FBI check of MH370 pilots’ drives, flight sim comes up empty

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation found no incriminating evidence from the hard drives and a flight simulator taken from the homes of the two aviators on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 15. — Reuters pic
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation found no incriminating evidence from the hard drives and a flight simulator taken from the homes of the two aviators on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 15. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — The US Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered no incriminating evidence from the hard drives and a flight simulator belonging to two pilots on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the New York Times reported citing anonymous sources.

According to two unnamed individuals informed of the US investigators’ findings, information obtained from the items taken from the homes of the two aviators on March 15 yielded few clues that could further the probe into the plane’s disappearance on March 8 with 239 people on board.

But one of the sources, a former US law enforcement agent, said this did not mean that the data should be discarded.

“Something on the drive which does not seem important today could be, when viewed with additional data obtained from the background of the individual, his other activity, interviews and data from the flight recorded,” the source told the NYT.

Malaysia announced on March 15 that MH370 was diverted from its path to Beijing through deliberate action and that it was now focusing investigations on the 12 crew and 227 passengers on board.

Attention has fallen most on the two pilots — captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and Fariq Ab Hamid — as investigators insist the circumstances of the plane’s diversion required piloting and avionics expertise.

Investigators also said all 227 passengers were cleared by intelligence agencies from all countries whose nationals were on board, save for Russia

Malaysian police previously said the data logs from the simulator Zaharie built himself were deleted on February 3. The simulator was later sent along with drives from the two pilots’ computers to the FBI’s forensics lab in Quantico, Virginia.

On Wednesday, the AFP news agency reported that FBI director James Comey said he expected his agency to finish an investigation of computer files related to the MH370 in the next one or two days.

“I have teams working really around the clock to exploit that,” Comey said. “I don't want to say more about that in an open setting, but I expect it to be done fairly shortly. Within a day or two we will finish that work.”

Comey did not say what results he expected from the FBI's analysis.

He also denied allegations that Malaysian authorities had not been open to assistance offered by the FBI in the investigation of MH370, which has been missing for over two weeks.

The search for the plane that disappeared on March 8 while bound for Beijing with 239 on board is now converging on a remote location in the southern Indian Ocean 2,500km southwest of Perth, after Malaysia announced on Monday that satellite data showed the flight “ended somewhere” in the waters there.

The airlines told families of the plane’s passengers and crew that it “assumed beyond reasonable doubt” that the plane was lost with no survivors.

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