Statement by Chairman Hall
Regarding the EgyptAir Flight 990 Investigation
November 16, 1999, 6 p.m.


As you know, the National Transportation Safety Board was requested by the government of Egypt to take the lead in this investigation.  They are our partners in this endeavor.  NTSB and Egyptian investigators have been working side-by-side, both on site in Rhode Island, and here at our headquarters building in Washington, D.C., to uncover the circumstances of this accident.  This investigation is extremely important to the people of the United States and Egypt.

Based on the evidence we have seen thus far - the flight data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder, radar data and the small bits of wreckage that have been recovered - we have so far found no sign of a mechanical or weather related event that could have caused this accident.  Yesterday, I told you that we are concentrating our efforts on determining from the evidence whether or not this investigation is to remain under the leadership of the NTSB.  This decision cannot be made lightly.

Throughout the course of the NTSB investigation into the crash of flight 990, the Government of Egypt has been extremely cooperative.  Today, additional Egyptian experts joined the investigation.  The Government of Egypt has notified us that additional Egyptian experts and officials will join the process to analyze all available information that may bear on the cause of this tragic crash.  Authorities from both governments are further analyzing the significance and meaning of the CVR.

Given this further development, it is only prudent for the NTSB to consult with these experts and officials, to fully evaluate this information prior to any final decision on whether the responsibility for this investigation should transfer to the FBI.  I met today with FBI Director Louis Freeh and he fully concurs in this course of action.  It is in the interest of all those concerned with the investigation and its results to ensure that this process, including any further thorough evaluation, be undertaken expeditiously.

Again, we are very appreciative of the assistance by the Government of Egypt.  The strong partnership between our countries in this investigation can serve only to strengthen the possibility that the final cause of this tragic crash can be determined.

I am fully mindful of the public's interest in this investigation.  I have dedicated all the necessary resources of the NTSB to this investigation, and many agencies of the U.S. Government and the Egyptian Government, and elements of private industry, have assisted us.  This investigation is continuing.

Today, Director Freeh and I asked the U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage to contract for a large ship with a heavy lift capability that can operate in heavy seas, and send it to the accident site as soon as possible for the retrieval of human remains and aircraft wreckage.

I do not contemplate another press briefing for a few days, but I will take some questions now.

Chairman Hall's Speeches & Testimony