2018 Smolensk Crash Technical Report
Published: April 11, 2018
THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND
COMMITTEE FOR THE RE-INVESTIGATION
OF THE SMOLENSK AIR CRASH
Facts regarding the crash of the TU-154M No. 101,
(Fight PLF101), that took place in Smolensk, Russia on the 10th of April 2010
This crash is being investigated by the Committee for the Re-Investigation of Air Crashes (hereby referred to as the “Committee”) and is a part of the Committee for the Investigation of National Aviation Accidents. The Committee has been tasked with the responsibility of determining the circumstances and causes of this air crash, and with the issuance of appropriate preventive recommendations.
This Technical Report includes findings concerning the most important technical aspects of this crash.
According to Art. 134, Sec. 1, Item 2 of the Act of July 3, 2002, Aviation Law (Unified Journal of Laws of 2017, Item 89): "The Committee does not adjudicate blame and liability", therefore any form of use of this Technical Report for purposes other than prevention of accidents and serious aviation incidents, should be considered as unauthorized, as it may lead to wrong conclusions and interpretations.
The Republic of Poland Ministry of National Defense, Committee for the Re-Investigation of the Smolensk Air Crash, 2018 Technical Report. Facts regarding the crash of the TU-154M No. 101, (Fight PLF101), that took place in Smolensk, Russia on the 10th of April 2010.
- Previous investigations
- Overhaul of the TU-154M, PLF101
- Access to evidence
- Efforts to gain access to substantial evidence kept by the Russian Federation
- Research and conclusions of the Committee
- Flight preparation
- Russian ATC activities prior to the crash
- Explosion of the detachable part of the left wing
- Events between the explosion of the wing and and TAWS 38
- The disintegration of the plane from TAWS38 to Kutuzova street
- Events between the Kutuzova street after the explosion in the center-wing
- Burnt pieces of the Tu-154M found 100m before the crash site
- Explosion in the TU-154M fuselage
- Epicenter of the fuselage explosion and dispersion of fuselage elements
- Main crash site
- Parts of the passenger fuselage
- Firefighting-, medical-, and rescue services
ANALYSIS AND EXPERIMENTS
- Falsification of the hypothesis from the Miller and MAK reports concerning the destruction of the entire plane after hitting the ground
- Simulation of the door impact into soft ground - NIAR.
- Analysis of the last second of trajectory
- Pyrotechnical experiments
- Pathomorfological expertise
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE OF EXPLOSIONS (included in the report).
The Committee for the Re-Investigation of the Aircraft Accidents (Committee) at the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Poland, hereby presents the findings of its investigation into the causes of the air crash of the Polish Air Force aircraft TU-154M (Flight PLF101) in Smolensk, Russia, on April 10, 2010. The crash claimed the lives of all occupants onboard, among them, the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński (Smolensk Crash).
According to the international standards of aircraft accident investigation, all important facts (circumstances, and crash evidence), which are later analyzed before stating the final conclusions and recommendation, are included in the first part of this report. In this document the Committee focuses on the most important pieces of information, especially facts and evidence not taken into consideration in the Final Report of the Committee on State Aircraft Accident Investigation (Pol. Komisja Badania Wypadków Lotniczych Lotnictwa Państwowego) - KBWLLP), headed by Jerzy Miller. Key analysis, which lead to the main conclusion of the Committee, are hereby cited as examples.
Important facts, information and circumstances presented in this document were not taken into consideration in the reports of the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (Rus. Межгосударственный Aвиационный Kомитет – “MAK Report”), and the Miller’s Committee Reports. The findings of Miller’s committee were proved to be untrue in the light of the conducted analysis, wrongly pointing to the reason for the crash, and repeating the findings of the MAK Committee, which are also not true. At the same time the report of the Committee on State Aircraft Accident Investigations of Jerzy Miller, in the case of the Smolensk crash from July 29, 2011, is not valid, and is hereby nullified.
The KBWLLP Committee of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Poland hereby nullifies the classification of the crash causes, of the TU-154M aircraft in Smolensk on April 10, 2010, as a Controlled Flight into Terrain being a result of a pilot’s mistake (CFIT) due to the following reasons:
1. The Russian air traffic controllers at the Severny North airport in Smolensk (Severny), in agreement with the commander of the Russian Military Transport Aviation, Gen. Benediktov in Moscow, gave false information to the crew of TU-154M during the landing approach on April 10, 2010. The approach of TU-154 was preceded by a controlled landing approach of the Russian military IL-76 aircraft, which was supposed to verify the functioning of the navigation instruments of the Severny aerodrome. The IL-76 performed a landing approach twice with weather conditions being below minimum, and every time approached at an altitude only a couple of meters above the runway, and significantly to the left.
2. Against the statement of Miller’s committee, General Andrzej Błasik, Commander of the Polish Air Force, was not present in the cockpit of TU-154M during the crash, and had no influence on the crash. Miller’s Committee accused general Błasik without any due evidence.
3. During the entire flight, the TU-154M air crew, and the Pilot in Command (PIC) made correct decisions, which were agreed upon by the entire crew, and were carried out according to the prescribed flight regulations. 16 minutes before the crash the captain made the decision to go around, and in the case of bad weather, to perform only a look-and-see approach. He gave the order “go-around” at a safe altitude, which was confirmed by the second pilot. During the entire time of the landing approach the crew responded properly to the commands issued by the air traffic controllers, who instructed the crew about their distance from the runway.
4. The TU-154M aircraft was destroyed in the air as a result of several explosions.
5. At first there were explosions in the left wing leading to the destruction of the structure of the end of the detachable wing part, approximately 900m before the runway threshold No. 26 of the Smolensk Severny aerodrome. The explosions destroyed the slats, ribs and spars, as well as the skin, and the pieces were distributed in the area of 30m width, and 400m alongside the flight path. Then the flaps were torn off, parts of which were also found at a distance of over 400m.
6. When the plane passed the point defined as TAWS38 (710m before the runway threshold) a series of errors occurred: left engine error, generator, flaps, undercarriage, both radio-altimeters, the first hydraulic installation and the magnetic course measurement system.
7. An explosion in the fuselage of TU-154M occurred above the ground. At this time, before the plane impacted with the ground, a failure of the electrical power supply occurred. The explosion took place in the left part of the fuselage, in the area of Lounge 3, where the left passenger door was blown away due to the pressure wave, as well as the first and third spar of the left center wing. The bodies of more than ten passengers were damaged and the parts were distributed throughout an area of over 100m.
The evidence enumerated in document is not final. A complete list of facts, information, research and analysis will be presented in the final report.
The proceedings related to the crash of the military aircraft TU-154M PLF101 in Smolensk on April 10, 2010 should be subject to the bilateral agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Poland of August 1993. This agreement stated that both countries are equally represented in one investigative body consisting of members of institutions authorized to examine military aircraft crashes (in Poland: KBWLLP). By virtue of Article 11 of the agreement, both parties have equal rights and equal access to all evidence and information.
Source: Agreement from December 14, 1993 between the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Poland and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation concerning the air traffic of military aircrafts of the Republic of Poland and the Russian Federation in the air-space of both countries.
In accordance with Polish law, the former Minister of National Defense, Bogdan Klich, was in 2010 obliged to appoint an appropriate "Committee for Investigation of National Aviation Accidents", the KBWLLP. This did not take place, and Polish specialists were sent to Smolensk without the appropriate authorization. The Chairman of the State Commission on Aircraft Accident Investigation was added to the group. The Chairman dealt exclusively with civil aviation accidents, and did not have formal authorization to investigate the crash of a military aircraft.
At noon, on April 10, 2010, then the Deputy Ambassador of Poland Piotr Marciniak sent a diplomatic note to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanding the security of the crash scene, and full and unobstructed access for Polish representatives to carry out their investigation. This was not confirmed by the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Sikorski, and Polish experts were never afforded such an opportunity. The Russian side began to interfere at the crash site.
On April 11, 2010 the Council of Ministers created the Inter-Ministerial Team, headed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, which was supposed to deal with all issues concerning the Smolensk crash. This team consisted of: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Justice, as well as heads of the civilian and military special services. The decisions on behalf of the team were made by Donald Tusk, who said many times, that he is personally responsible for all decisions made with reference to the investigation of the Smolensk crash.
Donald Tusk acquiesced to Russian pressure demanding that the investigation be conducted not according to the Agreement from 1993, but according to the Appendix 13 to the Chicago Convention from 1944, which is applicable only to civilian aviation.
On April 13, 2010 Minister Ewa Kopacz and Tomasz Arabski, who were present in Moscow during a meeting with the Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and representatives of the Russian government, confirmed this decision.
The chairman of the Russian military commission, General S. Baynetov, did not recognize the demand of Polish specialists to create a joint Russian-Polish committee, and postponed the resolution of this issue to the decision of the state authorities in Moscow. Until then, the Poles were not allowed to conduct any independent research, and were only allowed access to the information made available by the Russians.
The CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) and other recorders constituting key research and/or investigative material were extracted without the presence of the Polish representatives. On April 10 at approximately 17:00 Moscow time, according to the statement presented by the Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu, who was responsible for the activities on the Severny aerodrome, the Russians began to read the CVR without the participation of Poles.
On April 13, by virtue of a joint decision of the government of the Russian Federation and the government of Donald Tusk, it was decided to investigate the crash based on the ICAO principles from the Annex No. 13 of the Chicago Convention of 1947 regarding civil aircraft crashes.
In practice, the Polish experts did not have independent access to evidence material, witnesses and other information.
Source: Information by PAP - 16:23, 10 04, 2010, 19:10, 10.04.2010, RG.RU, 18.26, 10.04.2010, Vesti.RU
On April 15, 2010 the Polish Minister of Defense Bogdan Klich appointed the members of the KBWLLP. Its first chairman was Edmund Klich. On April 28, 2010 he was replaced by the Minister of Interior Jerzy Miller.
The recording from the kick-off meeting of the KBWLLP from April 28, 2010, shows that Jerzy Miller and his team worked in a “non-standard” fashion, through the adaptation of the rules of investigation applicable to a crash of a civilian aircraft - just as the Russians did. Subsequently, he also adjusted his team’s findings to match the results later acquired by the Russians. This was accompanied by warnings about “unpleasant consequences” if both reports are not the same. Quotation: “We’ll either have a unified [same] message, or we can whip our backs.”
KBWLLP did not have a full and independent access to the original flight data recorders, or voice recorder (CVR). The original recorders along with the wreckage still remain in Russia's possession.
KBWLLP did not conduct an impartial independent investigation, and in the same manner, did not analyze the debris at the crash site. Neither lab tests of the wreckage, navigation instruments, nor engines were analyzed. The subsequently released data is based solely on the data provided by the Russian side. An exception was the examination of the engines during April 11-13, 2010, and later at the location where the debris was kept, on April 16, 2010. The KBWLLP’ chief engine expert showed a lack of specialized knowledge concerning the necessity and importance of conducting tests for the starting engine TA 6A.
After analyzing findings of the experts who were in Smolensk during the first days after the crash, the KBWLLP formulated, in writing, a plan of research to be done to clarify the nature of the crash. The investigation aimed to verify whether the “fuselage showed damage typical of an explosion”, an important point in that plan. This however, was never performed. Despite that, the KBWLLP published a report concluding that there was no explosion on board of the plane. The report of the archeologist was also not taken into consideration. Contradicting itself, that report clearly and unequivocally showed that the plane disintegrated into tens of thousands of pieces.
Source: Memo of Stanisław Żurkowski, Head of the Technical Committee KBWLLP from September 2010.
According to the ICAO regulations, and Appendix 13 to the Chicago Convention, the Russian Federation gave the draft report of MAK to the Polish side on October 20, 2010. On December 19, 2010, Poland responded and handed over its remarks to MAK, and within the 148 pages it was proven that the Russians did not give the Polish authorities over 100 key documents. It also clearly stated that research performed by the Russian authorities was contradictory and contained numerous mistakes. The Polish authorities rejected the MAK report and demanded that changes in the analysis and conclusions be introduced. In contradiction to the requirements of Appendix 13, comments of the Polish authorities were not taken into consideration. On January 12, 2011, MAK published its report without the “Remarks of the Republic of Poland”.
On July 29, 2011 KBWLLP published its report, in which it accepted all key theories from the MAK Report, and at the same time, it ignored in their entirety the previously stated doubts and objections included in the document entitled the “Remarks of the Republic of Poland to the draft version of the final report”.
The Miller Committee did not include facts about the overhaul of TU-154M and the incomplete pyrotechnical procedure before the departure to Smolensk.
During several months following the crash, the remains of the TU-154M were treated in a way completely incompatible with proper crash investigation procedures.
The crash site was not secured according to standards and guidelines of proper crash investigation.
Source: Point 3.3 and Recommendation 5.4.3 Appendix 13 to the Chicago Convention
Part of the remains were moved to new places, which were described in the protocols of conduct as the place where they were found (i.e. fragment of the left part of the horizontal stabilizer was moved between 11th and 12th April, 30 meters closer to the main field of debris).
Source: Satellite photos taken on April 10, 2010 and April 11, 2010.
The KBWLLP Committee has more than ten digital (neither bit-accurate, nor identical) copies of the CVR, Russian production MARS BM, made in Moscow during the years 2010-2011 and 2014.
Source: Copies dated 12.04.2010, 31.05.2010, 09.06.2010 and February 2014 and other copies.
The KBWLLP possesses 5 (five) ATM QAR copies, differing from each other (from April 2010, July 2010, February 2011, August 2016 and January 2018) and 2 (two) copies of the Russian recorders KBN 1.1 and MLP-14-5.
Even though, it was obligatory under the Polish law, no post-mortem examinations of victims’ bodies were conducted after they were transported to Poland. Russian medical documents which were handed over to Poland, contained major mistakes. In the KBWLLP report, in Appendix 7, the autopsy results of only 3 bodies of crew members, and the captain were taken into consideration.
Source: Art.209 Penal Code. Numerous mistakes in the description of body injuries, included in the documentation made and handed over by the Russian side, were described and noted especially during exhumations and medical-forensic examinations of the body parts.
Polish authorities had knowledge about the swapping of bodies in coffins as early as in September 2010, yet they failed to take necessary and prudent steps to correct this unacceptable situation. They informed the victims’ families about these mistakes almost two years after they took place. The subsequent exhumations confirmed swapping of bodies.
Source: Protocols from exhumations and medical-forensic examination of body parts. Materials in the possession of the Committee.
In 2016 the State Prosecutor’s office decided to perform exhumation of all victims, hence, confirming the swapping of bodies in coffins. This process revealed additional, and numerous in nature mix-ups whereby fragments of bodies belonging to other victims were discovered in wrong coffins.
Source: Exhumation protocols and medical-forensic examinations.
Overhaul of TU-154M, PLF101
In February 2009 the Polish Minister of National Defense announced a tender for the overhaul of two Polish government TU-154M aircraft. Two Polish companies "Metalexport" and "Bumar" took part in the tender (all previous overhauls were performed at the aviation works in the city of Vnukovo), but by a decree of the Russian president, were eliminated in January 2009 from participating in signing contracts with any Russian parties; apparently due to their earlier supply of armaments to Georgia. At the same time the Polish Minister of National Defense, Bogdan Klich, was informed that the only Russian company authorized to perform the overhaul of the Polish Government Tupolev aircraft is the OAO Aviacor in Samara; furthermore, the only company to execute this contract was to be the MAW Telecom and Polit Elektronik consortium. The committee convened by the Ministry of National Defense assigned the overhaul to the consortium consisting of those companies.
The MAW-Telecom/Politelektronik consortium represented the interests of the Russian company Aviacor in Samara. The board of Aviacor testified before the Russian prosecutor that the overhaul of both TU-154M was agreed with Politelektronik already at the end of 2008 (before the tender). None of the Polish secret services organizations questioned the credibility of the MAW-Telecom and Polit Elektronik despite the warning signs, and prior-knowledge, that people connected to the communist intelligence services are active in both companies.
The overhaul of the engines was not done at Samara, which lacked the properly certified facility for this type of operation, but rather, was to be carried on Aviacor’s behalf in Rybinsk and Mineralne Vody.
Source: Correspondence from MAW Telecom to Director of the Department of Armed Forces Supply dated November 30, 2009 in regards to the aircraft overhaul. Warsaw prosecutor Doc. Po.Śl. 54/10, t. 66-67, 73-76, 80-81, 84 and 85.
Representatives of Polish authorities, who made the decision to award the contract to Politelektronik and MAW-Telecom, were later rewarded with high management positions on the board of Politelektronik. As early as in 2009, the Polish special services vetted the credibility of Aviacor.
During the renovation in Samara, and the engine overhaul in Rybinsk and Mineralne Vody, there was no proper supervision from the Polish side. After its renovation, the TU-154 M exhibited a greater failure rate than before the renovation took place. This concerned key parts of avionics, including the autopilot and slats, as well as satellite communication system(s). Some of these defects were repaired by reassembling parts from the TU-154M No. PLF 102 (the parts were transported from Russia to Poland and were installed in Poland). Other parts were not repaired at all (i.e., the satellite communication).
Source: Correspondence from MAW Telecom to "Director of the Department of Armed Forces Supply" dated 30th. November 2009 in regards to the aircraft refurbishment. Warsaw prosecutor doc. Po.Śl. 54/10, t. 66-67, 73-76, 80-81, 84 and 85.
Access to evidence
Due to the decision of the government of Donald Tusk, handing over the investigation to the Russian Federation, and the decision of the majority of the Polish parliament from May 2010 not to take over the investigation from the Russians, Poland was deprived access to the key evidence materials and to its analysis. As a result, the Committee appointed 6 years after the crash, had limited access to the evidence material. The KBWLLP Committee had to come up with innovative and break-through research methods. The newest scientific-technological developments were helpful in this matter. In reference to the three essential groups of evidence the Committee used: analysis of photographs, video recordings, satellite pictures, available maintenance documentation, and numerous experiments and simulations. In reference to the bodies of the victims, the Committee performed an original reconstruction of the distribution of body parts at the crash site, based on photographic analysis, and prosecutor’s documents. An important source of information were subsequent interviews and questioning of witnesses, whom the prosecutor’s office was often not able to reach. Key evidence, in possession of the Committee which has not been used by other institutions thus far, is the PLF101’s sister plane, the TU-154M, PLF102.
Efforts to get access to substantial evidence kept by the Russian Federation
Due to the decision of the government of Donald Tusk, handing over the investigation to the Russian Members of the Committee, working formerly as a Parliamentary Group, contributed to putting through a resolution by the Council of Europe to secure return of the debris back to Poland. From the very beginning of its work, the Committee made efforts to gain access to the debris. At the same time, along with the State Prosecutor’s Office, the Committee wanted to analyze the area of the crash site. The necessity to regain Polish property, the debris, black boxes and navigation devices, was mentioned as an important point in order to analyze it in Poland. Similarly, the necessity to analyze the area of the crash site was voiced and communicated to Russia on numerous occasions. On two separate occasions, the Polish side submitted formal requests to the MAK Committee requesting access to key information concerning the Smolensk Crash. This request remains ignored and refused to this day, and the key evidence still remains in Russia.
During the meeting, of the Committee with a team of archeologists on June 7, 2016, a scope of further analysis of the crash site was defined. The Committee determined that further research was needed and that the team would depart immediately to the crash site upon receiving approval from the Russian side to continue its research.
In October 2017, the Committee received official information from the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that further diplomatic notes from the government of the Republic of Poland, regarding the return of the debris, were rejected by the Russian Federation. As a result, the Committee officially filed a document with the Minister of Foreign Affairs asking him to undertake necessary steps to secure permission from the Russian Federation to analyze and investigate the debris in Smolensk, and carry out a reconstruction of it, according with the ICAO recommendation(s).
The KBWLLP Committee is in constant contact with the Prosecutor’s Office and its representative(s) participating in the ongoing exhumations, and actively observes these activities.
The Committee expects the final results of the post-mortem examination to be delivered, which is a key element of the final report.
Source: Report of a member of the Committee and external expert
Research and conclusions of the Committee
Due to a wide scope of research, it was necessary to assign particular tasks to different scientific and research centers. Every task was assigned to a renowned scientific center. The following centers specifically contributed to the research: Wojskowa Akademia Techniczna (WAT – Military Technical Institute) and Instytut Lotnictwa (Military University of Technology in Warsaw and Institute of Aviation). Regarding foreign centers: University of Akron and the National Institute for Aviation Research from Wichita State University, USA.
The same research was conducted in different research centers, and when possible, was performed utilizing different methods, i.e. simulations and experiments, in order to verify the correctness of the research.
The electronic personnel access control system, for people entering the restricted area in the vicinity of the TU-154M 101 aircraft, did not function during the night of 09.04/10.04.
Source: Report on the BOR procedures.
Volume: Testimony of a Soldier from the 36th Regiment, 4th May 2011, Prosecutor Vol. 172, Page 95.
During the pyrotechnic control of the aircraft, a technical kit containing more than 1066 kg of spare parts was not checked. It was loaded before the arrival of the security inspectors, on the night of April 9th through April 10th 2010. Neither BOR (Biuro Ochrony Rządu - Government Protection Bureau), nor SKW (Służba Kontrwywiadu Wojskowego - Military Counterintelligence Services) claimed to have any information concerning the means of loading of, nor the content of the technical kit.
Source: Report on the implementation of BOR procedures. Response of the Minister of National Defense and Interior to the interpellation of MP Opioła.
Russian ATC activities prior to the crash
Fig. 1 Comparison of guidance of IL-76 and TU-154M on April 10th, 2010.
Yak-40 and IL-76 and TU-154M were guided with the use of a well-functioning, precision approach radiolocation station and properly functioning radio technical devices.
Source: Committee report, 10.04.2017.
The IL-76 pilot testified that the he was told to check the navigation system of the aerodrome.
Source: Testimony of the IL-76 pilot to the Russian prosecutor.
A two-time landing approach of IL-76 ended with the plane flying approximately 170 meters to the left from the runway axis.
Source: Recording of the radio correspondence between the air traffic controller and the IL-76 pilot.
The guidance of the TU-154M was performed with a systematic misleading of the Polish pilots by Russian general V. Benediktov, who supervised the guidance of the crew of TU-154M from the “Logika” (Eng. “Logic”) headquarters in Moscow. The crew of the TU-154M performed all approach procedures correctly.
The air traffic controller did not inform the TU-154M about weather conditions, which, according to the witnesses were as follows: 40m of cloud base and 200m of horizontal visibility.
At 10:23:05 (Local Time) the Flight Management Group, being in contact with the crew, took full responsibility for the guidance of the TU-154M.
The permission for a test approach was given by an unauthorized person, namely, Colonel Krasnokucki, then the deputy commander of the air base.
The flight controller did not tell the crew of TU-154M about the method of landing approach, which he did previously in the case of the IL plane crew.
At 10:29:43 (Local Time) the position of TU-154M was determined at an altitude of 1500m before entering the second turn.
Despite major deviation from the course by TU-154M, the flight controller did not introduce any corrections to the course.
Before entering the third turn, the crew of TU-154M received the order from the traffic controller: “101 perform third, radial 19”. These orders were given too early and misled the pilots.
At 10:34:56 (Local Time) the crew of TU-154M received the communique: “A, Polish 101 and from 100m be ready to go-around”. The first pilot confirmed and made the fourth turn to the landing course, then he received the order “101 increase the fourth”, which resulted in moving to the left axis of the runway.
Despite the worsening weather conditions, the air traffic controller did not inform the crew of TU-154M about it. He did not even react to any deviations from the landing course and behaved passively.
At 10:38:43 (Local Time) the air traffic controller said that TU-154M is on path 9 km before the runway threshold, but in reality the plane was 10.5 km before the runway threshold.
Due to the understated distance to the runway, the crew assumed a higher descent velocity, which changed the angle of the descent path, which ended a kilometer before the runway.
At 10:39:05 (Local Time) the air traffic controller gave information about the location of the plane: “101 distance 8 on glide on path”. The location of the plane, however, was different - that is, 80 meters from the left side of the runway and at a lower altitude.
At 10:39:12 (Local Time) the air traffic controller allowed for a landing approach by giving the order “Free runway” “Conditional landing (…)”
At 10:39:24 (Local Time), in accordance with the military procedure USL RSL, the air traffic controller gave again a false order “on glide on path 6”. This distance was understated by approximately 400 meters, the plane was still on the left side of the runway and the ATC did not introduce corrections to the course and altitude.
The ATC gave another false order “Four on glide on path”. TU-154M was still on the left side of the runway, and 100 meters too high.
At 10:40:01 the landing zone controller said “Three on glide on path” despite the fact that TU-154M was still on the left side of the runway and approximately 60 meters too high compared to the descend path in the approach card. There was still no reaction of the landing zone controller in the form of a correction of the course and altitude. This order assured the pilot that the plane is in the right position compared to the runway.
At 10:40:13 the landing zone controller gave false information about the distance: “Two on glide on path”. The plane was before the nearer radio-beacon (1065m) and was approaching the minimum height of the aerodrome.
After the navigator said “Hundred” the commander of TU-154M decided to go-around, which was repeated by the second pilot.
At 10:40:27 the landing zone controller gave late incorrect information “Horizon 101”.
After ten seconds the flight controller gave the order “Go-around” at the moment, when the plane lost its left wingtip and a series of errors began.
Explosion of the detachable part of the left wing
The wing tip shows a number of curls up to 450° seen as significant signs of explosion. In addition a long number of characteristic signs of explosion can be seen (Fig.2).
Fig. 2. Side view of the broken section of the left wing tip of TU-154M no.101 showing significant explosive signatures (curled edges of up to 450°).
Source: Note from the meeting with the leading investigator of the crash committee for MH17.
Expertise of Frank Taylor - Fellow Member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI)
„Forensic Investigation of Explosions” Second Edition, Alexander Beveridge, ISPN 9781420087253, 2011
ICAO Manual of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation Part III - Investigation. Doc 9756-AN/965.
Many pieces of the left wing, in the vicinity of the Bodin birch (bb), were found before the tree in an area of 41 meters north and 17 meters south in the direction perpendicular do the flight direction, and 43 meters to the east of the tree (Fig. nr.3)
Source: WPO Expert opinion
Fig. 3 Debris of the detachable part of the left wing identified by the Committee and experts of the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Poland.
Three pieces of the detachable part of the left wing were hanging on the branches of the so called Bodin birch (Fig.4).
Fig. 4 Identified pieces of the detachable left wing part hanging on April 10, 2010 on the branches of (Bodin) birch tree claimed to have cut the wing (noted "bb").
Experiments conducted by the Committee in 2016 on an element in 1:1 scale with a similar shape and weight to one of the hanging elements showed that the distance needed to lose velocity, and to land on the branch is at least 100m and a height not less than 26m.
One of the elements rammed into the trunk of the so called Bodin birch does not come from the hypothetical place of contact between the wing and the birch, and was identified as an element in the construction of the plane being 70cm closer to the fuselage, than then place of contact described by the MAK and Miller reports. (Fig. 5).
A piece of the skin of the nose, to which the piece rammed into the birch tree trunk was attached, was identified over 200m further in the direction of flight-next to the Kutuzov street. A fragment of the spar, to which this piece was attached, was identified 400m further in the direction of flight in sector 10. (Fig. 6).
Fig. 5 The place in the wing construction of the piece rammed into the so called Bodin birch tree.
Fig. 6 Position on the ground of neighboring elements in the wing construction to the debris rammed into the trunk (bb).
In the area of damaged pieces bent in the opposite direction than the flight direction the presence of buckling and bandings due to an impact against the terrain obstacle was stated.
Elements of the skin of the left wing, which according to the MAK and Miller reports were supposed to have contact with the bb tree are torn off and bent outwards; upper side bent upwards, bottom side bent downwards. (Fig. 7).
Fig. 7 Place of separation of the left wing tip. Places in the outer and bottom skin have been marked with red arrows, which have been bent outwards.
Some stringers of the left wing, which according to the MAK and Miller reports were supposed to have contact with the Bodin birch tree, are torn away and bent to the outwards which shows the activity of high pressure (Fig. 8)
Source: Reconstruction of left wing by the KBWLLP Committee based on video and photographic material.
Fig. 8 Pieces of stringers of the left wing curled outwards
Elements of the plating of the removable part of the left wing, which according to MAK and Miller reports were supposed to have contact with (bb), are ripped out and bent outside the structure; on the surface upwards (Fig. 9), on the bottom surface downwards (Fig. 10).
Fig. 9 Pieces from the top skin curled outwards.
Fig. 10 Fragments of the bottom skin curled outside the structure.
Some pieces of the left wing rib, which according to the MAK and Miller reports were supposed to have contact with the bb tree, are torn off the construction (Fig. 11)
Fig. 11 Condition of the ribs of the left wing according to the reconstruction made by the Committee.
Some pieces of the wing spars from the detachable part of the left wing, which according to the MAK and Miller reports were supposed to have contact with the bb tree, are torn off or bent outwards (Fig. 12,13 and 14)
Fig. 12 Condition of spar no.1 of the left wing according to the reconstruction made by the Committee based on pictures and movies.
Fig. 13 Condition of spar no.2 of the left wing according to the model reconstruction made by the Committee, based on pictures and movies.
Fig. 14 Condition of the third spar of the left wing according to the model reconstruction made by the Committee.
A fragment of spar no.3 of the left wing, which according to the MAK and Miller reports was supposed to be cut by the so called bb tree, was found on the main crash site 450m behind the birch tree and then cut. Its separated pieces were found in various places of the debris storage place (Fig. 15)
Fig. 15 View of the same part of spar no.3 from the detachable part of the left wing on the main crash site and place of storage of the debris.
Some elements of the nose of the left wing, which according to the MAK and Miller reports were supposed to have contact with the so called bb tree, are torn off or bent outwards (Fig. 16)
Fig. 16 Condition of the nose of the left wing according to the model reconstruction made by the Committee
Some pieces of the second section of the left wing slats, which according to the MAK and Miller reports were supposed to have contact with the so called bb tree, are torn off or bent outwards; upper side upwards and bottom side downwards, and from the side of the angle of attack to the front (Fig. 17).
Fig. 17 Condition of the second section of the left wing slat according to the model reconstruction made by the Committee
The reconstruction of the console of the left wing, made by the Committee KBWLLP, in the place, where according to MAK and Miller reports is was supposed to have contact with the bb tree, shows clear signs of deformation as a result of high internal pressure with the epicenter being between ribs 27-32 (Fig. 18.)
Source: Reconstruction of the console of the detachable left wing part with elements of the external construction, which have traces of deformations due to high internal pressure, which epicenter is between ribs 27-32.
Fig. 18 Reconstruction of the console of the subtracted part of the left wing with elements of the internal structure, bearing traces of deformation through the impact of high internal pressure, whose epicenter is between the ribs No. 27-32.
Pieces 1 and 2 of the slot section of the left wing (which are 6m20cm long in the construction) were distributed in the direction of the flight of TU-154M on an area from 20 to 230m from the so called Bodin birch tree. Many elements were moved and some of them swapped on the 11th and 12th of April which might indicate a purposeful manipulation of the evidence material.
Example: One of the pieces of the 2nd section of the slot, which fell to the ditch next to the road leading from the garages to the Gubienko street approx.20m behind the birch tree, was moved on the 11.04.2010 under the bb tree. On April 12 it was swapped with another piece stemming from the line of separation (which fell to the ditch next to the street leading from the garages to the Gubienko Street, approx. 50m behind the birch). Picture 19
The majority of elements from the flaps of the detachable wing part were scattered from the bb tree in the direction of the main crash site on an area 15m-225m according to the flight direction of TU-154M. (Fig. 20).
Source: Pictures from the report and movie materials of the Committee.
Fig. 19 Fragments of 2 sections of the slot moved from the original location on the ground under the tree claimed to have made contact with the wing.
The separation place of the tip of the left wing is not parallel to the axis of the fuselage, but it creates a line deviating from this axis by 7.5-10 degrees.
The separation place of the left wing tip shows classical post-explosive signatures typical for the use of explosive materials, like irregularly curled edges with more than one turn. The broken area of the left wing tip shows a large number of the characteristic signs compatible with high internal pressure such as zipping of rivet lines, pulling of rivets and clean separation of skin from the remaining parts. (Fig. 21 and Fig.22).
Fig. 20 The locations on the ground of various parts from the left wing.
Fig. 21 The area of separation of the left wingtip of TU-154M, PLF101 showing the classic and significant signs of explosion and an additional number of characteristic signs of explosion.
Fig. 22 A close-up of the photograph from Fig. 21 with visible post-shock curls with axis of curl in the direction of flight.
The experiments carried out by the KBWLLP Committee in March 2018 on the wing fragment model in the scale 1: 4 and 1: 1 show that the wing with fuel and fuel vapors can be destroyed by explosive charges with similar features of destruction of the structure without a major fuel explosion with many observed features similar as for the wing tip in Smolensk. (Fig. 23 and Fig. 24)
Fig. 23 Scale 1:1 Separation by explosive material of the wing box containing fuel. The experiment demonstrated the wing could be cut without a secondary major fuel explosion.
Fig. 24 Experiment of cutting the wing model on a 1:4 scale with fuel, with the use of 6g/m PETN Cord Note the direction of curls away from the area of high internal pressure. The experiment demonstrated the wing could be cut without a secondary major fuel explosion.
Source: Report on the research on explosiveness of fuel, Volume 1 2017
Report on experimental research concerning the destruction with the use of explosive materials of a construction imitating a part of the fuel box in the left wing of TU154M, 2018
Doc No: PW/WB/GAJ-080717-01 Experiment: cutting the wing model with the use of a linear explosive charge, 2017
The experiments conducted by the Committee in February 2018 on a scale 1:1 show that the destruction of the wing with a cutting character, with all the spars and stringers, can be achieved with the use of a linear explosive material with a thickness of 1mm and width 5mm. This material can be placed inside the fuel box and seal it to prevent it from having contact with fuel and at the same time making it undetectable.
Source: Report on experimental research concerning the destruction with the use of explosive materials of a construction imitating a part of the fuel box in the left wing of TU-154M, 2018.
Events between the explosion of the wing and TAWS 38
The main part of the lifting force of the 76ton TU-154M comes from the lift force of the left and right wing, and from the slats and flaps. When rolling (90 degree and more) the plane loses altitude.
Very precise experiments conducted in the aerodynamic tunnel, as well as simulations with the use of fluid dynamics conducted by 4 independent institutions (WAT, Akron University, IL, Metacomp) show that the loss of the left wingtip, which decreased the wingspan by approx. 6.5m, will result in a loss of lifting force, in this particular case, by 4.8%-8.7%, depending on the angle of attack
Source: Results of experiments of the Aviation Institute 6.XI.2017 and 27.III.2018.
Experiments in the aerodynamic tunnel, conducted in IL, showed that the loss of lift force between 4.8% and 8.7%, due to the loss of the left wingtip, does not have to end in a left roll. Those works show that the pilots, even with an angle of attack up to 11.5degrees, can fully balance the rolling moment by introducing a 7degree sideslip (they have to change the configuration of the plane in such a way that the left wing is moved forward). Further balancing is possible with the move of the right aileron. A side slip is an element of basic aviation training and instinctive for every experience pilot, which is used during side-wind. When losing 1/3 of the left wing, the decreased wind resistance on this side will result in a right-turn of the plane to the sideslip with the left wing to the front. (Fig. 25).
Source: Results of experiments of the Aviation Institute 6.XI.2017 and 27.III.2018.
A number of airplanes of similar size like TU-154M, e.g. B707, experience similar or even bigger loss of lift force of one of the wings during the flight and they were able to land safely.
Source: PANAM flight 843, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-fNahas8Ro.
Fig. 25 Airplane model in the wind tunnel of the Institute of Aviation. Here in version with a cut left wing and without slats and the outer flap.
The loss of the left wingtip, 1/3 length, together with the loss of the left slats and flaps (which were found before the Kutuzov street) will result in a major loss of lift force (16%-20%), which can’t be balanced by the activities of the pilots and has to lead to a left roll and deepening turn on the left wing connected with a sudden loss of altitude.
Source: Experiment on TU-154M model on a 1:40 sale in the T-1 tunnel of the Aviation Institute, Polish Institute of Aviation (IL), Prof. Krysiak, 06.11.2017. Polish Institute of Aviation (IL), Prof. Krysiak, 27.03.2018.
At the altitude of point set by the geographical coordinates recorded in TAWS#38, approx.710m from the runway threshold, the recorded barometric altitude was 36.5 with reference to the RWY26. This altitude was confirmed by the FMS of the second pilot, who a second after TAWS#38 noted the same barometric altitude.
Source: Universal Avionics Report
The distance between the so called bb tree and TAWS38 is approx. 140m. The distance that the plane traveled between the places of supposed contact of the wing with the bb tree, as assumed in the Miller and MAK reports, and TAWS 38 is 115m.
Fig. 26 The difference in distance from the tree claimed to have made wing contact to TAWS38 (140m) and the distance that the plane travelled (115m). The distances are different as the GPS antennas are located 25m in front of the hypothetic zone of contact.
Source: Reconstruction of the Committee showing real distances between bb and TAWS.
According to the profile from the SRTM 1 base ( made available by the US Geological Survey in 2014) the level of terrain next to bb tree, broken at a height of approx.6m, was 249m, so 5 meters below the level of the runway being 254m. According to this data and ATM WAR the damaged plane in landing configuration after contact with the birch tree within one second would have to climb over 35m to the barometric altitude recorded in TAWS38, which exceeds the possibilities of an intact TU-54M plane by four times.
During the test flight of a lighter TU-154M, PLF101 at Okęcie airport, which was lighter during this test, with 85% RPM so 9500 kg of thrust, the plane was climbing while doing the go-around with a velocity of 7.5 m/s and 80m/s of horizontal velocity.
Source: Committee materials.
The disintegration of the plane from TAWS38 to Kutuzov Street
The data from the FDR show that 3 engines were working with 85% RPM, so 9500 kg thrust/engine after moving the thrust lever from small RPM to full power after 5 seconds of acceleration. Such thrust sufficed for a go-around. This was achieved in the vicinity of TAWS38. Then, according to FDR data, the RPM’s started to decrease on engine 2 and 3 to 80,7% and 81.6%, meaning 8300-8500 kg , and in engine 1 (left) rapidly to 39,5% of RPM so thrust of approx. 2000kg. So after passing the Kutuzov street the total thrust of three engines, according to ATM-QAR, was 18800 kg, which was 60% of maximal thrust and was not enough to continue the go-around. Approximately 650m from the beginning of the runway the KBN 1-1 recorder noted an error of the first engine.
In the last seconds of the flight TAWs and FMS recorded a series of errors:
• TAWS recorded the first fault.log at 6:40:59 UTC time, in the place of the landing event (TAWS#38 landing), and recorded no connection with the sensor on the flaps of the wing
• The last two fault.log records happened at the same time at 6:41:02 UTC time and informed about a loss of communication between FMS of the first and second pilot as well as a chassis error.
• At the same time the readout of the FMS memory of the second pilot included information about no readouts concerning the magnetic course and the last read value 267.1 degrees, the same as in TAWS#38 three seconds earlier.
• At 6:41:02 UTC time, when the plane was still in the air, the FMS memory froze, which meant there was no electricity supply.
In addition to that we can read following information about consequent TAWS38 errors from discreet data recordings:
• Radio altimeter of the first and second pilot (parameter SPRRW5NR1/2) and the first hydraulic installation (parameter PH1VZBLIZ).
• Engine and generator no.1 of the same engine
Events between the Kutuzov Street after the explosion in the center wing
One line of elements from the left horizontal and vertical stabilizer (stemming from the area, where it was connected to the horizontal stabilizer) behind the Kutuzov street shows that the roll of the plane was large and the dispersion of parts falling off from the plane and destroyed branches points to a sudden destruction of the plane in the air (Fig. 27).
Fig. 27. Placing the left side of the horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer behind the Kutuzov highway. Flight direction is from right to left. Red dots show debris from the Tu-154M and green dots show debris from the associated tree damage.
The treetop of one of the trees on the eastern side of the Kutuzov street, on the flight path of the TU-154M, was cut with a straight line with an angle of cut 120degrees from the line of horizon. (Fig. 28).
Fig. 28 A damaged tree on the East side of Kutuzov Street.
The height of the position of the plane with a left wing roll angle of 120 degrees determined by the tree damages on both sides of the Kutuzov street was about 28m just before the street.
Source: Committee Analysis.
Based on the damages on both sides of the Kutuzov street the balance point of the plane was set the moment the plane passes the trees on the western side (closest to the crash), which is 26m above the place of event.
A 6-7 meter high tree marked with the letter “Z” on fig 29 to fig. 31b and directly above the trajectory of flight was not damaged by the plane which means that the altitude to the balance point in that moment, when the tail passes the “Z” tree, is at least 10m.
Fig. 29 A view to the north in the moment when the plane flies from Kutuzov street (right) to the crash site (left). The 6-7m tall tree is here marked with letter "Z".
Fig. 30 The tree marked "Z" growing in the direct vicinity of the flight path, when the plane is flying from the Kutuzov Street (in the background) to the place of crash. On the right side starting at the blue marker on a stick there is a visible ground trace when hitting the ground with the left stabilizer.
Fig. 31a The tree marked "Z" growing in the direct vicinity of the flight path, when the plane is flying from the Kutuzov Street (red circle) to the place of crash. The ground trace from the tail is visible and marked here as "Southern Ground Trace".
Fig. 31a. The tree marked "Z" growing in the direct vicinity of the flight path, when the plane is flying from the Kutuzov Street (right side) to the place of crash (left side). The ground trace from the tail is visible and marked here with a red ellipse. The white part inside the ellipse shows the new position of the left horizontal stabilizer after Russians had moved it 35m closer to the crash site.
Burnt pieces of the Tu-154M found 100m before the crash site
During a terrain analysis, done by Polish archeologists in Smolensk in October 2010 in sector 13 behind Kutuzov Street and before the main crash site, numerous pieces of plane were found (fig 32). Those pieces, sized from a couple to tens of square centimeters, had traces of thermal and mechanical effects (fig 33).
Fig. 32 Map from the archeologists report showing where pieces were found behind the Kutuzov street (marked "Droga do Smolensk" at the right).
Fig. 33 Collected pieces of the Tu-154M taken from the ground 100m before the main crash site showing thermal traces.
Part of the pieces had characteristic traces (micro craters) on its surface. This corresponded in shape and size with the traces left by pieces which were created after the pyrotechnical experiment performed by the Committee. (Fig. 34).
This feature is characteristic for explosive destruction.
Fig. 34 Comparison of micro craters on the surface of the pieces found by archeologists and pieces created after pyrotechnical experiments.
Explosion in the TU-154M fuselage
General view of the crash site compared to the shape of TU-154M in a 1:1 proportion show that the pieces of the plane fell down as a result of an explosion in the air and not the disintegration in time when sliding on the ground (no visible crater). (Fig. 35).
Fig. 35 A general view of the crash site compared to TU154M in a reverse position in correct scale.
Top view of the main crash site shows characteristic positioning of trees in its initial part- from the northern part to the front, in accordance with the flight path, and from the south to the back. This fact points to an active blast wave.
Fig. 36 A picture of the main crash site.
An explosion in the left part of the center wing caused a destruction of the majority of the outer skin, ribs and spar no.1 of the fuel box no.4. Those elements of the plane on the main crash site (Fig. 36) have clear sear marks and visible effects of the blast wave being the result of an explosion. The pictures below reconstruct the mechanism and scale of destruction of the left center wing.
Fig. 37 Note the ripped spar no.1 of the fuel box no.4 of the left part of the center wing with clear signs of high temperature and destruction of burned ribs visible on the right side of the picture. Other parts from this area found outside the fire zones were also found with similar signs.
Epicenter of the fuselage explosion and dispersion of fuselage elements
The tearing and the destruction of the fuel box could not have been a result of a hydraulic impact, caused by the impact with the ground, especially looking at the small amount of fuel and limited space. One has to consider the elements of the skin, ribs, rear spar, which were torn off likely due to high internal pressure. (Fig. 38 and fig. 40).
Fig. 38a Place of the destruction of the ballast box and the destructed elements.
Fig. 38b. Epicenter of the wing box breakage. Study by the Committee.
Fig. 39 Center wing box of TU-154M. Highlighted in red fuel box no.1.
Fig. 40 Pieces of the left and right side of spar no.3 of fuel box no.1.
Fig. 41 General dispersion of the pieces of the centerwing on the crash site with the distance and place where the most important pieces fell.
The torn off pieces of the rear spar No.3 of fuel box No.1 of the central part of the center wing.
The torn off pieces of the rear spar no.3 of the fuel box no.1 of the central part of the center wing confirms the theory that the destruction was a result of an explosion and not a hydraulic impact to its front wall during the fall of TU154M to the ground.
The explosion of the ballast box (Fig. 42) was the main reason for the destruction of TU154M a moment before it hit the ground. The destruction, which took place, destroyed the box, meaning the fragment of the left part of the center wing together with the front spar and destroyed soothed ribs. This spar flew 70m to the west. The explosion destroyed the third salon, killing all the occupants and distributing those parts on the entire crash site. At the same time the detonation wave blew away the left passenger door (2L), which were rammed with huge force into the ground, one meter deep, and the galley and thousands of its pieces were dispersed on 1/3 of the crash site area. The detonation wave, heading in the direction of the tail, destroyed this part of the fuselage and curled the left and right side of the plane together with the roof outwards. The floor panel, which is torn off alongside the left side of the airplane, is evidence for the direction of the blast wave.
Fig. 42 The effects of the explosion of the ballast tank caisson. From the left of the top picture: galley area, left passenger door no 2. (823), third salon, fragments of the left part of the center wing, passenger compartment. The bottom left picture shows the left door rammed into the ground. The right bottom picture shows the rear fuselage after the crash with both sides opened outwards.
Main crash site
An overview of the main crash site can be seen in Fig. 43.
Fig. 43. Dispersion of part of the aircraft on the wreck. Study of the Committee. Direction of flight is from top left corner and down towards right bottom corner.
The TU154M aircraft disintegrated to more than 60,000 pieces. The majority of the elements were rammed into the ground, and though located, they were never extracted. 10,000 pieces were collected 6 months after the crash. Up to now the number of elements that were in the ground was not calculated and was not collected when the debris was put at the debris storage place.
Source: report of the archeologists, materials of the Committee
The main crash site is 45mx160m, which means that the movement of the aircraft in this area, with its total destruction, happened in a distance corresponding to 3 lengths of the plane. The ground impact of the plane happened in a reverse position of the aircraft, which is visible based on the dispersion of pieces of the left and right wing on the crash site Indentations were observed in the ground in the place of the crash but without a deep crater. On the entire crash site there is no trace of a strong impact of the fuselage in the ground. All the seats were totally destroyed, meaning that the seating part, back lean, armrest, frame lay separately. Apart from the front part of the fuselage between the nose and the beginning of the center wing, pieces from the right side of the plane were found mainly on the left side of the crash site, and pieces from the left side of the plane were found mainly on the right side of the crash site.
Source: Analysis of pictures and videos made by the Committee
The part of the fuselage between the center wing and the tail was found in an upside down position with both sides of the plane curled outwards. Studies by Sandia laboratories in the US and simulations done at the Akron University show such can be observed when the fuselage is exposed to a high internal pressure when in air. The side of the planes curled outwards was cut the next day after the crash by the Russian services.
Source: Analysis of pictures from the materials of the Committee. Materials from Sandia National Laboratories in the USA.
Some parts of the aircraft from the front of the fuselage between the front and the center wing were found at the main crash site in the normal position (as for landing). In sector 2 and 3 these were: a part under the cockpit (technical compartment no. 1), the right side of the Salon No. 1 and No. 2, the first luggage compartment and the compartment of the first main chassis together with the front chassis. The part with the salons No. 1 and 2 was set up in the opposite direction to the flight path of the aircraft.
Source: Analysis of own pictures and materials of the Committee
Parts of the passenger fuselage
Destruction of the part of the fuselage with both sides of the plane opened and a corresponding reconstruction show the explosion in the fuselage, when the plane was in the air. Below: parts of floor panels with characteristic, explosive destructions of the panel being close to the left side of the plane and a corresponding reconstruction.
Fig. 44 Image of the fuselage destruction with both sides of the fuselage opened and thrown outwards.
Disintegration of the galley is shown in fig. 45. The less than 8m2 galley area was found scattered over more than 1300m2 in small fragments.
Fig.45 Parts of the galley being before the third salon were distributed in the shown region on an area of 1312m2.
Experts of the Polish Prosecutor’s Office found traces of explosive materials on 175 pieces of the seats using special sniffing equipment and instruments. Source: CLKP E-CHE-0/2 p.32
All 96 occupants on board died. All occupants were thrown outside of the fuselage, just as the seats, on which they were sitting, including the floor-covering with insulation. At the beginning of the crash site, apart from pieces of the plane, only torn small pieces of the bodies of victims were found, numerous internal organs identified, which show that even before the plane hit the ground the bodies of the occupants sitting in the center part of the plane (lounge no.3) were damaged and torn into pieces. (Fig. 46).
Fig.46 Location of bodies on the crash site. Only small body fragments and intestines were found in the area circled at the top picture often at a far distance from the main body. The fuselage was more than 6m above the ground when passing this area. Whole bodies are marked with a red circle.
Parts of the body were found at the beginning of the crash site, before the fuselage hit the ground. This says that movement of the body parts was opposite to the movement of the plane. In all the cases identified these were body parts of people sitting in the front part of the plane, especially in lounge 3. At the same time it is important to say that the door rammed into the ground was found nearby, as well as the galley (distributed on 1/3 of area of the crash site) and the left center wing.
Source: Archeologist report. Analysis of own pictures of the Committee
Partial or total tear off of clothes from bodies was seen in the case of more than 35 of the occupants. These were mainly the bodies of occupants located in the front of the plane starting with 3rd lounge, where all the generals were sitting, and forward. Of the 20 people sitting in the 3rd lounge or in its immediate surroundings, clothes were completely or largely torn off 12 of the occupants.
As research quoted in literature shows, clothes can be torn off an occupant if he is subject to an air speed exceeding 460 km/h.
Source: experiments conducted in order to determine the reasons for the MH17 crash. Memo from the meeting of the members of the Committee with a member of the committee leading that investigation.
In the case of Smolensk, the speed of the aircraft was about 265 km/h before the crash, so 58% of the critical speed.
In addition to mechanical damage to the bodies, there are a significant percentage of victims (25%) with extensive burns up to 40% of the body surface, some of which were found even more than 55 meters from the ground fire source.
Source: investigation files
In at least 12 cases, the fragmentation of bodies is also connected with a large linear dislocation of fragments of bodies on the surface of the main crash site, approx. tens of meters, scattered almost throughout the total length of the main crash site. Occupants and crew members who suffered those injuries occupied space near the aircraft bursting, near lounge no.3.
The length of scattering of the bodies of the cockpit crew reaches approx. 35 meters
Source: Investigation files
The body of one of the occupants sitting in the rear part of the plane was rammed into the rear wall of the toilet (without the seat backrest) in such a way, that the wall was folded around the body of the occupant. The damage of the body and location of it show that the body was moving in the direction opposite to the moving plane. Another occupant was thrown in the air in such a way that he fell between the reverse center wing and the flap
Source: Analysis of pictures of the Committee
Initial evaluation resulting from the study of the previously analyzed single person sitting in the salon no. 3 indicates that the cause of her death could have been the impact of a detonation wave resulting from an explosion. According to experts, the evidence for this is the unusual range of body damage.
In the same situation there were at least 12 out of 20 people sitting in or near the salon.
Firefighting-, medical-, and rescue services
A part of the firefighting units, which were supposed to secure the landing of the plane TU-154M with the President of Poland on board, was not located in the area of the airport but, which was non-standard, in the vicinity of the Kutuzov street in the direction of the landing approach. In the moment of crash those units were the first ones to make it to the crash site within 3 minutes. The Head of the Center for Crisis Situation Management of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Smolensk Oblast was waiting for the arrival of the TU154M plane together with firefighting units in the vicinity of the Kutuzov street.
Medical services- there were no military medical personnel at the airport before the landing- neither medical services nor doctors. The medical staff from the regional hospital of the village Pokornovo, more than ten kilometers from Smolensk, had their shift on the airport instead. A couple of minutes after the crash the second medical team from the same hospital were called. While going to the crash site, they were told to go back to a different emergency because none of the passengers on board survived.
Rescue services: Before the landing of the Polish plane, an emergency team from the city of Smolensk (to prevent and manage extraordinary situations) was waiting. Those first-aiders came as the first ones to the crash site. They were followed by the rescue team from the Special Work Unit on special vehicles. Within the next hours other rescue teams from the Ministry for Emergency Situations followed, like: LIDER (from Ramienskoye), Military Unit 96 from the Rescue Center (from Korakovo, Tulski Oblast), Rescue Units from Reytowo, Kaluga, Mozhaysk, Ruzy, Luberec, Zvienigorod and other cities. Functionaries of the majority of those units, during the rescue action, did not have their identification badges on their clothes. According to the testimonies of the police functionaries, their cell phones were taken away from them by their superiors.
Securing services- Directly after the crash the following services were present: FSO, FSB, OMON, SPECNAZ, SORB, police units. All those units created a cordon around the place of crash and police units, in addition to that, set blockades on the Kutuzov Street.
ANALYSIS AND EXPERIMENTS
Falsification of the hypothesis from Miller and MAK reports concerning the destruction of the entire plane after hitting the ground
The main objective of the research was to state in what way does the plane disintegrate when hitting the ground. Substantial data are: the velocity and aerial angles, which can be called „initial state”. The main tool for analysis will be the FEM (Finite element method), which is mainly used when a physical experiment is not a practical proposition. In order to see the results we build a construction model according to FEM and give the plane its initial state according to the MAK and Miller reports. After conducting a simulation we compare the results with the actual crash that happened in the place of crash. An obvious benefit will the statement whether the plane falling in this initial state will be destroyed in a way similar to the actual one, just as MAK or Miller state
The simulation was done up to 1000 milliseconds, so 1s, and in this time the plane travelled 46.6m. The progressing velocity at that moment dropped to approx. 20m/s and the destruction of the construction did not have deepening tendencies (of course a certain delay took place)
The skin of the fuselage had a thickness of 1.5mm. The stringers of the fuselage with an omega cross-section, modelled as lines, have a wall thickness of 2.0mm.
Particular fragments, like the one we see on the pictures, appeared due to the destruction of the elements joining them with the rest of the construction. Elements, which are destroyed (torn), disappear from the calculation and the screen. (In reality those elements create the torn edge of the remaining construction). Fragments from the destroyed fuselage are mainly pressed inside and because of that they are invisible in those pictures.
Properties of aluminum alloys used for the model construction (yield limit, durability and maximum elongation)
They are analogical to the corresponding alloys used in TU-154M
The angle position of the plane at the beginning of the crash was given according to the Miller report. In reference to the description of ideal levels and straight flight, those angles were as follows: pitch 6degrees (nose down), yaw 20 degrees (nose left), and roll: 150 degrees (left wing down). The initial state of the plane, determined by those angles and velocity, dictates the order of hitting the ground for particular pieces.
Fig. 47 Simulation of the disintegration of an airplane hitting a stiff ground (concrete). The aircraft only breaks into a few parts.
1. The simulation of the plane destruction shows a completely different destruction of the construction than the one found on the crash site.
2. The initial state of the falling plane was described in the MAK and Miller report and confirmed in supportive works . It seems that this state was far from the real one, which is why the simulation presented unrealistic results.
3. The above-mentioned crash reports assume that the plane, while hitting the ground, should disintegrate into thousands of smaller and bigger pieces, according to what was found on the crash site. The results of simulation show clear destructions of the construction; however the plane is still there and not only its scattered segments.
4. Results of the simulation show that the assumptions of the above-mentioned reports concerning the destruction of the construction are wrong and have nothing to do with reality.
5. If there was only an impact with the ground, the pieces, which fell of, should be in one long line. There is no possibility for the fragments to be scattered tens of meters to the side.
6. The used here (for calculation comfort) assumption that the plane fell on a concrete panel, instead of a soft ground, can have influence on some features of the disintegration but do not change its general character.
Simulation of door impact into soft ground - NIAR
The left passenger door No. 2 (No. 823) with a mass of about 77kg located in the fuselage in the front of the left wing was found completely driven into the ground to a depth of more than 1 meter at the position 34 meters downstream (West) from the more than 6m tall tree located between the ground traces. This passenger door was found in its locked position completely detached from the massive door frame. The two bottom hinges of the left passenger door No. 2 (No 823) are each rotated 90deg compared to their orientation in the closed door position
Source: Materials of the Committee.
The vertical speed of the aircraft just before the impact to the ground was V = -12 m/s according to the FSM memory reading at the moment of power failure.
Simulations done by the independent National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) in the US show the required vertical speed of the left passenger door was more than Vz_door > 120m/s in order to produce the observed door damage and full penetration into the ground. (This means the vertical energy of the door when penetrating into the ground was 100 times greater than the kinetic energy it possessed by the vertical velocity of the aircraft)
The 100x increase of vertical kinetic energy of the door, with a mass of 77kg, requires a large acceleration and thereby force behind it.
No buildup of soil in front of the door (in direction of flight) or cave/empty space behind the door can be observed.
On the inside of the left passenger door No. 2 (No. 823) numerous cracks in the aluminum cover can be seen. Such cracks should not be generated during flight.
Figure 48 Shows results from NIAR's simulation of the door hitting soft ground and the door 1meter in the ground as Russians were digging it out by hand.
When pulling the left passenger door 2L, driven over 1m into the ground, a human hand and forearm were found near the door handle. Source: Images of the door driven into the ground
Source: Pictures of door rammed into the ground.
No other body parts were found around the door (no.823), indicating that the hand was separated from the rest of the body before the door hit into the ground.
Simulations and results from various crashes with the participation of similar aircrafts falling with similar vertical velocity show, that the aircraft normally will break into 3-5 bigger pieces with a visible line of separation. The breaks usually occur where the stiffness makes relative large changes: On both sides of the center wing, behind the cockpit and in front of the tail part.
Source: Materials of the Committee
Analysis of last second of trajectory
Assumption: The severely damaged trees on both sides of the Kutuzov Street are caused by the aircraft.
This is the height of the center of gravity of the aircraft at the moment the aircraft is above the position where the door was found buried 1m into the ground.
1.) Both flight management systems (FMS1 and FMS2) are working until the moment the freeze (power loss).
2.) Power is lost at the same time for FMS1 and FMS2.
3.) Forward horizontal velocity of aircraft is about 75m/s.
4.) Tree located 8m before the ground traces in the area passed by the aircraft is about 6-7m tall.
5.) A 6-7m tall tree (marked Z) in the flight path of the TU-154M located about 8m before the first ground traces near the main crash site was not cut or damaged by the aircraft when it passed this location.
The FMS is designed to capture and store important data to non-erasable memory in the event of a complete loss of electrical power. Data on the input side of the FMS are newer than internal FMS data (earlier captured). (GPS positions are updated with a refresh rate of 1s).
The internal baro corrected height captured by the FMS1 at the moment of freeze is +14.3m above RWY.
The baro corrected height captured on the input side of the FMS2 at the moment of freeze is +6m above RWY.
The distance between the recorded positions of the FMS1 (internal) and the newer position of the FMS2 (input) is about 40m.
Assumption: The ground traces at the beginning of the crash site are produced by the remains of the left wing and remains of the left horizontal stabilizer.
By the damage to the trees seen on both sides of the Kutuzov street the height to the center of gravity (COG) of the aircraft when it passes the trees on the West side (nearest the crash site) is about 24m -26m above the crash site .
The 6-7m tall tree marked "Z" on following figures and under the direct line of flight was undamaged by the aircraft.
Fig. 50 The moment the plane hits the ground
Analysis of the ground traces predicts the left roll of the aircraft to be about 130° when the remains of the left wing touched the ground at the beginning of the main crash site. They predict the height above the ground of about 6-7m when the fuselage is positioned with the left passenger door above the location it was in the ground.
The ground traces of wing come to a stop at the moment the fuselage is above the position of the door in the ground, and from this point the aircraft is found scattered in thousands of pieces without the creation of a crater.
The aircraft was at a minimum of 6m above the ground (RWY) when the left passenger door No.2 (823) was shot to the ground. The height of both FMS1 and FMS2 at the moment of power loss was 6-8m.
The vertical velocity by the FMS was about 12m/s and this is confirmed by the analysis of tree damage resulting in a vertical speed of 11m/s.
Analysis by NIAR shows, that the velocity of the door when shot into the ground had to be greater than 125m/s. It is reasonable to assume, that the reason of the power failure of both flight management systems is connected to the event causing the door to be shot to into the ground. This requires an acceleration from 12m/s vertical velocity to more than 125m/s vertical velocity of the left passenger door no.2 (823), thereby increasing the vertical kinetic energy by more than 100 times, and such increase in energy can only be the result of sudden high internal pressure, i.e. explosion above the ground.
This is again confirmed by the fact that the ground trace of left wing (and of tail) come to a sudden stop at this position where the left passenger door was shot into the ground.
Experiments carried out by the Committee on a model of the occupants part of TU154M on a 1:1 scale show that the destruction of the plane observed in Smolensk could not be the result of a fuel explosion. (Fig. 51).
Experiments conducted by the Committee on a model 1:1 of the occupant’s part show that such disintegration, as observed in Smolensk, can be the effect of one or many detonations of air-fuel charges, with special consideration of a thermo-baric charge with a longer tension impulse propagated inside the fuselage before hitting the ground. (Fig. 52).
Fig. 51 Explosion of jet-fuel in the occupant's part of the fuselage resulting in a large opening but no destruction in small pieces.
Fig. 52 Explosion of a thermo-baric charge in the occupant’s part of the fuselage resulting in the complete destruction of the fuselage and the formation of much small debris.
Source: Report on experimental results from explosion in an object imitating the occupant's area in the fuselage, Vol.2 2017.
The same experiments show that a thermo-baric explosion can leave only minor traces of explosive materials on the debris of the plane and visible only in minor quantities during spectrometric analysis.
Source: Reports on explosive experiments on an object imitating the occupants part of the fuselage.
A spatial explosion (thermo-baric, as well as air-fuel) has to create a number of pieces and micro pieces from the container, where the charge is placed, or from objects being in its vicinity.
Those pieces might or might not have a metallic character. In the latter case they will not be visible on any X-Ray pictures and also not on CT. Those pieces cause characteristic damage of the bone structure (with beveling) but- what is especially important- practically impossible to notice during a routine postmortem examination, even with a CT. In order to make those damages visible (less spectacular compared to other in such circumstances), it is necessary to prepare the bone fragments (sometimes by cutting a particular fragment) and to analyze them after gluing together in an anatomical position. Without this gluing the chances to find such changes are close to zero. The postmortem examination, which have been conducted up till now (Russian, as well as Polish ones after the exhumations) ignored those issues and gave no chance to find traces of this type of explosion.
Fig. 53 Medical phantoms inside the model of the occupants part of the plane
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE OF EXPLOSIONS (included in the report).
1. Post explosive destruction on the wing and pieces.
a) Post explosive curls of more than one turn.
b) Deformation of pieces due to high internal pressure.
c) Dispersion of many pieces in all possible directions with reference to the direction of flight (also to the back and sides).
d) Identification of the internal parts of the wing hanging on treetops.
e. Destruction of slats and parts of the nose of the detachable part of the wing, pointing to internal pressure.
2. No traces of hitting a terrain obstacle on the leading edge of the wing.
3. Experiments conducted by the Committee confirm the possibility of the wing being cut with an explosive material and causing damages analogical to the ones observed in the case of the destruction of the TU-154M wing.
The explosion of the central wing box. (pic37) was the main reason for the destruction of TU-154M before hitting the ground. The explosion, which happened in that place, destroyed the box, meaning the fragment of the left center wing, together with the front spar and soothed ribs. The spar flew 70 west. The third spar was destroyed as well. The explosion destroyed salon 3 killing all passengers inside and throwing the body parts over the entire crash site and in the area before the fuselage had made ground contact. At the same time the explosion wave blew out the left passenger door ramming it 1 meter into the ground and blew out thousands of pieces of the galley, which were distributed on 1/3 of the crash site. The explosion wave heading to the tail destroyed this part of the center wing and curled the left and right side of the aircraft outwards with the roof to the outside.
1. Numerous pieces are soothed and burned and spread over 100m before the plane hit the ground.
2. The aircraft hitting at a shallow angle disintegrated into tens of thousands of pieces
3 No crater from a 76ton plane hitting soft soil sliding up to 150m can be seen on the crash site.
4. A total destruction of all seats. The armrest, frame, and seating are disintegrated.
5. The internal part of the aircraft is completely without floor panels and insulation.
The left passenger door was rammed 1m to the ground with a speed 10x the speed of the aircraft (12m/s), i.e. its vertical kinetic energy was increased by 100 xs.
7. The sides of the central part of the fuselage right above the place of explosion are curled outwards.
8. The destruction of the galley, being close to the epicenter, was scattered in small fragments over an area of 1300m2.
9. Characteristic body damages:
a) Total defragmentation of dozens of bodies sitting in the salons near the center(s) of explosion and their dispersion on the entire crash site.
b) Small body pieces at the beginning of the crash site (1/3 of entire crash site) before the fuselage made ground contact.
c) Numerous large burn-injuries of bodies found outside of the fire zones.
d) Clothes were completely or nearly completely torn off a large number of the bodies (35).
10. Identification done by CLKP experts in fall 2010 concerning a massive presence of traces of explosive materials, especially present on the seats.