2 February 1940|
Kafr al-Dabusi, Egypt
31 October 1999 (aged 59)|
|Cause of death||Plane crash|
|Other names||Gamil El Batouti, El Batouty|
|Known for||EgyptAir Flight 990|
Gameel Al-Batouti (Arabic language: 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) stated that the crash was caused by 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, but that the reason for his inputs was "not determined".
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. Evidence recovered from the aircraft wreckage appeared to support the theory that Al-Batouti had purposely crashed the airliner whilst repeating Islamic prayers. Furthermore, according to the flight recorders recovered after the crash, Al-Batouti deliberately asked to relieve the takeoff co-pilot far ahead of the normal shift, then turned off the autopilot after the captain left the cockpit. Al-Batouti then led the plane into a dive, during which he continually repeated, "Tawkalt ala Allah" (Arabic language: توكلت على الله), which can be translated as "I rely on God", 11 times. This phrase can also mean "I entrust myself unto God," hinting that he knew he was facing death, giving credence to the theory that he deliberately crashed his airplane. The captain then came back into the cockpit and 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.
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". National Transportation Safety Board. 21 March 2002. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20121010185346/http://www.ntsb.gov/news/2002/020321.htm. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- "Aircraft Accident Brief EgyptAir Flight 990 Boeing 767-366ER, SU-GAP 60 Miles South of Nantucket, Massachusetts October 31, 1999". National Transportation Safety Board. March 2002. NTSB/AAB-02/01. http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/AAB0201.pdf.
- "Operational Factors Group Chairman's Factual Report". National Transportation Safety Board. 18 January 2000. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110604061959/http://www.ntsb.gov/events/ea990/docket/Ex_2A.pdf. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- "Batouty clan stands united". November 1999. Archived from the original on June 7, 2004. https://web.archive.org/web/20040607134321/http://www.cairotimes.com/news/batfam.html. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
- "EgyptAir Co-Pilot Caused '99 Jet Crash, NTSB to Say". 15 March 2002. http://articles.latimes.com/2002/mar/15/news/mn-32955. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- "EgyptAir Pilot Sought Revenge By Crashing, Co-Worker Said". 16 March 2002. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/16/us/egyptair-pilot-sought-revenge-by-crashing-co-worker-said.html. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- "EgyptAir 990 (Death and Denial)".
- "Report of Investigation of Accident: EgyptAir 990". Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority. June 2001. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110604061959/http://www.ntsb.gov/events/ea990/docket/ecaa_report.pdf. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
- Cairo Times: Suicide Speculation Under Fire at the Wayback Machine (archived March 3, 2000)
- Cairo Times: Batouti Family Defends Co-pilot at the Wayback Machine (archived June 7, 2004)
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