The head pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 trained for a while in the Philippines, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 52, reportedly studied aviation at the Philippine Airlines (PAL) Aviation School in Pasay City in 1980, before he joined Malaysia’s flag carrier as a pilot in 1981. He obtained the rank of captain in early 1990s.
Zaharie reportedly was in control of the plane’s cockpit when it went missing past midnight on Saturday, an hour after its takeoff from Kuala Lumpur.
Bound for Beijing, the Boeing 777-20ER aircraft was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew.
In his 33 years of service in Malaysian Airlines, Zaharie reportedly accumulated more than 18,360 hours of flying experience, supervised pilot trainings and operations of Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 737 narrowbody jets, and was certified by Malaysia’s civil aviation regulator as an examiner, allowing him to conduct simulator tests for pilots.
Described by his colleagues as “jovial” and “very professional,” Zaharie was also a remote-controlled aircraft hobbyist “who spent his free time tinkering with model planes and helicopters,” WSJ reported.
The captain also reportedly built a Boeing 777 flight simulator in his two-storey home in Malaysia using computer parts and software he bought from his savings.
Planes and ships from 10 countries, including the Philippines, are continuing the search for the missing plane four days after it disappeared.
Flying with Zaharie was First Officer Fariq Ab.Hamid, 27, who joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007. — Elizabeth Marcelo/BM, GMA News