Last updated Saturday, October 25, 2014 01:07am

The New York Post reported today that US officials are inching closer to the belief that either one of the two Malaysia Airlines pilots were likely bent on suicide in forcing flight MH370 off civilian radar. — Reuters picThe New York Post reported today that US officials are inching closer to the belief that either one of the two Malaysia Airlines pilots were likely bent on suicide in forcing flight MH370 off civilian radar. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — US officials are inching closer to the belief that either one of the two Malaysia Airlines pilots were likely bent on suicide in forcing flight MH370 off civilian radar, the New York Post reported today.

Citing US Republican Congressman Peter King, who chairs his country’s powerful House Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, the US daily reported the pilot may have been driven to crashing the passenger aircraft to enable his family to collect the life insurance on his death.

“There is a growing consensus that this was a suicide by the pilot or co-pilot and that they wanted to get as far away and land in the farthest and deepest part of the ocean,” the US lawmaker was quoted as saying, before adding, “If they never find the plane, they can’t call it suicide.” 

Malaysian authorities conceded today they were looking into the possibility that one of the two pilots aboard may have tried to commit suicide, as investigations delve deeper into the crew’s backgrounds.

“Yes, we’re looking at it,” acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference in Sepang this evening, when asked if the investigation was delving into possible pilot suicide.

However, the minister declined to elaborate if either Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid had personal problems.

MAS group chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, who was also at the press conference, said that the flag carrier may tighten entry requirements for pilots in future.

“Psychometric tests are standard procedure for pilots,” he said.

Ahmad Jauhari also denied claims of a last-minute switch of pilots for MH370 and stressed that Zaharie was rostered to fly that Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route on March 8.

The investigation into the plane that vanished without a trace more than a week ago has been classified by Malaysian authorities under Section 130C of the Penal Code, which deals with hijacking, sabotage and acts of terrorism.

In the Gallery


  • Crew members on board a US Navy P-8A Poseidon man their workstations while assisting in search operations for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman leaves messages of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Passengers wait at the immigration control at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • An Indian Navy boat patrols in the waters of the Andaman Sea near Port Blair, the capital of India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A young relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 reacts during a meeting with Malaysia Airlines at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A man attempts to call his son, a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, after speaking to the media outside a rest area for relatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 rests at a meeting hall at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A boy stands beside a model posing for pictures during an art performance in support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A man stands in front of a board with messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A man reads newspaper with news about the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 as others have breakfast in Dengkil, near Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Children write messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A model poses for pictures during an art performance in support of the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A woman adds her message on the clothes of a model during an art performance in support of the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A girl looks at Malaysia Airlines planes through the window of the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A front page picture of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, is seen at a stand as a man buys newspapers in Dengkil, near Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Indian Navy ship INS Kesari, involved in search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, arrives at the naval base in Port Blair, the capital of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Indian Navy ship INS Kesari, involved in search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, arrives at the naval base in Port Blair, the capital of India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Students watch as a group of artists put the finishing touches to a three dimensional artwork, based on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, that was painted on a school ground in Makati city, metro Manila March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Students gather around a three dimensional artwork, based on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, that was painted on a school ground in Makati city, metro Manila March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Malaysia Airlines representatives answer questions during a meeting with relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Family members of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vote to talk directly to Malaysian government's representatives during a meeting with the airline's representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • A relative of a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 sits on a chair after a meeting with the airline's representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • The daily press conference on the missing MH370 aircraft at Sama Sama Hotel on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Defence and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein holding a map showing the southern corridor at the daily MH370 press conference at the Sama Sama Hotel in KLIA, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Defence and Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein holding a map showing the northern corridor at the daily MH370 press conference at the Sama Sama Hotel in KLIA, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

  • Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Putrajaya March 16, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Pictures of flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, are seen in Putrajaya March 16, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Residents of Boeung Kak Lake light candles to spell "MH370" during a Buddhist ceremony, praying for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, in Phnom Penh March 17, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • INTI College students having a 'Pray for MH370' candlelight vigil organised by the STACT club at INTI International University College Subang Jaya, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • INTI College students having a 'Pray for MH370' candlelight vigil organised by the STACT club at INTI International University College Subang Jaya, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

  • INTI College students having a 'Pray for MH370' candlelight vigil organised by the STACT club at INTI International University College Subang Jaya, on March 17, 2014. — Picture by Choo Choy May

International news wire Associated Press (AP) reported today that pilot suicide appears to be a taboo subject, as officials and investigators are reluctant to admit that a pilot purposely crashed the plane in order to kill themselves.

In 1999, US investigators concluded that co-pilot Gameel El-Batouty on EgyptAir Flight 990 — which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 people aboard — had switched off the auto-pilot upon finding himself alone on the flight deck, pointed the plane downward, and calmly repeated the phrase “I rely on God” 11 times.

The SilkAir Flight 185 that plunged into a river in 1997 and killed all 104 aboard, while en route from Jakarta to Singapore, was also found by US investigators to be a deliberate crash, though an Indonesian probe was inconclusive.

International news agency Associated Press quoted a 2014 study by the US Federal Aviation Administration that showed pilot suicide to be a phenomenon in the United States, occurring in just 0.3 per cent of fatal aviation accidents in the country during the 10 years ending in 2012.