MH370: Flight was co-pilot Fariq Abdul's first 777

Co-pilot Fariq Abdul was in charge of the plane without a check pilot; No proof of crime yet

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines revealed on Monday the co-pilot of its missing jet was flying the Boeing 777 for the first time without a so-called “check co-pilot” looking over his shoulder.

Co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid has come under intense scrutiny, along with Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, after Malaysian authorities said flight MH370's disappearance was due to “deliberate” action in the cockpit.

However, nothing has yet emerged publicly to implicate the two men. The flag carrier said Fariq, 27, had come through his initial outings in the 777 model with no issues under a standard arrangement in which a First Officer's first five flights in a new model of plane are done under the watchful eye of a “check co-pilot”.

“The first five flights, the co-pilot normally flies with what we call the check co-pilot. He actually passed the first five flights. We do not see any problem with him,” the airlines’ chief executive Ah-mad Jauhari Yahya told a daily press conference on the crisis.

Flight 370 disappeared off civilian radar about an hour into its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people, sparking an unprecedented international search across huge swathes of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

Ahmad Jauhari added that Zaharie, 53, was himself an experienced 777 examiner. “You must realise that he (Fariq) is flying with an examiner. The captain is a 777 examiner,” the airlines CEO added, referring to Zaharie.

Pilot’s mental health in focus

Dallas: Reinforced doors with keypad entries. Body scanners and pat-downs. Elaborate crew maneuvers when a pilot has to use the restroom. All those tactics are designed to keep dangerous people out of the cockpit. But what if the pilot is the problem?

Whatever the outcome, the mystery has raised concerns about whether airlines and governments do enough to make sure that pilots are mentally fit to fly. “One of the most dangerous things that can happen is the rogue captain,” said John Gadzinski, a Boeing 737 captain and aviation-safety consultant. “If you get somebody who — for whatever reason — turns cancerous and starts going on their own agenda, it can be a really bad situation”.

( Source : afp / agencies )
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