Following are excerpts from the Cockpit Voice Recorder recovered from the wreckage of EgyptAir flight 990, released today by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. Included are a summary, and a legend to help understand who is talking in the cockpit. The first section is from the flight’s takeoff from JFK airport and first few minutes of flight. The second is from the last few moments of flight, just before the plane plunged into the Atlantic off the coast of Massachusetts.
The NTSB is prohibited by statute from releasing an audio version of the Cockpit Voice Recorder.
The Fairchild model A-100 cockpit voice recorder (CVR), s/n 55155, was delivered by the United States Navy to Andrews Air Force Base on November 14, 1999. National Transportation Safety Board personnel immediately transported it to the NTSB audio laboratory. The Cockpit Voice Recorder committee convened on November 18, 1999 and completed their work on December 2, 1999. Two transcripts were prepared of the entire 31:30 minute recording, one in Arabic/English exactly as spoken on the accident flight and the other with Arabic words and phrases translated to English. (attached)
DETAILS OF INVESTIGATION
The recorder was transported in a container filled with fresh water to prevent corrosion from salt water exposure. The exterior of the CVR showed evidence of significant structural damage. The front panel of the recorder including the underwater locator beacon was missing. The outer metal enclosure was heavily dented so it was necessary to cut it away to gain access to the tape memory module. The memory module and the tape sustained no apparent heat or impact damage.
The recording consisted of four channels of audio information. Two channels contained good quality audio. One of these channels contained the cockpit area microphone (CAM) audio information and the other, audio heard through the first officer audio panel and hot microphone system., The captain’s channel was difficult or impossible to read for most of the recording and the fourth channel contained no usable sounds. The captain was apparently not using his hot microphone system. Advanced audio filtering and amplification techniques were applied to enhance readability of all data.
Correlation of the CVR recording to eastern standard time (EST) was established using times from the Nantucket Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR9) data, the aircraft digital flight data recorder (DFDR) information, and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) transcript developed by the FAA. This data were then correlated to microphone keying and other events that are common to the CVR and FDR. A detailed explanation of the time correlation procedure is available in the Aircraft Performance Group Chairman’s factual report.
The recording and transcript started at 0119:13 as the flight was cleared for takeoff from runway two two right at the John F. Kennedy International Airport. The transcript continued uninterrupted until 0150:38 EST when electrical power was removed from the CVR. The transcript contained the takeoff, climb, and initial cruise portion of the flight. The recording ended shortly after the aircraft started its initial descent from cruise altitude.
(signed) Albert G. Reitan Transportation Safety Specialist (CVR)
CVR Quality Rating Scale
The levels of recording quality are characterized by the following traits of the cockpit voice recorder information:
Excellent Quality — Virtually all of the crew conversations could be accurately and easily understood. The transcript that was developed may indicate only one or two words that were not intelligible. Any loss in the transcript is usually attributed to simultaneous cockpit/radio transmissions that obscure each other.
Good Quality — Most of the crew conversations could be accurately and easily understood. The transcript that was developed may indicate several words or phrases that were not intelligible. Any loss in the transcript can be attributed to minor technical deficiencies or momentary dropouts in the recording system or to a large number of simultaneous cockpit/radio transmissions that obscure each other.
Fair Quality — The majority of the crew conversations were intelligible. The transcript that was developed may indicate passages where conversations were unintelligible or fragmented. This type of recording is usually caused by cockpit noise that obscures portions of the voice signals or by a minor electrical or mechanical failure of the CVR system that distorts or obscures the audio information.
Poor Quality — Extraordinary means had to be used to make some of the crew conversations intelligible. The transcript that was developed may indicate fragmented phrases and conversations and may indicate extensive passages where conversations were missing or unintelligible. This type of recording is usually caused by a combination of a high cockpit noise level with a low voice signal (poor signal-to-noise ratio) or by a mechanical or electrical failure of the CVR system that severely distorts or obscures the audio information.
Unusable — Crew conversations may be discerned, but neither ordinary nor extraordinary means made it possible to develop a meaningful transcript of the conversations. This type of recording is usually caused by an almost total mechanical or electrical failure of the CVR system.
Transcript of a Fairchild A-100 cockpit voice recorder (CVR), s1n 3193, installed on an B-767-332-ER, SU-GAP, which was involved in a descent and collision into the ocean, near Nantucket Island, MA, on October 31, 1999.
HOT Crewmember hot microphone voice or sound source RDO Radio transmission from accident aircraft CAM Cockpit area microphone voice or sound source TWR Radio transmission from the JFK tower controller DEP Radio transmission f rom 1 s' J FK departure controller CTRII Radio transmission from ls' New York Center controller CTR2 Radio transmission from 2nd New York Center controller -1a Voice identified as Pilot-in-Command (PIC) of departure crew -2a Voice identified as Co-Pilot (SIC) of departure crew -1b Voice identified as Pilot-in-Command (PIC) of relief crew -2b Voice identified as Co-Pilot (SIC) of relief crew -2 Sound heard through the First Officer's hot microphone system -3 Voice identified as male supervisory pilot -4 Voice identified as ls'additional crew member (ACM) -5 Voice identified as 2nd additional crew member (ACM) -6 Voice identified as female cabin attendant -? Voice unidentified * Unintelligible word @ Non-pertinent word # Expletive --- Break in continuity ( ) Questionable insertion [ ] Editorial insertion ..... Pause
Note 1: Times are expressed in eastern standard time (EST). Note 2: Generally only radio transmissions to and from the accident aircraft were transcribed.
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, D.C. 20594
The undersigned Cockpit Voice Recorder group members have reviewed the CVR tape recording from EgyptAir Airlines, Inc. Flight 990 that crashed on October 31, 1999 near Nantucket Island, MA, and have participated in the preparation of both an Arabic language transcript and an English language translation of that transcript. We agree that these transcripts are the best effort of the combined group, and concur with their contents.
The CVR Group consisted of ten individuals, five of whom speak Arabic. Four of those individuals speak Arabic as their first language. Only one of the ten group members recognized the voices heard on the CVR, based on his previous familiarity with members of the flight crew. The identification of the speakers on the CVR reflects that group member’s best judgment of the identity of the speakers, based on the information available at the time the transcription was performed.
Albert G. Reitan, Group Chairman, NTSB
Captain Mohsen El Missery’, Egypt Ministry of Civil Aviation
Mostafa H. El Gammall, EgyptAir
David M. Levanto, Pratt & Whi
Captain Gus Steams, The B7mi&.Fompany
Erick E. West, FAA
David V Scott’, U.S. Department of State CDCW7
Sam Youssif, FBI
Bradley S. Morrison, FBI
Viviane Sacy Tannoury, (Arabic Speaking member), NTSB Interpreter / Typist
CAM-1a—cabin crew advised?
HOT-2a—in the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Cabin crew takeoff position.
TWR—…nine ninety heavy, the wind is two four zero at one zero, runway two two right, RVR is more than six thousand, run- way two two right, cleared for takeoff.
RDO-2a—cleared for takeoff. confirm climbing six thousand?
TWR—negative sir. the runway two two right RVR is more than six thousand. you fly the Gateway Climb, climbing to five thou- sand.
RDO-2a—following Gateway, clear for takeoff runway two two right, EgyptAir nine nine zero heavy.
CAM—[sounds similar to increase in engine RPM]
CAM—[sounds similar to nose wheel traveling over bumps on run- way]
HOT-2a—eighty knots, throttle hold.
HOT-2a—positive rate of climb both side.
TWR—EgyptAir nine ninety heavy contact departure now one two five point seven.
RDO-2a—one two five seven, bye.
CAM—[sound similar to flap handle movement]
HOT-2a—turn right direct SHIPP, execute sir?
CAM-1a—did he tell you turn left?
RDO-2a—departure, EgyptAir nine eight nine in your frequency.
DEP—EgyptAir nine ninety heavy New York you’re radar contact, climb and maintain uh, one three thousand.
RDO-2a—climbing one three thousand, nine nine zero.
DEP—EgyptAir nine ninety heavy turn left then proceed direct to SHIPP.
RDO-2a—direct SHIPP, nine nine zero heavy.
CAM—[sound similar to flap handle movement]
CAM-1a—did you enter it or not yet?
HOT-2a—I entered it.
CAM-1a—please reset the okay.
HOT-2a—after take off.
CAM-1a—(after take off)
HOT-2a—landing gear lever off, flaps up, after takeoff checks complete
CAM—[brief interruption in audio similar to CVR tape splice]
HOT-2a—at your service, sir.
HOT-2a—no, I didn’t enter two nine zero. I entered three one zero
CAM-3—that’s why it gave you maximum altitude.
HOT-2a—I swear I entered three one zero.
HOT-2a—ten thousand climbing.
HOT-2a—I had even entered two nine zero.
HOT-2a—we’re already in the middle of the Atlantic
DEP—EgyptAir nine ninety heavy climb and maintain flight level two three zero and contact New York center one three four point five five.
CAM-1a—how much, two three zero?
CAM-3—[unintelligible conversation in background]
HOT-2a—[tone similar to cabin crew call chime]
CAM-?—[sounds similar to coughing]
RDO-2a—one three four five five, two three zero.
RDO-2a—New York, EgyptAir nine nine zero heavy, good evening.
CTR1—EgyptAir nine nine zero, go.
CTR1—EgyptAir nine nine zero, go ahead.
RDO-2a—ah, approaching three thousand, up to flight level two three zero.
CAM-3—[unintelligible conversation in background]
HOT-2a—one zero one three.
HOT-2a—after takeoff (checks) complete.
CAM-3—the chart, Adel
HOT-2a—the chart, sir?
CAM—[unintelligible conversation in background]
CAM-3—the chart of the Atlantic.
HOT-2a—? aye aye ? would you like, sir, the atlas or the one both available.
CAM—[sound similar to rustling papers]
Following is the English translation of the final two minutes and 43 seconds of Egypt Air’s cockpit voice recorder.
Only the voices of the departure crew’s pilot, Ahmed Mahmoud El Habashy, and the relief crew’s co-pilot, Gamil El Batouty, are identified on this final portion of the tape.
El Batouty—Look, here’s the new first officer’s pen. Give it to him please. God spare you. (unidentified voice)—Yeah. El Batouty—To make sure it doesn’t get lost. El Habashy—Excuse me, Jimmy, while I take a quick trip to the toilet …
(whirring sound similar to electric seat motor operating; sound of click; sound similar to cockpit door operating) El Batouty—Go ahead, please.
(sound of several clicks) El Habashy—… before it gets crowded. While they are eating, and I’ll get back to you.
(sound similar to cockpit door operating; sound of thunk; sound of clink) (unidentified voice)—[three unintelligable syllables]
(sound of click and thump) El Batouty—I rely on God. (heard faintly)
(sounds of thumps and clicks for about 30 seconds; whirring sound similar to electric seat motor operating; two faint thumps followed by louder thump; about 17 seconds later, two clicks and two thumps) El Batouty—I rely on God.
(one lout thump and three faint thumps) El Batouty—I rely on God. I rely on God.
(four tones similar to Master Caution aural beeper) El Batouty—I rely on God. I rely on God. I rely on God. I rely on God.
(sound of loud thump) El Batouty—I rely on God. El Habashy—What’s happening? What’s happening? El Batouty—I rely on God.
(sound of numerous thumps and clicks continue for approximately fifteen seconds; repeating high-low tone similar to Master Warning aural starts and continues to the end of recording) El Batouty—I rely on God. El Habashy—What’s happening? (unidentified voice)—[unintelligible] El Habashy—What’s happening, Gamil? What’s happening?
(four tones similar to Master Caution aural beeper) El Habashy—What is this? What is this? Did you shut the engine(s)?
(one mic detects a change and increase in sound) El Habashy—Get away in the engines. Shut the engines. El Batouty—It’s shut. El Habashy—Pull. Pull with me. Pull with me. Pull with me.
According to investigators, the transcript ends here as the aircraft starts to descend from cruise altitude. They add that the tape ended at 1:50 a.m. and 38 seconds EST, when electrical power to the recorder was cut off.