The catastrophe of an armoured birch tree
The necessity of a new approach to investigate the Smoleńsk tragedy and a probable hypothesis of causation by the ‘third person’ are discussed between Wiesława Lewandowska and Antoni Macierewicz.
WIESŁAWA LEWANDOWSKA: - The recordings from the pilots’ cockpit of the crashed Tu-154M airplane at Smolensk were reread, this time, by the Institute of Forensic Expertises of professor dr. Jan Sehn in Cracow, who had worked on the scientific expertise for a year and a half. Can we speak about a positive turning point in the investigation of the Smolensk truth?
ANTONI MACIEREWICZ: - In my opinion, we can. First of all, because according to the motto of this institute: ‘Iustitia et Scientia’ – Justice and Scientific the justice has been done. According to Cracovian experts, the voice of gen. Błasik was not registered in the cockpit. The hypothesis about the alleged pressures on the crew was undermined. But that is not all about the conclusions from the new reading. Moreover, the thesis about the ‘armoured birch’ as the direct reason for the catastrophe is starting to shatter. The conclusions of scientists of the Cracovian Institute go together with the recently presented expertise of American physicists by our Seym team: professor Wiesława Binienda from Akron University and professor Kaziemierz Nowaczyk from Maryland University. It is worth emphasizing that governmental Polish experts have never investigated the wing, or the birch or the airplane wreckage... No scientific expertises have been done so far.
– After this presentation in the Polish Seym Polish commentators and experts were saying slightly derisively that those professors from America are not experts in aviation...
– They are not pilots but professor Binienda has been working for NASA for 15 years and he has taken a part, among the others, in the investigation of a catastrophe of a sea ferry in 2002. He is a scientist studying the resistance of materials used in aviation and their behaviour during big loading. His analysis and the conclusions of his investigation were main tips which allowed for explanation how the tragedy of the Columbia sea ferry had been caused. In 2004 he was rewarded by NASA for his participation in works concerning the development of safety in the constructions of jet-propelled engines. So, maybe it is not the worst recommendation for participation in the investigations of the catastrophe of the Polish airplane, especially in the situation when we do not have any scientific analysis...Professor Binienda often asked Polish experts to present their analysis which had led them to the presented conclusions. Such investigations were simply not done. Polish experts accepted and believed the Russian propaganda.
– Can the theory of the ‘armoured birch’ be acknowledged as doubtful at least in the light of the presented scientific expertises?
– It can be even excluded. The opinion that the birch was the reason for the catastrophe, is based on false reading of the sound from the cockpit, done by International Aviation Committee and published by Minister Miller, whereas it turns out that there is not any sound! In this place of the tape a completely different sound was registered which starts earlier and lasts 6 seconds longer, till the end of the tragedy. It is a sound defined by experts as a sound of objects moving inside the cockpit.
– What is this conclusion from it?
– This testimony of the catastrophe which had started before the crash into the birch: this sound starts clearly on the tape before the place which has been assigned to the crash into the birch so far. This sound is completely different and does not go together with the sound which might have appeared as a result of such a strong crash into the tree which is discussed. The catastrophe had started earlier, before the birch and higher...
– The government experts ignore these new and not their expertises and they consider the hypothesis about the ‘armoured birch’ as nearly confirmed...
– I would like to remind those who have forgotten, that the first messages and the first conclusions of the investigators said that the wing of the airplane had been torn off as a result of the crash into a radio beacon. I refer everybody to the Polish Newspaper ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ in which a graphical reconstruction of the airplane crash into the radio beacon was placed. So, initially the direct reason for the catastrophe was not the birch but the radio beacon! While both the first and the latter one is untrue. The expertise of the Cracovian Institute and analysis of professor Nowaczyk and professor Binienda are compatible and shatter this construction into fragments which we have been dealing with so far and enforce a completely new attempt to investigate the Smoleńsk tragedy.
– Are they ruthlessly overthrowing the previous hypothesis that the birch has cut off the wing of the airplane?
– The experimental analysis of professor Binienda shows that even if the airplane had crashed into the birch, then the wing would not have been broken but the tree would. What is more, the analysis of the route of the flight of the wing to the place where it was found proves that it must have been torn off the airplane much higher than the governmental experts state, at the altitude of 26 meters and not 5-6 meters. It results from the analysis of professor Nowaczyk, concerning the vertical trajectory of the flight, that the airplane had been higher in the critical moment than it was thought so far. And this is in accordance with the registered sounds in the cockpit by a self-registered recorder – let’s remind that according to the latest reading, the sound of the crash into the birch was not identified at all.
– What reasons and nature of the registered sounds can be?
– There is a report on the ‘recording’ of the process of this catastrophe which has not been publicly revealed. It concerns the only famous information from a witness and victim, a parliamentarian of the Polish Peasant Party who was killed in the catastrophe. According to the testimony from his wife, he had phoned her in the last seconds. She did not answer the telephone but the voice of her husband was recorded in the voice mail and the message was listened to at 9.15 and passed to the Internal Security Agency. Unfortunately, this phone connection in the voice mail was deleted. In the opinion of procurators it was not saved on the server of the mobile operator either... Today procurators say that somebody else phoned the parliamentarian’s wife and she wrongly identified both the voice and the sense of the information. So, we have only the report of the woman who says that she heard her husband shouting: ‘Asia, Asia!’ ‘In the background bangs were heard, and, in fact her husband’s voice was in the background, and the bang was dominating. People’s voices, as if a voice of the crowd were heard as well. It was not clear. I did not identify any words. It was people’s shout. This recording lasted two or three seconds. My husband’s voice was unclear. Bangs were short and there were sharp sounds, as if a wafer or plastic were breaking, and I heard a sound resembling the noise of wind in the phone’. It was a 3-second recording of the tragedy taking place in the air (wind!) and not during the crash into the ground. This testimony is coherent with the analysis of professor Binienda and Nowaczyk very well who say about two quakes which initiated the tragedy in the air...
– However, we cannot be certain about this course of events.
– On the basis of our analysis we can present a kind of hypothesis which has not got a final yet. We do not know what caused these two quakes, we do not know what their ‘technological structure’ was, whether they were the result of an event inside the plane, for example, the breakdown of engines or the outburst, or whether it was rather a result of a phenomenon which destroyed the airplane from outside....However, we know for sure that neither the birch nor the pilots’ mistake had anything in common with it.
– Media experts persistently repeat that this new reading of the sound track confirms not only the thesis of Miller’s report but even more – it can prove that pilots were intending to land though...
– We have a freedom of speech and everybody can speak what he thinks is right. In our opinion, the recording of commands given by major Protasiuk, counting the changes of the altitude by a navigator and the recorded altitude above the level of the airport runway by the system TAWS prove that the procedure of the investigation was taken up effectively. And we should ask a question what was the reason for tearing off the wing while the airplane was going up to the altitude of 26 meters and later the breakdown of the powering system and the final catastrophe.
– So you claim that the airplane did not fall into pieces because it had crashed into the ground, but it crashed into the ground because it had fallen into pieces, first.
– Yes, I do. This thesis has been strongly confirmed now.
– Commentators say ironically that the Seym team is now using new scientific expertises as an area for other speculations and conspiracy theories...
– It was rather us who have rather been accused of 21-month conspiracy theories which assigned the main cause of the catastrophe to the birch, whereas it turns out that in this ‘theory of the birch’ everything is highly exaggerated, not supported by any analysis. So, we can say that we deal with a conspiracy whose aim is to throw responsibility for the catastrophe onto the Polish pilots, gen. Błasik – throwing it onto the Polish party. I will not hesitate to add that this conspiracy connects people who are responsible for what happened and is supposed to make it difficult to reach to the truth. A significant fact is that when 23 Polish scientists appealed to the Education Ministry with a request for organising a scientific conference on the Smolensk catastrophe, the state authorities did not give their permission for that. It shows that governmental institutions are doing everything not to spread ‘Smolensk fog’.
– But you and your team are accused of the fact that you are still spraying this artificial fog...
– It is another lie. We do not state any assassination to the airplane of president. We are analysing other phases of tragic events but we have not presented a complete diagnosis yet. However, I think that procurators should, first of all, concentrate on investigating the hypothesis of the cause by the ‘third people’ and which seems the most probable. Of course, we should also consider the fact that the reason for the catastrophe could be a breakdown of the main engine which, unfortunately, often happened in Tu-154 airplanes.
– First of all, it should be investigated carefully and in a laboratory way. Wasn’t it investigated so?
– It could be investigated if Polish experts really wanted to investigate the wreckage of the airplane. However, they did not insist on it or they did not think it was necessary.
– Probably because there were not suitable conditions, now when after 21 months it was decided to cover the wreckage with a roof, it may be possible...
– I would not like to be ironic, like my adversaries, but this roof may really be the biggest achievement of the Polish party...because, in fact, although the value of evidence of the wreckage is getting lower, it still exists.
– What investigation work will be done in the nearest future by experts of the Seym team?
– Our experts are concentrating now on the comparative analysis of the whole recording of sounds from the cockpit. It turns out that there are much more essential differences between the latest recording and the previous one (from 2012), than those which has already been mentioned.
– For example?
– Polish pilots have been accused so far that despite the good leading their airplane by Russian controllers, they took the descending path too late – at the ninth kilometre instead of the tenth, and, in addition, they did it arbitrarily; whereas, after the analysis of new recordings, it turns out that the control-tower gave them a command to take the descent path at the ninth kilometre. There are also many issues to explain which are also connected with the direction of the approach – it needs to be analysed more exactly as well. A surprising thing for the pilots was the fact that they had been directed into the approach from just this, not another side of the airport. A deeper comparative analysis of recordings may bring a new fuller picture of a real course of events. But, initially, we can confirm the hypothesis that the consequences of Russian controllers’ decisions were much more serious than it had been assumed in the beginning, that it were them who had led the Polish pilots into a mistake. Indeed, it seems that it did not decide about the course of events and the Polish crew – anyway – was realising its safe plan of departure, but the fact that controllers might have led them into a mistake, shows the attitude of the Russian party and it can be a clue to explain what happened at the altitude of 26 meters above the level of the airport runway.