Claims of cockpit security lapse muddy waters on MH370
THE mystery of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues to deepen, with claims of a past cockpit security breach by one of the pilots now muddying the waters.
Malaysia Airlines told AFP it was shocked" by allegations aired in an Australian news program of a past cockpit security breach involving the co-pilot on its missing passenger jet.
The claim came as military data revealed the missing plane had changed course and made it to the Malacca Strait - hundreds of kilometres from the last position recorded by civilian authorities.
Malay-language daily Berita Harian reported RMAF chief General Tan Sri Rodzali Daud as confirming that the Butterworth base had received the plane's signal.
It quoted Rodzali as saying that the signal received indicated that the plane followed its original route before it entered the airspace above the northern east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
"The last time the plane could be traced by an air control tower was near Pulau Perak, which is on the Straits of Malacca at 2.40am.
"After that, the signal from the plane was lost," he said.
Local newspaper Berita Harian quoted Malaysian air force chief Gen. Rodzali Daud as saying radar at a military base had detected the airliner at 2:40 a.m. near Pulau Perak at the northern approach to the strait, a busy waterway that separates the western coast of Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra island.
"After that, the signal from the plane was lost,'' he was quoted as saying.
Adding another question mark to the flight's disappearance was the allegation by the Nine network that First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, had, along with another pilot, violated airline rules in 2011 by allowing two young South African women into their cockpit during a flight.
The report included photos of the women in the cockpit, with one appearing to show them posing with a man resembling Fariq.
It is claimed the breach took place during a one-hour flight from the Thai beach resort of Phuket to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital.
"Malaysia Airlines has become aware of the allegations being made against First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid which we take very seriously. We are shocked by these allegations," a statement by the airline said.
"We have not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures and videos of the alleged incident. As you are aware, we are in the midst of a crisis, and we do not want our attention to be diverted," the airline said.