A Boeing 777 pilot flying 30 minutes from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane told the New Straits Times in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia that he made contact with MH370 minutes after Vietnamese air traffic control asked him to message the plane.
The captain, who declined to give his name, said his Narita, Japan-bound plane was well into into Vietnamese airspace when controllers — who could make contact — requested that he relay with his plane's emergency frequency a message to MH370 so that it would establish its position.
This screengrab from flightradar24.com shows the last reported position of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, Friday night March 7, 2014. The Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact over the South China Sea on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later. (Image source: AP/flightradar24.com)
"We managed to establish contact with MH370 just after 1:30 a.m. and asked them if they have transferred into Vietnamese airspace," the pilot reportedly told New Straits Times. "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," the pilot said, adding that he thought nothing of the lost contact since it happens frequently — until he learned of MH370 never landing.
"If the plane was in trouble, we would have heard the pilot making the Mayday distress call," the pilot said. "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."