The 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash
The 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash occurred on 10 April 2010 when a Tupolev Tu-154M aircraft of the Polish Air Force crashed near the city of Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board
These included president Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria, former president Ryszard Kaczorowski, the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Poland's deputy foreign minister, Polish government officials, 15 members of the Polish parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy, and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. They were en route from Warsaw to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre; the site is approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) west of Smolensk.
The pilots attempted to land at Smolensk North Airport, a former military airbase, in thick fog that reduced visibility to about 500 metres (1,600 ft). The aircraft was too low as it approached the runway. Striking trees in the fog, it rolled upside down, impacted the ground, broke apart, and eventually came to rest 200 metres (660 ft) short of the runway in a wooded area.
As the accident occurred on Russian soil, Russia was tasked by ICAO procedure with primary responsibility for investigation, which it carried out with international cooperation. Poland also set up its own committee to investigate the crash, and prosecutors in both countries began criminal investigations.
The Russian report was published on 12 January 2011, and the Polish report was published on 29 July 2011. Both reports placed the majority of the blame for the accident on the pilots for descending too low without being able to see the ground. The Polish report also placed harsh criticism on the organization of Poland's special aviation regiment and its leaders, as well as finding deficiencies in the performance of the Russian air traffic controllers and in the airport's lighting and approach area.
In the aftermath of the accident Russia published a large number of restricted documents on the Katyn Massacre, and declassified and published many more. Additionally, the Russian State Duma passed a resolution admitting Soviet leader Joseph Stalin personally ordered the Katyn Massacre. Subsequent Katyn memorials have been joint Russian/Polish affairs attended by the leaders of both countries.
After the Polish accident report found serious deficiencies in the organization and training of the Air Force unit which operated the aircraft, the entire regiment was shut down and its aircraft retired, and several high-ranking members of the Polish military resigned under pressure. Transportation of Polish government leaders is now conducted using civilian flight crews and aircraft leased from LOT Polish Airlines.
Sources: wikipedia.org, news.lv
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