Conflict & Tragedy
Pilots of missing Malaysian plane: Who are they?
As the mystery deepens around Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and speculations intensify, focus shifts to the pilots of the missing plane. Just who were they?
According to a CNN report, “All right, good night,” were the last words anyone heard from the cockpit of the Boeing 777-200ER that vanished without a trace Saturday on its way to Beijing.
No one is sure who uttered those words. It could have been the lead pilot, 50-year-old Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, his 27-year-old co-pilot, First Officer Fariq Ab Hamid — or someone else entirely.
Multiple scenarios abound in the media as experts desperately try to piece together the puzzle to make sense of the mounting mystery surrounding this flight that seemed to have evaporated into thin air.
Some experts are calling it the most baffling aeronautic puzzle since Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in 1937.
And as the multi-country search continues for the plane with 239 passengers on board and escalating pressure from terrified family members and the public — fingers have started to point in the direction of the pilots.
Were they somehow involved in a diabolical plot or were they forced to do harm?
The Malaysian government is reportedly now considering that there may be a possibility of foul play by at least one of those entrusted to fly this plane safely to its destination.
New information from US officials also show that the plane may have flown for five hours after the last contact made with someone in the cockpit. This suggests that the pilots were navigating the plane but refused or were prevented from communication with air traffic control.
However, Malaysia’s Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has denied that the plane might have flown for hours after contact was lost.
Meanwhile, local law enforcement are stationed outside the home of lead pilot captain Shah but has not entered his residence. Shah’s love of flying airplanes apparently extended to his hobbies and there is a YouTube video of him in front of a flight simulator.
In another online German forum for flight simulator enthusiasts, Shah boasts in 2012, of building the flight simulator himself. The experienced pilot with an impressive accumulation of 18,365 flight hours to his resume is also a flight instructor.
CNN aviator correspondent Richard Quest was present in the cockpit this February when the younger First Officer co-pilot Hamid landed a Malaysian Airlines plane under supervision during a training exercise. His landing skills were described as “perfect.”
Hamid, who reportedly joined Malaysian Airlines in 2007, has racked up 2,763 total flight hours during his short career. He had just finished flight simulation training and was making the transition to the Boeing 777.
So what happened under the watch of a seasoned pilot and a new but skilled one to cause this terrifying mysterious disappearance?
Reports of passengers being casually present in cockpits have thrown troubling light on Malaysian pilots stewardship of their planes and CNN’s quest is not the only one who said they were invited to cockpits, which is forbidden on some airlines around the world, including here in the US since 9/11.
Another woman said she received an invite to visit with the pilots during a 2011 flight from Thailand to Malaysia and interestingly, Fariq was the co-pilot.
Jonti Roos said she was able to take pictures with the pilots, who shockingly smoked in the cockpit as well.
Did this cavalier attitude have anything to do with the plane’s disappearance?
Not much more is known about Flight 370 pilots and the Malaysian authorities have been accused of not being completely forthcoming with information on this ongoing mystery.
China had released satellite images of what appeared to be aircraft debris in the South China Sea but the Malaysian government has discounted the photos, saying they were not connected in any way to the missing Boeing 777.
To add to the puzzle, we have the following listed information:
• There are no radar images of the plane and experts say ordinary pilots do not have the skill to avoid detection.
• Officials are now convinced that two communications systems aboard were turned off at different times, which rules out a catastrophic mechanical event.
• Relatives of some of the passengers reportedly heard ringing on the other end of the missing passengers’ cellphones that may indicate operable phones.
• The plane was reportedly way off course, which was not the initial report from Malaysian authorities.
• There is no wreckage found anywhere on land or sea.
• No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for this flight’s disappearance and it is almost eight days.
• The plane allegedly changed course and flew for four or five hours after the transponder was turned off.
And so the mystery continues.