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Graphic Text: Crash of EgyptAir Flight 990

Mark Thompson-Kolar
Detroit Free Press

Chatter: Air transportation officials have proposed this scenario to explain what caused EgyptAir Flight 990 to crash Oct. 31. They say it is too early in the investigation to say any crew member definitely played a role.

Proposed Sequence of events

1. In the cockpit: Shortly after 1:49 a.m., el-Habashi leaves his controls. Autopilot is on. Batouty, in co-pilot's seat, takes controls. He utters in Arabic*, "I made my decision now. I put my faith in God's hands."

Plane: The Boeing 767 is crusing normally at 33,000 feet. Weather is clear, with good visibility and light winds.

2. In the cockpit: Someone shuts off the autopilot. El-Habashy quickly returns and says in Arabic, "What's going on," or "Let's fix this," then "Work with me. Pull with me." El-Habashy and Batouty strugle at their respective controls. Throttles are cut back, engines slow.

Plane: Begins steep descent. The Plane's tail elevators, which usually move in tandem, move in opposite directions. This may signal a control struggle.

3. In the cockpit: The pilots continue grappling at their controls. Someone turns engine switches to "cut-off."

Plane: In dive, speed reaches about 700 mph and passengers feel weightless. Initial drop ends at 16,700 feet. Plane climbs to 24,000 feet before plunging into ocean.

*Egyptian experts say Batouty's statement may yield different interpretations.

Sources: Knight-Ridder Tribune; New York Times; Reuters; Commercial Aircraft Markings and Profiles; National Transportation Safety Board; News reports; Free Press research by Mark Thompson-Kolar

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