KUALA LUMPUR- An investigation into the pilots of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 intensified Monday after officials confirmed that the last words spoken from the cockpit came after a key signalling system was manually disabled.
US intelligence efforts were also focusing on Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid, according to a senior US lawmaker.
“I think from all the information I’ve been briefed on from, you know, high levels within homeland security, national counter terrorism center, intelligence community, that something was going on with the pilot,” said Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
“I think this all leads towards the cockpit, with the pilot himself, and co-pilot,” McCaul said on Fox News Sunday.
Malaysia’s transport minister confirmed Sunday that an apparently relaxed final voice communication from the cockpit — “All right, good night” — came after the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) had been deliberately shut down.
ACARS transmits to the ground key information on a plane’s condition.
It has not been confirmed who gave that final voice message. But the assumption is the person would have known the ACARS system had been disabled.
The plane’s transponder — which relays radar information on the plane’s location — was switched off 14 minutes after ACARS went down.
Shortly afterwards the plane disappeared from civilian radar, but Malaysia has since confirmed that the air force tracked it for hours on military radar — without taking action.
The plane went missing early in the morning of March 8 with 239 passengers and crew aboard, spawning a massive international search across Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean that has turned up no trace of wreckage.