The 2010 jet crash that killed Poland’s president, first lady and dozens of dignitaries during a politically sensitive visit to Russia couldn’t have happened the way official investigations say, a University of Akron engineering professor’s analysis shows.
Wieslaw Binienda’s findings, based on computer modeling software that NASA used to analyze the space shuttle Columbia’s destruction, are causing ripples in his native Poland, where there is simmering distrust of the formal rulings that the crash was accidental.
Russian and Polish government teams determined that errors by the jet’s Polish military flight crew caused the aircraft to clip a tree, lose part of its left wing, flip over and crash short of a runway at fog-bound Smolensk Airdrome two years ago. The April 10 incident killed all 96 aboard.
But the tree impact that supposedly precipitated the crash wouldn’t have caused enough wing damage to down the plane, said Binienda, a well-regarded expert in fracture mechanics who heads the university’s civil engineering department.