The West

Island runway a possible landing destination
Island runway a 'possible landing destination'

Explosive revelations that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was hijacked may provide some small hope to the families of passengers.

Earlier this week they had been told to expect their loved ones had perished.

Officials are exploring the likelihood that missing the Malaysia Airlines plane was deliberately diverted, and may have landed.

The international airport at Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman, is believed to have a runway that could cater for a plane the size of missing flight MH370.

CNN reports though that it would be a highly difficult place for a Boeing 777 to land conspicuously, with the area highly militarised due to the importance to India.

Indian officials said it would be unlikely for hijackers to take a plane with a wingspan of 200 feet and try to sneak it in.

Denis Giles, editor of the Andaman Chronicle newspaper, believed that there was no chance a plane as big as the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing could have landed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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Malaysia Airlines flight deliberately flown towards India’s Andaman Islands


Who were the pilots of MH370?

As a Malaysian official reportedly confirms hijacking on board MH370, attention has turned to the pilot and first officer.

Malaysian investigators earlier this week said police would search the pilot's home if necessary and were still investigating all passengers and crew.

The captain of the flight, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was a flying enthusiast who spent his off days tinkering with a flight simulator of the plane that he had set up at home, current and former co-workers said. Malaysia Airlines officials did not believe he would have sabotaged the flight.

A relative of Fariq Abdul Hamid, the flight's First Officer, confirmed police had come to question his family about his background this week.

Fariq Abdul Hamid and Zaharie Ahmad Shah, pilots of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. No evidence has been found of foul play from passengers or crew. Photos: Facebook

Friends and family of the co-pilot who flew the missing Malaysia Airlines jet said the 27-year-old was religious and serious about his career, countering news reports suggesting he was a cockpit Romeo who was reckless on the job.

Fariq Abdul Hamid, who joined the national flag carrier in 2007, was helping to fly the Boeing 777 whose disappearance on Saturday has turned into one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

There has been no trace of the plane carrying 239 people nor any sign of wreckage as the navies and military aircraft of more than a dozen countries scour the seas across Southeast Asia.

Australian media reported that Fariq and a pilot invited two women to join them in the cockpit on a flight from Thailand to Malaysia in 2011, where he smoked and flirted with them.

Jonti Roos, a South African living in Melbourne, confirmed to Reuters that the incident took place but said she did not feel that Fariq behaved irresponsibly.

Malaysia Airlines said it was shocked by the allegations in the report, which was based on photos of the apparent cockpit meeting and an interview with Roos.

Smoking has been banned on almost all commercial flights since the late 1990s. Cockpit doors have been reinforced since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington and passengers have largely been barred from entering the cockpit during the flight since then.

The report also angered some of Fariq's friends, some of whom took to social media to rebut the report first aired by Australian Channel Nine's A Current Affair programme.

Fariq, first officer of Flight MH370, had clocked a relatively few 2,700 hours of flying.

He had wanted to become a pilot from his school days, said a relative who asked not to be identified.

"He is a good student. He worked very hard to get where he was. His parents are so proud of him," said the relative, who had visited Fariq's family home for prayers in the outskirts of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

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Malaysia plane’s communications ‘systematically’ shut down


Fariq and his family are Muslims, like a majority of people in the Southeast Asian nation.

"And now, there is news that he was someone else. It is a very cruel thing to do at this time. We just want him to be safe," the relative said.

"It is a very male atmosphere in the cockpit. He was probably trying to fit in," said a former air stewardess with Malaysia Airlines who declined to be identified. "It can be a high-pressure job. It is not easy."

Social media users who said they knew Fariq said his character was very different to one portrayed by the Australian news report.

"As a friend, I vehemently disagree (with) the allegations made by Ms Roos. The Fariq I know is soft spoken and quite shy," said a friend who goes by the twitter name @Herleena Pahlavy.

The flight's pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of experience. His Facebook page showed an aviation enthusiast who flew remote-controlled aircraft, posting pictures of his collection, which included a lightweight twin-engine helicopter and an amphibious aircraft.

Families cling to hope

For the families and loved ones of the 239 people aboard Flight 370, Saturday was Day 8 of anguish. Some found comfort that there is no evidence the plane made impact.

The father of one passenger watched Najib's news conference at a Beijing hotel. He told CNN he hoped the plane was hijacked because that gave him reason to think his son was alive.

"I hope they are alive no matter how small the chance is," he said.

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