KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Wan Amran Wan Hussin, 50, the pilot of the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, had stated his intention to perform the haj later this year, according to his nephew Amaluddin Noorshah, 48.
He had expressed his intention to his elder sister, Wan Aini, when he returned to his village in Kota Lama Kiri, Kuala Kangsar, Perak, to break fast with relatives last week, Amaluddin said.
"I felt a difference in the tone of his voice when he said that," he said.
Amaluddin said he did not realise that was the last time he would meet his uncle.
"I learnt from a family WhatsApp network about what happened.
"All of us felt a weakness through our bodies when we found out that Wan Amran was the pilot of that ill-fated flight," he said.
Amaluddin said his uncle had been piloting Boeing aircraft for more than 20 years.
"He was very close to his siblings and contributed much to charity. His wife and two sons live in Shah Alam," he added.
Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport shortly after noon Thursday and was supposed to land in Kuala Lumpur at about 6.10am local time on Friday.
It was carrying 298 passengers and 15 crew.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said early Friday that Ukrainian authorities believe that the Boeing 777 was shot down.
Flight tracking data indicated that the plane was at its cruising altitude of 33,000 feet when it disappeared.