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Missing files from MH370’s SIM adds to the mystery

March 19, 2014, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Investigators are trying to restore files deleted last month from the home flight simulator of the pilot aboard the missing Malaysian plane to see if they shed any light on the disappearance, Malaysia's defence minister said Wednesday.


March 19, 2014
By The Associated Press

Hishammuddin Hussein told a news conference that the pilot, Capt.
Zaharie Ahmad Shah, is considered innocent until proven guilty of any
wrongdoing, and that members of his family are co-operating in the
investigation. Files containing records of simulations carried out on
the program were deleted Feb. 3, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said.

 

Deleting files would not necessarily represent anything unusual,
especially if it were to free up memory space, but investigators would
want to check the files for any signs of unusual flight paths that could
help explain where the missing plane went.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with 239 people aboard disappeared
March 8 on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysian
authorities have not ruled out any possible explanations, but have said
the evidence so far suggests the flight was deliberately turned back
across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca, with its communications
systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next and why. 

 

Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning
the possible positions of the plane about 7½ hours after takeoff, based
on its last faint signal to a satellite. The arcs stretch up as far as
Kazakhstan in central Asia and down deep into the southern Indian Ocean.

Police are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage,
terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone
else on board, and have asked for background checks from abroad on all
foreign passengers.

Hishammuddin said such checks have been received for all the
foreigners except those from Ukraine and Russia — which account for
three passengers — and that nothing suspicious has turned up so far.


The 53-year-old pilot joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of flight experience. People who knew Zaharie
from his involvement in opposition political circles in Malaysia and
other areas of his life have described him as sociable, humble, caring
and dedicated to his job.


The crisis has exposed the lack of a failsafe way of tracking modern passenger planes on which data transmission systems and transponders which make them visible to civilian radar have been severed.  At enormous cost, 26 countries are helping Malaysia look for the plane.

 

Relatives of passengers on the missing airliner — two thirds of them
from China — have grown increasingly frustrated over the lack of
progress in the search. Planes sweeping across vast expanses of the
Indian Ocean and satellites peering on Central Asia have turned up no
new clues.

 

"It's really too much. I don't know why it is taking so long for so
many people to find the plane. It's 12 days," Subaramaniam Gurusamy, 60,
said in an interview from his home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
His 34-year-old son, Pushpanathan Subramaniam, was on the flight heading
to Beijing for a work trip.

 

"He's the one son I have," Subaramaniam said.

 

Before Wednesday's news briefing at a hotel near
the Kuala Lumpur airport, two Chinese relatives of passengers held up a
banner saying "Truth" in Chinese and started shouting before security
personnel escorted them out.

 

"I want you to help me to find my son!" one of the two women said.

 

Hishamuddin announced that a delegation of Malaysian government
officials, diplomats, air force and civil aviation officials will head
to Beijing — where many of the passengers' relatives are gathered — to
give briefings to the next of kin on the status of the search.

 

Aircraft from Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand on Wednesday
scoured a search area stretching across 305,000 square kilometres of the
Indian Ocean, about 2,600 kilometres southwest of Perth, on Australia's
west coast.

 

Merchant ships were also asked to look for any trace of the
plane.

 

Nothing has been found, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

 

China has said it was reviewing radar data and deployed 21 satellites
to search the northern corridor of the search area stretching as far as
Kazakhstan, although it is considered less likely that the plane could
have taken that route without being detected.

 

Those searches so far have turned up no trace of the plane, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday.

Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said Indonesia
military radar didn't pick up any signs of Flight 370 on the day the
plane went missing. He said Malaysia had asked Indonesia to intensify
the search in its assigned zone in the Indian Ocean west of Sumatra, but
said his air force was strained in the task.

 

"We will do our utmost. We will do our best. But you do have to understand our limitations," Purnomo said.

Hismammuddin said both the southern and the northern sections of the
search area were important, but that "some priority was being given to
that [southern] area." He didn't elaborate.

 

Malaysian investigators say the plane departed 12:41 a.m. local time
on March 8 and headed northeast toward Beijing over the Gulf of
Thailand, but that it turned back after the final words were heard from
the cockpit. Malaysian military radar data places the plane west of
Malaysia in the Strait of Malacca at 2:14 a.m.

 

Thailand divulged new radar data Tuesday that appeared to corroborate
Malaysian data showing the plane crossing back across Peninsular
Malaysia.

 

The military in the Maldives, a remote Indian Ocean island nation,
confirmed to Malaysia that reports of a sighting of the plane by
villagers there were "not true," the Malaysian defense minister said.

 

German insurance company Allianz said Wednesday that it has made
initial payments in connection with the missing plane. Spokesman Hugo
Kidston declined to say how much had been paid, but said it was in line
with contractual obligations when an aircraft is reported as missing.