KUALA LUMPUR- Investigators now believe a Malaysian jet that vanished was commandeered by a “skilled, competent” flyer who piloted the plane for hours, a senior Malaysian military official said Saturday as Prime Minister Najib Razak prepared to address the nation.
Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, the official cited Malaysian military radar data that investigators believe indicate the Boeing 777 may have radically changed course and headed northwest towards the Indian Ocean.
“It has to be a skilled, competent and a current pilot,” the official said.
“He knew how to avoid the civilian radar. He appears to have studied how to avoid it.”
Prime Minister Najib’s office said on its Twitter account that he would address the media at 1:30 pm (0530 GMT).
It gave no further details, but the official’s comments and the planned press briefing raised expectations of a major announcement in the case. Najib has so far left press briefings in the crisis to lower-ranking officials.
The plane’s intended flight path for the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing journey was to be north over the South China Sea and Vietnam.
The new information, coupled with multiple corroborative but unconfirmed reports, suggests the investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is increasingly focusing on something going wrong in the cockpit.