2010 Polish Air Crash Fact Sheet
The Character & Legal Jurisdiction of Flight PLF101
Last updated 03-2014
The TU-154M, 101, was the Polish Government's military Air vessel in service with the Polish Air Force’s 36th Special Aviation Regiment (pol. 36 Specjalny Pułk Lotnictwa Transportowego im. Obrońców Warszawy), operated by, and under jurisdiction of the Polish Ministry of National Defense.
Exterritoriality of a state [read: military] aircraft:
Shortly after the crash, Denis Chagnon, Spokesman for the International Civil Aviation Organization ("ICAO") stated that:
ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization. The crash in April  was [a crash of the] state aircraft. It was not a civilian aircraft.
The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and the Investigative Jurisdiction:
Article 3 : Civil and state aircraft
(a) This Convention shall be applicable only to civil aircraft, and shall not be applicable to state aircraft.
(b) Aircraft used in military, customs and police services shall be deemed to be state aircraft [...]
Article 82: Abrogation of inconsistent arrangements
The contracting States accept this Convention as abrogating all obligations and understandings between them which are inconsistent with its terms, and undertake not to enter into any such obligations and understandings. A contracting State which, before becoming a member of the Organization has undertaken any obligations toward a non-contracting State or a national of a contracting State or of a non-contracting State inconsistent with the terms of this Convention, shall take immediate steps to procure its release from the obligations. If an airline of any contracting State has entered into any such inconsistent obligations, the State of which it is a national shall use its best efforts to secure their termination forthwith and shall in any event cause them to be terminated as soon as such action can lawfully be taken after the coming into force of this Convention.
On April 10, 2010, the Tupolev TU-154M, 101, was conducting a flight designated as "HEAD" ("Important") with the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, and 95 other individuals onboard. This flight was communicated to the Russian Federation as a military flight.
Flights of Governmental Air Vessels in Russian Federation Airspace
Flights of governmental Air vessels traveling in Russian Federation airspace, are regulated by Russian Federal Aviation Laws. According with the Russian Ministry of Defense regulatory laws, and specifically, the Clause (No. 275 / FAPPPGosA) from September 24, 2004, regulating the military flights, flight supervisors (ground controllers) are obligated, at their discretion, to approve, or to forbid, landing of military Air vessels.
PLF 101-I-M (“M” – military), Instrument Flight, via restricted HEAD air corridor. Departure EPW A050, Air Speed N0400 (400 knots/700 km/h), Altitude F270 (27,000 feet). Departure from Okecie, Warsaw, towards the waypoint BAMSO Z182, into the waypoint ASKIL B102; Flight Destination ZZZZ015 Smolensk North, Secondary Airports: (1) UMII (Vitebsk - (Витебск), (2) Minsk (Минск) (UMSS);
OPR/Polish Air Force
STS/HEAD (President, Prime-Minister, or Marshal of the Sejm onboard)
What is the significance of the highlighted information?
Under the pressure form the Russians, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk abandoned pursuing the 1993 agreement concerning air crashes which is favorable to the Poland, and entered into a secret and never published agreement with then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Under this agreement, a directive issued on April 13, 2010 by then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assigned the crash investigation and coordination of all domestic and international activities related to the crash, to the Interstate Aviation Committee [Russ. abbr. MAK, Interstate Aviation Committee, abbr. IAC] led by Tatiana Anodina. It adopted the Chicago Convention as the legal basis of the investigation, despite the fact, that it applied to civil, and not governmental /military air crash disasters.
It appears that as early as January 2011, even these Chicago Convention directives, however unfavorable to Poland, did not provide a semblance a credible legal foundation for the conduct of joint Polish-Russian collaboration to investigate the causes of the Smolensk disaster. Hence, in the final MAK report we read: "On the basis of this directive, the investigation ought to be conducted in accordance with the Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (hereinafter referred to Appendix 13). The government of the Republic of Poland approved this decision. Therefore, this cooperation wasn't based on the Chicago Convention itself, rather on the Annex 13." This means that Poland may not apply for any appeal instrument(s) set forth by the Convention, and consequently must accept the final MAK report.
Calls for establishment of an independent international commission rejected
On October 21, 2010, in Warsaw: "The Association of the Katyn Families 2010" delivered 300,000 signed petitions to the Polish Parliament, calling for the establishment of an Independent International Commission. Despite the public outcry for carrying out an impartial investigation of the crash, the petition was rejected.
Warsaw, October 21, 2010
Association of the Katyn Families 2010
Honorable Bronislaw Komorowski,
President of the Republic of Poland
Because of a particular significance of the Polish government plane crash near Smolensk, in which President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczynski, and other individuals, leading the most important institutions of Polish state had died, on April 10, 2010, and having taking under consideration voices of the public opinion, the Stowarzyszenie Rodzin Katyn 2010, appeals to Mr. President to take the necessary actions to appoint an international commission to investigate the causes of the crash.
300,000 petitions delivered
The investigation of the causes of this national tragedy, conducted by relevant institutions of the Russian Federation, raises serious doubts and concerns, leading to the appearance of many types of speculations. The attempts of the Polish military prosecutors, compelling the Russian authorities to conduct specific actions, have been thus far unsuccessful. A particular example of this is the treatment of the aircraft wreckage. Similarly difficult to understand are delays and untimely responses to Polish requests for legal assistance.
The Stowarzyszenie Rodzin Katyn 2010, received over 300,000 signatures of the Polish citizens supporting the initiative of establishing the above mentioned [International] Commission. We were supported by a great number of Polish-American, and Polish-Canadian citizens. We ought not to ignore their voices. We will be appealing this matter before all relevant Polish and International institutions. We believe that only the International Commission, having confidence of the [Polish] citizens, can and will contribute to the intensification of the investigation, and at the same time will lead to the explanation of the causes of the crash.
The said signatures were deposited in the offices of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland, and are at any time available for viewing.
on behalf of the Association of the Katyn Families 2010,
Zuzanna Kurtyka, Chairwoman,
Magdalena Merta, Deputy-Chairwoman
Within minutes of the crash the Russian government, with the acquiescence of the Polish government, newly headed by Bronislaw Komorowski of the opposition Civic Platform party, stated that the crash was due to "pilot error, lack of training and poor communication skills (i.e. that the pilot could not speak Russian)" After the investigation these accusations turned out to be complete false, as the captain of the aircraft was one of the most experienced, master class pilots of the regiment, with over a thousand flying hours completed on this aircraft type. He was also well versed in the specifics of the Russian airports, ground personnel habits, all the procedures, and spoke fluent Russian. Read more here
Part 1: Smolensk Crash Explained
Part 2: Inconsistencies in Reports
Part 3: Emerging Crash Causes
What was the "Katyn Massacre"?
Arthur Bliss Lane (16 June 1894--12 August 1956) was the United States Ambassador to Poland (1944--1947). While in Poland, Lane was so disappointed that he resigned his post (on February 24, 1947) and wrote the book which detailed what he considered to be the failure of the United States and Britain to keep their promise that the Poles would have a free election after the war. In that book he described what he considered betrayal of Poland by the Western Allies, hence the title, "I Saw Poland Betrayed". The book was translated into Polish and published in this version in the United States, and later by an underground publishing house in Poland in the 1980s.
"Crime Without Punishment"
"[...] But why would Russia wish to sabotage the plane? It was merely a ceremonial visit by the Polish elite to commemorate and mourn the 1940 murder of 22,000 Polish officers and other officials in the Katyn Forest, Russia, by the NKVD – the Soviet secret police. These officers were defenseless prisoners of war (POW), slaughtered in violation of the Geneva Convention. Despite blaming Germany for the massacre, Russia hurriedly acknowledged the event in 1989, and then swept the atrocity out of the history books much the way they airbrush disfavored officials out of photos. The April 2010 Smolensk trip would have reminded the world that the Russians had murdered thousands, and lied about it for decades. It became a problem for the Russians on how to make the planned Smolensk ceremony disappear…quickly.
Of course, part of this is that any major accident wiping out a good measure of a nation's leadership is invariably assured of some investigation by disinterested parties - except in this case, where the Russian government had the "boots on the ground" and the Polish government soon to be under the administration of Donald Tusk and Bronisław Komorowski, had to choose between consolidation of power and some favorable trade agreements with Russia, or a "delicate" situation ...
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