MOSCOW, August 3 (Itar-Tass) — Russia investigated the Tu-154M crash near Smolensk based on the facts and not on their interpretations, Transport Minister Igor Levitin said on Wednesday.
“Russia investigated the air crash near Smolensk openly and professionally based on the facts and not on their interpretations, or any assumptions. In this aspect we do not intend to share blame or responsibility for the air crash that killed then-President Lech Kaczynski,” Levitin told journalists.
“Unfortunately, Poland’s report of July 29 proved this,” the minister added.
“Due to the international status of the flight, if a Russian controller actively interfered into the commander’s decision, he would exceed his powers and violate international norms under which the aircraft’s commander took responsibility for the flight,” Levitin stressed.
In his words, “the crew’s actions – our experts insist on this – were aimed at making a landing at any cost.” “Anything cannot explain to us what the crew did at a lower altitude than it should have causing the crash. This is absolutely clear not only for airmen,” Levitin said.
“The key goal of the investigation is to determine the causes of the crash in order to prevent such tragedies in the future. Russia is doing its best for this,” he noted. “Based on the IAC results Russia completed its work. The corresponding ministries and agencies will be guided by the IAC recommendations to take necessary measures for ensuring flight safety,” Levitin said.
“All documents have been submitted to the Investigation Committee. I have no right to comment on the Committee’s work,” he added.
“Despite the fact that Russia jointly with Poland is ready to overcome this tragedy for our relations and maintain contacts on an equal and mutually advantageous basis,” Levitin said.
On August 2, head of the technical commission of the Interstate Aviation Committee Alexei Morozov said the Interstate Aviation Committee and the Polish governmental ad hoc commission had the same opinion about the main cause of the Tu-154M crash
“Both reports agree that the main cause of the crash was the excessive descent. The sides also agree on many supplementary factors, such as the training of the crew, pre-flight work, organization of the flight and weather support,” Morozov said.
In his opinion, the differences are rooted in “the [Polish] unwillingness to accept that even an international flight must comply with the rules laid down in the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).” Poland may have some other reasons apart from this unwillingness, Morozov admitted.
The technical commission of the International Aviation Committee doubts the independence of the Polish investigative commission led by Interior Minister Jerzy Miller.
“The Interstate Aviation Committee is an independent organization registered at the ICAO. Meanwhile, the Miller commission is a departmental body. Can we say it is fully independent? You must make your own conclusions,” he said, adding that some of the commission experts were simultaneously working in the commission of the Polish Prosecutor General’s Office.
“That is impermissible from the point of view of an independent technical investigation,” Morozov said.
He noted that it was not planned to make a joint report of the Interstate Aviation Committee and the Polish commission. The Miller report is an internal document of Poland, Morozov said.
“The direct cause of the air crash was the crew’s decision not to go to an alternative airport despite the repeated warnings of poor visibility in the landing zone,” he noted.
“The theory of the alleged inoperativeness of the landing control radar is unfounded. The commission did not expose any faults in the airport operation. Infrastructural shortcomings, including those of airport lights, were not a cause of the crash,” he said.
A laboratory plane flew over the airport zone shortly after the air crash without any changes being made in the terrain and airport equipment, he said. “The flight confirmed that the airport systems were operating normally. It is unclear to us why the Polish report claims the inoperativeness of the landing control system,” he said.
“The only shortcoming is the approach indication on the display of the landing zone supervisor’s radar. This shortcoming was given a detailed description in our final report [posted on January 12], and I would rather not go into technical details now,” he said.
There was no pressure on air traffic controllers of the Smolensk Severny Airport at the time the Polish presidential plane was preparing to land, Morozov said.
The air base deputy commander put no pressure on flight supervisors either, he said. “We made an independent analysis of objective data, including recordings of conversations. There was no pressure on flight supervisors,” he said.
Morozov said that it was a duty of the air base deputy commander to stay at the tower.
He also said that the crew of the presidential plane made erroneous decisions.
The Polish governmental ad hoc commission led by Interior Minister Jerzy Miller posted the crash report on July 29. The report will help avoid similar accidents in the future, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on that day.
“A detailed description of the causes of this tragedy is of paramount importance. The commission excluded the theories of an attack, an influence from third persons and pressure on pilots. Thanks to this report we can avoid similar accidents in the future,” he said.
The Tu-154M plane was carrying a governmental delegation to attend remembrance events in Katyn. The crash killed all the 96 people aboard, including the president, his spouse, a number of government and parliament members and military commanders.