The Military Affairs Department of the National Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the charges against two officers in connection with the organization of a flight to Smolensk on April 10, 2010. They concerned failure to fulfill the duties in assigning the crew of the Tu-154M aircraft, which crashed near Smolensk. According to investigators, the designated pilots had the appropriate skills and experience.
“The investigation showed that the skills and experience of the TU-154M crew gave full grounds to believe that it is able to safely fly to Smolensk. Therefore, there are no reasons to assess the behavior of the commanders who appointed this crew as failure to fulfill their duties. and acting to the detriment of the public or private interest “- informed prosecutor Łukasz Łapczyński, spokesman for the National Prosecutor’s Office.
These are two officers from the 36th Special Regiment of Transport Aviation, who in August 2011 were charged with failure to fulfill their official duties in connection with the organization of a flight to Smolensk on April 10, 2010 with regard to the designation and preparation of the Tu-154M crew. The suspects then did not plead guilty and refused to explain. The prosecutor’s office did not want to disclose the data of the officers.
Prosecutor: the pilots had practical skills to perform the flight
Prosecutor Łapczyński said on Wednesday that the charges against the two officers had been dropped. “As evidenced by the collected evidence, including the opinion of experts in the field of aviation, the regiment commanders and squadrons appointed people with appropriate experience, and the pilots had practical skills to perform this flight” – indicated the prosecutor.
The investigators’ findings show that the first pilot flew almost 2,910 hours, also in difficult weather conditions, with fog, low cloud base and rainfall. “He made over 50 landings with the use of imprecise landing systems, including those at the airport in Smolensk. He knew the airport and its approach system from several previous flights – the last time he landed there on April 7, 2010. He spoke perfectly Russian which allowed for efficient communication with the Russian airport staff. These circumstances indicate that he was one of the most experienced pilots of the TU-154M, which was also confirmed by the testimonies of witnesses “- the prosecutor’s office points out.
Investigators noted that the copilot had similar extensive experience. “He has flown almost 1,910 hours, including 475 hours on the Tu-154M, and has undergone the required training. He has made numerous flights to the Russian Federation and other countries of the former USSR. There were no grounds for questioning his competences and skills. This also applies to the TU-154M navigator, who gained experience in navigating this type of aircraft, among others during difficult transatlantic flights. His skills and professionalism were highly appreciated “- informed the National Prosecutor’s Office.
96 people died in the Smolensk catastrophe
Prok. Łapczyński reported that the proceedings in this case were conducted independently of the main investigation into the causes and course of the Smolensk disaster, which is being conducted by the Investigative Team No. 1 of the National Prosecutor’s Office. As he added, in the latter investigation, work is underway on a comprehensive opinion prepared by an international team of experts.
On April 10, 2010, 96 people died in the crash of the Tu-154 plane, which was used by the delegation to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, including President Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria Kaczyńska, the highest military commanders and the last president of the Republic of Poland in exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski.
Main photo source: PAP / Wojciech Pacewicz