The pilot of doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 conducted a simulated flight deep into the remote southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane disappeared from radar in the same area, according to the New York Magazine.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane dropped off of air traffic control radar about an hour after take-off and Malaysian military radar was able to continue to track the plane as it deviated away from its planned flight path, banking west over the ocean. The Boeing 777-200ER was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew.
Immediately following its disappearance, a multi-national search effort began in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, which was where the aircraft was last seen on secondary radar. The search operation has become the largest and most expensive in aviation history. Although a piece of the plane was found on a remote island, the bulk of the aircraft has not been located which has led to countless theories as to the cause of its disappearance.
New York Magazine reported that the newly obtained documents center on the Malaysian police’s investigation into the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah. The document reveals that Malaysian authorities gave the FBI hard drives that were used by Shah to record simulated flight sessions that he conducted on his personal flight simulator that he kept at his home.
The bombshell report supports a theory that the pilot committed a premeditated act of mass-murder-suicide and that the Malaysian aviation authorities suppressed key evidence because they were hesitant to blame their own pilots. As the New Yok Magazine reports, it is not uncommon for aviation officials to refrain from indicting their own pilots following an air disaster. After EgyptAir 990 crashed near Martha’s Vineyard in 1999 Egyptian officials rejected the U.S. National Transport Safety Board finding that the pilot had deliberately steered the plane into the sea. Following the 1997 crash of SilkAir 185, Indonesian officials rejected the NTSB findings that the pilot took the plane down in a deliberate act of suicide.
The FBI was able to recover deleted information from Shah’s simulated flights and discovered that a one of his simulated flight paths took him from Kuala Lumpur, northwest over the Malacca Strait and then turning left and southward over the Indian Ocean where the simulation continued until he exhausted fuel over the Ocean.
The report comes out as authorities just announced that the search will be “suspended” if they are unable to locate the doomed flight within the current search area. In an effort to comfort the families of the dead, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said at a press conference Friday that “This does not mean we have given up on looking for MH370.”
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