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AP / The Hindu /WARSAW, July 29, 2011.
Experts present findings from a long-awaited government report that lists factors which contributed to last year's plane crash in Russia that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, during a news conference at the Prime Minister's office in Warsaw on Friday - AP.
A Polish report on the 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others says Russian air traffic controllers gave incorrect and confusing landing instructions to pilots, a finding that could test already strained ties between the neighbours.
It challenges a Russian aviation commission report published in January that put sole blame for the disaster on Polish officials — and struck Poles as an attempt to avoid any responsibility for the plane crash in heavy fog at a rudimentary airport near Smolensk.
Since then, Poles have eagerly awaited their own experts’ report, hoping it would create a more balanced picture of the crash. The accident on April 10, 2010, killed dozens of senior officials along with the president and first lady, in the worst Polish disaster since World War II.
The Polish report presented on Friday does not shy away from putting most of the blame on Polish officials and procedures.
As key causes of the crash it cites wrong positioning of the plane during attempted landing, due to insufficient training of the pilots to fly the plane, a Tupolev-154. It also cites a lack of proper cooperation among the crew and an overly slow reaction to an automatic terrain warning system that warned pilots they were flying too low. Incorrect information from the airport control tower on the plane’s position prevented the crew from realizing they were making mistakes, it said.
“There was no single cause, but an accumulation of causes led to the crash,” said Jerzy Miller, the interior minister and head of the investigation commission, at a three-hour presentation of the findings.
In Moscow, deputy chairman of Russia’s State Duma’s foreign affairs committee, Andrei Klimov, told the Associated Press he believes the Polish pilots are to blame and lashed out at Warsaw for what he called politicizing the investigation.
“This report is not a technical, but a political one,” Mr. Klimov said. “The results were compiled with a nod to the political situation in order to show that Russians were to blame for at least something.”
The report says that the main pilot, Capt. Arkadiusz Protasiuk, 36, did not have sufficient experience in flying a Tu-154 or in landing under difficult conditions. The only crew member who spoke Russian and could communicate with the airport, Protasiuk was overwhelmed by many tasks and by the difficult conditions, the report said.
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