Sydney/Singapore — The captain of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft that vanished in the southern Indian Ocean with 239 people on board had flown a route on his home flight simulator six weeks earlier that was "initially similar" to the one actually taken, Australian authorities said on Tuesday.
The details were contained in a 440-page final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on the unsuccessful search for flight MH370.
The disappearance of the Boeing 777 on March 8 2014 on a flight to Beijing from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, has become one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries. The report concluded that the reasons for the loss of the aircraft could not be established with certainty until the aircraft was found.
"It is almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era … for a large aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board," the bureau said.
The aircraft was thought to have been diverted thousands of kilometres off course out over the southern Indian Ocean before crashing off the coast of Western Australia.
Australia, which led the underwater hunt, and Malaysia and China called off a A$200m ($160m) search for the aircraft in January, despite the protests of families of those on board.
Six weeks before the aircraft’s disappearance, Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah used his home simulator to fly a route that was initially similar to part of the route flown by MH370 up the Strait of Malacca, with a left-hand turn and track into the southern Indian Ocean, the bureau said in its report.
"By the last data point the aircraft had flown about 4,200 nautical miles. This was further than was possible with the fuel loaded on board the aircraft for flight MH370." The simulated aircraft track was also inconsistent with those modelled using satellite data from MH370, the report said.