, I firmly believed, that our official Presidential delegation was not on board. I understood, that the aircraft was flying somewhere just with it’s crew.
Apparently, you stumbled into some problems ?
I had no problem being there as long as the site was manned by the fire brigades. They asked me who I was, and when I told them that I am a camera man , they did not make any issues of it. Later, the FSB (Federal Security) officials appeared. In the film, their yelling & shouts could be clearly heard : „Federal Security. Give me the camera!”. There was a struggle. Two heavy set officers grabbed me by my arms. In the mean time, I saw in the distance, several Polish diplomats in suits running thru the forest from the direction of the airport.
What was happening to you ?
The Russians had dragged me away. Thru mud. They were asking who I was.
How did you managed to save the taped video material ?
They demanded, that I give-up the video cassettes, and I gave them all of the ones I had in my bag. One of them was recorded and the rest were blank. I gave to them all of the tapes except for one – the key one which remained inside the camera.
Why did the Russians wanted to confiscate the tape ?
I have no idea. Initially, there was a big panic and fear. They were completely confused and disoriented. They wanted to remove all the people from the crash site. I would not read into this, although at that time it was not very pleasant.
They kept saying: „You will not see your home very soon”. I was very afraid, that I will be in deep trouble, that I got myself in the wrong place. With these people there are no jokes, I was fearful of the consequences. During this whole ordeal, I was not aware that the President was dead along with all passengers.
When did you learn as to what happened?
Later. When the emotions and nerves died down, I was sat inside one of the FSB automobiles. At that time I received an SMS text message from Poland , that the President died in a airplane crash. I thought Good God !
-by Piotr Zychowicz
It is tempting and easy to focus on a dead pilot as the culprit, whose skills you may disect and discredit. Poland is a 38 million population country and I assure you, this man was one of the finest they had. Tu 154M typically carries 4 people as the flight crew.
Please realize also, that in 40 years of modern aviation, there were just few instances (less than 10) of fatal air crashes with heads of state on board. All of them involved the Heads of State of 3rd, 4th and 5th World countries, names of which you may even have a hard time pronouncing.
Airplanes carrying important people don't fall out of the sky !!!
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