April 10, 2010
Smolensk, Russia
Polish Air Force
Tupolev 154M
101

The military jet crashed and was destroyed while attempting to land in dense fog
and poor visibility. The crew requested permission to carry out a trial approach to
a decision height of 100 m and told the controller to expect a go-around. A few
seconds before impact, the autopilot and autothrottle were disconnected in order
to execute a go-around. The airplane impacted upsloping terrain at a distance of
about 1,100 meters from the runway and 40 m to the left of extended centerline.
The immediate cause of the accident was the failure of the crew to make a timely
decision to proceed to an alternate airport although they were not once timely
informed of the actual weather conditions at Smolensk, which were significantly
lower than the established airport minima. Descent without visual contact with
ground references to an altitude much lower than minimum descent altitude for
a go-around, in order to establish visual flight. No reaction to the numerous TAWS
warnings which led to controlled flight into terrain, aircraft destruction and death
of the crew and passengers. Polish president Lech Kaczynski and his wife were
among the 96 people killed.