Statement of Jim Hall
Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
Regarding EgyptAir Flight 990
November 2, 1999


Thank you for coming Ladies and Gentlemen.

You were briefed earlier today about the progress of the search and recovery operation. I again want to thank the United States Coast Guard and the United States Navy for their invaluable work on behalf of our investigation.

I flew up this evening from Washington with Ambassador Nabil Fahmy of Egypt, and took him to our command post at Quonset Point. I then showed him the Joint Operations Center here in Newport, and he has gone to visit the families of his countrymen at the Doubletree Hotel. I was also accompanied by Mr. Thurgood Marshall of the White House staff, who will report to the President when he returns to Washington.

I want also to express my appreciation to Mayor Giuliani of New York, for sending 40 workers from the city's Emergency Management Office to escort the family members up here from New York. The City of New York has now been the first responder to 3 recent major air disasters and we appreciate their work.

Let me update you on the progress of the investigation.

Our Operations Group has interviewed the pilots who flew the accident aircraft from Cairo to Newark, from Newark to Los Angeles, and then from Los Angeles to New York. The pilots reported that all the flights were normal and that there were no problems with the airplane. The only outstanding maintenance issue they reported was that one engine thrust reverser was inoperative. Flight with the reverser inoperative is approved by the minimum equipment list for the airplane.

While in Los Angeles, two tires on the airplane were replaced. One of the captains reported that in the past month the left air conditioning system inoperative warning light would occasionally flicker. He indicated that maintenance examination of the left air conditioning system did not find any problems with the system and that it seemed to function properly. These issues will be fully investigated by the Safety Board's Maintenance Records group.

We have received radar data from three facilities: Boston Center, New York Center and Boston Approach Control Radar on Nantucket. Additional data has been provided by the Air Force 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron.

Our engineers are still evaluating the data, but I will share some preliminary results. Because there are a lot of numbers here, I'm going to go through this slowly.

Egypt Air 990 was cruising at 33,000 feet, 3 nautical miles east and 57 nautical miles south of the Nantucket radar antenna. The ground track was 66 degrees and the ground speed was 483 knots.

The data show that the airplane started a descent from 33,000 feet at 06:49:52 universal time. That is 1:49:52 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

During the descent, there were 9 radar returns from the Nantucket radar that contain altitude information. These returns show a descent from 33,000 feet to 16,700 feet in 40 seconds, for an average rate of descent of 24,000 feet per minute. The airplane did not turn during this descent.

At 16,700 feet, the ground track was about 70 degrees and the ground speed was near 600 knots. After this point, only primary radar returns were received. Primary returns do not contain altitude data.

For several seconds, the ground track continued in a general straight line. Then, the data show a right turn from 70 degrees to 130 degrees over a 37-second period, ending at 1:51:17. I do not have information on the altitude of the aircraft at that last primary radar return.

The aircraft position at this point was 13 nautical miles East and 54 nautical miles South of the Nantucket radar antenna. This position is about ½ mile west of the location of the pinger sounds.

I want to acknowledge Governor Almond and the State of Rhode Island, who have made available a hangar at Quonset Point for examining and storing the wreckage.

The FBI has announced a toll free number for persons who believe they have information that would be useful to the investigation, including potential eye witnesses. That number is 1-800-473-4761.

That's the new information we have for you today. I'll be happy to answer a few questions for you.