KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The retired chief pilot of Malaysia Airlines is torn between logic and loyalty to an old friend. Nik Huzlan, 56, was one of the first captains to fly the 12-year-old Boeing 777 that disappeared over the Indian Ocean a year ago this Sunday. He has known the pilot who flew the plane that day, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, for decades.
Mr. Huzlan is convinced that deliberate human intervention, most likely by someone in the cockpit, caused the aircraft, on a red-eye flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, to suddenly turn around, cease communication with air traffic control and some six hours later run out of fuel and fall into the ocean. But he also said that he had never seen anything in more than 30 years of friendship that would suggest that Mr. Zaharie was capable of such a deed.
“Based on logic, when you throw emotion away, it seems to point a certain direction which you can’t ignore,” Mr. Huzlan said. “Your best friend can harbor the darkest secrets.”
No trace of the plane has been found, though four ships continue to scour a section of the ocean floor roughly the size of West Virginia and as deep as three miles below the surface. Without the plane’s flight recorders, the disappearance remains a mystery.But the “rogue pilot theory,” as investigators call it, has emerged as the most plausible explanation among several. Many, but not all, of the investigators and experts who have reviewed the limited evidence say Mr. Zaharie, or perhaps the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, is the likeliest culprit, though they caution that the evidence is limited and circumstantial, and that the theory is full of holes, like lack of a motive.