Malaysia ‘re-enacts’ missing plane’s flightpath
A simulator was flown on the same course, including zig-zag moves possibly intended to avoid civilian radar
A flight simulator identical to the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 has been used by investigators probing the incident in a re-enactment of the plane’s mysterious flight path, a senior Malaysian military official said Sunday.
The plane is believed to have banked west and the re-enactment, staged in recent days, was aimed at determining whether the radar and satellite data that it generated matches up with data on MH370's flight.
"The idea of the flight was to find out the possible direction the missing plane could have gone," the official, who is closely involved in the investigation, told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.
Avoiding civilian radar
The official said the new findings generated data identical to that which is believed to show the missing airliner turned from its intended flight path across the South China Sea, doubled back across Malaysia, and then veered northwest toward the Andaman Sea.
The simulator was flown on the same course, including zig-zag moves possibly intended to avoid civilian radar.
"The plane was flown exactly how the missing plane flew based on military radar data. It did a turn-around, flew across the Malaysian peninsula and up north," the official said.
"That is why we can conclusively say which two possible directions the plane flew and we have now refocused our search and rescue operations to these two new areas."
Initially, the search for the Boeing 777 jumbo jet initially focused on waters in the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam, where the plane disappeared from radar on March 8.
Data showing the number of possible runways where the plane could have touched down - which need to be at least 5,000ft - offer several potential locations.
According to a map drawn up by U.S. radio station WNYC, there are 634 locations which could fit, from Australia to the Maldives to Pakistan.
Malaysia's leader Najib Razak announced on Saturday that data indicated the communications systems of MH370 were deliberately de-activated by someone aboard, and the jet diverted away from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight path.
Najib said search efforts would now be focused on one corridor stretching northwest from Malaysia to as far away as Kazakhstan and another reaching southwest toward the southern Indian Ocean.
Najib's revelations effectively ruled out earlier theories of a catastrophic mechanical failure or mid-air explosion, but raised the disturbing scenario of a potential hijack, attempted terror attack or rogue action by a member of the crew.
No firm leads have emerged yet to support any of those theories.
India suspends search
Meanwhile, India on Sunday suspended its search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 around the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands and in the Bay of Bengal and is awaiting a new request from Malaysia, a defense official said.
“The entire operation is on hold for now. We are awaiting fresh instructions from Malaysia,” said Colonel Harmit Singh, spokesman for India’s army, navy and airforce command in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
“None of the planes from our air fleet took off today. Even the navy vessels involved in search operations have moved to another island,” Singh told AFP.
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