Egyptian authorities have suggested to US investigators that co-pilot Gamal Batouti was not alone in the cockpit when EgyptAir Flight 990 abruptly dived into the Atlantic Ocean last fall, killing all 217 people on board, reported the Washington Post, quoting sources close to the investigation.
US authorities said that the Egyptian theory is based on a few garbled words on the Boeing 767's cockpit voice recorder that are inconclusive.
They said the words might have come from a voice from elsewhere in the aircraft heard through the open cockpit door. The sounds were recorded after the captain left the cockpit, about a minute before the plane's final dive and 12 minutes into the October 31st flight from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport to Cairo, said the paper.
The Egyptians said that damaged parts found in the crash indicate that a mechanical problem could have caused the dive, but US authorities said they doubt that theory, the Washington Post added.
The Egyptian suggestions were part of a meeting in late April between senior Egyptian and US safety officials, including National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall.
Sources from both countries confirmed details of the meeting, as well as more recent suggestions that Egyptian investigators have offered on the cause of the crash, the paper said.
The April 28th meeting appeared to be more than just an effort by the Egyptians to persuade the NTSB to consider that a mechanical problem caused the crash. The Egyptians are upset at what they see as a failure by US investigators to consider all the evidence in the crash, compounded by news reports--often based on leaks from US sources--that sometimes use the word "suicide."
The Egyptian government and EgyptAir have hired several well-known law firms, public relations firms and former safety board officials, including former NTSB chairman Carl Vogt, said the papaer.
But some investigators believe that the Egyptians are losing a war of perceptions, because they have been reluctant to present their theories to the US public.
In the April meeting, the Egyptians detailed three main points to the NTSB:
* There is no evidence that Batouti committed suicide. Batouti was in good spirits before the flight, even offering some pills of Viagra, the male impotence drug, to a friend from the stash he was taking back to friends in Egypt.
* If Batouti did initiate the dive, he may have been responding to a sudden mechanical problem or to something he--and possibly another crewmember--saw in the cockpit or outside. There is some indication that as the plane dived, there was coordination between two or three crewmembers working to save the plane.
* The Boeing 767 has experienced problems with elevator controls, and the safety board should consider whether the dive was initiated by an uncommanded downward deflection of the elevators, flat panels on the horizontal tail section that control the aircraft's up and down movements, said the Washington Post – Albawaba.com
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