Sabotage with Aircraft?

November 30, 1999
EgyptAir 990: FAA Order Raises New Questions
The Federal Aviation Administration yesterday ordered a special

inspection of Boeing Co. after a series of quality-control problems, in-

cluding the discovery by American Airlines mechanics of 16 improperly

tightened bolts in a Boeing 767 tail section, reports Don Phillips (“FAA

Calls a Special Inspection of Boeing,” Washington Post , November 30).

Boeing has determined that an incorrect torque wrench had been

used because of a difference between Boeing requirements and the work

instructions given to workers.

The FAA ordered inspection gives some credence to questions raised

about the stabilizer of the Boeing 767 involved in the EgyptAir 990


Less than a week ago the independent Austrian Institute of Aero-

space Medicine and Space Biology said that “the abnormal dive of the

Boeing 767 could be due to a so-called ‘stabilizer runaway.’. . . The

stabilizer runaway batters the plane so strongly that the autopilot is

insufficiently strong and it is automatically turned off on purpose in

such a case.”

And an international airline pilots group has stepped into the con-

troversy over the probe into the EgyptAir flight 990 crash, denouncing

what it said was a media frenzy about suicide as a cause.”

Captain Ted Murphy of the International Federation of Airline Pi-

lots’ Associations told Reuters, “The big issue is the failure of the industry

to resist the temptation to talk. Authorities have to resist giving an an-

swer straight away.”

This is not the first time that U.S. government officials and media

have jumped to hasty conclusions.

Five months after the December 21, 1988, explosion of Pan Am

Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the U.S. State Department an-

nounced that the CIA was confident that the villains were members of

the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine led by Ahmed Jibril

based in Syria. But when Syria allied with the U.S. in the Gulf War the

blame was shifted to Libya.

When TWA 800 crashed in 1996, the Washington Post, in it’s July

144—Enver Masud
23 editorial, stated that while the “evidence of terrorism is not yet there,”

that “courtroom-type proof ” may be hard to come by, that “interna-

tional validation before the act of punishment would be the best way to

go, but if that is not feasible a national decision by the injured party, the

United States, ought to suffice.”

There is one thing of which we may be reasonably sure. The cause

of such crashes may never be determined with certainty.

Newsweek magazine, in their cover story of November 29 by Daniel

Klaidman and Mark Hosenball, “I Put My Trust in God,” on the crash

of EgyptAir 990, state, “Nearly three years after the NTSB determined

that a faulty fuel tank aboard the Boeing 747 caused the explosion that

destroyed TWA Flight 800 in July 1996, Boeing is still trying to prove

that the plane was brought down by a missile or a bomb.”

Boeing’s concerns are echoed by the Associated Retired Aviation

Professionals which states: “Recently uncovered information now shows

that TWA Flight 800 could have been shot down by one or more shoul-

der-fired missiles.” The association’s membership includes Admiral

Thomas Moorer former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief ’s of Staff.

According to Time magazine (Johanna McGeary, “A Prayer Before

Dying,” November 29): “The U.S. has a long investigation to finish

before it can prove any hypothesis is valid. It took investigators 16 months

to conclude effectively that an exploded fuel tank, not a missile, brought

down TWA 800. The truth about EgyptAir 990 still lies hidden in the


[As of March 15, 2000, the transcript, expected to take five days, had not been


[“American investigators studying the crash of an Egyptair jet in 1999, said today

that they were looking into a control problem with the same model plane that oc-

curred Tuesday as it approached Paris. . . . Egyptians attribute the problem to flaws in

the pitch mechanism.”—“A New Theory in Egyptair Crash,” New York Times, March

29, 2001]

[“EgyptAir says it will not contest liability over claims filed by relatives of more

than 200 people killed when one of its planes plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in

1999. A lawyer for the airline told Reuters news agency in New York the decision did

not mean the company admitted it was responsible for the crash. Christopher Carlsen

said EgyptAir wanted to help the victims’ families now and dispute the cause of the

disaster later. The airline believes there was a mechanical problem with the Boeing

767 jet.”—“EgyptAir Abandons Liability Battle,” BBC News Online, January 26, 2001]

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