NTSB to conclude that co-pilot downed Egyptian jetliner, sources say - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

NTSB to conclude that co-pilot downed Egyptian jetliner, sources say

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The federal government's final report on the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 says the co-pilot was responsible, but stops short of concluding what might have motivated him, according to government sources.

The report is expected to be released soon.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the report blames co-pilot Gameel El-Batouty for the crash, which killed 217 people.

The National Transportation Safety Board report is silent on whether he deliberately crashed the plane, the sources said.

There has been speculation that El-Batouty committed suicide, shutting off the autopilot and saying a prayer before the crash.

A former EgyptAir captain, Hanofy Taha Mahmoud Hamdy, said the crash was an act of revenge against an EgyptAir executive, the Los Angeles Times reported in its online edition Thursday night.

The report quoted Taha as saying Hatem Rushdy, chief of the Boeing 767 pilot group who was a passenger on the doomed New York-to-Cairo flight, had reprimanded the co-pilot for sexual misconduct that embarrassed the company. Taha said the EgyptAir chief pilot told El-Batouty that he would not be allowed to fly the U.S. route again, the newspaper said.

A high-ranking American official in the investigation, who was not identified, agreed that revenge was the motive, the Times reported.

EgyptAir has blamed mechanical problems for the October 1999 crash of the Boeing 767 into the Atlantic Ocean off the Massachusetts island of Nantucket.

El-Batouty took the controls of the plane shortly after it took off from New York's Kennedy Airport. Over the ocean, the plane began to plummet. An NTSB transcript of the cockpit voice recorder showed the pilot, Mahmoud el-Habashy, crying, ``Pull! Pull with me! Pull with me! Pull with me!'' as he tried to bring the plane out of its fatal dive.

NTSB Chairwoman Marion Blakey told a congressional hearing Thursday that some board members had asked for changes after reviewing the report. She declined to comment on its findings.

Jim Brokaw of Ogden Dunes, Ind., who lost his father and stepmother in the crash, said the report held no surprises.

``We've all been aware of what the conclusion is going to be,'' said Brokaw, president of Families of EgyptAir 990 Inc. ``The main question is why did this happen remains unanswered. Until our current administration is able to muster the political will to see that a criminal investigation goes forward on Egyptian soil, that most important question will remain unanswered.''

Unlike other investigations of major accidents, the EgyptAir report is not expected to include any major safety recommendations, sources said. The board previously has recommended that video recorders be installed in the cockpit.

EgyptAir officials have suggested the crash may have been caused by a mechanical problem in the tail. In November 2000 and March 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered inspections of the Boeing 767's elevator _ flaps on the tail that bend down or up to lift the plane's nose.

Former NTSB Chairman Jim Hall told the AP last June that investigators found no evidence of mechanical problems.

``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,'' Hall said at the time.
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