Missing Malaysian pilot defended

Last updated 14:47 17/03/2014

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Relatives and friends have rushed to the defence of senior Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Hamad Shah as he emerges a key suspect in the disappearance of flight MH370.

They have produced a video declaring him "loving, reflective, generous, cool, sporting, intelligent and supportive," among other accolades.

Investigators believe it would have taken an experienced pilot to disable the planes' communications equipment, turn it around and fly low over multiple countries to avoid detection from radar.

But a video has been posted on YouTube that begins with the caption praising a man "well loved by many. Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the guy we all call Ari, Uncle Ari..."

It appears to shows the 52 year-old pilot walking through security checks at Kuala Lumpur airport before boarding the plane that was scheduled to make a six hour flight to Beijing in the early hours of March 8.

Much of the video depicts Zaharie in his younger days.

There is also a photograph of him doing volunteer work in a village.

Two Facebook sites have been set-up dedicated to Zaharie which have generated 38,000 likes.

Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said some foreign intelligence agencies have yet to respond to requests to check whether anyone on board had links to terrorist or extremist groups.

The psychological and personal backgrounds of all on board are also being scrutinised.

Police have searched the homes of both Zaharie and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, and taken away computers and other items.

They have seized a flight simulator in Zaharie's home and reassembled it at a police complex where it is being forensically examined by experts.

Zaharie was married with three adult children, one of them studying in Melbourne.

Police have denied media reports that he had recently separated from his wife.

It has been revealed that Fariq , the so-called "party pilot" who invited two women in the cockpit of a plane he was flying in 2011, was planning to marry a pilot from Air Asia who is the daughter of senior Malaysia Airlines pilot.

She is staying with Fariq's distraught mother.

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Both Fariq and the Air Asia pilot had studied at a pilot school together and had known each other for nine years, friends said.

Malaysia Airlines has said that Fariq and Zaharie did not ask to be assigned together for the ill-fated flight to Beijing.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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