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Pilot was advised to divert due to heavy fog, it's the captain's call and responsibility. Runway length 2,500 mtr (8,200 ft) isn't very long, came in too low trying to land not being aware of tall tree tops. Poor pilot judgement, safety record of the Tupolev TU-154M is poor and problems were pre-existent in recent past.

Crash: Polish Air Force T154 at Smolensk impacted trees

(Aviation Herald) - A Polish Air Force Tupolev TU-154M was on approach to Smolensk North Airport's (Air Base) unmarked runway (runway heading approximately 270 degrees) in developing dense fog, when the airplane impacted trees about 1500-2000 meters short of the runway and crashed onto the ground coming to rest about 700 meters short of the runway threshold.

The crew was advised by air traffic control in Belarus not to continue to Smolensk due to fog, but to divert to Minsk and later, after hand off to Russian ATC, Russian Air Traffic Controllers recommended to divert to Moscow, the crew however continued to Smolensk. [Notable passengers list]

VIDEO RussiaToday.com

Aviation Safety preliminary report

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sat Apr 10th, 2010 at 04:23:27 PM EST
Russian media reports said [Kaczynski] had once become angry with a pilot who refused to land in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, on the grounds that it was unsafe. The same thing may have happened at Smolensk, aviation experts claimed. They suggested he may have pressed the pilot to make at least two attempts to land. [...]

A Russian military aircraft that attempted to land at the Smolensk airfield half an hour before the arrival of the Polish plane aborted because of the fog and was diverted to Moscow.

"No one should have been landing in that fog," said a Russian air traffic control official who had been present during conversations with the pilot. (London Times)


Back in 2008, when Georgia and Russia fought their brief war, Kaczynski was on his way to Tbilisi to support Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, in what he saw as fight with the Kremlin's "new imperialism".

Air traffic control told the pilot of Kaczynski's plane to turn back because it was too dangerous to land in Tbilisi, but the president -- who also is commander in chief under Poland's law -- ordered the pilot to land anyway. (Reuters)



A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns
by Alexander on Sat Apr 10th, 2010 at 11:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
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between Kaczynski and Putin
square in Warsaw named after Chechen rebel leader Johar Dudayev
● supported Bush in missile shield push
● supplied arms to Georgia's Saakashvili

Sabotaging the plane would have been easy but daring, even for Putin. Perhaps if the ILS equipment had a mallfunction ... or pilot received erroneous data from ATC.

Cross-posted from AG's diary @BooMan -- Putin Heads Investigation Into Polish Crash?

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 01:21:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Get your tinfoil on!

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 03:08:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm putting on a triple layer!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 03:49:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a good thing you mentioned that your comment is cross-posted from BoomanTribune, because it doesn't really make much sense as a reply to my comment. Why would Putin possibly want to kill Kaczynski, much less do so by sabotaging a plane filled with members of the Polish government? Normal countries just don't do that sort of thing. And anyway, Kaczynski was on his way out.

BooMan has been frothing at the mouth since the 2008 Georgian hostilities, and Arthur Gilroy is a nut. (Two years ago, he thought Hilary Clinton is America's best hope.) I really can't understand why you still bother posting on that blog. It's even worse than Huffington Post in its adulation of Obama, despite the continuity between Obama and Bush 2 being at least as great as that between Blair and Thatcher.

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 03:17:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Normal countries just don't do that sort of thing.

And you think Arthur Gilroy sees Russia as a normal country?

anyway, Kaczynski was on his way out.

And now his brother will run for President in a special election to be held within 10 weeks. What are the odds that he will use this in his campaign?

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 03:54:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And you think Arthur Gilroy sees Russia as a normal country?

I said Arthur Gilroy is a nut. If America, with its stolen elections, unaccountable war criminals, and brazen violation of international law is a normal country, then so is Russia.

And now his brother will run for President in a special election to be held within 10 weeks. What are the odds that he will use this in his campaign?

How does that relate to the point under discussion, whether it made sense for the Russians to assassinate Kaczynski? Surely the Russians would have been able to figure out that there was a risk of Kaczynski's brother getting a popularity bounce if Kaczynski got killed. Or are you suggesting that the Russians were expecting both twins to be on the plane, and that the surviving brother's deciding at the last moment not to get on the plane because their mother was ill will turn out to be the chance event that caused the Russian plot to backfire?

A bomb, H bomb, Minuteman / The names get more attractive / The decisions are made by NATO / The press call it British opinion -- The Three Johns

by Alexander on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 04:45:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I never suggested that the Russians are to blame for the crash.

The brainless should not be in banking -- Willem Buiter
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 10:07:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, normal countries do kill people by sabotaging their planes. It was very popular with the Americans in Latin America, back when knocking out a single man was still able to make a difference in that part of the world.

The thing is, it's one thing to happen an accident to someone - it's quite another level of ballsy to happen an accident to someone who's on your turf on an official visit.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 07:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh come on.

Let's see, Russia and Poland were on the precipice of the best improvement in relations they've had in generations, so kill Putin kills the Polish president.  That makes perfect sense.  Far more sense than the air traffic controlers' repeated requests not to land here in these conditions.  Yes, perfectly.

I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised by the class with Russia has handled this, and the sobriety with which the Polish people reacted.  I live in a city that claims to have the largest population of Poles outside Warsaw, and we've had tons of local coverage of the event.  Not once have I heard blame or even criticism of Russia, and several Polish dignitaries have even praised Putin's handling of the event.


"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Mon Apr 12th, 2010 at 04:37:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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