British expert calls for further investigation of Smolensk aircraft crash that killed Polish President and all 96 passengers on board
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British expert calls for further investigation of Smolensk aircraft crash that killed Polish President and all 96 passengers on board

On April 10, 2010, a Polish aircraft crashed outside Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 on board, incl. the Polish president and his wife and high-ranking officials. A well-known British air crash expert, Frank Taylor, has recently carried out a review of the official investigations and found several omissions and deficiencies. The people on board the Polish aircraft were en route from Warsaw to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. The Katyn forest west of Smolensk in Russia was the site of a mass killing of Polish officers by the Soviet security service during the Second World War.

In his preliminary review, Taylor states that the purposes of an accident investigation are to establish the causes of the accident and of the injuries to those on board so that safety recommendations may be made both to help prevent future accidents and to improve the chances of survival of crew and passengers. 

“I would suggest that although the reports appear to offer a plausible explanation for the crash there were serious deficiencies in the way the investigation was handled, including omissions and failures to explain a variety of factors that might well affect the final conclusions,” Frank summaries his review. 

He calls now for a further investigation covering all aspects of the crash: “The reporting and probably the investigation of the crashworthiness and survival aspects of the accident were superficial and well short of international standards.”

Satellite images suggest that some items of wreckage were moved during the day of the accident or the day after. Frank has not found an explanation for this.

“The description and analysis of the wreckage does not appear to explain some unusual damage to the aircraft,” Frank continues.  “There have been reports that not all wreckage was cleared from the accident site, some being found some six months after the accident.  Such lack of care is unacceptable on many counts.”

Russia has until now refused to return the wreckage and black boxes to Poland.

According to The Federation of Katyn Families – which organizes relatives of the victims in the Katyn massacre –a team of archeologists recovered thousands of aircraft and body fragments six months after the crash.

The Federation is critical against the former Prime Minister of Poland – now President of the European Commission – Donald Tusk for his rejection of relatives’ calls for a more transparent investigation of the crash. They hope that this will change after the recommendation of the British expert to resume the investigation.

The Brussels Times