The Australian Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) overseeing the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has confirmed the plane's captain simulated a flight over remote southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.
A new statement confirms US media reports from last week that MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah flew a simulated flight close to the area chosen as the most likely place to search for MH370.
The lack of obvious attractions for flights through the region have sparked theories that captain Shah's simulated flights show he planned to ditch MH370 as an act of murder/suicide.
The JACC rules out that scenario.
“The simulator information shows only the possibility of planning. It does not reveal what happened on the night of the aircraft's disappearance, nor where the aircraft is located,” its statement says. The missive then adds “the relevant facts and analysis most closely match a scenario in which there was no pilot intervening in the latter stages of the flight.”
But the statement also says “The Malaysian ICAO Annex 13 Safety Investigation Team has considered the information [about the simulated flight] and it will be dealt with in its final report.”
It's conceivable the report will find Shah flew the simulated route to visit a fictional airport.
Flight simulator fanciers are strange people: some fly simulated long-haul flights in real time while other enthusiasts provide simulated air traffic control for the duration of their flights. Some even create fictitious airports in remote places, so they can simulate flights to places inaccessible by real planes. The Reg has found one such effort to create a pretend airport on Australia's Heard Island, a volcanic speck in the Southern Ocean.
Australian, Malaysian and Chinese authorities have collaborated on the search for MH 370 but last week said the search will be called off if the plane cannot be found once the search of the designated area is complete. 110,000km2 of the 120,000km2 search area has already been surveyed. The JACC warns progress will be slow this week due to poor weather. ®