Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Police search homes of pilots Zaharie Shah and Fariq Hamid


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The Independent Online

Despite their largely unblemished records, both Captain Zaharie Shah, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Hamid, 27, of Flight MH370 are the focus of a criminal investigation. It emerged that the plane’s communication systems had been deliberately disabled before it left its flight path to Beijing.

As police visited both men’s homes in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, the mystery was why neither man was able to send a distress signal on the flight deck if the plane had been taken by hijackers.

Mr Shah is a veteran pilot, and much has been made of the fact that he built a three-screen, Boeing 777 flight simulator in his home. But he did so openly, joining a public forum for people who enjoy doing this.

Mr Hamid was said to be engaged, and had just graduated to the cockpit of the Boeing 777. A local community leader described him as a “good boy, a good Muslim, humble and quiet”. The only known blot on his record is that he invited two female passengers into the cockpit of a 2011 flight from Thailand to Kuala Lumpur, in breach of regulations.

Mr Shah’s home can be seen on his YouTube website on which he posted videos showing people how to adjust the air conditioning. He introduces one video seated at his flight simulator.

For Mr Shah, who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981, flying appears to have been much more than a job. He registered with a forum for fans of flight simulation, posting a message to say hello and describe his home system and its “awesome view”.

A former co-pilot of Mr Shah told Reuters: “He was an aviation tech geek. You could ask him anything and he would help you. That is the kind of guy he is.”

Last night it was reported police in Malaysia were investigating claims that Mr Shah was a supporter of Anwar Ibrahim, the controversial opposition leader jailed for five years for sodomy just one day before Flight MH370 vanished.