Malaysian police examine pilot's flight simulator
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian police on Sunday were examining a flight simulator belonging to one of the pilots of the missing jetliner and investigating engineers who worked on the plane, sharpening the probe into the jet's disappearance after authorities revealed it was a deliberate act.
The government said police searched the homes of both of the plane's pilots on Saturday, but did not say whether it was the first time officers had done so since the flight went missing more than a week ago with 239 people aboard en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
Authorities were trying to narrow down the search for the plane, which satellite data shows could have kept flying as far north as Central Asia or far into the southern Indian Ocean, posing awesome challenges for efforts to recover the aircraft and flight data recorders vital to solving the mystery of what happened on board.
Given that the northern route would take the plane over countries with busy airspace, most experts say the person in control of the plane would more likely have chosen the southern route. The southern Indian Ocean is the world's third-deepest and one of the most remote stretches of water in the world, with little radar coverage. The wreckage might take months — or longer — to find, or might never be located.
Malaysia has asked for help from countries in South, Central and Southeast Asia for assistance in tracing the jet by providing satellite and radar data, the government said in a statement. It said that for now, both the northern and southern routes that the plane may have taken were being treated with "equal importance."
There appeared to be some confusion over where to search as India, one of 12 countries contributing planes and vessels to the hunt, said it had stopped looking while waiting for confirmation from Malaysia on where to search. Australia, which looks onto the southern Indian Ocean from its west coast, said it had not been asked to begin searching there.
Malaysia's acting transport minister tweeted that he was in meetings to decide the "next course of action."
In the first detailed account of what happened to the plane, Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday that someone severed communications with the ground and deliberately diverted Flight 370 back over the Malay Peninsula early on March 8.
The revelations raised questions over possible lapses by Malaysian authorities, including why the air force wasn't aware that a jetliner was flying over the country. It also triggered speculation over who on the plane was involved — and what motive they might have for flying away with an aircraft carrying a 12-person crew and 227 passengers.
If the pilots were involved in the disappearance, were they working together or alone, or with one or more of the passengers or crew? Did they fly the plane under duress or of their own volition? Did one or more of the passengers manage to break into the cockpit, or use the threat of violence to gain entry and then pilot the plane?
Malaysian authorities have not ruled out any possibilities, and to establish what happened with any degree of certainty investigators will likely need to examine information, including cockpit voice recordings, from the plane's flight data recorders should the jet be located.