Who was Zaharie Ahmad Shah? MH370 pilot who was in command of the Malaysian Airlines jet when it vanished

CAPTAIN Zaharie Amad Shah was flying MH370 when it disappeared.

Here's what we know about the man who as at the controls of the doomed flight.

Who was Zaharie Amad Shah?

Shah, born July 31, 1961, was described as a veteran pilot who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981.

The 53-year-old had been an airline pilot with Malaysia Airlines for 33 years, and had 18,423 hours of flight time.

He had been a B777 captain for 16 years, and had 8,659 hours on that aeroplane type.

Because of his good track record and seniority, he had been designated as a Type Rating Instructor, and Type Rating Examiner, on the B777.

He was recognised as an accomplished and well-respected pilot who had no blemishes on his record.

He was married and had three children.

Zaharie, a passionate cook and keen fisherman, lived with his wife in a luxury gated community where he was said to have built his own flight simulator.

In the wake of the plane's disappearance, rumours surfaced claiming his wife had moved out of their home.

What was discovered about him after the crash?

Fellow pilot and life-long friend of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, who was in command of the Boeing 777 the night it vanished, claims Zaharie locked the co-pilot out of cockpit then crashed the plane in a murder-suicide.

Now, a fellow 777 captain has said he has reluctantly concluded that his close friend deliberately crashed the plane.

“It doesn’t make sense. It’s hard to reconcile with the man I knew. But it’s the necessary conclusion,” the unnamed pilot told The Atlantic.

As a senior officer and examiner it would have been easy to divert co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, out of the cockpit and then lock the door, the pilot said.

“All he had to say was ‘Go check something in the cabin,’ and the guy would have been gone,” he said.

The fellow pilot speculated that the mental state of Shah’s could have been a contributing factor to his decision.

Married captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, sent 26-year-old sisters, Lan Qi Hui and Qi Min Lan messages, begging them to come to Kuala Lumpur.

His 97 Facebook messages have been revealed as psychologists claim he was "self-destructive".

He sent the Malaysian twin sisters sexually suggestive messages.

On one occasion he commented under a picture of Qi Min Lan in a bathrobe with the comment: "Just showered?"

He repeatedly asked the girls when they were coming to his hometown, despite being ignored.

Zaharie also used his Facebook to call Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak a "moron".

He also slammed the government which owned the airline he flew for.

Zaharie urged his followers: "There is a rebel in each and every one of us. Let it out!"

Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas said he should have been fired for his political rants.

He told Australia's Daily Telegraph: "It should have raised serious alarm bells with the airline that you have someone flying who has such strong anti-government views.

"If a Qantas pilot did something like that, he would be spoken to and grounded."

Who was the co-pilot?

The co-pilot was Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, who was on his first flight on a 777 as a fully approved first officer.

He had flown five times before with a "check co-pilot" overseeing him.

But he had 2,763 hours experience flying other jets before moving to the larger aircraft.

Fariq was reportedly planning to marry his girlfriend.

What happened to flight MH370?

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur and was heading to Beijing with 239 people on board.

Passengers included Chinese calligraphers, a couple on their way home to their young sons after a long-delayed honeymoon and a construction worker who hadn't been home in a year.

But at 12.14am on March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines lost contact with MH370 close to Phuket island in the Strait of Malacca.

Before that, Malaysian authorities believe the last words heard from the plane, from either the pilot or co-pilot, was "Good night Malaysian three seven zero".

Satellite "pings" from the aircraft suggest it continued flying for around seven hours when the fuel would have run out.

Experts have calculated the most likely crash site around 1,000 miles west of Perth, Australia.

But a huge search of the seabed failed to find any wreckage – and there are a number of alternative theories as to its fate.

Captain Ross Aimer, a former United Airlines pilot, believes lithium-ion batteries in the cargo of the plane ignited before setting the plane on fire.

The fire could have then spread killing both the pilot and co-pilot before they had a chance to save the aircraft.

It has recently been claimed the engine of the plane has been found in the Cambodian jungle.

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