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26 May, 2010 11:53

Pilot error caused Kaczynski’s plane crash

The aircraft with 96 people onboard crashed on April 10 when it attempted to land in thick fog near the Russian city of Smolensk.

According to the head of the investigative commission, Edmund Klich, it was pilot Arkadiusz Protasiuk’s decision that led to the death of the country's president and 95 others.

“The pilots ignored the plane's automatic warnings and attempted an incredibly risky landing,” Klich said.

Meanwhile there is evidence people other than the crew were in the cockpit before disaster struck.

Top Russian pilot Magomet Talboev is furious his dead Polish colleagues are being scapegoated after the revelation that the commander of Poland's air force was in the cockpit before the accident.

“I've been in the same situation myself. Only I had the strength to say to the prime minister of Russia: ‘I'm going to land now, you can walk the rest of the way yourself.’ May it be a lesson. Even if you're the president, stay in your place and do your own work. And we'll do ours. When the head of Poland's air force is standing behind you, and you're his subordinate, how can you react at the controls?” Talboev told RT.

Poland's defense minister, Bogdan Klich, now wants an end to the conspiracy theories surrounding the crash.

“We hope to show all the investigation's sources to people, and end this wave of speculation and doubt,” Klich said.

The investigator added that it remains for psychologists to work out how much stress the pilot was under by having his boss behind him.

People in Poland have been waiting for answers about the death of their leaders. It's taken more than a month for officials to establish the facts.

Alan Heath, a writer and publisher living in Poland, said the Poles appreciate Russia's response to the plane crash.

I think the attitude that was shown, particularly from Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Putin, really showed that Russia was prepared to go a long way to try and get the truth of the matter to put Polish fears to rest and try to resolve other matters at the same time,” Heath said. “I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that Russia really has done whatever it could to [make sure] the truth came out.”

I do believe that the results of this investigation are positive, both legally and politically,” said Leonid Syukiyaynen, political analyst from the Russian Academy of Sciences. “Legally, it is very important to stress the unanimous position of the Polish and Russian sides, as far as the results of the investigation are concerned. As for the political side of the problem, it is very important to stress the positive development in the relationship between the two countries after this event.”

However, Piotr Kaczynski from the Center for European Policy Studies believes it is too early to predict what political conclusions, if any, can be drawn from the findings.

“It is good that the investigation is proceeding and there are new findings and some conclusions drawn from that. That is very positive,” Kaczynski said. “But I would not draw any major political conclusions from that finding as of today.”