NZ pair speak to MH370 pilot's widow
Two Hamilton men may have achieved a major breakthrough in the mystery over what happened to a missing Malaysian Airlines passenger jet.
It comes in the form of confirmation, for the first time, from the pilot's widow that he was definitely in control of the Boeing 777, just before it veered off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
Flight 370 disappeared with 239 passengers and crew onboard. No trace of plane has since been found.
However using a process of elimination, research and rare access to pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah's widow, Hamiltonians Geoff Taylor and Ewan Wilson found the jet's disappearance was no accident, with the finger of blame pointing squarely at the man in charge of the aircraft.
Taylor, the Waikato Times ' deputy editor, said getting access to Shah's brother-in-law Asuad Khan on the island of Penang - and then, by phone, his widow Faisa - was what might be deemed in newspaper terminology, a scoop.
''In the three months-plus since the flight went down no one in the media has been able to get close to Zaharie's widow.
''We were lucky to get confirmation from her that it was him who was at the helm. It's a breakthrough, because that was an unknown until now.
"It puts Zaharie right in the mix."
''Shah was the man who said "Goodnight Malaysian 370'', the last words anyone heard from the aircraft, Faisa Shah said.
The couple's eldest son, Ahmad Idris, had also made a positive identification that it was her husband's voice.
Until now, there has been dispute over whether it was Zaharie or his co-pilot Fariq Hamid who uttered the final farewell to air traffic controllers just two minutes before the aircraft's transponder was shut down, cutting secondary radar contact with air traffic controllers.
The Acars communication system was also turned off, before the jet suddenly changed course.In spite of a massive sea and air search covering thousands of square kilometres, no sign of the aircraft has been found.
The disappearance has also prompted much speculation, including plenty of wild ideas over what happened.
''People have been quick to come up with hairbrained theories, including the plane being shot down, however the evidence does not make that a possibility.'
'Taylor and Wilson's investigation took a far more clinical and analytical path. The pair travelled to Malaysia to interview authorities, media, and Shah's friends and family.
Wilson, a commercial pilot and former chief executive of two airlines with qualifications in transport safety investigations, said the men investigated each piece of evidence and eliminated all the possible scenarios until they were left with ''one shocking and unbelievable conclusion''.
They are soon to publish the findings in a book Good Night Malaysian 370: The truth behind the loss of Flight 370 , which will be released on Amazon Kindle on July 30.
In a three-hour interview, Khan, who was convinced Zaharie wasn't responsible, initially told the pair he believed it wasn't Zaharie's voice on the recording which authorities released of the conversation between MH370's cockpit and air traffic controllers.
He initially believed it was a deeper voice that belonged to neither Zaharie or Fariq and also stated he believed whoever it was probably held the answer to what happened to the aircraft.
He was prompted to ring Faisa while Taylor and Wilson were present and she confirmed it was indeed Zaharie's voice.
''It was a surprise ending to the interview, but a good one.''
Most Malaysians they spoke to were not eager to entertain the possibility it could be the pilot at fault, Taylor said.
"Pilots are very well respected there and they rejected the implication he could be involved. It's a much more palatable option that it could have been something mechanical.
''We went over there with an open mind. It sounds corny, but we really are pursuing the truth. It's going to be interesting to see how this book will be received.''