The Malaysian Insider
March 22, 2014
As the search for missing MH370 enters the third week, forensic experts examining the flight simulator which was seized by police from the home of Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah have found nothing suspicious, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.
The simulator has been one of the main focuses of investigators as they worked to solve the mystery of the plane’s disappearance.
Investigators became suspicious after they discovered that Zaharie, 53, had deleted logs on a computer linked to the simulator on February 3, almost five weeks before the Boeing 777 with 239 people on board disappeared from the radar during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
It was reported that the computer hard drive was sent to FBI experts in the US for further scrutiny as investigators look into the possibility that the plane was hijacked.
Zaharie and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, had been a key focus of investigations after Malaysian authorities said they believed a “deliberate action” by someone on board caused the plane to lose communications and then turn around from its scheduled flight path.
Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said that the investigation into the flight simulator is part of the overall probe into all passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines flight which has been missing since March 8.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also said that initial investigations found that the data log from the simulator was believed to have been deleted on February 3.
He had said that the deleted data was data log from three types of aviation games.
“The three games in the simulator were ‘flight simulator X’, ‘flight simulator 9′, ‘X flight 10′,” he told the media.
Veteran pilot Zaharie, who has more than 18,000 flying hours, was described as a flying enthusiast by his former and current co-workers.
He was said to have spent his off-days operating the life-sized simulator which he had set up in his house.
Police also checked the personal, political and religious backgrounds of both pilots and the other crew members.
Intensive background checks on Zaharie failed to uncover any links to extremists groups or terrorism.
Attention on Zaharie also focused on his active support for Malaysia’s opposition party.
Zaharie is a member of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) led by veteran politician Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his Twitter account “follows” a number of top opposition politicians, though it contains no posts by Zaharie himself.
There was even speculation that the pilot could have been deeply upset following Anwar’s conviction for sodomy – an allegation that was rejected by those who knew him.
Malaysian media reports have quoted colleagues as calling Zaharie – a 33-year Malaysia Airlines veteran – a “superb” and highly respected pilot, while acquaintances remember a gentle man who was handy in the kitchen and around the house.
Investigations have also failed to find anything suspicious in the background of Fariq, who was due to marry another pilot. – March 22, 2014.