The Egyptian Pilot Association has denied as baseless a Newsweek report claiming that Egyptian officials admitted to American investigators that the captain at the controls of a crashed EgyptAir flight committed suicide.
“It is unbelievable that the Egyptian investigation team would admit that, and at the same time make a presentation before the Egyptian International Pilots Union conference on the cause of the plane crash off the American coast in October 1999,” the association’s secretary, Ashraf Al Hawari told Al Akhbar Arabic daily.
The conference participants, said Hawari, were convinced that a mechanical defect in the aircraft’s tail caused the accident.
He added that the participants had demanded that the American investigators seek out the real cause of the accident, and ruled out the theory of suicide.
“From the beginning, the American investigators attempted to attribute the accident to the Egyptian pilots, accusing Captain Habashi first, and then retracting this when they were unable to prove their accusation,” said the secretary. “So they turned to blaming the late Captain Battouti for the tragic incident.”
Last week, the former chairman of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that evidence showed that the co-pilot of EgyptAir Flight 990 was responsible for its crash.
All 217 people on board the flight were killed.
James Hall said in an interview with the Associated Press that evidence gathered by safety board investigators pointed to actions by the copilot, Jamil Al Battouti, rather than any mechanical problems, as the reason for the Boeing 767's crash into the Atlantic Ocean off the Massachusetts island of Nantucket.
“It was clear to me, based on the work of our investigators, that the events could not be described as a mechanical failure but by pilot action,” said Hall, who left the board and now works as a transportation lobbyist.
The NTSB's final report on the crash is due months from now.
Earlier this month, EgyptAir officials submitted their own findings to the board. EgyptAir has rejected any assertions that one of its pilots deliberately downed the plane, saying the crash could have been caused by a mechanical problem in the tail.
An investigative committee formed by EgyptAir denounced as “completely incorrect” the results of the NTSB’s probe – Albawaba.com
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