Alps crash has similarities to Nantucket EgyptAir disaster

217 killed in 1999 crash off Nantucket

(Michael Stappen)

WCVB – This week's Germanwings jetliner crash in the French Alps that killed 150 people has some similarities to an EgyptAir crash that killed more than 200 people off the Massachusetts coast in 1999.

A French prosecutor said the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane, Andreas Lubitz, appeared to want to "destroy the plane." He said the co-pilot was alone at the controls and "intentionally" sent the plane into the doomed descent, killing everyone on board.

Prosecutor Brice Robin said the pilot had been locked out of the cockpit, and pounding could be heard on the recorder during the final minutes of the flight as alarms sounded. He said the co-pilot "voluntarily" refused to open the door to let the pilot back in.

Robin said passengers could be heard screaming just before the crash.

As more details emerge about the Germanwings crash, the more the circumstances seem to echo the final moments of 1999's EgyptAir Flight 990.

Although the exact cause of the crash has been disputed, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the co-pilot, Gameel Al-Batouti, deliberately crashed the plane.

"The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the EgyptAir Flight 990 accident is the airplane's departure from normal cruise flight and subsequent impact with the Atlantic Ocean as a result of the relief first officer's flight control inputs. The reason for the relief first officer's actions was not determined," the NTSB said.

The voice recorder captured Al-Batouti saying "Tawkalt ala Allah," an Egyptian Arabic phase that translates into "I rely on God," moments after the captain leaves the cockpit to use the lavatory.

About 30 seconds later, the autopilot was disengaged, Al-Batouti repeats "Tawkalt ala Allah" and the engines are powered down. The captain is then heard asking "What is this? Why did you shut the engines?" before trying to correct the plane's trajectory.

Moments later, the Boeing 767 crashes off Nantucket, killing all 217 passengers and crew on board.

The Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority concluded a mechanical failure in the aircraft's elevator control system caused the crash.

The cause of the Germanwings crash remains under investigation.