On October 31, 1999, EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Massachusetts, killing all 217 people on board. The tragedy remains one of the most perplexing and controversial aviation disasters in history, with conflicting theories about what caused the plane to go down.
EgyptAir Flight 990 was a regularly scheduled flight from Los Angeles to Cairo, Egypt, with a stop at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City. The Boeing 767-366ER departed from John F. Kennedy International Airport at 1:19 a.m. with 203 passengers and 14 crew members on board.
The flight was uneventful until about 30 minutes after takeoff, when the captain, Ahmed El-Habashy, left the cockpit to use the bathroom. First Officer Gameel Al-Batouti was left in charge of the plane, and shortly thereafter, the plane began a steep descent.
Cockpit Voice Recorder – “I rely on God”
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation, the plane’s cockpit voice recorder captured Al-Batouti saying “I rely on God” several times, followed by the sound of a switch being turned off. The plane’s autopilot was then disengaged, and Al-Batouti repeated his phrase before the plane began to dive.
The captain returned to the cockpit and attempted several times to regain control of the plane, but it was too late. The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean at a speed of over 500 miles per hour.
Initially, the Egyptian government suggested that the crash was due to a mechanical failure or a fire on board. However, the NTSB investigation found no evidence of either of these factors. The evidence instead pointed to deliberate actions by Al-Batouti.
Many theories have been put forward as to why Al-Batouti would intentionally crash the plane. Some suggest that he was disgruntled with the airline and had recently been reprimanded for sexual harassment. Others speculate that he may have had financial troubles or was acting on political motivations.
However, the Egyptian government and Al-Batouti’s family reject the idea that he deliberately crashed the plane. They point to his good reputation as a pilot and his lack of motive.
The EgyptAir Flight 990 accident remains a mystery and a source of controversy to this day. It highlights the importance of thorough investigations and transparency in the aftermath of aviation disasters, as well as the need for increased mental health resources for pilots and other airline employees.
Featured image source:
By Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland – Egypt Air Boeing 767-366ER; SU-GAP@ZRH, October 1999/ BZS, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26695589