Polish investigators have attributed the overwhelming majority of responsibility for the fatal crash of President Lech Kaczynski's Tupolev Tu-154 on the country's own military representatives, limiting the degree of blame on Russian authorities.

Despite highly-public statements which initially criticised the findings of the Russian-led inquiry into the crash - a stance which drove the setting-up of a separate Polish investigation - the final 328-page report contains just a single recommendation directed at the Russian government.

Polish defence minister Bogdan Klich has resigned following the publication of the report.

In its conclusions over the 10 April 2010 accident at Smolensk, where the Tu-154 was attempting to land in poor weather, the Polish ministerial inquiry report states that the immediate cause of the crash was the descent below minimum descent altitude at excessive rate in condition that prevented visual contact with the ground.

It also said the attempt to execute a go-around was "delayed" and led to the collision with trees, before the runway threshold, following which the trijet broke up.

Circumstances directly contributing to the crash included the failure to monitor the altitude and the crew's failure to respond to a 'pull up' command by the terrain warning system. The flight crew had undergone "incorrect training", the report also concluded.

Russian approach controllers had confirmed to the crew the Tu-154's correct position in relation to the runway threshold, the report points out, which "might have affirmed the crew's belief that the approach was proceeding correctly", while the landing zone controller did not inform the crew that the jet had descended below the glideslope.

The report contains a catalogue of 163 findings, many of which highlight procedural violations and instances of poor training, preparation and operational handling of the flight.

Four of these relate to issues at Smolensk airport. It said the airport, overall, was "not adequately prepared" to receive aircraft: notably its lighting system was "incompatible with the specifications required of visual navaids" while the tall tree growth in the vicinity of the runway posed a potential hazard to aircraft.

Another 17 findings centred on air traffic control, particularly the information which controllers passed to the Tu-154 as well as other inbound aircraft - a Yakovlev Yak-40 and Ilyushin Il-76 - which were due to land at the airport.

But the harshest criticism is reserved for the Polish military authorities who were ultimately responsible for the flight. "The aircraft commander, co-pilot and navigator had been trained hastily, haphazardly and in violation of the respective training regulations," said the report. The crew "did not meet the criteria for fully-trained pilots who are competent in performing the duties required on their jobs".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news