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Woman says she and friend flew in cockpit with missing jet's co-pilot in 2011

By Tom Watkins and Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Jonti Roos tells CNN that she and her friend took pictures with the pilots during the flight
  • NEW: She says she is Facebook friends with the first officer still and saw the news he was missing
  • NEW: There is no reason to make up a story that might hurt families of the missing, she says
  • Malaysia Airlines is checking the report, spokesman says

(CNN) -- The first officer aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight once invited two teenagers he just met into the cockpit of his plane during another international flight, one of the women told "Piers Morgan Live."

Jonti Roos, who first told her story to the Australian Channel 9 program "A Current Affair," said she is Facebook friends with Fariq Ab Hamid, the first officer on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Roos told CNN on Wednesday that she and a friend were waiting for a flight in 2011 when Hamid and another pilot asked them if they wanted to sit in the cockpit during the flight. Roos and her friend agreed and went to their assigned seats when they boarded. Later they were escorted to the cockpit, she said, and they were there for the rest of the flight.

Such a practice would be illegal on U.S. carriers, but not necessarily so on international ones, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said.

Pilot's take on Malaysia Air Flight 370
Woman: I went in cockpit in 2007
A policewoman watches a couple whose son was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the airline's office building in Beijing after officials refused to meet with them on Wednesday, June 11. The jet has been missing since March 8. A policewoman watches a couple whose son was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the airline's office building in Beijing after officials refused to meet with them on Wednesday, June 11. The jet has been missing since March 8.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
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Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Access to the cockpit is up to the discretion of the captain.

Roos provided pictures she said was from the flight she described.

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said it was "shocked by these allegations."

"We have not been able to confirm the validity of the pictures and videos of the alleged incident," it said. "As you are aware, we are in the midst of a crisis, and we do not want our attention to be diverted."

How you can help find the plane

"A Current Affair" said Roos e-mailed its producers about the incident after she was on Facebook and recognized Hamid, 27, as one of the two pilots during a December 2011 flight from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The teens, who lived in South Africa at the time, were returning from a vacation, she said.

Hamid, who joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007, had compiled 2,763 flying hours by last Saturday, when the Boeing 777-200ER carrying 239 people went off radar screens.

"Yes, they were posing for pictures. I'd just like to make it very clear I don't think they were distracted at all by posing for pictures. We did take pictures of them, but I don't think it was a distraction," Roos said by Skype from her current home in Melbourne, Australia.

Michael Goldfarb, a former U.S. Federal Aviation Administration chief of staff, said that the long routes in international flying can be boring and some pilots will watch movies on personal computers while the plane is in the cruise portion of the flight. But inviting outsiders in the cockpit would be a no-no.

"It just violates every code of conduct. I don't believe Malaysia Air (would approve of such conduct) ... they certainly would be shocked at that," he said.

After the flight, Roos said, Hamid sent her a Facebook message, wishing her a safe flight home.

Roos said she was shocked when she learned that Hamid was at the controls of the missing plane.

"I couldn't believe it," she told "A Current Affair." "When I saw all his friends and his family posting on his wall, obviously, my heart really broke for them and my heart broke for all the families of the passengers. It's a really sad story."

Asked why she had contacted the television program, Roos said, "It seems like everybody's completely in the dark and nobody has any information, so I thought the tiny bit that I have I just want to share and maybe it can help with something."

She brushed off suggestions that she was lying about the cockpit adventure and told Morgan the proof was in the pictures.

"I have no reason to make something like this up. It's not malicious at all,," she said. "I wouldn't want to make something up that would potentially hurt people."

Timeline of the flight

Four scenarios

CNN's Aliza Kassim contributed to this report

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