Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Was 'VIP passenger syndrome' to blame for Polish air tragedy?
Amid the many theories still swirling around the Smolensk air crash in which Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others died on Saturday, one is gaining ground: that the crash was the result of 'VIP passenger syndrome' and that the VIP responsible was the president himself.
'VIP passenger syndrome' means simply that a very important passenger uses his or her clout to influence the pilot and/or crew to make a bad decision under pressure.
Fingers are being pointed at the late president after it was disclosed that he had done something like it before.
In August 2008, Kaczynski reportedly "shouted furiously" at a pilot who, for safety reasons, disobeyed an order to land his plane in Tbilisi during Georgia's war with Russia (Kaczynski was a great supporter of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili).
Kaczynski later tried to have the Polish air force pilot, Grzegorz Pietuczak, removed from his job for insubordination, but Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister intervened. Capt Pietuczak was later given a medal for carrying out his duties conscientiously, despite the presidential pressure to ignore the risks.
Russian aviation experts looking into Saturday's crash are convinced the same thing happened again and this time the captain, Arkadiusz Protasiuk, another Polish air force pilot, bowed to the presidential command.
More on this story over at The First Post.