Zaharie Ahmad Shah was 'terribly upset' when his wife told
him she was leaving, says a friend, who believes he may
have set the plane on its fatal course.
The captain of Flight 370 was in no state of mind to fly
the day it disappeared and could have taken the Boeing 777 for
a "last joyride" before crashing into the Indian Ocean, a
fellow pilot says.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's world was crumbling, said the
long-time associate. He had been facing serious family
problems, including separation from his wife and relationship
problems with another woman he was seeing.
The man, who spoke to the New Zealand Herald on condition of
anonymity, said Captain Zaharie was "terribly upset" when his
wife told him she was leaving and believed he may have
decided to take the Malaysia Airlines plane to a part of the
world he had never flown in.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said data showed the
plane, carrying 239 people, crashed into the southern Indian
Ocean about 2500km west of Perth on March 8, eight hours
after leaving Kuala Lumpur.
With no landing sites nearby, the jetliner is presumed lost
with no survivors.
Blustery conditions in the southern Indian Ocean are expected
to ease today allowing authorities to resume the search for
Gale force winds and heavy swells disrupted search and
recovery efforts yesterday.
Twelve aircraft, seven military and the rest civilian will
take to the skies over the search zone.
HMAS Success will be conducting a surface sweep, looking for
objects of interest.
Police have found nothing suspicious about Captain Zaharie, a
veteran pilot with 18,365 hours' experience, or his co-pilot
Fariq Abdul Hamid.
However the fellow pilot raised questions about the captain's
state of mind.
He guessed that Captain Zaharie may have considered the
flight a "last joyride" - the chance to do things in a plane
he had previously been able to do only on a simulator.
The friend said Captain Zaharie, who he chatted to when they
met several times a year through work, was a fanatic for "the
three Fs" - food, family and flying.
When he wasn't working he spent hours cooking or using his
home-made flight simulator for a variety of situations he
wouldn't experience at the controls of a commercial airline,
such as flying at the highest and lowest possible altitudes.
The simulator was seized last week and is being analysed by
Investigations so far found that, up to the point when the
co-pilot said "all right, good night" to Malaysian traffic
controllers, the plane had been flying normally. Military
radar tracking showed the aircraft made a sharp turn soon
after and started flying at altitudes as high as 45,000ft
(13,716m) and as low as 12,000ft before it disappeared.
The associate believed the co-pilot must have been
incapacitated and the other flight crew kept out of the
"It is very possible that neither the passengers nor the
other crew on-board knew what was happening until it was too
The friend said the disappearance of the Boeing 777 happened
as Captain Zaharie's world was crumbling.
"He's one of the finest pilots around and I'm no medical
expert, but with all that was happening in his life Zaharie
was probably in no state of mind to be flying."
Sources close to the inquiry were quoted by Britain's Daily
Telegraph as saying investigators believed Flight 370 was
"This has been a deliberate act by someone on-board who had
to have the detailed knowledge to do what was done," an
official source said.
Investigators believe no malfunction or on-board fire was
capable of causing the aircraft's unusual flight or the
disabling of its communications system, or of taking it on a
seven-hour flight wildly off course.
New Zealand aviation expert Peter Clark said he believed
Captain Zaharie may have been responsible.
"This had to be a pilot or somebody with expert knowledge,
who had to know what they were doing to complete this," Mr
"It had to be somebody with immense knowledge ... the
co-pilot would not have the capability of doing this. It's a
takeover of the aircraft, it can only be the pilot."
He said Mr Fariq was "too inexperienced" to carry out the
takeover - it was his first flight as co-pilot without a
third pilot in the cockpit overseeing him.
Mr Clark said it would have been very simple for the pilot to
reprogramme the flight management computer to fly a new
"All you need to do is fly it to high altitude, de-pressurise
the aircraft, you kill everybody on-board including yourself
and you have the flight management programmed in and it just
continues to fly to the South Indian Ocean until it runs out
But Mr Clark said it would be very hard to prove it was pilot
suicide even if the data recorders were found.
The voice recorder would have been overwritten every two
hours and the flight recorder would most likely record that
the plane was operating normally and crashed because it ran
out of fuel.
Malaysia Airlines flight crew on layover in Auckland still
hope their colleagues will be found alive, despite the new
"I just have this gut feeling that they are still alive, and
they will be found alive," said a steward who had worked with
The fellow pilot said Captain Zaharie had a good sense of
humour, was definitely not a terrorist, and loved his family.
- Lincoln Tan, NZ Herald