Malaysian Air Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah switched off the Boeing 777’s signaling system before his last communication with air controllers.
The contact was lost under Vietnamese air control.
The pilots did not hint at any trouble in the last communication with air controllers.
The New York Times reported:
A signaling system was disabled on the missing Malaysia Airlines jet before a pilot spoke to Malaysian air traffic control without hinting at any trouble, a senior Malaysian official said Sunday, shedding new light on a question important to determining why the plane turned far off its planned route and disappeared over a week ago with 239 people onboard.
Malaysia’s defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, offered the detail a day after the country’s prime minister, Najib Razak, ended days of hesitant, sometimes contradictory government statements about the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared over a week ago. Mr. Najib acknowledged on Saturday that military radar and satellite data showed the plane had probably been deliberately diverted by at least one person onboard and flown far off its intended route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Now Malaysia is coordinating a 25-nation effort to find the plane, and to work out why it went so far off course. The sequence of the pilot’s actions and communication has been a focus of intense scrutiny, especially whether the signaling system, ACARS, was disabled before or after his last verbal message.
Commercial passenger planes use radio or satellite signals to send data through ACARS — the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System — which can monitor engines and other equipment for problems that may need attention when a plane lands. Although officials have said ACARS was disabled on the missing plane, it had previously been unclear whether the system stopped functioning before or after the captain of the plane radioed his last, brief words to Kuala Lumpur, in which he did not indicate anything wrong with the signals system or the plane as a whole.
During a press conference on Sunday Mr. Hishammuddin, who is also acting minister of transportation, gave his brief answer: “Yes, it was disabled before,” he said.
The Malaysian pilot on missing flight MH370 was reportedly a political fanatic who attended the trial of the country’s opposition leader hours before the flight.
The Daily Mail reported: