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MISSING MH370: Indian Ocean sites among runways on captain's simulator

Publication Date : 19-03-2014


A senior police official with direct knowledge of the investigation into the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner said that the captain's personal flight simulator included runways in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Diego Garcia and southern India, Reuters has reported.

The report also said that US and European runways were also on the home simulator of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of Flight MH370.

The officer said that such flight simulators show hundreds or sometimes even thousands of runways. Investigators are trying to determine which runways were frequently used and which routes Zaharie had been assigned before. This will take time, the report said.

Kuala Lumpur-based newspaper Berita Harian also cited a source who said it was too soon to jump to conclusions based on the new evidence, but it was considered an element in the search for the missing Boeing 777, which disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand on March 8.

"Among the simulation programmes being investigated now are the Male International Airport in the Maldives, an airport owned by the United States (in the British territory of Diego Garcia), and three other runways in India and Sri Lanka. All of them have runway lengths of 1,000 meters," the source said.

Questions surrounding the jetliner's crew grew with a New York Times report, quoting US officials, that the MH370 changed course on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing via the cockpit's computerised flight management system, not by manual control.

The newspaper also cited officials as saying that seven or eight keystrokes would have been sufficient to change the jetliner's flight path, though it was not clear whether the system was reprogrammed before or after takeoff. But the change was likely made by someone in the cockpit with knowledge of airplane systems.

The computerised flight management system directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight, the New York Times said.

The internal administration of Malaysia Airlines was also called into question with a Washington Times interview of a US businessman who has travelled Malaysia Airlines scores of times. The businessman said pilots did not always keep their cockpit door locked during flights. This offers potential insight into security on board the missing jetliner.

"From personal experience, it would seem to be easy for someone with half a plan to enter the cockpit and take control," the newspaper cited the man as saying.

Even with the number of nations involved in the search now at 26, the whereabouts of the jetliner remains a mystery. The British newspaper The Independent said Malaysian authorities are seeking diplomatic permission to investigate a theory that the plane was flown to one of a number of Taliban strongholds on the northern Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

A spokesman for the Taliban has denied any involvement in the jetliner's disappearance, Reuters said.


Day 11 Major developments:

10am: A background check on all passengers from China aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 did not yield any evidence that they might have hijacked or launched a terror attack on the jet, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said on Tuesday.

Malaysia Airlines told the families of the Chinese passengers in Beijing that the disappearance is a "deliberate" incident. The airlines also said it will take responsibility whether it is found to be an accident or a hijacking.

11am: Relatives of the Chinese passengers on flight MH370 dismissed rumors that they were confined in Kuala Lumpur, saying they have been taken good care of by the airline.

4:30pm: China's largest rescue vessel, Haixun 01, set off toward Singapore on Tuesday to join in the search for missing flight MH370, Xinhua News Agency reported.

5pm: Chinese navy spokesman Liang Yang said five Chinese navy ships had left the original search areas in the Bay of Thailand and were heading toward waters around the Andaman Islands and the Sumatra Islands.

5:30pm: Malaysian Defence and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at the daily news conference that there is no significant progress in satellite and radar information from the search mission and Malaysia was not the target of terrorism as some theories have suggested.


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