Mixed reaction to alleged cockpit invite

Mixed reaction to alleged cockpit invite
MH370 Controversial claim: A screen grab of the alleged incident that appeared in the 'A Current Affair' programme.

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Opinions are divided over a foreign news report alleging that a pilot of the missing MH370 plane had entertained two women in the cockpit during a previous flight.

The report by Australian news programme A Current Affair has left many netizens shocked and angered.

While some were put off by the alleged breach of protocol, most criticised the broadcast as being in bad taste.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia expressed disgust with the report, and clarified that passengers were occasionally invited to the cockpit as a hospitable gesture.

However, it said there was no way that a pilot would invite anyone, including crew members, without the commander's permission.

"What we see here are half-baked reports and undermining statements regarding the pilots and a sign of security breach on board. Our pilots and crew members are obliging most of the time as most passengers do want to visit the cockpit," it wrote in response to a comment from a Facebook user.

In the interview, tourist Jonti Roos claimed that the man and a fellow pilot had breached airline rules by allowing her and her female friend inside the cockpit in 2011.

Roos also claimed that both men were smoking in the cockpit and posed for photographs during the one-hour flight from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur.

The story was picked up by other media, including The Daily Telegraph, in Sydney, which frontpaged the story with the headline: "Playboy Pilot".

The National Union of Journalists president Chin Sung Chew said all media should practise sensitivity and uphold journalism ethics during such times of crisis.

"Reporting the claims is unfair if they didn't get the response from Malaysia Airlines (MAS) or the pilot himself.

"If they fail to get an official response, it is better to refrain from publishing the story."

Some netizens on A Current Affair website lambasted the report with a user known as Royce Spencer saying: "I am appalled by the cheap, sensationalist so-called journalism displayed in your story regarding the poor man."

Another user known as Notafan remarked: "The man could be dead or a hero right now! Disrespect of the highest level."

However, there were some who were appalled by the pilots' alleged lackadaisical attitude, with a user known as John Steve saying: "No more MAS flights for me and my family. Thanks for this revelation."

American writer Adam Minter tweeted sarcastically: "Classy operation, MAS" while posting a link to an article about the claims.

At a press conference yesterday, MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, when asked about the report, agreed that such an incident would be a breach of protocol.

"It's against company policy to do so. We will investigate the matter," he said.

However, in an interview aired last night, CNN's aviation expert Richard Quest said while some airlines did not allow passengers into the cockpit, others gave the captain the right to do so.

Quest was asked if the alleged incident would have any bearing on flight security.

"Captains always have the security of the aircraft in mind, no matter what some girl in Australia says," he quipped.


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