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NTSB to blame copilot for EgyptAir crash

EgyptAir co-pilot Gameel el Batouti  

From Beth Lewandowski
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The final report on the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 will blame copilot Gameel el Batouti for crashing the plane into the sea, National Transportation Safety Board sources confirmed to CNN on Thursday.

They also said the report could be issued as early as next week.

The sources confirmed a CBS report that the NTSB will conclude the October 31, 1999 crash was intentionally caused by Batouti, who was believed to be at the controls when the aircraft went down. CBS said the report will not address Batouti's motives.

The New York-Cairo flight crashed into the Atlantic Ocean south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, killing all 217 people aboard.

EgyptAir Flight 990 took off early on October 31 from New York's Kennedy International Airport. The Boeing 767 climbed to 33,000 feet before plunging into the sea south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, about 40 minutes after takeoff. All 217 people aboard were killed.

Egyptian officials have resisted NTSB theories that Batouti may have committed both suicide and mass murder. In Islamic culture, suicide is considered a highly shameful act.

They have said the crash was most likely caused by a mechanical problem, citing recent discoveries of tail failures in other Boeing 767s.

In a statement released last year, EgyptAir -- owned by the Egyptian government -- raised questions about the elevator control system, which makes the aircraft go up and down.

They also have maintained investigators misinterpreted the final words of Batouti, who was heard on the cockpit voice recorder saying, "I put my faith in God," (tawakalt a'ala Allah), repeatedly as the plane went down.

Under the International Civil Aviation Organization treaty, the investigation of a plane crash in international waters falls under the jurisdiction of the country where the aircraft is registered. The NTSB took the lead in the investigation at the request of the Egyptian government.


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