MAS probes report on cockpit guests
MALAYSIA Airlines is investigating reports that the co-pilot of missing Flight MH370 invited passengers to the cockpit on a prior flight.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid were piloting the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when the jet dropped from radar. In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said it was "shocked by the allegations" that Mr Fariq hosted guests on the flight deck in 2011.
While the company said it hadn't confirmed the validity of photos that an Australian television programme said showed Mr Fariq with passengers, the carrier said it was taking them "very seriously".
As investigators continued to search for the missing jet, the report from TV show A Current Affair raised questions about Mr Fariq's judgment, said Mr Richard Bloom, director of terrorism and security studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Inviting passengers into the cockpit is "out of bounds for all airlines", Mr Bloom said, adding it may not have any bearing on Flight MH370's disappearance.
The programme aired pictures it said showed Mr Fariq hosting passengers during a 2011 flight between Kuala Lumpur and Phuket, Thailand.
On the show, a passenger identified as Ms Jonti Roos said she and a female travelling companion were invited into the cockpit for the entire flight. Ms Roos told The Wall Street Journal that the invite came while they were waiting to board the plane.
"Throughout the whole flight, they were talking to us," Ms Roos said in the interview. "They were actually smoking, which I don't think they are allowed to be doing."