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Malaysia says MH370 pilot flew Indian Ocean route on simulator
[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysian officials have said that one of MH370's pilots plotted a path over the Indian Ocean on a home flight simulator, but warned this did not prove he deliberately crashed the plane.
The Malaysia Airlines jet was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
It is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean, but an extensive hunt off Australia's west coast is drawing to a close without any sign of the plane.
Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah had used a home-made flight simulator to plot a very similar course to MH370's presumed final route, said transport minister Liow Tiong Lai.
But he emphasised this was just one of thousands of practice routes discovered on Mr Zaharie's hard drive.
"There is no evidence to confirm that (the pilot) flew the plane into the southern Indian Ocean," he told reporters at a press conference Thursday.
The discovery of the flight simulator data was first reported last month by New York Magazine, which said the FBI had recovered the deleted files.
But the end point of the simulated route was some 900 miles (1,450 kilometres) from the area where the plane is believed to have gone down, the report said.
Mr Zaharie was the subject of intense media speculation when MH370 first vanished, with reports scrutinising everything from his political beliefs to his mental health for clues as to what could have happened.
Australia, Malaysia and China, where most of the passengers were from, have agreed that when the current search area is fully searched, expected around December, they will pull the plug unless "credible new information" emerges.