Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.
The co-pilot of a missing Malaysian jetliner spoke the
last words heard from the cockpit, the airline's chief
executive says, as investigators consider suicide by the
captain or first officer as one possible explanation for the
No trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been found
since it vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard.
Investigators are increasingly convinced it was diverted
perhaps thousands of miles off course by someone with deep
knowledge of the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial navigation.
A search unprecedented in its scale is now under way for the
plane, covering a area stretching from the shores of the
Caspian Sea in the north to deep in the southern Indian
Airline chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya also told a news
conference that it was unclear exactly when one of the
plane's automatic tracking systems had been disabled,
appearing to contradict the weekend comments of government
Suspicions of hijacking or sabotage had hardened further when
officials said on Sunday that the last radio message from the
plane - an informal "all right, good night" - was spoken
after the system, known as "ACARS", was shut down.
"Initial investigations indicate it was the co-pilot who
basically spoke the last time it was recorded on tape," Ahmad
Jauhari said on Monday, when asked who it was believed had
spoken those words.
That was a sign-off to air traffic controllers at 1.19 a.m.,
as the Beijing-bound plane left Malaysian airspace.
The last transmission from the ACARS system - a maintenance
computer that relays data on the plane's status - had been
received at 1.07 a.m., as the plane crossed Malaysia's
northeast coast and headed out over the Gulf of Thailand.
"We don't know when the ACARS was switched off after that,"
Ahmad Jauhari said. "It was supposed to transmit 30 minutes
from there, but that transmission did not come through."
VAST SEARCH CORRIDORS
Police and a multi-national investigation team may never know
for sure what happened in the cockpit unless they find the
plane, and that in itself is a daunting challenge.
Satellite data suggests it could be anywhere in either of two
vast corridors that arc through much of Asia: one stretching
north from Laos to the Caspian, the other south from west of
the Indonesian island of Sumatra into the southern Indian
Ocean west of Australia.
Aviation officials in Pakistan, India, and Central Asian
countries Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan - as well as Taliban
militants in Pakistan and Afghanistan - said they knew
nothing about the whereabouts of the plane.
"The idea that the plane flew through Indian airspace for
several hours without anyone noticing is bizarre," a defence
ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in
Afghanistan, who are seeking to oust foreign troops and set
up an Islamic state, said the missing plane had nothing to do
"It happened outside Afghanistan and you can see that even
countries with very advanced equipment and facilities cannot
figure out where it went," he said. "So we also do not have
any information as it is an external issue."
China, which has been vocal in its impatience with Malaysian
efforts to find the plane, called on its smaller neighbour to
"immediately" expand and clarify the scope of the search.
About two-thirds of the passengers aboard MH370 were Chinese.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had spoken to
Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak by telephone, and had
offered more surveillance resources in addition to the two
P-3C Orion aircraft his country has already committed.
Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said
diplomatic notes had been sent to all countries along the
northern and southern search corridors, requesting radar and
satellite information as well as land, sea and air search
The Malaysian navy and air force were also searching the
southern corridor, he said, and U.S. P-8A Poseidon
surveillance aircraft were being sent to Perth, in Western
Australia, to help scour the ocean.
FOCUS ON CREW
The plane's disappearance has baffled investigators and
aviation experts. It vanished from civilian air traffic
control screens off Malaysia's east coast less than an hour
after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysian authorities believe that, as the plane crossed the
northeast coast and flew across the Gulf of Thailand, someone
on board shut off its communications systems and turned west.
That has focused attention on the crew. Malaysian police are
trawling through the backgrounds of the pilots, flight and
ground staff for any clues to a possible motive in what they
say is now being treated as a criminal investigation.
Asked if pilot or co-pilot suicide was a line of inquiry,
Hishammuddin said: "We are looking at it." But he added it
was only one of the possibilities under investigation.
Police special branch officers searched the homes of the
captain, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and first officer,
27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid, in middle-class suburbs of
Kuala Lumpur close to the international airport on Saturday.
Among the items taken for examination was a flight simulator
Zaharie had built in his home.
A senior police official familiar with the investigation said
the flight simulator programmes were closely examined, adding
they appeared to be normal ones that allow users to practise
flying and landing in different conditions.
A second senior police official with knowledge of the
investigation said they had found no evidence of a link
between the pilot and any militant group.
"Based on what we have so far, we cannot see the terrorism
link here," he said. "We looked at known terror or extremist
groups in Southeast Asia. The links are not there."
NORTH OR SOUTH?
Electronic signals between the plane and satellites continued
to be exchanged for nearly six hours after MH370 flew out of
range of Malaysian military radar off the northwest coast,
following a commercial aviation route across the Andaman Sea
The plane had enough fuel to fly for about 30 minutes after
that last satellite communication, Ahmad Jauhari said.
Twenty-six countries are involved in the search, stretching
across much of Asia. Three French civil aviation experts
involved in the search for an Air France jet that crashed in
the Atlantic in 2009 arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Monday to
A source familiar with official U.S. assessments of satellite
data being used to try to find the plane said it was believed
most likely it turned south sometime after the last sighting
by Malaysian military radar, and may have run out of fuel
over the Indian Ocean.
The Malaysian government-controlled New Straits Times on
Monday quoted sources close to the investigation as saying
data collected was pointing instead towards the northern