Gameel Al-Batouti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gameel Al-Batouti
Born(1940-02-02)2 February 1940
Kafr al-Dabusi, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt
Died31 October 1999(1999-10-31) (aged 59)
Cause of deathPlane crash
Other namesGamil El Batouti, El Batouty
Occupation(s)Pilot and flight instructor
Known forFirst Officer of EgyptAir Flight 990
Killed217 (including himself)

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, he and 216 passengers and crew on board 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 and stated that the crash was caused by a series of deliberate flight control inputs to the aircraft made by Al-Batouti, while being alone in the cockpit and in the position of relief first officer. The NTSB went on to state that the reason for his inputs were "not determined".[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Al-Batouti was born in the farming community of Kafr al-Dabusi, Dakahlia Governorate, Egypt. His father was a mayor and a landowner, and family members were well educated and affluent.[3]


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."[3]

While in the Air Force, Al-Batouti served as a pilot in both the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.[citation needed]

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.[3]

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.[3][4]

At the time of his death, Al-Batouti was the most senior first officer flying the 767 at EgyptAir. He had not been 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.[3]

Investigators learned from another EgyptAir 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.[5][6][7]

Flight 990[edit]

While Al-Batouti was momentarily alone in the cockpit when Captain Ahmed El-Habashi went to the lavatory, the aircraft suddenly went into a rapid dive nose-first, resulting in weightlessness (zero-g) throughout the cabin. Despite this, Captain El-Habashi was able to re-enter the cockpit. The speed of the 767 was now dangerously close to breaking the sound barrier, exceeding its design limits and beginning to weaken its airframe. The captain pulled back on his control column and applied full power to the engines, but neither action had any effect due to the aircraft's speed and the engines having been shut down. The captain then deployed the speedbrakes, which slowed the aircraft's dive, bringing it back to a safer speed. However, these abrupt maneuvers resulted in the aircraft entering a steep climb, causing g-forces to push the passengers and crew into their seats. Both engines then stopped completely, causing the aircraft to lose all electrical power and both flight recorders to stop at this point.[2]: 6, 21, 25  The aircraft then fell into another steep dive and huge mechanical stress caused the left engine to separate from the wing. The aircraft began to break apart in midair at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) and debris crashed into the Atlantic Ocean[8] at 1:52 am EST. All 217 people on board were killed.[9]

Some of Al-Batouti's final recorded words on the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) were "Tawkalt ala Allah" (Arabic: توكلت على الله), which can be translated as "I rely on God", 11 times. This phrase can also be interpreted as "I entrust myself unto God," hinting that he knew he was facing death, giving credence to the theory that he deliberately crashed the aircraft.[1][2]

The Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority disputes the cause of the crash, blaming mechanical problems rather than any action by Al-Batouti.[4][10]

There was Western media speculation that Al-Batouti may have been a terrorist, although his family and friends indicated that he had no strong political beliefs.[4]

Personal life[edit]

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.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

Season 3, episode 8 of the Canadian television series Mayday titled "Death and Denial", dramatizes the events and investigation of EgyptAir Flight 990. Gameel Al-Batouti was portrayed by Canadian actor Elias Zarou.


  1. ^ a b "NTSB Releases EgyptAir Flight 990 Final Report". National Transportation Safety Board. 21 March 2002. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Aircraft Accident Brief EgyptAir Flight 990 Boeing 767-366ER, SU-GAP 60 Miles South of Nantucket, Massachusetts October 31, 1999" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. March 2002. NTSB/AAB-02/01. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Operational Factors Group Chairman's Factual Report" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board. 18 January 2000. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ a b c "Batouty clan stands united". Cairo Times. November 1999. Archived from the original on June 7, 2004. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  5. ^ "EgyptAir Co-Pilot Caused '99 Jet Crash, NTSB to Say". Los Angeles Times. 15 March 2002. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  6. ^ "EgyptAir Pilot Sought Revenge By Crashing, Co-Worker Said". New York Times. 16 March 2002. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  7. ^ "EgyptAir 990 (Death and Denial)". Mayday (TV series). Season 3. Episode 8. 2 November 2005. Discovery Channel Canada, National Geographic Channel.
  8. ^ "MS990". Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  9. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 767-366ER SU-GAP Nantucket Island, MA, USA". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  10. ^ "Report of Investigation of Accident: EgyptAir 990" (PDF). Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority. June 2001. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

External links[edit]