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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.
Malaysia said Sunday that police had searched the homes of a missing airliner's two pilots and were examining the captain's home flight simulator, but warned against "jumping to conclusions". "Police searched the home of the pilot on Saturday, 15 March," a statement by the transport ministry said, referring to Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53. "Officers spoke to family members of the pilot and experts are examining the pilot's flight simulator." Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, was co-pilot of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which vanished eight days ago, sparking a massive international search across a huge swathe of Asia.