Bomb downed EgyptAir, say crash investigators

White House policy of denying terrorist activity in air disasters?

By David M. Bresnahan

© 1999

November 5, 1999

The crash of EgyptAir 990 is the most recent example of an apparent Clinton administration policy to deny terrorist involvement in airline disasters, according to independent investigators.

With an extensive background as a flight crash investigator, Cmdr. William Donaldson (Ret.), and former Federal Aviation Administration investigator Rodney Stitch, both believe a terrorist bomb on board the plane most likely caused the crash of EgyptAir 990.

Donaldson's independent study of a previous air disaster, the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, led him to conclude that crash was caused by a missile fired by terrorists. Stitch concurs that a missile was the most likely cause of the TWA disaster. Moreover, Stitch has compelling evidence that the U.S. government allowed over 100 U.S.-made Stinger missiles to be put on the open market, likely finding their way into terrorist hands.

Both investigators contend that President Clinton has a specific policy of denial to avoid tough questions and the pressure to takemilitary action against terrorists.

"The government becomes an interested party as soon as terrorism is placed on the table as an option," Donaldson said. In the past, both investigators contend, when the U.S. has admitted to being a victim of terrorism, the government usually has failed to take decisive action. If terrorism therefore is acknowledged as a cause of an airline crash, the public will demand immediate retaliation that the Clinton Administration is not prepared to take, they contend.

"As soon as you admit that aircraft not only came down by a terrorist act, but it was shot down over our own waters, the media's going to say, 'wait a minute, how did that happen? Why didn't we know there was a threat? Where was the CIA? Where was the FBI? Where was the military? What did the White House know and when did they know it?'" said Donaldson.

Stitch agreed with the assessment that President Clinton avoids scrutiny by remaining uncommitted on whether terrorism was involved in either of the crashes, and delaying the final investigative outcome for as long as possible.

"Let's say they know it was a surrogate from Iran that was responsible. Once the media's got the story they're going to run with it. What are you going to do, Mr. President? The American people are going to demand that we take some kind of reprisal," suggested Donaldson.

"Iran is a very tough nut to screw with. They've got cells all around the world of loyal Moslems that will light their bodies on fire," he added. Rather than deal with the difficult situation, both men believe the evidence is strong that a new policy for dealing with terrorist acts began with the crash of TWA flight 800 in 1996.

The evidence already known about EgyptAir 990 should be enough to indicate only a very few realistic explanations for what happened, according to both investigators, as well as one of the actual designers of the Boeing 767 aircraft that crashed.

Joseph Ruisi worked for Grumman Aerospace and was part of the team that designed much of the plane under subcontract for Boeing. Ruisi told WorldNetDaily it was highly unlikely EgyptAir 990 suffered mechanical failure to the extent that it would respond the way the evidence shows.

The Boeing 767 is the strongest commercial airplane in the air, said Ruisi. Something caused the plane to depressurize, he said, and it was most likely a bomb. Stitch and Donaldson agree.

"The first possibility is a bomb exploding on the aircraft and the pilot then making an emergency descent," said Stitch.

"When I used to conduct emergency descents with the airline pilots, we'd go up to 37,000 feet and then I would tell them we just lost all pressurization," said Stitch. "One thing I would warn them about would be, if the depressurization is due to damage like, let's say, a bomb, there's a possibility that the emergency descent, which is kind of hard on the aircraft, could cause further failure of the aircraft. It could come completely apart."

He disagreed with the suggestion that one of the engines suddenly went into reverse. All three men said that is the least likely cause, and that it is being used as a cover by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Clinton Administration.

Although all three believe a missile strike is responsible for the downing of TWA flight 800, they believe such is just a remote possibility in the case of EgyptAir 990. Small missiles could not reach the altitude at which the EgyptAir plane was flying, and at that altitude and speed it would be virtually impossible to hit.

The only missiles that could successfully hit the plane would have to be launched from a submarine or another plane, said Donaldson, who did not see evidence that such an attack had been made.

"The basic facts as I've seen them, show[ing] the aircraft precipitously diving from 33,000 feet with the transponder operating, is significant. It means that the engines, the fuel system, the wings were intact when the aircraft left its cruising altitude. There's two ways that can happen -- either in control or out of control," described Donaldson.

"The in control scenario would be, for example, and I think this has got a high probability: If an explosive device or some other unexplainedbreach of cabin integrity occurred at that altitude, you have an explosive decompression. When you're in the cabinyou're going to have an almost instant ice fog.If the hole's big enough, you're actually going to have stuff that's going to migrate to that hole and go out.

"The oxygen masks drop down. You have about 10 to 15 seconds of useful conscious time. That's a real problem for civilians that have never gone through this training before. The very first thing you have to do is grab themask and put it on your face. If you don't do that you're going to get confused, and it's a very confusing thing," said Donaldson of wha he believes most likely took place on the plane.

The pilot is trained to react quickly to such an emergency, something both Stitch and Donaldson insisted is well known by all commercial pilots.

"The next thing would be to slam the throttles back to the flight idle position and actuate wing spoilers. Some aircraft may require the flaps even to be deployed to get the aircraft at a high drag situation so you can dump the nose and dive for 10,000 feet," said Donaldson.

He said he believes the evidence shows that the pilot of EgyptAir 990 was following these emergency procedures to the letter. Once the plane dropped 10,000 feet the pilot had to end the rapid dive and level it off. That is when the plane literally came apart in the air because of the forces being exerted on a badly damaged plane, said Donaldson.

"The crisis for the pilots is to begin pulling the nose up," said Donaldson. "If the hull is breached, the strength in a modern aircraft is in the skin of the vessel itself. It's like an eggshell. Once you crack it, the structure is nowhere near as strong as it was."

According to news reports, says Donaldson, "at 19,000 feet, the transponder stopped and the radar appears to have shown multiple targets. If the airplane is intact you are going to see one blip all the way. What they're saying is that

They had multiple targets on the radar. So that means it broke up. It takes some distance to separate before they are actually discernible as two pieces on this type of radar."

Donaldson said he knew right away the truth would be difficult to get to because President Clinton was making the same evasive statements he made after the crash of TWA Flight 800. "He said, 'let's not jump to any conclusions. Let's prove that it's terrorism before we say it's terrorism.' What he's saying is, assume that Boeing builds a lousy airplane that blows itself up, and if a terrorist turns himself in, maybe we'll call it terrorism. That's a little sarcastic, but that's almost as bad as it was," said Donaldson.

He blamed the media for accepting what the Clinton Administration says at face value without any independent validation.

David M. Bresnahan is an investigative journalist and the author of "Cover Up: The Art and Science of Political Deception."


Donaldson website:

Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Donaldson's Letter to CEOs of Boeing and TWA