Interview with Dr. Waclaw Berczynski, the newly appointed head of the Polish government Smolensk crash investigation committee
SCND: February 5, 2016
“The damage to the wreckage indicates a different course of events than the one presented by the MAK / Miller commissions. However, we begin with a clean slate, and with no presumptions” says Dr. Berczynski, the newly appointed head of the Polish government Smolensk crash Investigation Commission.
wPolityce.pl: You have been appointed to lead the new Polish government sub-committee tasked with investigating the Smolensk crash. What is your experience in investigating aviation accidents?
Dr. Wacław Berczyński, Ph.D.: I worked for two years for Boeing at Corpus Christi Army Depot, which is the world’s largest army equipment maintenance company, based in the United States. I was responsible for investigating aviation accidents and their impact on aircrafts’ construction. My job was to establish how these accidents occurred, what caused them, and why. I did that for two years.
How many aviation accidents have you investigated?
I investigated what was assigned to me; all in all, I think I investigated approximately around a dozen of them.
Did you investigate any specific crashes? Were there any large air-frame jets among them?
I investigated a variety of crashes, including the ones you’ve mentioned. There are a lot of aspects to consider in each case. I was tasked with examination of the aircraft construction after a crash.
Is the schedule of the new Smolensk crash commission ready?
No, it is not ready yet. I am at a stage of familiarizing myself with the existing documentation, which will be followed by the preparation of the plan for our investigation. I will be asking questions that need to be answered. However, at the moment, I need to focus on reading through the existing materials in order to know what approach to take.
You said you have no presumptions, but you previously presented your opinion about the Smolensk crash as an independent expert. You said that the rivets in the Tupolev’s body were forced outwardly as a result of high energy force. Do you keep an open mind to any hypothesis despite the work you have already completed?
Of course. There is no doubt that the rivets were forced out from the aircraft’s body with a considerable force. This was not a presumption, but a simple scientific observation made by me as an engineer. The damage to the wreckage indicates a different course of events than the one presented by the MAK / Miller commissions.
And that’s not a presumption?
No, it is not a presumption. If during my investigation I should, for example, discover that the pilots intentionally forced the aircraft to collide with the ground, I will then state it in my report. I don’t think this will be the case, but it might happen. However, we will thoroughly examine each and every hypothesis. We neither begin with presumptions, nor do we have any.
It might be hard to do for those who are already dealing with the Smolensk crash investigation …
Even if I suspected anything, I would have to include my suspicions in my report. Should it happen that my suggestions, or theories, cannot be supported by the evidence, I will not follow them.
Do you think that Minister Macierewicz supports you, and do you feel pressured to follow a certain direction in this investigation?
As a Minister of Defense, Mr. Macierewicz has totally different objectives and assignments then [me], the Chief of the Smolensk crash investigation commission. I like and respect Minister Macierewicz, but he has no reason to influence me, or to impose on me any views that he might have. I don’t think he assigned me with this task to force his point of view on me.
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