Malaysia confirms Flight 370 course was on pilot's simulator

2016-08-05 15:42
A mural of missing Malaysian Flight MH370 is displayed in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur. (Joshua Paul, AP)

A mural of missing Malaysian Flight MH370 is displayed in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur. (Joshua Paul, AP)

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Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia has confirmed one of the pilots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had plotted a course on his home flight simulator to the southern Indian Ocean, where the missing jet is believed to have crashed.

It's the first time Malaysia has acknowledged the route was on Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's simulator. Australian officials overseeing the search for the plane last month said data recovered from the simulator included a flight path to the southern Indian Ocean.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who made the comments on Thursday, also cautioned there were "thousands" of destinations on the simulator and no evidence to confirm that Zaharie flew the plane in that area.

New York Magazine reported last month that an FBI analysis of the device showed Zaharie had conducted a simulated flight to the southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane vanished along a similar route. The magazine cited the discovery as strong evidence that the disappearance was a premeditated act of mass murder-suicide at the hands of the captain.

"Until today, this theory is still under investigation. There is no evidence to prove that Captain Zaharie flew the plane into the southern Indian Ocean," Liow said. "Yes, there is the simulator but the (route) was one of thousands to many parts of the world. We cannot just base on that to confirm (he did it)."

Liow didn't say when the Indian Ocean path was flown on the simulator. He stressed that international experts and Australian officials have agreed that the most likely scenario was "uncontrolled ditching" of the plane.

Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Center - which is overseeing the search for the plane off Australia's west coast has also said that evidence of the route did not prove that Zaharie had planned to steer the plane off course and showed only "the possibility of planning" for such an event.

Malaysia's national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has said investigations will not be conclusive until the black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and a data recorder - are recovered. He did not rule out a pilot suicide.

Officials have been stymied in their efforts to explain why the Boeing 777 carrying 239 people veered so far off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. Theories have ranged from a deliberate murder-suicide plot by one of the pilots, to a hijacking, to a mechanical catastrophe. Similarly, search crews have been unable to find the main wreckage of the plane despite a sweeping underwater hunt of a remote stretch of ocean off Australia's west coast.

Last month, officials from Malaysia, Australia and China announced that the underwater search will be suspended once the current search area has been completely scoured. Crews have fewer than 10 000 square kilometres left to scan of the 120 000-square-kilometre search area, and should finish their sweep of the region by the end of the year.

Read more on:    malaysia airlines  |  malaysia  |  mh370

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