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Thursday, November 18, 1999 Published at 19:48 GMT

World: Middle East

Pilots with years of experience

Cockpit voice recorder: Experts are analysing the sounds

Fears are rising that flight 990 was the victim of an act of sabotage.

The loss of flight 990
But with little evidence so far of terrorist attack, the psychological character of the aircrew is under scrutiny.

Flight 990's trained aircrew was made up of a pilot and co-pilot, another pilot and co-pilot to take over half-way through the flight, and two pilots on a trainee exercise with an instructor-observer and an off-duty crewman.

Gameel Batouty, relief co-pilot

[ image: Gameel Batouty:
Gameel Batouty: "A man of honour and faith"
The family of Gameel Batouty has strongly denied that the 59-year-old pilot would have crashed the plane deliberately.

His brother-in-law Essam Dahi said he was "a man of experience, honour and, most importantly, faith".

Married for 27 years with five children, Mr Batouty joined EgyptAir in 1987 after training pilots at Egypt's Civil Aviation Authority and the air force.

He had more than 5,000 flight hours in a Boeing 767 and was to have retired in March.

His 10-year-old daughter, Aya, suffers from the immune disorder lupus erythematosis, and had been treated in the United States.

"She was everything to him," Mr Dahi said.

"Only God will be able to give her the kind of love her father offered."

Mohammed Batouty, the pilot's son, denied that the family had any financial problems. The Al-Ahram newspaper has reported that Mr Batouty sent home money and a present for his daughter the day before the crash.

Adel Anwar, co-pilot

Adel Anwar had 12 years of experience with EgyptAir. He logged over 3,900 flight hours, 288 of them on the 767.

[ image: Co-pilot Adel Anwar was returning to his honeymoon]
Co-pilot Adel Anwar was returning to his honeymoon
Adel Anwar, who was in his early 30s, was due to get married on 5 November, six days after the crash.

Tarek Anwar said his brother had been excited about the event, switching shifts with a colleague so he could be in Cairo early.

His fiancee had left her job to devote herself full-time to being a homemaker. They had packed their bags and made plans for a honeymoon in New York.

Mr Anwar travelled a lot, so no one was waiting for him at the airport, his brother said. It was just another regular flight "or so we thought".

Captain Ahmed al-Habashi

The plane's captain, Ahmed Mahmoud al-Habashi, was one of the airline's most senior and experienced pilots, EgyptAir officials said.

[ image: Captain Al-Habashi had 11 years experience on Boeing 767s]
Captain Al-Habashi had 11 years experience on Boeing 767s
In a career that spanned more than 35 years, he accumulated over 14,000 flight hours, more than 6,350 on Boeing 767s.

Mr Al-Habashi, who was in his late 50s, was "a man to be respected for his skills and personality", said Walid Murad, head of Egypt's Pilots Association.

"I can't think of anyone with anything but a kind word to say about Ahmed."

Mr Al-Habashi and his wife, Nagya el-Assal, had three children. His brother, Mohammed, is also an EgyptAir pilot.

Raouf Noureddin, relief captain

Raouf Noureddin called his children an hour before flight 990 took off from New York.

[ image: Raouf Noureddin:
Raouf Noureddin: "A man who loved to fly"
"Raouf wanted to check on the children. It was the first time they were left at home alone," said his wife, Magda, who was on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at the time of the crash.

Mr Noureddin, 52, began his career as an air force pilot, flying jets, and was decorated for his combat missions in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

He left the air force shortly after the war and spent two years flying for a British company which serviced oil companies in Egypt.

He later joined EgyptAir, where he accumulated over 11,800 flight hours, more than 7,300 on the 767, according to airline records.

His wife recalled him as "a calm man, a loving man", and "a man who loved to fly".

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