Exclusive: MH370 pilot flew a suicide route on his home simulator closely matching final flight

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Search for Missing MH370 to be Suspended

New York has obtained a confidential document from the Malaysian police investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that shows that the plane's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, conducted a simulated flight deep into the remote southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane vanished under uncannily similar circumstances. The revelation, which Malaysia withheld from a lengthy public report on the investigation, is the strongest evidence yet that Zaharie made off with the plane in a premeditated act of mass murder-suicide.

The document presents the findings of the Malaysian police's investigation into Zaharie. It reveals that after the plane disappeared in March of 2014, Malaysia turned over to the FBI hard drives that Zaharie used to record sessions on an elaborate home-built flight simulator. The FBI was able to recover six deleted data points that had been stored by Microsoft Flight Simulator X program in the weeks before MH370 disappeared, according to the document. Each point records the airplane's altitude, speed, direction of flight, and other key parameters at a given moment. The document reads, in part:

Based on the Forensics Analysis conducted on the 5 HDDs obtained from the Flight Simulator from MH370 Pilot's house, we found a flight path, that lead to the Southern Indian Ocean, among the numerous other flight paths charted on the Flight Simulator, that could be of interest, as contained in Table 2.

Taken together, these points show a flight that departs Kuala Lumpur, heads northwest over the Malacca Strait, then turns left and heads south over the Indian Ocean, continuing until fuel exhaustion over an empty stretch of sea.

Search officials believe MH370 followed a similar route, based on signals the plane transmitted to a satellite after ceasing communications and turning off course. The actual and the simulated flights were not identical, though, with the stimulated endpoint some 900 miles from the remote patch of southern ocean area where officials believe the plane went down. Based on the data in the document, here's a map of the simulated fight compared to the route searchers believe the lost airliner followed:

Rumors have long circulated that the FBI had discovered such evidence, but Malaysian officials made no mention of the find in the otherwise detailed report into the investigation, "Factual Information," that was released on the first anniversary of the disappearance.

Defining moments in search for MH370:

18 PHOTOS
NTP: Defining moments in search for MH370
See Gallery
NTP: Defining moments in search for MH370
FILE - In this March 31, 2014, photo, the shadow of a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion is seen on low level cloud while the aircraft searches for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia. Part of the mystery of what happened to a Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished last year may be solved with air safety investigators confident that debris found in the Indian Ocean is a wing part unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the missing jet, a U.S. official said Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Air safety investigators — one of them a Boeing investigator —have identified the component that was found on the French island of Reunion in the western Indian Ocean as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a 777 wing, the U.S. official said. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)
FILE - In this March 13, 2014, photo, children run past dedication messages left for passengers and others involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370 on the walls of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Sepang, Malaysia. Part of the mystery of what happened to a Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished last year may be solved with air safety investigators confident that debris found in the Indian Ocean is a wing part unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the missing jet, a U.S. official said Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Air safety investigators — one of them a Boeing investigator —have identified the component that was found on the French island of Reunion in the western Indian Ocean as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a 777 wing, the U.S. official said. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
FILE - In this March 24, 2014, photo, a relative of Chinese passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 grieves after being told the latest news in Beijing, China. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
FILE - In this March 30, 2014, photo, newly arrived Chinese relatives of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 hold a sign as they speak to reporters at a hotel in Subang Jaya, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)
FILE - In this March 10, 2014, photo, Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation's Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman briefs reporters on search and recovery efforts within existing and new areas for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 during a press conference in Sepang, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Daniel Chan, File)
FILE - In this March 31, 2014, photo, an observer looks out a window on a Royal New Zealand P3 Orion while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, Australia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)
FILE - In this March 15, 2014, photo, eight-year-old Syira Nazia Hutabarat, center, shows her coloring work for the missing on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 at a class at an elementary school in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara, File)
FILE - In this March 15, 2014, photo, paper planes with personalized messages dedicated to people involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, are placed at the viewing gallery of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in Sepang, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
FILE - In this March 30, 2014, photo, a man and a girl place signs on strings during a ceremony for the passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)
FILE - In this March 18, 2014, photo, a young Malaysian boy prays, at an event for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, at a shopping mall, in Petaling Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)
FILE - This Feb. 28, 2015, photo shows a suitcase belonging to Foong Wai Yueng, 40, a stewardess who was aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 when it disappeared in March 2014, at her home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Yueng's husband, Lee Khim Fatt, asked a friend to return the bag to him from the hotel where the Malaysia Airlines crew would stay in Beijing. Fatt says "her belongings are meant to be home and not missing somewhere." Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)
FILE - In this April 4, 2015, photo, relatives of Chinese passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 light candles in a prayer room in Beijing, China. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
In this July 29, 2015, photo, French police officers carry a piece of debris from a plane known as a flaperon in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Lucas Marie)
FILE - In this July 30, 2015, photo, Dai Shuqin, 62 cries as she talks to reporters about her feelings after hearing about the recent discovery of plane debris that could be from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Beijing. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2015, photo, family members of the missing on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, from left to right: Lee Khim Fatt, husband of Foong Wai Yueng, flight attendant; Choi Loong Chow, husband of Goh Sock Lay, chief stewardess; Jacquita Gomes, wife of Patrick Gomes, in flight supervisor; and Melanie Antonio, wife to Andrew Nari, chief steward; check their mobile devices in Gomes's house outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as they wait for further news. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2015, photo, Jacquita Gomes holds a portrait of her husband, Patrick Gomes, 56, the in-flight supervisor on the ill fated flight Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in their home outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2015, photo, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, pauses before speaking at a news conference announcing the findings for the ill fated flight Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Razak announced that a wing piece that washed up on Reunion Island last week is from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. However, French, U.S. and Australian authorities stopped short of full confirmation, frustrating relatives with mixed messages. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The credibility of the rumors was further undermined by the fact that many media accounts mentioned "a small runway on an unnamed island in the far southern Indian Ocean," of which there are none.

From the beginning, Zaharie has been a primary suspect, but until now no hard evidence implicating him has emerged. The "Factual Information" report states, "The Captain's ability to handle stress at work and home was good. There was no known history of apathy, anxiety, or irritability. There were no significant changes in his life style, interpersonal conflict or family stresses." After his disappearance, friends and family members came forward to described Zaharie as an affable, helpful family man who enjoyed making instructional YouTube videos for home DIY projects — hardly the typical profile of a mass murderer.

The newly unveiled documents, however, suggest Malaysian officials have suppressed at least one key piece of incriminating information. This is not entirely surprising: There is a history in aircraft investigations of national safety boards refusing to believe that their pilots could have intentionally crashed an aircraft full of passengers. After EgyptAir 990 went down near Martha's Vineyard in 1999, for example, Egyptian officials angrily rejected the U.S. National Transport Safety Board finding that the pilot had deliberately steered the plane into the sea. Indonesian officials likewise rejected the NTSB finding that the 1997 crash of SilkAir 185 was an act of pilot suicide.

Malaysia MH370 debris found:

32 PHOTOS
Malaysia MH370 debris found
See Gallery
Malaysia MH370 debris found
Joao de Abreu, President of Mozambique's Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), holds a piece of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast of Mozambique at Mozambique's Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) in Maputo on March 3, 2016. A hunk of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast will be sent to Australia where experts will examine whether it is a new piece in the puzzle of missing flight MH370, officials said. The fragment was reportedly found near Mozambique and could provide clues in the huge and costly Australia-led investigation into what happened to the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared nearly two years ago. / AFP / ADRIEN BARBIER (Photo credit should read ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP/Getty Images)
Joao de Abreu, president of Mozambique's Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), holds a piece of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast of Mozambique at Mozambique's Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) in Maputo on March 3, 2016. A hunk of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast will be sent to Australia where experts will examine whether it is a new piece in the puzzle of missing flight MH370, officials said. The fragment was reportedly found near Mozambique and could provide clues in the huge and costly Australia-led investigation into what happened to the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared nearly two years ago. / AFP / ADRIEN BARBIER (Photo credit should read ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on March 3, 2016 shows a piece of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast of Mozambique at Mozambique's Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) in Maputo. A hunk of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast will be sent to Australia where experts will examine whether it is a new piece in the puzzle of missing flight MH370, officials said. The fragment was reportedly found near Mozambique and could provide clues in the huge and costly Australia-led investigation into what happened to the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared nearly two years ago. / AFP / ADRIEN BARBIER (Photo credit should read ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on March 3, 2016 shows a piece of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast of Mozambique at Mozambique's Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) in Maputo. A hunk of suspected aircraft wreckage found off the east African coast will be sent to Australia where experts will examine whether it is a new piece in the puzzle of missing flight MH370, officials said. The fragment was reportedly found near Mozambique and could provide clues in the huge and costly Australia-led investigation into what happened to the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared nearly two years ago. / AFP / ADRIEN BARBIER (Photo credit should read ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo dated Wednesday, July 29, 2015, French police officers inspect a piece of debris from a plane in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (AP Photo/Lucas Marie)
Journalists stand next to a police officer holding a piece of plastic found on the sea front of Saint-Denis, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on August 4, 2015. Last week a wing part washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, and has been taken to France to for physical and chemical analysis. In one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history, MH370 inexplicably veered off course in March 2014 and disappeared from radars, sparking a colossal hunt that has until now proved fruitless. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer holds a piece of plastic found on the sea front of Saint-Denis, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on August 4, 2015. Last week a wing part washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, and has been taken to France to for physical and chemical analysis. In one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history, MH370 inexplicably veered off course in March 2014 and disappeared from radars, sparking a colossal hunt that has until now proved fruitless. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Local residents look for debris on a beach of the Etang de Bois Rouge on the sea front of Saint-Andre, on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on August 4, 2015. Last week a wing part washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, and has been taken to France to for physical and chemical analysis. In one of the most baffling mysteries in aviation history, MH370 inexplicably veered off course in March 2014 and disappeared from radars, sparking a colossal hunt that has until now proved fruitless. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Johnny Begue (C), who stumbled across a piece of plane wreckage from the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on the beach on July 29, 2015, help repair the costline in Saint-Andre on the east of the French island of La Reunion, on August 6, 2015. The two-metre (six-foot) long piece of wing, was half covered in sand and had barnacles encrusted on its edges. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, gestures before speaking at a special press conference announcing the findings for the ill fated flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Experts have confirmed that the debris found on Reunion Island last week was that of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 that went missing last year, Malaysia's prime minister said early Thursday. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Police officers inspect metallic debris found on a beach in Saint-Denis on the French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean on August 2, 2015, close to where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week. A piece of metal was found on La Reunion island, where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week, said a source close to the investigation. Investigators on the Indian Ocean island took the debris into evidence as part of their probe into the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, however nothing indicated the piece of metal came from an airplane, the source said. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on August 2, 2015 shows metallic debris found on a beach in Saint-Denis on the French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, close to where where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week. A piece of metal was found on La Reunion island, where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week, said a source close to the investigation. Investigators on the Indian Ocean island took the debris into evidence as part of their probe into the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, however nothing indicated the piece of metal came from an airplane, the source said. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers leave the scene with container holding metallic debris found on a beach in Saint-Denis on the French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean on August 2, 2015, close to where where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week. A piece of metal was found on La Reunion island, where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week, said a source close to the investigation. Investigators on the Indian Ocean island took the debris into evidence as part of their probe into the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, however nothing indicated the piece of metal came from an airplane, the source said. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers inspect and photograph metallic debris found on a beach in Saint-Denis on the French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean on August 2, 2015, close to where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week. A piece of metal was found on La Reunion island, where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week, said a source close to the investigation. Investigators on the Indian Ocean island took the debris into evidence as part of their probe into the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, however nothing indicated the piece of metal came from an airplane, the source said. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers for an association responsible for maintaining paths to Jamaica beach from being overgrown by shrubs, search the beach for possible additional airplane debris near the shore where an airplane wing part was washed up, in the early morning near to Saint-Denis on the north coast of the Indian Ocean island of Reunion Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. A barnacle-encrusted wing part that washed up on the remote Indian Ocean island earlier could help solve one of aviation's greatest mysteries, as investigators work to connect it to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that vanished more than a year ago with 293 people aboard. (AP Photo/Fabrice Wislez)
Police officers inspect metallic debris found on a beach in Saint-Denis on the French Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean on August 2, 2015, close to where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week. A piece of metal was found on La Reunion island, where a Boeing 777 wing part believed to belong to missing flight MH370 washed up last week, said a source close to the investigation. Investigators on the Indian Ocean island took the debris into evidence as part of their probe into the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, however nothing indicated the piece of metal came from an airplane, the source said. AFP PHOTO / RICHARD BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers for an association responsible for maintaining paths to the beaches from being overgrown by shrubs, search the beach for possible additional airplane debris near the shore where an airplane wing part was washed up, in the early morning near to Saint-Andre on the north coast of the Indian Ocean island of Reunion Friday, July 31, 2015. A barnacle-encrusted wing part that washed up on the remote Indian Ocean island could help solve one of aviation's greatest mysteries, as investigators work to connect it to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that vanished more than a year ago with 293 people aboard. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Workers for an association responsible for maintaining paths to the beaches from being overgrown by shrubs, search the beach for possible additional airplane debris near the area where an airplane wing part was washed up, in the early morning near Saint-Andre on the north coast of the Indian Ocean island of Reunion Friday, July 31, 2015. A barnacle-encrusted wing part that washed up on the remote Indian Ocean island could help solve one of aviation's greatest mysteries, as investigators work to connect it to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that vanished more than a year ago with 293 people aboard. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Johnny Begue, 46, who says he found the piece of aircraft debris that is being investigated, walks on Bois-Rouge beach where the debris was washed up, near to Saint-Andre on the north coast of the Indian Ocean island of Reunion Friday, July 31, 2015. The fragment may be the first clue as to what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared last year with 293 people aboard. Massive search efforts have failed to find any sign of the plane, and authorities are analyzing the piece to see if it matches the missing plane. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
In this photo dated Wednesday, July 29, 2015, French police officers carry a piece of debris from a plane in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (AP Photo/Lucas Marie)
In this photo dated Wednesday, July 29, 2015, a piece of debris from a plane is pictured in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island. A 6-foot long piece of an airplane was found off Reunion Island on Wednesday by people cleaning the beach. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (AP Photo)
Police carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015. The two-metre-long debris, which appears to be a piece of a wing, was found by employees of an association cleaning the area and handed over to the air transport brigade of the French gendarmerie (BGTA), who have opened an investigation. An air safety expert did not exclude it could be a part of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing in the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / YANNICK PITOU (Photo credit should read YANNICK PITOU/AFP/Getty Images)
This image taken from video, shows a piece of debris from a plane, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Saint-Andre, Reunion. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (Reunion 1ere via AP) FRANCE OUT
In this photo dated Wednesday, July 29, 2015, French police officers carry a piece of debris from a plane in Saint-Andre, Reunion Island. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (AP Photo/Lucas Marie)
Police and gendarmes carry a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015. The two-metre-long debris, which appears to be a piece of a wing, was found by employees of an association cleaning the area and handed over to the air transport brigade of the French gendarmerie (BGTA), who have opened an investigation. An air safety expert did not exclude it could be a part of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing in the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / YANNICK PITOU (Photo credit should read YANNICK PITOU/AFP/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - JULY 30: Debris found on the island of Reunion east of Madagascar, appears to be part of Malaysia Airlines MH370 that disappeared in 2014. (Photo by Graphic: Ahmet Burak Ozkan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A policeman and a gendarme stand next to a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015. The two-metre-long debris, which appears to be a piece of a wing, was found by employees of an association cleaning the area and handed over to the air transport brigade of the French gendarmerie (BGTA), who have opened an investigation. An air safety expert did not exclude it could be a part of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing in the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / YANNICK PITOU (Photo credit should read YANNICK PITOU/AFP/Getty Images)
In this image taken from video, police officers looking over a piece of debris from a plane, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Saint-Andre, Reunion. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (Reunion 1ere via AP) FRANCE OUT
This image taken from video shows a piece of debris from a plane, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Saint-Andre, Reunion. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (Reunion 1ere via AP) FRANCE OUT
In this his image taken from video, police officers looking at a piece of debris from a plane, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Saint-Andre, Reunion. Air safety investigators, one of them a Boeing investigator, have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. Flight 370, which disappeared March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, is the only 777 known to be missing. (Reunion 1ere via AP) FRANCE OUT
A policeman and a gendarme stand next to a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found in the coastal area of Saint-Andre de la Reunion, in the east of the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015. The two-metre-long debris, which appears to be a piece of a wing, was found by employees of an association cleaning the area and handed over to the air transport brigade of the French gendarmerie (BGTA), who have opened an investigation. An air safety expert did not exclude it could be a part of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which went missing in the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014. AFP PHOTO / YANNICK PITOU (Photo credit should read YANNICK PITOU/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Previous press accounts suggest that Australian and U.S. officials involved in the MH370 investigation have long been more suspicious of Zaharie than their Malaysian counterparts. In January, Byron Bailey wrote in The Australian: "Several months after the MH370 disappearance I was told by a government source that the FBI had recovered from Zaharie's home computer deleted information showing flight plan waypoints ... my source ... left me with the impression that the FBI were of the opinion that Zaharie was responsible for the crash."

However, it's not entirely clear that the recovered flight-simulator data is conclusive. The differences between the simulated and actual flights are significant, most notably in the final direction in which they were heading. It's possible that their overall similarities are coincidental — that Zaharie didn't intend his simulator flight as a practice run but had merely decided to fly someplace unusual.

Today, ministers from Malaysia, China, and Australia announced that once the current seabed search for MH370's wreckage is completed, they will suspend further efforts to find the plane. The search was originally expected to wrap up this month, but stormy weather has pushed back the anticipated completion date to this fall. So far, 42,000 square miles have been covered at a cost of more than $130 million, with another 4,000 square miles to go.

"I must emphasise that this does not mean we are giving up on the search for MH370," Malaysian Transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said. Officials have previously stated that if they received "credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft," the search could be expanded.

MH370 flight path maps:

4 PHOTOS
MH370 Flight Path Maps
See Gallery
MH370 Flight Path Maps
The attached map shows MH370’s flight path, based on the best available knowledge of the investigation team. There are a number of possible flight paths to the southern Indian Ocean, and three boxes indicating where MH370 likely ended. These flight paths differ based on different projections of the aircraft’s speed, shown on the map in knots.
The attached map shows MH370’s flight path, based on the best available knowledge of the investigation team. There are a number of possible flight paths to the southern Indian Ocean, and three boxes indicating where MH370 likely ended. These flight paths differ based on different projections of the aircraft’s speed, shown on the map in knots.
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

But some, including relatives of the missing passengers, believe that that evidentiary threshold has already been past. Recent months have seen the discovery of more than a dozen pieces of suspected aircraft debris, which analyzed collectively could narrow down where the plane went down. (The surprising absence of such wreckage for more than a year left me exploring alternative explanations that ultimately proved unnecessary.) The fact that Zaharie apparently practiced flying until he ran out of fuel over the remote southern Indian Ocean suggests the current search is on the right track — and that another year of hunting might be a worthwhile investment.

Read Full Story

People are Reading