Gameel Al-Batouti

Gameel Al-Batouti

Gameel Al-Batouti Arabic: جميل البطوطي (also rendered "Gamil ElBatouty" or "El Batouty" in U.S. official reports) (February 2, 1940October 31, 1999) was a pilot for EgyptAir, his home country's national airline, and a former officer for the Egyptian Air Force. All 217 aboard were killed when EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean 60 miles SE of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, on October 31, 1999. The NTSB concluded that the probable cause of the crash was a series of control inputs made by Al-Batouti.

Family and personal life

Al-Batouti came from a socially elite family in Egypt. His father was a mayor and a landowner and family members were well educated and affluent.

Al-Batouti was married and had five children. The youngest, Aya, who was ten 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.

Al-Batouti was approaching 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 Alamin.

Career

Al-Batouti had been drafted into the Egyptian army, where he was trained as a pilot and flight instructor. He then worked for a time as an instructor at the Egyptian Air Institute. His position there was described by one colleague as "high profile".

While in the Army, Al-Batouti served as a pilot in both the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Batouti hired on with EgyptAir on September 8, 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.

At the time of his death, Al-Batouti was the most senior first officer (F/O) 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 F/O, he could get his preferred flight schedules, which assisted in his family situation. Despite not being promoted to captain, he was often referred to by that title because of his previous experience at the Egypt Air Institute.

Flight 990

Batouti was the co-pilot that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suspected of deliberately crashing Flight 990 into the ocean, an assertion denied by Egyptian authorities. According to the NTSB, Batouti seized the plane's controls and turned off the autopilot after the captain left the cockpit. He then led the plane into a dive, continually repeating, "I rely on God". The pilot then came back into the cockpit, tried to stop the dive, but could not prevent the plane from crashing into the ocean.

Some investigators learned that he was supposedly reprimanded for inappropriate behavior with female guests at the Hotel Pennsylvania, a New York City hotel often used by EgyptAir crews. Hatem Roushdy, an EgyptAir official said to be responsible for the alleged reprimand was a passenger on Flight 990. The details of the reprimand included the removal of Gameel Al-Batouti's privilege of flying any flight to the United States, and that Flight 990 would be his last.

There was western media speculation that Batouti may have been a terrorist; his family and friends indicated that he had no strong political beliefs.

The Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority disputes the cause of the crash, blaming technical problems, rather than any action of Al-Batouti.

References

External links

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