Russia: pilot error and president’s desire to arrive in Smolensk may have caused crash

How easy could it have been for the pilot to ignore the president’s demand to land, if that was in fact the situation? The Independent:

Alexander Alyoshin, deputy chief of the Russian Air Force’s general staff, said the pilot had ignored several orders from air-traffic control not to land at Smolensk because of thick fog. “The head of the air-traffic control group gave a command to the crew to put the aircraft into the horizontal position, and when the crew did not implement this order, several times gave orders to divert to an alternative airport.

“Despite this, the crew continued the descent. Unfortunately this ended in tragedy.”

The airport is a small, military facility that does not usually accept civilian craft. Aviation experts speculated that the pilots may have been ordered to land by the Polish President. “It’s a clear case of VIP-passenger syndrome,” flight safety expert Viktor Timoshkin told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “Air-traffic control told him to take the plane to Moscow or Minsk. I’m certain that the pilot will have told the President about this, and got a firm reply that the plane must land in Smolensk.”


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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