Woman says she and friend flew in cockpit with missing jet’s co-pilot in 2011


The Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH370 that went missing March 8, 2014, on its trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was a Boeing 777-200.
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(CNN) — The first officer aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight invited people he did not know into the cockpit of his plane during an international flight, a woman has told Australia’s Channel 9 program, “A Current Affair.”

Such a practice would be illegal on U.S. carriers, but not necessarily so on international ones, according to CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

Access to the cockpit is up to the discretion of the captain.

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said it was “shocked by these allegations.”

“We have not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures and videos of the alleged incident,” it said. “As you are aware, we are in the midst of a crisis, and we do not want our attention to be diverted.”

The TV program said the woman, identified as Jonti Roos, e-mailed its producers about the incident after she recognized Fariq Ab Hamid, 27, as one of the two pilots who invited her and her friend — who were both teenagers at the time — to sit in jump seats in the cockpit during a December 2011 flight from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The teens were returning from a vacation, she said.

Hamid, who joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007, had compiled 2,763 flying hours by last Saturday, when the Boeing 777-200ER carrying 239 people went off radar screens.

The teens’ privileged access in the cockpit lasted from takeoff until landing, Roos said.

“Throughout the whole flight, they were talking to us,” Roos told the television program. “They were taking photos with us in the cockpit while they were flying. … I was just completely shocked. I couldn’t believe it.”

Michael Goldfarb, a former U.S. Federal Aviation Administration chief of staff, said that the long routes in international flying can be boring and some pilots will watch movies on personal computers while the plane is in the cruise portion of the flight. But inviting outsiders in the cockpit would be a no-no.

“It just violates every code of conduct. I don’t believe Malaysia air (would approve of such conduct) … they certainly would be shocked at that,” he said.

According to her Facebook page, Roos studied at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and is living in Melbourne.

She said she and her friend were standing in line at the boarding gate at Phuket International Airport when the pilot and co-pilot walked past, then returned and asked if they would like to sit with them in the cockpit during the flight. “So, obviously, we said yes,” Roos said. “I think anyone would have jumped at the opportunity.”

Though the pilots entertained their guests during the flight, at one point commenting on one teen’s nail polish, Roos said she felt safe throughout.

“I don’t think there was one instance where I felt threatened or I felt that they didn’t know what they were doing,” she said. “They were very friendly, but I felt that they were very competent in what they were doing.”

After the flight, she said, Hamid sent her a Facebook message, wishing her a safe flight home.

Roos said she was shocked when she learned that Hamid was at the controls of the missing plane.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “When I saw all his friends and his family posting on his wall, obviously, my heart really broke for them and my heart broke for all the families of the passengers. It’s a really sad story.”

Asked why she had contacted the television program, Roos said, “It seems like everybody’s completely in the dark and nobody has any information, so I thought the tiny bit that I have I just want to share and maybe it can help with something.”

By Tom Watkins; CNN’s Aliza Kassim contributed to this report

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