CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — As police investigate the two pilots of a Malaysian passenger jet that disappeared more than a week ago, a possibility they must consider is that one of them committed suicide by deliberately crashing the plane.
The captain of a missing Malaysian jet is an engineering buff who assembled his own home flight simulator, while friends of the co-pilot have defended his reputation after one report portrayed him as a cockpit Casanova. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and is praised as a passionate pilot who has logged 18,365 hours of flying time at work and still more at home on his sophisticated simulator. Malaysian media reports have quoted colleagues as calling Zaharie a "superb pilot", who also served as an examiner, authorised by the Malaysian Civil Aviation Department, to conduct simulator tests for pilots. Authorities said police had searched the pilots' homes and were examining the flight simulator the captain had built at home, although aviation commentators have said this is not uncommon.