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Nothing In The Egyptair CVR Suggests Suicide

Wed Nov 17, 1999 11:37 am

I don't think any of the so-far released transcript points towards suicide. The first alarm goes off while both pilots are in the cockpit, and they 'start to try and diagnose the problem,' according to what I've heard. The alarm precedes anything else. Then the autopilot is disconnected. Until the beginning of the emergency they were 'chatting like pals'. That the co-pilot should pray and say 'I put my fate in your hands' is quite in line with the oriental/islamic tradition of fatalism, ie, belief that your destiny resides with a higher power (which is ultimately true, even if that 'higher power' is just chaos and circumstance). I'm not suggesting someone definitely DIDN'T flip out and commit suicide/murder, but I just haven't seen any evidence of it. When the co-pilot said he was "going into death", all he was really doing was stating the facts as they were at the time.

When faced with certain impending doom, pilots say different things, inevitably heartbreaking. Saying goodbye to spouses, it's horrible. The crew of the Turkish Airlines DC10 that crashed outside Paris after a UA232-alike loss of controls were singing a tune from a Turkish breakfast cereal all the way down (once the plane went out of control), and I can think of other equally chilling things. A Surinam DC8 crashed when the non-ATPL rated copilot (who was in his 70s) made a complete mess of a raw-data approach. About five seconds before impact the flight engineer realised the futility of the situation and said, "That's it, I'm dead." No less spooky than "I put my fate in your hands" and "going into death".

I know it's an unpleasant thing to dwell on but people do all kinds of strange things when suddenly placed in extreme danger, and it's very easy to read things into it. My friend who had the misfortune to be first officer on a 707 that lost engines 3 & 4 and a fair amount of the right wing over the Alps watched in horror as the Icelandic (ie not a fatalistic Muslim, for those of you who think such behaviour is restricted to Arabs and the like) captain folded his arms and said, "We're all going to die now." In this case they survived (the tower could see them before they broke out of the clouds because of the 200 ft trail of fire from the wing tanks) and in both cases the cause of the crashes was quickly discovered. But "I put my fate in your hands" is no more or less sinister than "I love you Amy" (USAir at Pittsburgh) or "Shit" (the last word on about 90% of CVRs). In fact "I put my fate in your hands" is a more spiritual way of exiting the planet than "shit" or whatever, more the sound of a spiritually enlightened person accepting that their fate is no longer in their control, rather than any sign of suicidal intent.

Remember the master alarm went off first, and we are far from being in possession of all the facts. I must say the plot thickens at every turn but with each development we are no nearer to finding the cause of this tragedy.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
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RE: Nothing In The Egyptair CVR Suggests Suicide

Wed Nov 17, 1999 12:04 pm

So far this was the best analysis I have read on the CVR data. I think you put it very clear. I agree that the data in the CVR is not sufficient to conclude or assume that it is a suicide
A taste of Paradise
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Things Do Point To Suicide

Wed Nov 17, 1999 1:54 pm

Have you not realized that they timestamped the CVR and they have the Captain leaving the cockpit to do something in the back, leaving him alone.

Shortly after the Captain left, the F/O was heard saying these things and then he switched off the autopilot and put the a/c into the descent. The Captain then came flying back and said "what's going on?" Then either he got into his seat and grabbed the controls or never made it but stayed behind the F/O and pleaded with him "Pull up! Pull up!"

At any rate, the Captain never succeeded and the 767 crashed.

- Neil Harrison
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RE: Nothing In The Egyptair CVR Suggests Suicide

Wed Nov 17, 1999 2:01 pm

Just to add to the above, I have just heard that the FBI is going to take over some elements (or all) of the investigation, mainly on the grounds that some things "of a religious nature" were spoken. I'm probably being way too sensitive (and obviously am not in possession of all the facts as are known to the NTSB) but I find this quite insensitive. Just because an Islamic suicide bomber (or caricature thereof) in "Executive Decision" shouted out "Allahu-Akhbar" before blowing himself (and the Hyde Park Hilton) to bits, doesn't mean that because an Arabic-speaking pilot said a rough equivalent of "Oh my god", there was any suicidal or criminal act taking place.

It would be pretty bizarre (but similar to the above) if a TWA 727 crashed in Egypt and official investigation was handed to the Egyptian police because the CVR recorded the pilot, god-fearing chap from Kentucky that he is, was heard to exclaim, "God help us" after the beginning of a dire emergency. The whole thing seems to revolve around the American distrust of Islam and the Arab world - in any case one of the pilots could have been a Christian, about 5% of the Egyptian population are Coptic Christians. It is impossible to tell someone's religious beliefs from their nationality - I have met quite a few Iraqis in London and half of them are Jewish and the other half Christians, I have never met a Muslim Iraqi. All of which is quite off the subject but a few quasi-religious statements by a man under extreme pressure are the only things the FBI are going on so there is a link.

This was meant to be a little three line PS, but here's another thing: why would the elevators move in different directions? Some reports seem to imply that the elevators on the left tailplane are connected to the captain's control column and those on the right to the P2's controls or something. If one pilot is pushing forward and the other pulling up, then the springs and things might cancel the two inputs out, but I am sure that there is no way you could move these control surfaces in opposing directions by any combination of control inputs on the flight deck. If the elevators really did this then the plane was already breaking up from the aerodynamic forces.
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Oh Dear.

Wed Nov 17, 1999 2:11 pm

I'm way behind here. Way past my bedtime obviously. If things unfolded like Pilot1113 says, then I withdraw everything I said. I didn't know the timing of it unfolded like that, surely if things happened that way then the case is closed?
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Wed Nov 17, 1999 2:22 pm

Check out for further details.

I can understand where you're coming from. Americans are inherently distrustful of those in Arabia. Forgive me, for my ingnorance, if I wrongly use Arabia to mean Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and all others in the Persion Gulf.

I think it stems from the media, Osama Bin Lodin, and Pan Am 103. However, we can be benivelent people when we want to. Please don't think that all Americans are this way; I at least try to keep an open mind.

When I heard that an EgyptAir flight went down, I immediately thought terrorism because of the political instability over there. If the same bombings were occuring frequently over here, and it was an American Airlines 767 I would have thought the samething.

- Neil Harrison

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CederJet-- Check Www.msnbc.com

Wed Nov 17, 1999 2:31 pm

It's in the header

- Neil Harrison
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RE: Nothing In The Egyptair CVR Suggests Suicide

Thu Nov 18, 1999 2:15 am

Cedarjet, the chain of events pictured on the NTSB site is different then yours.
The first event registered on the FDR is the autopilot disconnection then the nose down elevator movement and engine thrust reduction. The Master warning then got activated probably because the plane exceeded the maximum allowed speed of 0.86 Mach. Thus, the cause of the autopilot disconnection is still obscure.
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RE: Nothing In The Egyptair CVR Suggests Suicide

Thu Nov 18, 1999 2:49 am

I would just like to say that the F.B.I would not be getting involved if there was not good cause to think that the crash was not of mechanical failure. I am not saying that it is NOT mechanical failure just stating that the F.B.I would not be involved and taking over the investigation if there was sufficient evidence to believe that there was something going on in the cockpit between the two pilots or possibly a passenger.
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
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RE: Nothing In The Egyptair CVR Suggests Suicide

Thu Nov 18, 1999 12:08 pm

Not to sound insensitive, but deep down inside I can deal with having a suicidal/homicidal pilot as the cause of a crash, as opposed to something inherently wrong with the design of the craft itself. Having said that, it'll be interesting to see what the outcome is here.
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The Unkindest Cut

Sat Nov 20, 1999 2:29 pm

Johnboy, I know what you're saying. But I'd have to disagree. Flying has many inherent risks, most of which we judge and accept. But when we can't even trust the man up front, flying takes on a new and unsettling dimension. I'd much rather believe that disasters are accidents. To think that those people, children included, were murdered, not just by a man, but betrayed by their own pilot, that is the unkindest cut of all.
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RE: Nothing In The Egyptair CVR - Excuse Me?

Sat Nov 20, 1999 4:05 pm

So let me get this straight...
Relief pilot asks to fly three and a half hours before he is supposed to. Captain grants his wish. Captain and co-pilot step out of the cockpit. A prayer of some sort is heard (it is still up for interpretation what it exactly means), autopilot is switched off and plane takes a 40 degree dive. The Captain rushes into the cockpit and is heard speaking in arabic something to the effect of "what is going on". Relief pilot sitting in the co-pilot's seat does not answer directly or is still saying the same or another prayer. There is a struggle and the plane starts to climb. At the same time the engines' fuel flow is shut off. Plane climbs 8000 feet, stalls and takes another dive, never recovering. The FDR shows the two elevators in opposite direction, the Captain's side in nose up and the co-pilot's side in nose down.
This does not take a rocket scientist or a great detective my friends. And I am sure that there is political pressure on the NTSB to "not rush to conclusion". That is ok, they need to go over things more carefully to avoid mistakes. But if the facts stand as they do today, I am afraid that it points towards a pilot who maliciously crashes the plane. The motive is yet to be determined, but let's try to think about this seriously no matter what the outcome of that may be.

There Was No Prayer Uttered!

Sat Nov 20, 1999 4:10 pm

I am sorry i do not want to have to read through all the replies in this forum, i read the last one and i am responding to that one, if someone has mentioned this before i am sorry.

The BBC/Skynews and CNN are reporting that there was NO prayer "uttered" in the cockpit by the co-pilot.
It is as simple as that. NOT ONE SINGLE WORD has been officially released by NTSB/FBI.

This was just an absolute beatup by the American press eager to point blame on the arab side of this accident rather than finding the truth about this accident, which if it was not suicide raises a lot more questions about the American side of this accident invesitigation than it answers!
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There Was No Prayer Uttered! - Check Your Sources

Sat Nov 20, 1999 4:25 pm

Ok, you know, I may be wrong, but I do work in broadcasting and the last update I heard was today before I left work and yes, there was a prayer heard on the voice recorder. That is why the islamic community released a statement to the public asking people not to take the "I put my faith in you" and that sort of thing wrong, that it is quite a commong thing to say.
CNN has reported that the NTSB chairman has said publicly that "EgyptAir Flight 990 may have been crashed into the ocean deliberately". Here is the link where you can check that information: http://www.cnn.com/US/9911/19/egyptair.03/
And please, don't jump right on the big giant evil media and blame them with being "eager" to blame this on the "Arab side". Nobody is blaming anybody, the fact that is known remains and you draw your own conclusion.
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News And EgyptAir 990

Sat Nov 20, 1999 5:05 pm

I don't think than anyone is making the Arabs look evil or bad. The news is just playing up these facts to generate interest in potential viewers.

If this had been a United 767 flight where the pilot decided he'd fly the aircraft into "the drink" there would be much, much more media coverage. The ONLY thing that the news media likes more than a foreign airline pilot committing sucide is a American pilot committing suicide.

I'm sorry to say this, but it's true. Death and distruction are what the news specializes in. How many of us tuned into CNN/MSNBC/Time/Newsweek/Sky etc. to find the latest news on this crash?? We're all guilty of this somehow and in some way.

Let's take a look at who was flying the aircraft... and Egyption!!! How could we not avoid talking about his Egyption background??

- Neil Harrison
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RE: Let's Blame The Media

Sat Nov 20, 1999 5:25 pm

I don't mean to turn this into a media forum, but the reason the media covers what it covers is because that is what people want to see. I work for the "big evil" media (I'm a tech, don't do any news-related decisions) and when I want to get the news I turn to PBS. You don't pay off your building and equipment loans and leases by doing a fifteen minute in-depth special on a foreign policy issue. So please understand... If people weren't watching it, it wouldn't be on, plain and simple. It may seem like it is more complicated than that, but I assure you, nobody in the right mind is not out there to make somebody else look bad because of one's "super-liberal extremist ideas". It's too expensive.
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RE: Nothing In The Egyptair CVR Suggests Suicide

Sat Nov 20, 1999 9:35 pm

Media covers it because people want to see it,
People see it because media covers it,

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