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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Closer Look At The Co-Pilot Of Missing Flight 370

Fariq Abdul Hamid, left, and Richard Quest are pictured in a photo on Instagram. (Instagram)

Fariq Abdul Hamid, left, and Richard Quest are pictured in a photo on Instagram. (Instagram)

One of the more bizarre coincidences in the mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 is the fact CNN airline and aviation correspondent Richard Quest met with the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, weeks before the plane’s disappearance.

It was part of a taping Quest was doing in February for CNN Business Traveler, and it hasn’t aired yet on CNN. Hamid, a 27-year-old first officer, was taking part in a training session, flying from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur.

Quest speaks with Here & Now’s Robin Young about that experience and the latest on the investigation into the missing plane. He says it came as a surprise when he realized he had interviewed the co-pilot.

“Fariq Hamid had posted one of the pictures of himself and myself in the cockpit on the flight deck, and somebody else had seen it and tweeted it,” Quest says. “It was quite a shock to look at the picture and to think that I had sat behind, watching him land a 777 only a matter of weeks earlier.”

He says there was nothing that stood out to him about Hamid at the time.

“He was charming,” Quest said. “I was more concerned, frankly, that we had a relatively inexperienced first officer doing a landing with CNN sitting in the back filming.”

Likewise, he says nothing jumped out at him about Malaysian Airlines.

“Malaysia airlines is a robust airline — it’s been around for many years,” Quest said. “It has an excellent reputation, both for service and for safety. The issues we were looking at had nothing to do with these. They are the question of how Malaysia is finding a competitive advantage against the Gulf three — Qatar, Emirates and Etihad, on the one hand, and the low-cost carriers like Air Asia, which is based in Kuala Lumpur as well.”

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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