KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 – The co-pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH370, Fariq Abdul Hamid underwent the required test and was fully capable of co-piloting the Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft. MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya when giving his assurance on Fariq’s ability to handle the plane said the co-pilot had passed the test the first time he took it. Ahmad Jauhari further stressed that Fariq, 27, who joined MAS in 2007 and has clocked about 2,800 hours of experience, was also ‘flying with an examiner (the pilot), and not anybody less’ on the unfortunate MH370 flight which went missing on March 8.
“MAS is very strict with its training. This (MH370) is his (Fariq) sixth flight which does not require the co-pilot checklist,” he told the daily media briefing on the search and rescue operation for the missing plane at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here Monday. Also present at the briefing were acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and the Department of Civil Aviation’s director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman. On the cargo manifest issue, Ahmad Jauhari stressed again that the MH370 did not carry any hazardous items and all packaging and procedure complied with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.
“There are fruit in boxes (mangosteen from previous briefing), 200kg of lithium batteries which are considered as non-hazardous, normal luggage and also electronic devices… radios manufactured here to take to China,” he said. Meanwhile Azharuddin said no distress signals from the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) have been detected by vessels or aircrafts involved in the search and rescue (SAR) operation, which entered day-17. MAS Flight MH370 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing about an hour after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8. It should have landed in Beijing at 6.30 am (Malaysian time) the same day.
The fate of the passengers is still unknown as the multi-national search for the aircraft has drawn a blank so far. The SAR operation has entered a new phase, in the northern and southern corridors. Australia and Indonesia are now leading the search in their respective regions for the southern corridor. At the same briefing, Ahmad Jauhari also rebutted a claim that MAS did not follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) when its Malaysia-Kathmandu MH114 flight was hit by a flock of birds when approaching the Tribhuvan International Airport on March 21.
“The pilot followed the SOP, he did inform the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) immediately and submitted a report (on the incident),” he said. He also noted that the MH066 incident en route from Kuala Lumpur to Incheon, South Korea was diverted to Hong Kong International Airport as a precautionary measure due to a technical problem. According to a MAS statement earlier, the MJ066 flight yesterday was diverted due to an inoperative aircraft generator which supplies normal electrical power. It added that electrical power was however still supplied by the Auxiliary Power Unit and the aircraft was then diverted to Hong Kong for rectification and landed uneventfully.