Tragedy Tu-154 M nb 101 with President Lech Kaczyński on 2010-04-10 Part 1

Kraków 2010-04-20

Tu-154 nb 101 tragedy with President Lech Kaczyński on board on 2010-10-10.

Part 1

The article is subjective and you can disagree with it.

First Lady Maria Kaczyńska and President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński. Photo of Our Journal
First Lady Maria Kaczyńska and President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński. Photo of Our Journal

It's only been 10 days since the crash. It's hard to come to terms with what happened. The mourning and funerals of the next victims continue. Investigations will go on for many weeks. But it is difficult not to present the facts, comments and assessments collected so far.


On 10.04.2010 at 08; 56 at the Smolensk-Siewierennyj airport just before the DS (RWY), a Polish government Tu-154 M Lux nb 101 aircraft crashed. There were 96 people on board (along with the crew); with the President of the Republic of Poland Professor Lech Kaczyński, his wife Maria Kaczyńska, the last President of the Second Republic of Poland Ryszard Kaczorowski and many wonderful Poles.

They all went to Katyn to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.

The flower of the national-Catholic right-wing of the Republic of Poland died. It was a tragedy unprecedented on a global scale. Its political, social and economic consequences for the Commonwealth were enormous. The consequences of this tragedy for Poland turned out to be greater than the consequences of the WTC tragedy for the USA on September 11, 2001. Poland will never be what we thought it would look like.


2010 was a significant year for Poland. We celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre. Political efforts led to the organization of several separate ceremonies in Katyn. Two of them were the most important.

First with participation; Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Russia's highest dignitaries were typically political with empty gestures that did not approach the final solution and settlement of the problem of the Katyn massacre. The crime is still referred to as "NKVD action."

The second celebration is scheduled for April 10, 2010. All the most important representatives of the national Catholic right were going to this ceremony; presidents, parliamentarians, veterans, "Katyn" families. A very large group went by special train. The most important people were to fly with the presidents. President Lech Kaczyński invited as many people as he could hold a government plane, 89 passengers. There was not enough space for journalists on board. That is why the Jak-40 plane was intended for journalists.

The principle was kept that they were not together on one plane; President, Prime Minister, Marshal of the Sejm and Marshal of the Senate.

Flight of the Jak-40 aircraft.

The flight was made on the same route, without major problems, only about 90 minutes earlier.

The Jak-40 aircraft had 13 journalists on board. Passengers were already seated and fastened with seat belts when they were ordered to change to another machine. It turned out that before starting the engines a fault was detected and it was decided to change the aircraft.

The plane arrived over Smolensk on schedule, around 07:30 (local time 09:30). Pilots built a landing maneuver. They broke through the clouds. Just before DS (RWY) it became clear and transparent. The plane gently hit the wheels on the DS (RWY0 and shook on the poor surface lost speed. After leaving the plane, the pilots were satisfied with the flight. If the weather or the airport raised doubts, the Tu-154 aircraft would be notified to Smolensk.

Airport Smoleńsk-Siewiernyj 
 The original name of the airport is Смоленск-Северный, or Smolensk - North. The airport is a military-civil airport. It is located 3 km from the city center and the railway station. There is also a second airport in Smolensk, located south of the city center, but with an even worse structure.   The airport has very modest equipment with means of communication and radiolocation. The airport's navigation and communication equipment is at the technical level of the 1970s. There is an RSL system. He gives the pilot information about the height of the plane and the distance from the runway. However, the airport does not have basic ILS equipment, which the Tu-154 M nb 101 was equipped with. This system is already standard at airports where large passenger planes land. It determines the landing glide path and allows you to safely bring the aircraft back when the pilot cannot see DS. Depending on the ILS system class, it leads the aircraft even to the chassis wheels coming into contact with DS (RWY). Apparently, the ILS system at Smolensk airport mounts (launches) depending on their needs.

But the condition of the other facilities at the airport left much to be desired. Signal lights, which are supposed to facilitate the approach to the belt, were hung on ... trees.

The airport has a RWY with a length of 2,500 m. The surface is concrete, but it requires renovation.

This airport is bad, but this does not mean that Tu-154 should not land on it. In 2000 Tu-154 M landed there with President Aleksander Kwaśniewski. On April 7, 2010 Tu-154 M nb 101 landed at this airport with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland Donald Tusk at the ceremony in Katyn with the participation of Vladimir Putin.

Flight Tu-154 M Lux nb 101 to Smolensk.

Before 07:00 a government aircraft was prepared for flight on the tarmac of the Okęcie Military Airport. A column of government cars with passengers drove up to the plane near Katyn. At 07:15 the plane started taxiing, and at 07:23 it took off. The plane took 8,000 m.

Polish Tu-154 M nb 101 left the area of Belarusian responsibility at 09:22 local time (10:22 Moscow time). The disaster occurred after 36 minutes.

At a distance of 50 km from Smolensk, the plane entered the zone. There was a 10-minute flight to the airport. Communication established. The controller reported about bad weather. A spare airport was recommended to the crew. It was established that the crew would recognize the situation and decide whether to land or depart to an alternate airport. The amount of fuel on board did not require quick decisions. This is not contrary to international practice. The final decision about landing or going to an alternate airport is taken by the captain of the aircraft.

Weather conditions around the airport deteriorated significantly. The fog was denser. Despite the fog, everything went well to a distance of about 1,500 m in front of RWY.

According to the first comments, the plane hooked the left wing to a tree, which at the fracture has a diameter of about 30 cm. From April 12, 2010 until April 15, 2010 there was a media presumption that the plane first hit a 20-meter mast. After the first impact, the crew immediately attempted to increase the flight altitude. The maximum thrust of the engines was increased and the machine's nose picked up. All actions proved futile. Tu-154 hooked up more trees. At the same time, he began to lean heavily to the left, as if he were to make a barrel. The tail with tail and engines falls off the plane. Then the wings fell off, which stopped on the ground up the chassis. The fuselage itself traveled a long way and stuck in one of the ramparts at the airport. The fuselage was in two large fragments. The left wing was about 200 m from the fuselage.

All this turned out to be not true, because the plane fell apart in the air before approaching the ground.

The fact is that the plane was moved 150 meters to the side, relative to the axis of the lane (RWY). And this means that even if the approach was done correctly, the aircraft had practically no chance to land safely in this approach.   The plane Tu-154 M Lux nb 101.

Already on April 10, 2010, i.e. on the day of the disaster, Moscow from the beginning emphasized that the aircraft was in working order. Why such certainty, even before examining the black boxes and the wreck.

The Tu-154 nb 101 aircraft was built on April 14, 1990. (No. 90A-837). Its lifetime was set at 15 years or 30,000 hours. Every 5 years it underwent major repairs. After 15 years, the service life was extended every year to 18 years.   On 5.01.2009, Tu-154 M Lux nb 101 exhausted its resources. (Tu-154 M Lux nb 102 twelve months later.) Decisions were made on the next major renovation. Prior to this renovation, the aircraft had 5,004 hours of flight and made 1 823 landings. The difficult financial situation of the country and other substantive reasons have not allowed (2009) to finalize the purchase of new machines for VIPs. Previous tenders have been annulled.

A competition has been launched for the renovation of the aircraft, which will allow it to be extended for at least five years. The nb 101 aircraft was to be repaired in 2009, and the nb 102 aircraft in 2010.

Was the renovation profitable? The answer to this question is difficult. We can find several facts supporting the thesis that renovation and partial modernization is unprofitable. The problem, however, was that when the next tenders were launched for new aircraft, the currant was extremely high. The sheer number of new machines reached 7-8 pieces. A minimum range of 9,000 kilometers was shown. They talked about self-defense systems. Even the planes of many much richer countries of the world do not meet such criteria. The effect of this in the future will be the opposite of the situation prevailing in the PRL, when 36 SPLTr handed over the aircraft for LOT Polish Airlines. And now the Government will borrow planes from LOT.

The tender procedure was launched on February 11, 2009. Initial offers, February 26, 2009, were submitted by MAW Telecom Intl. and Polit-Elektronik, Metalexport-S and Bumar. The DZSZ MON Committee decided that only the first offer meets the requirements of the tender. Bumar's offer was disqualified, and Metalexport-S was asked to complete documents and provide explanations. Finally, on March 5, 2009, his offer was also disqualified. Final offer (already with the price of the service) MAW Telecom Intl. and Polit-Elektronik was submitted on March 9, 2009, and selected on April 7, 2009. In accordance with the tender assumptions, the aircraft are to be renovated and modernized in two rounds, the first one now, the second one at the end of 2009.

Until recently, the repair of two Polish special aircraft was commissioned to the Moscow company WARS-400 from Wnuków, specializing in this type of order. Having full Tu-154 renovation documentation, as well as licensed experts who managed, among others with additional modern western avionics equipment. Zakłady Lotnicze Aviakor from Samara (until 1991 Kujbyszew) is the manufacturer of Tu-154, repairing these aircraft, including for the needs of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The current (2009) president of the company, Alexei Gusev, a dozen years ago was responsible as an engineer for the transfer of Tu-154 M to the Polish side.

The tender for renovation was settled. Commitment, accepting the terms of the tender, was undertaken by MAW Telecom International and Polit-Elektronik (representative of the Russian industry), signing a contract worth as much as PLN 69.637 million with the Department of Supplying the Armed Forces of the Ministry of National Defense. The contract includes the main renovation and extension of the technical service and modification of both governmental Tu-154 M Lux, the main renovation of 8 D-30 KU-II engines, the main renovation of the TA-6 A engine and the repair of spare aggregates from aircraft first aid kits. This extended aircraft operation by another 6 years or 7,500 hours. On 20.05.2009 Tu-154 M Lux nb 101 flew to the plant in Samara (until 1991 called Kuibyshev).

On December 23, 2009 the plane returned after renovation. It was given detailed tests, according to the procedures in force in the 36th Special Air Transport Regiment, and only then did passenger transport begin. From the return from renovation to the time of the catastrophe, the aircraft stayed in the air for about 142 hours.

Rescue operation.

Today, with a clear conscience, I can write that there was practically no rescue operation. The Soviet soldiers who came to the crash site immediately declared - "Nobody survived here". Ambulances were not called. The fire brigade arrived because there were still individual fires.

Black boxes.

It wasn't until April 13, 2010 that Moscow reported that three black boxes had been found. The case is strange, because TVP employee Sławomir Wiśniewski, who ran a few minutes after the disaster, immediately came across one of the black boxes. I am convinced that all mailboxes were found on the first day and transported to Moscow. Contrary to assurances, two were read without the presence of Polish specialists.

Moscow could not read the third mailbox because it was a Poland construction. It was developed at the Air Force Institute of Technology.


Only a few days have passed since the Tu-154 presidential disaster. The investigation in this case will certainly last for many weeks, maybe even several months, and the Moscow site has already ruled out a malfunction of the machine. And he claims that the recklessness of Polish pilots and the lack of knowledge of the Russian language were supposed to contribute to the catastrophe, which hindered contacts with the flight control tower.

The big surprise was that Moscow ruled out that the plane crash could be caused by technical reasons. "Tupolev was in excellent condition," said prosecutor Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of the investigation group, briefly.

When Moscow began to read the black boxes, Russia's deputy prime minister Sergei Ivanov said, "that the crew approached the landing twice." Why was he lying? Moscow's lies can be counted in hundreds.

List of crew members of Tu-154 M nb 101 aircraft. 

Captain pilot Arkadiusz Protasiuk - Captain of the crew.
Captain pilot Arkadiusz Protasiuk - Captain of the crew.

Major pilot Robert Marek Grzywna - co-pilot.
Major pilot Robert Marek Grzywna - co-pilot.

Lieutenant pilot Artur Karol Ziętek - navigator in the crew.
Lieutenant pilot Artur Karol Ziętek - navigator in the crew.

Chorąży Andrzej Michalak - on-board mechanic.
Chorąży Andrzej Michalak - on-board mechanic.

Barbara Maria Maciejczyk - stewardess
Barbara Maria Maciejczyk - stewardess

Justyna Moniuszko - stewardess
Justyna Moniuszko - stewardess

Natalia Maria Januszko - stewardess
Natalia Maria Januszko - stewardess

Written by Karol Placha Hetman

The end of Part 1