New York: MH370 Pilot Flew a Suicide Route on His Home Simulator Closely Matching Final Flight

The route found on the simulator hard drive is red, the suspected route of MH370 in yellow. The orange box is the current search area.


New York has obtained a confidential document from the Malaysian police investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that shows that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, conducted a simulated flight deep into the remote southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane vanished under uncannily similar circumstances. The revelation, which Malaysia withheld from a lengthy public report on the investigation, is the strongest evidence yet that Zaharie made off with the plane in a premeditated act of mass murder-suicide.

The document presents the findings of the Malaysian police’s investigation into Zaharie. It reveals that after the plane disappeared in March of 2014, Malaysia turned over to the FBI hard drives that Zaharie used to record sessions on an elaborate home-built flight simulator. The FBI was able to recover six deleted data points that had been stored by Microsoft Flight Simulator X program in the weeks before MH370 disappeared, according to the document. Each point records the airplane’s altitude, speed, direction of flight, and other key parameters at a given moment. The document reads, in part:

Based on the Forensics Analysis conducted on the 5 HDDs obtained from the Flight Simulator from MH370 Pilot’s house, we found a flight path, that lead to the Southern Indian Ocean, among the numerous other flight paths charted on the Flight Simulator, that could be of interest, as contained in Table 2.

Taken together, these points show a flight that departs Kuala Lumpur, heads northwest over the Malacca Strait, then turns left and heads south over the Indian Ocean, continuing until fuel exhaustion over an empty stretch of sea.

Search officials believe MH370 followed a similar route, based on signals the plane transmitted to a satellite after ceasing communications and turning off course. The actual and the simulated flights were not identical, though, with the stimulated endpoint some 900 miles from the remote patch of southern ocean area where officials believe the plane went down. Based on the data in the document, here’s a map of the simulated fight compared to the route searchers believe the lost airliner followed (see above).

Rumors have long circulated that the FBI had discovered such evidence, but Malaysian officials made no mention of the find in the otherwise detailed report into the investigation, “Factual Information,” that was released on the first anniversary of the disappearance.

The credibility of the rumors was further undermined by the fact that many media accountsmentioned “a small runway on an unnamed island in the far southern Indian Ocean,” of which there are none.

From the beginning, Zaharie has been a primary suspect, but until now no hard evidence implicating him has emerged. The “Factual Information” report states, “The Captain’s ability to handle stress at work and home was good. There was no known history of apathy, anxiety, or irritability. There were no significant changes in his life style, interpersonal conflict or family stresses.” After his disappearance, friends and family members came forward to described Zaharie as an affable, helpful family man who enjoyed making instructional YouTube videos for home DIY projects — hardly the typical profile of a mass murderer.

The newly unveiled documents, however, suggest Malaysian officials have suppressed at least one key piece of incriminating information. This is not entirely surprising: There is a history in aircraft investigations of national safety boards refusing to believe that their pilots could have intentionally crashed an aircraft full of passengers. After EgyptAir 990 went down near Martha’s Vineyard in 1999, for example, Egyptian officials angrily rejected the U.S. National Transport Safety Board finding that the pilot had deliberately steered the plane into the sea. Indonesian officials likewise rejected the NTSB finding that the 1997 crash of SilkAir 185 was an act of pilot suicide.

Previous press accounts suggest that Australian and U.S. officials involved in the MH370 investigation have long been more suspicious of Zaharie than their Malaysian counterparts. In January, Byron Bailey wrote in The Australian: “Several months after the MH370 disappearance I was told by a government source that the FBI had recovered from Zaharie’s home computer deleted information showing flight plan waypoints … my source … left me with the impression that the FBI were of the opinion that Zaharie was responsible for the crash.”

However, it’s not entirely clear that the recovered flight-simulator data is conclusive. The differences between the simulated and actual flights are significant, most notably in the final direction in which they were heading. It’s possible that their overall similarities are coincidental — that Zaharie didn’t intend his simulator flight as a practice run but had merely decided to fly someplace unusual.

Today, ministers from Malaysia, China, and Australia announced that once the current seabed search for MH370’s wreckage is completed, they will suspend further efforts to find the plane. The search was originally expected to wrap up this month, but stormy weather has pushed back the anticipated completion date to this fall. So far, 42,000 square miles have been covered at a cost of more than $130 million, with another 4,000 square miles to go.

“I must emphasise that this does not mean we are giving up on the search for MH370,” Malaysian Transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said. Officials have previously stated that if they received “credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft,” the search could be expanded.

But some, including relatives of the missing passengers, believe that that evidentiary threshold has already been past. Recent months have seen the discovery of more than a dozen pieces of suspected aircraft debris, which analyzed collectively could narrow down where the plane went down. (The surprising absence of such wreckage for more than a year left me exploring alternative explanations that ultimately proved unnecessary.) The fact that Zaharie apparently practiced flying until he ran out of fuel over the remote southern Indian Ocean suggests the current search is on the right track — and that another year of hunting might be a worthwhile investment.

UPDATE 7/23/16: Here is some data on some of the points recovered from Zaharie’s flight simulator. Note that one of the points is missing. There are also additional fields that I am not yet at liberty to disclose. Watch this space…

Lat-long table

279 thoughts on “New York: MH370 Pilot Flew a Suicide Route on His Home Simulator Closely Matching Final Flight”

  1. @HippyGirl

    Jeff Wise says; ‘watch this space…’.
    Seattle doesn’t fit between 3 and 4 but after 5 he could have had enough fuel to land on Antarctica..

    I hope number 6 gets revealed soon with the other data before the whole case won’t be taken serious anymore by anyone.

  2. @Victor said:

    “For those questioning whether this is a hoax, I will add that I have seen the document that Jeff refers to in the article, which was not supplied to me by Jeff, and it is 100% authentic.’

    Victor, can you say what makes you so sure that the document is ‘100% authentic’?

    Is it because of (eg) printed letterhead stationery and ‘official’ stamps, or because of the source that supplied it to you?

    Considering that both documents and provenance can be forged / changed, that is a big claim to make without verification of both original source and content, and not the sort of unconditional statement you would normally make.

    (Did you make that statement or is there still some post spoofing happening on here?)

  3. @Brock

    This is a point in which some people seem to overlook or ignore that 3 Independent scientific drift studies all seem to indicate that the impact zone along the 7th arc could not possibily be below 25S. What your drift study and the GEOMAR study both show is that at best there is a low probability that MH370 even crashed near the 7th arc above 25S.

    Although there is not a complete disconnect between the ISAT data and the drift data these 3 drift studies clearly show us that there is a much higher probability MH370 crashed closer to the Equator with the Meteo France report saying “Close to Equator near Indonesia.”

    The drift data hardly seems to be reassuring us that this plane is even near that 7th arc. I have always believe that reverse drift studies will never be good enough for helping us pinpont exactly where the plane went down but they should be good enough for at least telling us where the haystack is.

    It doesn’t look like our haystack is even near that 7th arc according to the drift data and the higher probability zones. That’s what these drift studies are telling us and people need to also take note of this fact. If we can’t agree on this then there is no point in discussing this anymore.

    They’re simply not recognizing or understanding the significance of this drift data. The beauty of good science is it can’t be BS!

  4. @ Ge Rijn

    I’ve been pondering your comment about splashing the plane into the Dordrecht Hole. That to me is very interesting. You seem to make a lot of good points and I think that one makes a lot of sense, thank you.

    I read that it is 50 km from N to S. I am not a commercial pilot so I am wondering if that would be difficult to achieve given the circumstances of where he is, out in the middle of nowhere with no markers.

    If you believe that may really be a possibility, can you please walk me through how he would achieve that? For example, how he would be certain where he was, and at what points along the path he would start adjusting? What airspeed, altitude, etc should he be at and does that line up with the info we have so far?

    Thanks in advance for considering my question.

  5. @Brock McEwen

    Other drifter based drift models (MPat/Griffin) and also one of your earlier studies show debris allready starts to avoid the West Australian coast north of 36S.
    Those drifter based models also show more than 30 out of 177 drifters land on the right places on the African coasts and islands that passed through the current search box.
    I agree those models don’t show a drifter land as far south as the ‘Roy-piece’ but those models were made with a timeframe that could not yet include the ‘Roy-piece’ for that arrived later in december 2015.

    I sure don’t exclude 25S but IMO far more north the timeframe becomes too short and more debris should be expected much sooner on more northern African shores as Tanzania and Kenia, where only one piece till now is found in Tanzania, and less on South African shores as Mozambique and South Africa.

    The named drifter based models predict quite well the actualy found debris positions. Much better than any other study to date IMO.
    The latitudes south of 36S show drifters land on Australia which probably did not happen for nothing is found still so latitudes south of 36S can be excluded IMO.
    Then latitudes starting north of 36S can not be excluded according to these models.

    If you reject those models I would like to hear arguments on which grounds.

  6. Interesting that the altitude point No 3 of 40,003 (a step cruise up from point No 2) where the A/C is likely (because he had to guess at the takeoff weight) to be more fuel efficient and drops to 37,651 at point No 4 again gaining fuel endurance. This could be an indication of a plan to use step cruises. (Note, while it is generally true that faster and higher LRC increases endurance, per PI.21.3 in the FCOM, there comes a point where endurance increases at lower Flight Levels.) Oh, and as you travel further south along the 7th Arc, you also go far enough east to support the debris finds in Africa with nothing landing on Australian shores.

  7. @ ventus45
    … The problem with that is, the direct path from the FMT to 45S 104E goes smack through JORN’s coverage. …

    This is from,

    Did the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) detect flight MH370?

    A. … Based on the time of day that MH370 disappeared, and in the context of peacetime tasking, JORN was not operational at the time of the aircraft’s disappearance. Given range from individual OTHRs [Over-The-Horizon-Radars], the ionospheric conditions and a lack of information on MH370’s possible flight path towards Australia, it is unlikely that MH370 would have been detected if the system had been operational. …

  8. @Ge Rijn

    As I said. anyone with a brain would rule out a terminal location South of 30S. Pretty much summarizes what I think of your reasoning ability.

    You should really try to move out of your parent’s house.

  9. @OK. Show me a set of reasonably small and reasonably unbiased BFO errors – including at 18:40 – for a path that doesn’t use either arbitrary altitude changes or arbitrary turns at one or more of the points, in order to make it “fit”.

    (My statement stands unrefuted, Dennis, if you say “the data at 18:40 looks wonky, so I cheerfully ignore it”. You are perfectly free to do so, of course – but you cannot then go on to say my statement is untrue, because MY definition of “coming within a country mile of fitting the BFO data” INCLUDES at least a decent fit to the 18:40 sat call.)

  10. Now Australia’s PM weighs in as things get pretty complicated:

    SYDNEY: Australia on Monday brushed off a reported FBI probe into the pilot of missing flight MH370, saying it was a matter for Malaysia and did not shed light on the plane’s location.

    The New York magazine Friday cited a secret FBI document showing the jet’s captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah used his elaborate home-built flight simulator to chart a route similar to the one believed taken by the doomed plane just weeks before it disappeared.
    The revelation reignited speculation in the Australian media Monday that the unsolved mystery could have been a murder/suicide.

    “I’m aware, as is the government, of the reports about the FBI investigation into the MH370 captain’s home simulator,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in Sydney.
    “I’m unable to comment on them other than to say that it’s a matter for the Malaysian investigators when they’re considering their final report into this tragedy.”

    But he added: “I just note that even if the simulator information does show that it is possible or very likely that the captain planned this shocking event, it does not tell us the location of the aircraft.”

  11. @All. I hate to bring a mission impossible storyline. And I dont buy suicide. Cue the music.
    Is there any access between the cargo hold and the cabin? On some wide bodies there is an elevator that goes below. I was wondering if the 2tons of cargo could hide one or more people who would never appear on a passenger list and would have access to electronics. Or even be working with accomplices. We’ve just never clarified the mystery cargo. Do we know anything about this cargo?

  12. @moonkoon

    From page 4 of that PDF, the full text is:

    Did the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) detect flight MH370 ?
    Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200, was classified as missing at 0240h on 08 Mar 14 whilst enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
    On 24 Mar 14, the Malaysian Prime Minister announced that MH370 had probably ended its flight in the middle of the Indian Ocean to the west of Perth, far from any possible landing sites.
    The aircraft was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, including six Australians.
    Based on the time of day that MH370 disappeared, and in the context of peacetime tasking, JORN was not operational at the time of the aircraft’s disappearance.
    Given range from individual OTHRs, the ionospheric conditions and a lack of information on MH370’s possible flight path towards Australia, it is unlikely that MH370 would have been detected if the system had been operational.

    My point is this.

    That statement from the RAAF is pure PR spin & bullshit.
    It is simply a plausible “public explanation” to deflect domestic criticism, (of which there was quite a lot in some quarters, some public, and some not) as to why JORN (allegedly) did not see it.
    Since so many credible people said, that JORN should have seen it, if it was there, and if it crashed anywhere on the 7th Arc north of about 35 South, Defence had to defend themselves, and produce a “credible” explanation, as to why such a hugely expensive Defence Asset, that was supposed to be able to see a Cessna 172 taking off in Java, couldn’t see a huge B777 heading (perhaps) for Perth !
    It is a carefully crafted statement, designed to make the reader assume that “JORN WAS NOT ON (at the time), because there was no active TASKING “NEED” for it to be ON”.
    Then it implies “even if it had been on, it doesn’t work REAL WELL AT NIGHT !
    (potential enemise TAKE NOTE !)

    So much for that.

    From a “mission planning perspective”, Z was well aware of JORN.
    It was a “known threat” that had to be mitigated.

    (How could he, you, or me, have any idea what it’s operating hours were, or would be, on any given day.
    PS: Side note: My research established long ago, that there are HAM Radio Operators who do monitor when JORN is transmitting, and there was a website on it. I didn’t save the URL, but google is your friend.)

    The overriding point is this, he had to ASSUME IT WOULD BE OPERATING, and avoid it. My “dogleg” (previously posted) is the “obvious” way to do it.

    Now, going back to the “dawn data” I posted before, [for the 22nd of June (Southern Winter Solstice)] which “matches” points 4 and 5 as Jef has published them.
    This clearly indicates to me, indeed to reinforces reinforces the fact, that he “was planning a dawn ditching”, and he NEEDED TO CHECK, in the “worst case day), how far east he would have to go (at 45 South) on the shortest day of the year (in the southern hemisphere) to BE ABLE TO meet the “first light of dawn”.


    Now, go back a few days, I did ask Jeff Wise (quite nicely I thought) to provide the day (the date) of the simulation flight, did I not ?

    Actually I want TWO dates.
    (1) The “date being simulated” in the sim, and
    (2) The “real time date” that the sim run was performed.

    Unfortunately, Jeff has “declined” to be forthcoming on this.
    He seems to think (or perhaps his “source” does) that providing those two pieces of data, are way too sensitive.

    This to me, clearly indicates, that we are being “managed” by the “intelligence agencies”.
    We are only being given “carefully selected snippets”, that are designed to bias our thinking “in a certain direction”.

  13. @Ventus45

    “………managed……by intelligence agencies…….designed to bias our thinking………..”

    And ironically you are falling for it in spite of JORN and all. But so are many others, I may add.

  14. @Ventus – could you again elaborate on the significance of a dawn ditching? I have always been of the belief that there was a Qu’uranic element to an ocean impact at sunrise.

    Also, wasn’t the flight during the hours that most of the world was entering daylight savings time? It seems to me that be a nefarious pilot would want to strike during a moment of world timekeeping chaos, to obfuscate and confuse everyone even more.

  15. @ ventus45
    Yes there may be some CYA going on with the JORN story. 🙂

    Re your, … Actually I want TWO dates., Jeff was interviewed earlier today.
    No transcript available yet but at about 1:25 in he says he thinks the sim data is from the month prior to the disappearance i.e. February.

  16. @moonkoon
    if RMAF knew/thought that they track unidentified commercial airliner after U-turn, they had plenty of time to send fighters and for sure they are required to inform alies (US, Australia…) as unidentified 777 with unknown extra fuel is in fact potential cruising missile with operational range of several thousands kilometers… so I think quite good reason to switch JORN on…, at least

  17. Currently the Zaharie speculation is inconclusive. The information yet to come could help though Victorl has implied that disclosure of all of it will leave two diametrically opposed schools of thought. With an inconclusive case before them one can suppose the FBI came to its purported conclusion about Zaharie’s involvement because it had yet more information it was unable to disclose.

    If it cannot still, then those two schools remain.

    In which case what is left is:
    1.full FI disclosure as Victorl said was promised by the Malaysian Minister, though there will be a wait,
    2.the final investigation report, which the suspension might have delayed indefinitely, deliberately or otherwise,
    3.a reconstruction of parts separation including the aircraft flaperon and part flap,
    4.‘unknown-unknown’ evidence.

    If the French judicial system continues its block of release of the flaperon investigation and there are continuing difficulties with others such as Boeing, as the Malaysian Minister claims, 1-3 above will be not only delayed but incomplete.

    The time is now for the Malaysian investigators to request ICAO intervention to resolve the difficulties it claims, that is if they wish to make progress. If it becomes apparent that progress is unsatisfactory ICAO should step in anyway to assist.
    Byron Bailey (amit’s URL above) overlooks NTSB current involvement amongst many other considerations.

  18. @DennisW

    I must admit I sometimes get intimidated by your superior intellect which offcourse I’m not able to comprehend. And to be honest I don’t have a problem with that. On the contrary.
    We are obviously on hugely different levels.

    By the way I don’t intend to leave my parents house for they always support and comfort me.
    And every year they take me on holiday for Christmas to Christmas Island.
    I love spotting planes there 😉

  19. “we found a flight path, that lead to the Southern Indian Ocean, among the numerous other flight paths charted on the Flight Simulator, that could be of interest,”

    So among the numerous paths charted on the Flight Simulator, they found a single path that “could be of interest”.

    And it goes in a quite different direction from what “Veteran pilot aviation expert Byron Bailey” was entirely certain of not so long ago.

    So it doesn’t tell us anything about where to look for MH370.

  20. All that Jeff’s articles achieve is to feed the crowd that condemms Captain Zaharie.

  21. @DennisW

    To be serious I suggest stop calling names and stop insulting people.
    It’s the third time I see you doing this here.
    It’s not constructive at all and affects the positive spririt of this blog in a negative way IMO.

  22. @Ge Rijin

    It seems our question to @VictorI is still unanswered. The conclusion is consequently the answer is : “Yes”.

    This brings up new lights to the issue that this documents, if authentic, were known to VictorI 4-5 weeks ago.

    If this conclusion should be ridiculous i must say VictorI must be a person with some great clairvoyant abilities.

Comments are closed.