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

crime-British Columbia

Three arrested after Surrey RCMP-involved shooting in Newton

AMY REID SURREY NOW NEWTON — Three people are in custody following a police-involved shooting in Newton Friday afternoon. Shortly after noon, plainclothes officers attempted to…
Continue Reading »

Immigrant-language test

Woman loses Canadian citizenship for failing language, knowledge tests after it was granted in error

ADRIAN HUMPHREYS POSTMEDIA NEWS A would-be Canadian who received a grade of zero out of six on her citizenship language test and four out of…
Continue Reading »

India-Kashmir-Obama

Pakistani PM Sharif asks Obama to play role for resolution of Kashmir issue

MUNIR AHMED THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ISLAMABAD — Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday asked the U.S. President Barack Obama to play a role in…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

crime-British Columbia

Three arrested after Surrey RCMP-involved shooting in Newton

AMY REID SURREY NOW NEWTON — Three people are in custody following a police-involved shooting in Newton Friday afternoon. Shortly after noon, plainclothes officers attempted to…
Continue Reading »

Whitecaps2

Spice Sports: Whitecaps announce new USL PRO team!

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI An exciting announcement was made this morning at UBC’s Gerald McGavin Rugby Centre. Soccer fans in Vancouver will…
Continue Reading »

Immigrant-language test

Woman loses Canadian citizenship for failing language, knowledge tests after it was granted in error

ADRIAN HUMPHREYS POSTMEDIA NEWS A would-be Canadian who received a grade of zero out of six on her citizenship language test and four out of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

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 »

India

Video: Bear mauls Indian farmer to death, injures second man (Warning: Graphic Content)

VANCOUVER DESI An Indian farmer was mauled to death and another left seriously injured after a terrifying and unusual bear attack in Karnataka on Monday,…
Continue Reading »

Spiderman

Video: India’s real-life Spiderman scales buildings with bare hands

VANCOUVER DESI A 27-year-old man in India who is nicknamed the “real-life Spiderman” has become one of Karnataka’s leading tourist attractions for his ability to effortlessly…
Continue Reading »

desi victim

Victim of ski accident to open spinal-cord recovery centre in Richmond (w/video)

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI Dhruv Kapoor realized he was in deep trouble as he barrelled down a ski run in Russell, Man., on an icy…
Continue Reading »

op-ed

Aziza Sindhu: How do you grieve for a tyrant father?

AZIZA SINDHU CALGARY HERALD My father, Salim M. Sindhu, passed away on Nov. 10. As a child, I wished he smiled at me, as a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood sex video

I can’t take nonsense: Sonakshi Sinha on why she lashed out at KRK on Twitter (w/gallery)

HINDUSTAN TIMES Some Bollywood stars tend to be diplomatic about controversies, and choose not to react. Sonakshi Sinha isn’t one of them. Last month, she…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood wedding reception

Photos: Khan-tastic wedding reception for Salman’s sister Arpita

VANCOUVER DESI While celebrities have reached the wedding reception for Salman Khans sister Arpita and businessman Aayush Sharma to wish them their best, photos have…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood-cricket

Cricketer Virat Kohli confirms he is dating Bollywood beauty Anushka Sharma

HINDUSTAN TIMES Remember we reported a few days ago how Virat Kohli said he had no problems blowing a kiss on field, the way he…
Continue Reading »