Pilot: I established contact with plane

SEPANG - A Boeing 777 pilot, who was flying 30 minutes ahead of the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, said he established contact with MH370 minutes after he was asked to do so by Vietnamese air traffic control.

The captain, who asked to not be named, said his plane, which was bound for Narita, Japan, was far into Vietnamese airspace when he was asked to relay, using his plane's emergency frequency, to MH370 for the latter to establish its position, as the authorities could not contact the aircraft.

"We managed to establish contact with MH370 just after 1.30am and asked them if they have transferred into Vietnamese airspace.

"The voice on the other side could have been either Captain Zaharie (Ahmad Shah, 53,) or Fariq (Abdul Hamid, 27), but I was sure it was the co-pilot.

"There were a lot of interference... static... but I heard mumbling from the other end.

"That was the last time we heard from them, as we lost the connection," he told the New Sunday Times. He said those on the same frequency at the time would have heard the exchange.

This, he said, would include vessels on the waters below.

He said he thought nothing of it, as the occurrence (of losing contact) was normal, until it was established that MH370 never landed.

"If the plane was in trouble, we would have heard the pilot making the Mayday distress call. But I am sure that, like me, no one else up there heard it.

"Following the silence, a repeat request was made by the Vietnamese authorities to try establishing contact with them."

Meanwhile, Ritzeraynn Rashid, 55, remembers Captain Zaharie as a pleasant and humble man.

They used to fly together in the 1980s, when Zaharie was a co-pilot and he, the leading purser on the B737 services.

He was also close with Patrick Gomes, who was leading the cabin crew aboard MH370.

"Zaharie was always smiling and very cheerful. We shared a lot of good memories. We were like brothers.

"From 1980 to 1991, when I was working with MAS, there was never a day that we did not chat and catch up."

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