Did DQA149 operate on 8th March?
"When pressed to confirm with Maldivian the flight path or the name of the DQA149 pilot, Faizal replies that he is "not sure Maldivian have records of routes flown that far back"."
As someone who has flown as a commercial pilot in airline operations for a number of years and am familiar with standard airline operating procedures, I can say that the claim made by Mr Faizal that he is "not sure Maldivian have records of routes flown that far back", is a response that I find quite peculiar from someone who is the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of the country.
Firstly, being a commercial passenger flight, there must be records of the flight in the form of a flight plan that's lodged with the CAA air traffic control system, even if it is a VFR flight not requiring an instrument landing procedure.
Secondly, all aircraft have a flight maintenance log book that is used by engineering, to tally the number of hours the aircraft has flown, which routes it has flown, how much fuel is used for flights and engine performance data is recorded by pilots in this logbook during the flight. If there were any maintenance defects of an aircraft during a flight, this is to be recorded in this log book by pilots and the engineers must rectify the defects and sign it off.
This maintenance log book is a legal requirement to have for all aircraft and is also used to schedule periodic maintenance checks throughout the aircraft's life-time. In airline operations, there should be records of all flights and routes flown in this logbook. So, I'm quite perplexed when Mr Faizal says he is "not sure Maldivian have records of routes flown that far back". They surely must have records of this, and any other flights that aircraft has flown.
Thirdly, if you go to the website, www.flightstats.com , historical data of scheduled commercial flights can be accessed. I checked for flights to and from Thimarafushi (TMF - VRNT) for that day, 8th March 2014 and there were no flights on that day for TMF.
Fourthly, the flight that Mr Faizal claims to be over Kudahuvadhoo, Maldivian DQA149, is a scheduled flight from a different airport flying in the opposite direction to what the witnesses saw. From flightstats.com, DQA149 (Q2 149) is a flight from (KDM) Kaadedhdhoo Airport to Male, scheduled for 0540 am and arriving in Male at 6:50 am. Kudahuvadhoo is 37 NM (70km) to the west of that flight path, so even if the pilot was off track due to 'unusually strong winds', there is no way it can be that far off track.
If the pilot was that far off track and flying so low that witnesses could see the paint scheme of the aircraft, then Mr Faizal's
It should also be mentioned that Thimarafushi airport does not have runway edge lights and therefore can only be used during daylight hours. Sunrise at Kudahuvadhoo on the 8th March 2014 was at 06:15am (at about the time of the sightings), so even if there is some confusion over where DQA149 originated from, it could not have been departing from Thimarafushi before sunrise, due to the lack of runway edge lights.
My conclusion is that Mr Faizal's suggestion that the witnesses over Kudahuvadhoo saw a 50 seater turbo-prop aircraft and not MH370, can not be believed for the reasons I mentioned above.