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Malaysia: Files were deleted from pilot's flight simulator

Missing MH370 Update: Flight Simulator Files Deleted

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- 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 defense minister said Wednesday.

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 cooperating in the investigation. Files containing records of simulations carried out on the program were deleted Feb. 3, Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said.

It was not immediately clear whether investigators thought that deleting the files was unusual. They will want to check those files for any signs of unusual flight paths that could help explain where the missing plane went.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 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 7 1/2 hours after takeoff, based on its last faint signal to a satellite - an hourly "handshake" signal that continues even when communications are switched off. 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. "So far, no information of significance on any passengers has been found," Hishammuddin said.

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 kilometers (117,000 square miles) of the Indian Ocean, about 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) 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, although it is considered less likely that the plane could have taken that route without being detected by military radar systems of the countries in that region.

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

Indonesian Defense 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.

Hishammuddin 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. 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.


Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk, Satish Cheney and Chris Brummitt in Kuala Lumpur, Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Australia, contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
TOOTER March 19 2014 at 9:28 AM

Add this theory to all the other's.!! A UFO using a cloak {star trek} swooped down under the cloak and put the cloak over the plane and took it to another world!!!

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1 reply
jmason7708 TOOTER March 19 2014 at 9:39 AM


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zaiahummer March 19 2014 at 12:59 PM

why can't all airlines install a device that will always keep track of all planes . I understand they all have that black box, but I also understand it only has a 30 day lasting charge to recover after that it's seems to be a lost cause to located any plane.If we can travel to the Moon and other far away places ,it's so hard to understand why they can't locate this plane, but this device must be unknown to everyone including the Pilots a hidden tracker to locate anything,how hard can that be to do, but right now is the problem and only when a problem comes up we now look for answers on how to resolve it from happing again. All we have to do is just do it now, why wait for another plane to disappear into the sky.all things happen for a reason, lets all think ahead and avoid this from happing
again.I truly hope everyone is ok and return home.This is another lesson to be learned for everyone.

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1 reply
ibeyour1 zaiahummer March 19 2014 at 5:40 PM

Use the same trackers they use on whales etc. 1st problem is who is going to pay for it? 2nd problem if it sinks below a thermal layer in the sea it is very hard to find. Submarines hide from sonar this way.
3rd. Nothing can stay "hidden" because someone has to install and service the unit. Will be on the internet in a week.

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ayyiyicaramba March 19 2014 at 12:59 PM

IF, and I mean IF - this aircraft is now resting on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, then this incident should cause aircraft manufacturers to perhaps think about designing and installing an additional emergency signaling device(s) on all aircrafts - something very similar to what military submarines deploy when they’re in trouble and unable to surface, to wit; a device that FLOATS to the surface of the ocean/sea to transmit radio signals indicating its location.

On aircrafts, I see no reason why such a device (one specifically designed to “automatically” separate itself from the aircraft when a sensor (s) detects submersion) can’t be installed on the top exterior of every commercial airliner. I mean... we did land a man on the moon --No?

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1 reply
ibeyour1 ayyiyicaramba March 19 2014 at 1:45 PM

I would add a dye pack. The problem is cost. They are still using 50 year old radar (that is used daily) because of expense. You think they are going to spend billions for a possible incident every 10 years or more?

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Kathryn March 19 2014 at 10:00 AM

has anyone ever seen such an uninformative bit of news? ...could be this...could be that...could be something else... please, post the news when it's actually informative.

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Sue March 19 2014 at 9:04 AM

The premise 'Innocent until proven guilty' attaches ONLY during a trial, and applies Only to the jury juding the case.

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2 replies
Elizabeth Sue March 19 2014 at 9:09 AM

Yes, but the great masses will never admit that, nor do they understand it.

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craftlaw Sue March 19 2014 at 9:11 AM

Sue...you are a more than a little confused about legal terms. Firstly, this is a malaysian airline with a malaysian pilot. Are you imagining malaysian law?

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jjd76539 March 19 2014 at 9:03 AM

It is the third world... So you would expect third world investigations.. They are not as technically advanced due to being poor.. If you ever go to one you will know what I am talking about..Have you ever thought they do not know what happend at all. If this plane was going into some countries without an identifier it might have been blown out of sky... Again you need to remember it is the third world they do not have state of the art systems. And they might not even be trained as good either..

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hifie March 19 2014 at 12:00 PM

The flight simulator is not uncommon and since it is a compute, r files, just like our computers and cellphones have files deleted all the time

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jetski2525 March 19 2014 at 9:02 AM

I hope I'm wrong but there are places in the ocean that are miles deep. And mountains that are in isolated areas. If it was hijacked like they say. Sad to say but being this long from the time it happened. May never find it.

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rjollierroger March 19 2014 at 10:05 AM

I wonder if a flight simulator is like a computer. The right person can still find those deleted files.

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1 reply
cmcclarty rjollierroger March 19 2014 at 10:21 AM

Sure you can it always puts an image on the hard drive and you just use your home computer for flight sim X or Xplane. Go to you tube there are many that have home flight sims. You can buy the stuff at many flight sim sites.

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airlaws March 19 2014 at 10:07 AM

Deleting files may not destroy them until they have actually been typed over. There are forensic professionals capable of retrieving a lot from supposedly deleted data. Hopefully, the system will be looked at slowly and correctly by qualified examiners. Deleting files Feb 3 may be a very innocent act. After all the man at home has no duty like a bank or insurance company to keep records. May be innocent rather than sinister. The sinister aspect requires a first class investigation .
Who made(what company) the simulation software? Delete may be a routine way to clear out for next use.

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1 reply
Debbi airlaws March 19 2014 at 10:16 AM

I would think that if the files were deleted on Feb. 3 and this happened on Mar 8, maybe he deleted them for a reason. I pray not, but it does seem suspicious, unless he deleted regularly once a month....????

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