NTSB Report Says Batouti Responsible for EgyptAir Crash
The US official report into the crash of EgyptAir flight 990 concluded on Wednesday that there was no mechanical problem, claiming that Gameel al-Batouti, the plane's co-pilot, brought the plane down on purpose, said reports.
Al-Batouti was believed to be at the controls of the aircraft when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, on October 31, 1999. All 217 people on board the aircraft were killed.
A source close to the investigation told CNN the National Transportation Safety Board's report does not use the word "suicide."
The source said that's because it is impossible to determine the motive of the pilot.
But the finding sparked outrage from Egyptian authorities, who insist the NTSB has not adequately examined flight control problems with the Boeing 767, said CNN.
In a statement released Wednesday, EgyptAir said: "This investigation and other Boeing 767 problems have raised questions about the integrity of the elevator control system, which makes the aircraft go up and down.
"We urge the NTSB, the FAA, and Boeing to continue to press their inquiry into what caused the loss of Flight 990 and to consider the possibility there might be an inherent flaw in the design and/or maintenance procedures of the Boeing 767 flight control system.
"We and the aviation industry owe it to the families of those aboard Flight 990, and to the flying public, to learn what caused this tragedy and ensure that it never happens again
Flight 990, flying from New York to Cairo, was at 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) when its autopilot shut off, its throttles cut back and the elevators initiated a steep descent.
During the dive, the engines were cut off, and the elevators moved in opposite directions.
The plane recovered, rose and then fell again before plunging into the sea.
Last year, the NTSB released documents related to the crash, which officials said contained facts but drew no conclusions about the cause.
Those documents also contained transcripts from the plane's cockpit voice recorder, translated into English from Arabic.
In the translated transcript, al-Batouti can be heard repeatedly saying: "I rely on God."
A voice, which the NTSB says is that of the captain, Ahmed al-Habashy, says: "What's happening, Gameel? What's happening?"
The captain then says, "What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engine?"
Approximately two seconds later, he says: "Shut the engine." That is followed by the response, "It's shut."
The last words on the tape are: "Pull." Followed by: "Pull with me. Pull with me. Pull with me."
However, the report notes there are statements in the final minutes of the recording that "could not be positively associated" with the captain or al-Batouti, CNN added.
EgyptAir will have 60 days to review the draft report and offer comments before the NTSB votes on the probable cause of the accident and issues its final report.
Last August, the FAA ordered airlines to inspect all Boeing 767 jetliners after engineers concluded that a routine test might not reveal a problem in part of the planes' elevator control system.
Boeing spokeswoman Liz Verdier told ABC News that investigators and engineers found nothing wrong with the plane.
Jim Brokaw, who lost his father and stepmother in the crash and who is head of the Families of EgyptAir 990 group, which represents relatives of both Egyptian and North American victims of the crash, said: "All indications suggest the NTSB report will come down on the side of intentional act.
"All the noises I've been hearing from the NTSB indicate that's the way it's going to go," ABC quoted him as saying.
Although the airline does not accept full blame for the crash, it has acknowledged liability and has agreed to pay damages to families that are eligible to sue in US courts - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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