Missing MH370: Cops looking into pilot suicide

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and his First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27

KUALA LUMPUR - Police are looking into possible pilot suicide in their investigation into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, says acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

Speaking at a press conference at the Sama-Sama Hotel here, Hishammuddin said the police were investigating the possibility.

However, he declined to say whether any of the 227 passengers and 12 crew had any personal problems.

"No, I cannot say at the moment," said Hishammuddin.

Hishammuddin said the Government would not withhold any information that would help with investigation, but would not publicly release it until it had been verified.

It was also revealed that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) had been deliberately shut down just after Kota Baru, and the transponder turned off near Igari.

At the same press conference, Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the last transmission from ACARS was at 1.07am on March 8, but it was unknown when it was switched off. It did not transmit 30 minutes later as programmed.

Initial investigation also showed it was the co-pilot who spoke in the last communication with air traffic control. The last pilot communication was at 1.19am.

Ahmad Jauhari also said that psychological and psycho-motor tests were standard procedures for pilot recruitment.

He had been asked whether Malaysia Airlines would be improving psychological tests for pilots in the wake of the disappearance of MH370 on March 8.

"They must go through those tests. In terms of going forward, we will of course look into all this and see if we can strengthen, tighten all the various entry requirements," he said, adding that Malaysia Airlines was now on Code Tango, which tightened all security.

The search for the missing plane entered a dramatic new phase after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak acknowledged on Saturday for the first time that the plane was deliberately diverted, and that it could have gone as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia or southwards towards the Indian Ocean.

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