Gerald Butt/NICOSIA

The Egyptian Government has approved plans to set up the country's own air safety investigation board in the wake of two major accidents involving the country's aircraft and nationals.

The crash of an EgyptAir Boeing 767-366ER shortly after take-off from JFK airport on 31 October last year, and the crash of a Gulf Air Airbus A320 off Bahrain on 23 August after a flight from Cairo, in which 64 Egyptians were killed, prompted the move. Egyptian experts are taking part as observers in the two crash inquiries - both of which are being conducted by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Aviation officials in Cairo say the decision to set up the safety board was taken partly in response to strong public criticism of the handling of the US investigation of the EgyptAir accident.

Cairo has been angered by US claims that the Egyptian co-pilot might have deliberately caused the airliner to crash. Despite its misgivings about the accident inquiry the Egyptian Government has asked the NTSB for help in setting up its safety board.

Egyptian Transport Minister Ibrahim el-Dumeiri, who put forward the investigation board proposal, said he had invited NTSB vice-chairman Bob Francis to Cairo later this month for discussions on the subject.

Source: Flight International