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– EGYPT-AIR FLIGHT 990

 

 

On 10/31/1999 at about 01:50 a Boeing 767 Egypt-Air flight no 990 from Los Angeles via New York to Cairo, Egypt, plummeted, without any probable cause, into the Northern Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles (100 km) south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, in international water, 20 minutes after take off from New York.

All 217 passengers and crew including two Egyptian Air Force Generals and over 30 graduate Egyptian Air Force officers from an USA Army Apache gun ship helicopter course, were killed in the crash.

In such a long flight there are two crews on board, so one of the crews can take a rest while the other is flying the aircraft. 

At the time of the crash first officer Gameel el-Batouty volunteered to replace the acting second pilot Officer Adel Anwar, about 20 minutes before the scheduled time to switch the crews. The diving toward the ocean occurred just at the time when Captain Mahmoud el-Habashy left the cockpit for a short while and the aircraft was in the hands of the second pilot Gameel el-Batouty, who was alone in the cockpit and turned off the autopilot. He was clearly heard on the tapes recovered from the black box of the aircraft, mumbling verses with Islamic religious meanings. There are also indications that Gameel el-Batouty struggled with the captain, Mahmoud el-Habashy, who managed to reach the cockpit, against all odds, and tried to balance the aircraft. There was no proof that any of the aircraft systems failed.

Investigation found no links between Gameel el-Batouty, a devoted Muslim, and any specific Islamic organization although it was clear that Gameel el-Batouty was very frustrated of not being promoted to the rank of captain after many years as second pilot and even feared possible suspension from his job in Egypt-Air.

The investigation of the Egypt-Air flight 990 caused political tension between Egypt and USA in 03/2002 when the reports of the investigation were released. The Egyptian Civil Aviation (ECAIT) insisted that the crash was caused due to technical failure while the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded the aircraft was deliberately crashed in an apparent suicide although could not determine the possible motive.

The motivation or way of behavior of Gameel el-Batouty remained an enigma. No organization claimed responsibility on the event. 

 

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