The captain of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was often a sad and lonely man who spent time between his flights pacing empty rooms, a new magazine report claims.
The report in The Atlantic by author, former national correspondent for the magazine and professional pilot William Langewiesche also suggests Malaysia Airlines veteran Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah may have been clinically depressed.
Many people familiar with the disappearance in 2014 of the Boeing 777 with 289 people on board believe Zaharie was responsible and Langewiesche’s investigation adds to findings by The Australian’s Amanda Hodge and News Ltd’s Paul Toohey about the pilot’s emotional state.
No-one actually knows what happened on MH370 but the theory seen as most likely was that Zaharie seized control of the plane by sending his co-pilot out of the cockpit on some pretext.
He is then thought to have depressurized the plane to kill the passengers and crew and set a course for the Southern Indian Ocean.
Whether he was still alive at the end of the flight is disputed but, either way, it plunged into the sea somewhere near a seventh arc defined by satellite handshakes.
The latest methodically researched chapter in the saga again contradicts claims by Malaysian investigators that Zaharie had no known history of apathy, anxiety or irritability and that “there were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stresses…”
“This was either irrelevant or at odds with what was knowable about Zaharie,’’ Langewiesche writes.
“The truth, as I discovered after speaking in Kuala Lumpur with people who knew him or knew about him, is that Zaharie was often lonely and sad.
“His wife had moved out, and was living in the family’s second house.
“By his own admission to friends, he spent a lot of time pacing empty rooms waiting for the days between flights to go by.”
The story outlines the previously reported “wistful relationship” with a married woman and her three children as well as Zaharie’s obsession with two young internet models.
It notes that Zaharie seems to have become somewhat disconnected from his earlier, well-established life and that there “a strong suspicion among investigators in the aviation and intelligence communities that he was clinically depressed”.
A lifelong friend and Boeing 777 captain told Langewiesche that Zaharie’s marriage was bad and that he believed his emotional state may have been a factor in the disappearance.
The friend said he had reluctantly come to the conclusion Zaharie was responsible for the tragedy but had no idea as to motive.
“Zaharie’s marriage was bad,” the unnamed 777 captain is quoted as saying.
“In the past he slept with some of the flight attendants.
“And so what? We all do. You’re flying all over the world with these beautiful girls in the back.
“But his wife knew.”
Pilot suicide is not the only theory about the plane’s disappearance and others range from the possible to the bizarre.
Relatives of the MH370 victims have continued to call on the Malaysian government to resume the search for the wreckage.