The Senate debates about the plane crash at Smolensk

Czeslaw Ryszka

Two months after the tragedy at Smolensk the Senate debated about the causes of the presidential plane, which had been the biggest tragedy in the Polish and perhaps the world history. The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration Jerzy Miller and the deputy of the prosecutor general Colonel Krzysztof Parulski answered the senators’ questions. Briefly speaking, the debate showed that although we knew more details it seemed that we knew less about the crash. Unfortunately, the recordings of the black boxes (flight recorders), which we received from the Russians, do not explain a lot. During the debate Minister Jerzy Miller did not answer many questions because of the interest of the investigation, including the following, ‘why didn’t the airport control tower forbid the presidential airplane to land because of the terrible weather conditions?’ The recordings of the black boxes do not explain why the plane had its autopilot on almost to the very last moment, and the pilots read the height: 100, 90, 80…20 calmly, preparing for landing? The height of 20 m was below the tops of the high trees. Did they not know that? They could not have known that because they had wrong bearing. Or the measurement tools did not work properly. Nobody in the cockpit mentioned that they did not see the runway because of the fog, which means that they thought the runway was just under the plane. The recordings also showed that the control tower directed the pilots till the last minutes. The conclusion is that the pilots thought everything was OK. Therefore, they were either given wrong distance to the airport and the height or the plane lost controllability for other reasons. The fact that the engines worked until the plane touched the ground does not mean that there was no breakdown of the plane. Every country would have conducted such a type of investigation under special supervision of the government and we did not even know the exact time of the plane crash for several weeks. Then we received the recordings of the black boxes without the recording of the last 16 seconds of the flight. For many days, without any grounds in the investigation materials, the versions blaming the pilots or even some passengers were spread in the media. The thing was that the world would accept ‘Moscow theories’, which turned out to be false, e.g. four attempts to land, the pilots’ lack of knowledge of Russian, good technical conditions of the airport, competent collaboration between the pilots and the control tower, actually a barrack with two controllers and a Russian special service officer. What was he doing there? Did he phone Moscow and was ordered not to close the airport? Was he questioned? Why did one of the controllers run out of the tower-barrack shouting, ‘What is going to happen with me now?’ The pilots of the Polish plane JAK-40, who had landed an hour earlier, heard his words.
I have the impression that the Russian investigating officers cannot or do not want to provide reliable explanations of the matter. The Russian investigation has been conducted extremely carelessly, which is testified by the fact that the site of the crash was not properly secured and many elements of the plane were left there. Each element could be key evidence, for instance, that there was a breakdown or that the elevator did not work or that the plane hydraulics was out of order – the experts say. Is it so that some people would like to create the most fantastic theories concerning the crash because then it would be easier to hide the real cause? Briefly speaking, since the tragedy there has been some calculated game, a media spectacle, which is to lead us astray, or speaking concretely, is to force us to accept the Russian version of the event, blaming the Polish pilots, who cannot defend themselves, of all possible things.
Consequently, an important question remains, ‘Why didn’t the Polish government ask Russia to pass the investigation to us?’ I cannot accept the explanation of Prime Minister Tusk that it would worsen our relationships with Russia. A sovereign country cannot accept such an argument. I am sorry to write this but the Russian party seems to do its best not to have the blame fall on the Russian Federation – God forbid!, whereas the Polish party takes everything what Moscow says for granted. It is hard to accept that the causes of the biggest Polish tragedy will be explained best by a foreign government. I want to add that according to the opinion poll of 2 June 2010 conducted for TVN24, 63 % of the Polish society do not believe that the Russian investigations will be sufficient to explain the crash. The conclusion is that the activities of Donald Tusk’s government astonish ordinary people and experts. They draw attention to the fact that this is not the way to explain the plane crash with the head of state, key army commanders and heads of important institutions on board. Prof. Zdzislaw Krasnodebski was right saying that the tragedy at Smolensk testified about the weakness of the Polish state, which ‘is like Tupolev’. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Niedziela" 26/2010

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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