Who Was Zaharie Ahmad Shah? MH370 Pilot's Life Before Plane Disappearance

When Malaysia Airlines flight 370 suddenly disappeared from radar screens on March 8, 2014, in one of the biggest aviation mysteries in history, public scrutiny turned to the aircraft's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

The last contact with MH370 occurred when it entered Vietnamese airspace in the early hours of March 8, after which the flight changed course. The Boeing 777 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing at the time of its disappearance.

The event is the subject of a new Netflix documentary titled MH370: The Plane that Disappeared, which examines several theories, including Shah's role in what happened.

Who Was Zaharie Ahmad Shah?

An image from Netflix's documentary "MH370: The Plant that Disappeared," which examines a number of theories regarding the fate of the aircraft. One involves pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah. Netflix

Following the aircraft's final communication, it suddenly took a sharp left turn and flew for almost six hours over the Indian Ocean before dropping off radar completely.

One theory that has been touted following the disappearance was that Shah was responsible for a mass murder-suicide.

Shah's home flight simulator appeared to indicate he had practiced flying a similar route. The theory suggests he manually switched off radar communications and depressurized the cabin, leaving the plane on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel and crashed.

However, in an official report from the Malaysian government about the disappearance in July 2018, lead investigator Kok Soo Chon dismissed this theory.

He said: "We have examined the pilot and the first officer and we are quite satisfied with their background, with their training, with their mental health.

"We are not of the opinion that it could have been an event committed by the pilot."

Shah's family have also denied that he could have been responsible, saying he was not capable of such an action.

The pilot's sister, Sakinab Shah spoke to the BBC in 2016 about her brother and said of their childhood: "We were brought up in a very decent family. A simple village boy, from poor beginnings and he became a commercial pilot. It was a dream come true.

"He stayed with Malaysia Airlines for 30 years, recorded over 18,000 hours of flying time. No bad record, nothing untoward. He was just a few years from retirement. Do you think he would want to throw this all away?"

Sakinab Shah said her brother had "no money problems, no mental health problems, no marriage problems, no drug or alcohol problems, no history of odd behavior" at the time of the plane's disappearance.

However, friends of Zaharie Shah claimed the pilot was "lonely and sad" and was believed to be "clinically depressed," The Atlantic reported.

Shah's sister told the Guardian: "Until and unless we have evidence, tangible evidence, I maintain his innocence. Simply put, the suicide story is but another story. My brother loved life, he loved his lifestyle, period."

The publication also shared details of a note that Shah's sister had written, in which she said her brother had a "passion for life, for family and above all for flying" and added: "I want the world to know here is a loving man who will stop at nothing to render help when it is needed."

Shah was married and had two sons, a daughter and a grandson at the time of MH370's disappearance.

Shah's wife and children have not spoken publicly but his sister told the Guardian that the accusations made against him had had a hugely negative impact on his family.

She said: "Sad is an understatement. No one can even begin to make out our feelings about MH370 and our beloved brother being accused of ill intent."

MH370: The Plane that Disappeared is out on Netflix now.