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

Spice Radio host Shushma Datt receives a Shakti Award in 2014. Submitted photo/Aziz Ladh Photography.

Surrey-based Shakti Society calls for award nominations to recognize Lower Mainland women

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Surrey’s non-profit Shakti Society is calling for nominations to recognize the achievements of women across the Lower Mainland at the 13th…
Continue Reading »

uber rape

San Francisco’s Uber faces lawsuit over India woman’s rape report

PAUL ELIAS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SAN FRANCISCO — A woman who says an Uber driver raped her in New Dehli, India, on Thursday accused the…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Curry chicken on rice. Sam Leung/PNG

Spicy treats on menu as 8 chef teams battle for Vancouver’s second-annual Curry Cup

VANCOUVER DESI A group of Lower Mainland chefs are set to go head-to-head with their South Asian cooking skills as they gear up for Vancouver’s…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Spice Radio host Shushma Datt receives a Shakti Award in 2014. Submitted photo/Aziz Ladh Photography.

Surrey-based Shakti Society calls for award nominations to recognize Lower Mainland women

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Surrey’s non-profit Shakti Society is calling for nominations to recognize the achievements of women across the Lower Mainland at the 13th…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Curry chicken on rice. Sam Leung/PNG

Spicy treats on menu as 8 chef teams battle for Vancouver’s second-annual Curry Cup

VANCOUVER DESI A group of Lower Mainland chefs are set to go head-to-head with their South Asian cooking skills as they gear up for Vancouver’s…
Continue Reading »

Bobby Singh

Spice Sports: Football Champion Bobby Singh – On & Off The Field

GOPI AND THE GORA FOR VANCOUVER DESI TUNE IN TO SPICE SPORTS, M-F, 5-7PM ON SPICE RADIO 1200AM Former BC Lion Bobby Singh was in…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

Indian spectators watch as a float carrying a sign that reads "Congratulations! It's a Baby Girl" passes by during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015. The float represented India's Ministry of Women and Child Development.  An estimated 26 million babies are born anually in India, a country considered to be one of the worst places to be born a girl because of a societal 'gender gap' that favours boys and preferences for male children.  ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

India’s Supreme Court bans online advertisements for pre-birth sex tests

VANCOUVER DESI India’s Supreme Court has ordered Internet giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to block all advertisements for pre-birth tests that determine a child’s gender,…
Continue Reading »

sethi

American Punjabi rapper feels at home in Vancouver

Collaborative hip hop and artistic group Char Bagh set to play the PuSh Festival on Saturday   LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI California-based MC and artist…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Sikhs gather in Surrey April 2014 to celebrate Vaisakhi. Nick Procaylo/PNG

New study finds most Americans know nothing about Sikhism

ARUN KUMAR IANS Washington  – Although more than half a million Sikhs live in the U.S., a majority of Americans are unaware of what Sikhism…
Continue Reading »

Sri Lankan Air Force pilots fly MiG-27 jet fighters during a passing out ceremony of 329 men and officers in the north-eastern town of Trincomalee on August 21, 2009. Ishara S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

Motorcyclist miraculously survives crash with Indian fighter jet

VANCOUVER DESI A 26-year-old groom-to-be miraculously survived after an Indian fighter jet collided with his motorcycle in Rajasthan, according to Britain’s Daily Mail. Loon Singh,…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Shah Rukh Khan (L) and Kajol (R) are rumoured to be appearing in the next Rohit Shetty film. Getty Images.

Will Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol reunite on-screen?

PRASHANT SINGH HINDUSTAN TIMES While Varun Dhawan has been making headlines regarding a possible remake of the 1989 film Ram Lakhan, the Hindustan Times has…
Continue Reading »

Indian Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan (L) with his wife Kareena Kapoor Khan attend the wedding of Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu in Mumbai on January 25, 2015. STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Saif Ali Khan insists wife Kareena Kapoor has not converted to Islam

HINDUSTAN TIMES Ever since her marriage to Saif Ali Khan in Oct. 2012, Kareena Kapoor Khan has become a target for certain religious groups using…
Continue Reading »

Indian Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor  poses for a photograph during the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) season five in Mumbai on January 10, 2015. STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Anil Kapoor says he exercises six days a week

IANS New Delhi  – Actor-filmmaker Anil Kapoor says he exercises six days a week and recalls the time he’d cycle to the set location –…
Continue Reading »