Kyrgyzstan national Aidana Baizieva was "actively participating" in the flight operations of the helicopter that crashed earlier this month, killing Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis and five others, the New Straits Times said today, based on a source who cited data from the aircraft's cockpit voice recorder (CVR).
Quoting the source, the English daily added that while there was nothing wrong with pilot Captain Clifford William Fournier bringing the 25-year-old woman on board and allowing her to sit next to him, Baizieva's participation in the flight operations should not have happened.
"The data suggests however that (Baizieva) was actively participating in the flight operations.
"It should not have been that way," the source was quoted as saying, adding that the duo's exchanges were mainly on the flight's operations.
Victims involved in the April 4 incident were Rompin member of Parliament Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis, principal private secretary of the prime minister, Datuk Seri Azlin Alias, businessman Datuk Tan Huat Seang, Jamaluddin's bodyguard Razakan Seran, Fournier and Baizieva.
The report also said that while the passengers were chatty as the helicopter flew over Kuantan, the recording revealed that nobody said anything for a while before it went down, adding that this included Fournier and Baizieva, who was in the co-pilot's seat.
Jamaluddin and Azlin, who were reportedly seated next to each other behind the crew, were also quiet, and only their breathing sounds were picked up by the CVR.
Tan and Seran were seated in the last row.
"Those on board spoke on various subjects irrelevant to the ongoing investigation, then there was a lull for several minutes right up to the crash.
"But let there not be any speculation on this, as their going quiet could be due to many reasons, including fatigue," the source reportedly said.
The report also said that the helicopter was flying about 2,000ft over Semenyih before it suddenly lost altitude.
This was when all communications went dead, the source said, adding that investigators were led to believe that there was an explosion onboard before the helicopter went down.
"Based on the investigations at the crash site, investigators concluded that some parts of the helicopter were blown off in the explosion.
"The investigations and data retrieved have not yet helped in ascertaining if it nose-dived or spiralled down," the report said, quoting the source.
Investigators were also reportedly looking into why the CVR, which was still functioning in the few seconds that the helicopter began to plunge, failed to pick up any signs of distress from those on board.
The report also said that Malaysian authorities would likely have to engage independent experts in the ongoing probe as the Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) could not commit to carrying out the critical process of recreating the “possible end scenario” of the crash.
"Data from the flight data recorder analysed in the United Kingdom by the AAIB last week also needs to be probed further.
"We have all the data, but our investigators do not have the proper equipment and expertise to process it line by line," a source told the paper. – April 14, 2015.