The mystery of the Malaysian Airlines co-pilot and his final message

Published: March 17, 2014

Fariq Abdul Hamid, the first officer of Flight MH370, poses with a female guest during a flight in 2011.  A Current Affair/ NineMSN , Dailymail.co.uk

JONATHAN PEARLMAN
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

The co-pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has been identified as the last person to communicate from the cockpit, apparently after the communications system was shut off.

Clarification that the voice was most likely that of First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid came as Malaysian officials hit back at “irresponsible” suggestions that they had misled the public – and passenger’s relatives – over what happened to Flight MH370.

As land, air and sea searches fanned out across two vast corridors totalling 30 million square miles and reaching from Uzbekistan to Australia, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid have become a primary focus of the investigation, with one of the key questions being who was in control of the aircraft when it veered off course about an hour into its flight to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.

The cause of the plane’s unusual change of course and subsequent silent flight for up to eight hours turns on the crucial minutes around 1.19am, when Hamid gave his final nonchalant message: “All right, good night”.

Two minutes later – and 40 minutes after take-off – the plane disappeared from the screens of air traffic controllers.

Adding to speculation that the flight was hijacked, media reports in Malaysia said the Boeing 777 flew as low as 5,000 feet and used “terrain masking” to avoid radar detection for almost eight hours after it was apparently seized.

Using a manoeuvre typically deployed by combat aircraft, the plane dropped altitude to avoid commercial radars but would have burnt far more fuel flying in the denser lower air, according to Malaysia’s New Straits Times, a newspaper with close connections to the government.

The Malaysian authorities insisted the report was unconfirmed and it was not aware whether the plane was flying low.

Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, was the oldest of four children from a well-to-do family in Kuala Lumpur. His father is a senior civil servant who is a devout attendee of the nearby Surau Al Mawaddah mosque.

Hamid had plans to marry his girlfriend, Nadira Ramli, 26, a pilot with the budget airline AirAsia and the daughter of another Malaysia Airlines pilot. The couple studied at the same pilot school.

He appears to have been heavily focussed on his cars – a new BMW and a four-year-old Audi – and his high-flying job.

Last week it emerged that in 2011 he invited two blonde South African tourists into the cockpit for a flight.

A neighbour of the Hamid family, a taxi driver, told The Daily Telegraph last night: “I don’t think Fariq can hijack the plane. He loves cars so much just like I do… I didn’t see anything strange happening in his family, for example before the plane went missing,”

Authorities in Malaysia still believe the communications system was disabled prior to Hamid’s final message but appeared to throw their finding into doubt yesterday when they confirmed that the system could have been disabled at any time between its last regular signal at 1.07am and 1.37am, when it failed to emit its next scheduled update.

The aircraft’s final hourly satellite ping was received at 8.11am and it had enough fuel to fly for a further 30 minutes, according to Malaysia Airlines.

“We don’t know when the ACARS [Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System] system was switched off,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the head of Malaysia Airlines.

But the admission seemed to refute the claim on Sunday by Hishammuddin Hussein, the defence minister, who had said the system was disabled at 1.07am. Asked to clarify, Mr Hussein said: “What I said yesterday was based on fact, corroborated and verified.”

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the 53-year-old veteran pilot and father of three has been described by a former fellow pilot as “always smiling and very cheerful”.

He was known to support Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s opposition leader, and yesterday Mr Anwar denied any strong link to Zaharie, telling the South China Morning Post that he had only seen the pilot at party meetings. He added that Chinese complaints about the handling of the search were “absolutely justified.”

Related stories:

 

The Daily Telegraph
172012 GMT Mar14


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

cricket-terrorism-Belgium

Pakistani cricketer labeled terrorist for carrying bat on public transport, deported from Belgium

VANCOUVER DESI A young Pakistani cricketer and his family have been forced out of Belgium after he was labeled a terrorist for carrying his cricket…
Continue Reading »

Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Abbotsford police look for suspect in Mill Lake sex assault

VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a woman at Mill Lake last week. In a press release, police said…
Continue Reading »

terrorism

Dharm Makwana: Presumed guilty until you miss your flight

  DHARM MAKWANA VANCOUVER DESI By the end of the ordeal my wife was on the verge of tears. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Police tape-Abbotsford-crime

Abbotsford police look for suspect in Mill Lake sex assault

VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a woman at Mill Lake last week. In a press release, police said…
Continue Reading »

terrorism

Dharm Makwana: Presumed guilty until you miss your flight

  DHARM MAKWANA VANCOUVER DESI By the end of the ordeal my wife was on the verge of tears. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection…
Continue Reading »

patquinn2

Spice Sports: Pat Quinn passes away at age 71

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI The hockey world is deeply saddened by the passing of the legendary Pat Quinn, who spent nearly 50…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

suffer in silence

Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse

NIRMALA RANIGA VANCOUVER DESI The reasons for not reporting incidents of sexual abuse or harassment are many and varied. Recently, we have addressed some of…
Continue Reading »

Sitara Devi

Kathak star Sitara Devi dies after prolonged illness

IANS Mumbai – Eminent danseuse Sitara Devi, who once impressed Rabindranath Tagore with a three-hour solo recital, died here Tuesday after prolonged illness, leaving behind…
Continue Reading »

monkey main

Killer monkeys invade India after government issues wildlife preservation to protect wild apes

CEN AGENCY A ban on capturing monkeys in India has led to an explosion of ape attacks – some which are deadly – across the…
Continue Reading »

Surrey RCMP were called to ..

Surrey husband charged with murder after wife found dead in Newton home

SURREY NOW and VANCOUVER DESI A Surrey man has been charged with murder after his 64-year-old wife was found dead at their Newton home on…
Continue Reading »

desi bride loaded in gold

Indian bride draws flak for wearing $700,000 jewellery at her wedding

CEN AGENCY An Indian sweet maker made sure his daughter was the golden girl at her upcoming wedding by covering her in gold jewellery worth…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan

Arjun Rampal still quiet on his proximity to Hrithik Roshan’s ex-wife Sussanne

HINDUSTAN TIMES In December 2013, Arjun Rampal’s name was dragged into the troubled Hrithik Roshan-Sussanne Khan marriage. Rumours claimed that the actor, a close friend…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Bipasha Basu: Pinkathon important platform encouraging women

IANS Mumbai – Actress Bipasha Basu Tuesday expressed support for Pinkathon, a run for breast cancer awareness, terming it an important platform that encourages women….
Continue Reading »

Kangana Ranaut

Bollywood’s female stars rise in stature and crank out hits, but ask: Where is the money? (w/gallery)

NIRMALA GEORGE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW DELHI — This is Bollywood’s year of the woman. Some of the biggest hits in India’s prolific movie industry…
Continue Reading »