2 February 1940|
Kafr al-Dabusi, Egypt
|Died||31 October 1999
|Other names||Gamil El Batouti, El Batouty|
|Known for||EgyptAir Flight 990|
Gameel Al-Batouti (Arabic: جميل البطوطي; also rendered "Gamil El Batouti" or "El Batouty" in U.S. official reports; 2 February 1940 – 31 October 1999) was a pilot for EgyptAir and a former officer for the Egyptian Air Force. On 31 October 1999, all 217 people aboard EgyptAir Flight 990 were killed when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 60 miles (100 km) southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the official probable cause of the crash was a series of control inputs made by Al-Batouti, who was in the position of relief first officer in command at the time of the crash.
Al-Batouti had been conscripted into the Egyptian Air Force, where he was trained as a pilot and flight instructor. He then worked for a time as an instructor at the Egypt Aviation Academy. His position there was described by one colleague as "high profile."
Al-Batouti was hired by EgyptAir on 8 September 1987. He held type ratings for the Boeing 737-200, Boeing 767-200 and the 767-300. At the time of the crash, he had logged 12,538 hours of flight time, with 5,755 as pilot in command and 5,191 in the 767.
Al-Batouti was approaching mandatory retirement (aviation regulations prevented him from flying as a commercial airline pilot after age 60), and had planned to split his time between a 10-bedroom villa outside of Cairo and a beach house near El Alamein.
At the time of his death, Al-Batouti was the most senior first officer flying the 767 at EgyptAir. He was not promoted to captain because he declined to sit for the exam for his Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) rating. The ATPL study materials and exam are conducted in English, the international language of aviation, and Al-Batouti did not have sufficient English proficiency. Once he reached 55, the possibility of promotion was further hindered by EgyptAir policy which prevented promotions after that age. According to statements made by his colleagues to the NTSB during the Flight 990 investigation, he did not want to be promoted because, as senior first officer, he could get his preferred flight schedules, which assisted with his family situation. Despite not being promoted to captain, he was often called by that title because of his previous experience at the Egypt Aviation Academy.
Al-Batouti was the co-pilot that the NTSB suspected of deliberately crashing Flight 990 into the ocean, an assertion denied by Egyptian authorities. According to the flight recorders recovered after the crash, Al-Batouti asked to relieve the takeoff co-pilot far ahead of the normal shift, and then turned off the autopilot after the captain left the cockpit. Al-Batouti led the plane into a dive, continually repeating, "Tawkalt ala Allah" (Arabic: توكلت على الله), which translates to "I rely on God", 11 times. This phrase can also mean "I entrust myself unto God," hinting that he knew he was facing death. The captain then came back into the cockpit, tried to stop the dive, but could not prevent the plane from crashing into the sea.
Investigators learned from another pilot that Al-Batouti was supposedly reprimanded for repeated inappropriate behaviour with female guests at the Hotel Pennsylvania, a New York City hotel often used by EgyptAir crews. Hatem Roushdy, the EgyptAir official said to be responsible for the alleged reprimand, was a passenger on Flight 990. Investigators confirmed that shortly before the flight, Roushdy revoked Al-Batouti's privilege of flying to the United States and informed him that Flight 990 would be his last on the route.
The Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority disputes the cause of the crash, blaming mechanical problems rather than any action of Al-Batouti, in spite of the strong evidence that it was an act of murder-suicide.
Al-Batouti was married and had five children. The youngest, a daughter who was 10 at the time of the crash, suffered from lupus, and was undergoing medical treatment in Los Angeles. Efforts had been made at EgyptAir, both at a company level and at an employee level, to provide assistance to help defray the medical expenses.
- "NTSB Releases EgyptAir Flight 990 Final Report". NTSB. 21 March 2002. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- "Operational Factors Group Chairman's Factual Report" (PDF). NTSB. 18 January 2000. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- "Batouty clan stands united". Cairo Times. November 1999. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
- "EgyptAir Co-Pilot Caused '99 Jet Crash, NTSB to Say". Los Angeles Times. 15 March 2002. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- "EgyptAir Pilot Sought Revenge By Crashing, Co-Worker Said". New York Times. 16 March 2002. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- "EgyptAir 990 (Death and Denial)". Mayday (TV series). Season 3. Episode 8. 2 November 2005. Discovery Channel Canada, National Geographic Channel.
- "Report of Investigation of Accident: EgyptAir 990" (PDF). ECAA. June 2001. Retrieved 19 March 2014.