The FBI and Malaysian authorities have been perusing computer records from the flight simulator found in the home of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370's pilot Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah. Specifically, they have been sifting through data pertaining to deleted files discovered. On Friday, American investigators found that there were even more deletions from the computer hard drive.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) March 19 that Malaysia had finally allowed the FBI to join in the investigation regarding the missing plane. The agency was brought in to help investigate the deleted files, even though it was not certain why authorities thought that the deleted files were important. But two days later, CNN reported that the FBI had found more deleted data on the hard drive. The second set of deletions apparently occurred much closer to the flight date than the deletions previously discovered.
The flight simulator was found in the home of Capt. Zaharie Shah when Malaysian officials searched the pilot's residence after military authorities uncovered radar and satellite data indicating the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had altered course in what appeared to be a deliberate maneuver. And instead of the massive Boeing 777 and the 239 passengers and crew crashing into the South China Sea (which was the initial assumption), it was picked up on military radar hundreds of miles west of its last recorded location. Then signals from the plane continued to be recorded by satellite. Authorities suspected hijacking or piracy by operatives that knew what they were doing. Searches were executed on the houses of several members of the crew, while all passengers were being checked against various databases in search of something suspicious.
Still, Capt. Shah was a known flying enthusiast and pilots having their own flight simulators is not unheard of. According to the CEO of flight simulator software PMDG, shah had developed a continuing online presence where he promoted flying.
When asked what theories investigators were working on, Attorney General Eric Holder said that he "didn't think [there were] any theories" thus far.
On Friday, the discovery of more files missing from the captain's hard drive did not alter the investigation's conclusions on the matter -- there were none. Without more information, the FBI and Malaysian authorities refuse to jump to any conclusions at all, so far finding no evidence that the deleted files point toward anything suspicious.
Experts note that the flight simulation files, which take up a lot of room on a hard drive, may have been purged simply to make more room on the hard drive, a common practice. American investigators aren't ruling out that the deleted filed may have resulted from damage done to the hard drive content from mishandling by the Malaysians during their initial investigation.
The newly found deletions appear to have occurred after the Feb. 3 date of the deleted files uncovered by Malaysian investigators.
According to CNN, there are some senior counterterrorism officials suggesting that the leading theory on what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is that an accident caused its disappearance. A lack of evidence of foul play or signs of an unplanned -- or forced -- landing somewhere lends weight to the theory.
But that same lack of evidence has generated a great deal of speculation about the missing plane, from incredible UFO interference theories to far more believable theories regarding terrorist acts and hijacking.
Saturday, March 22, marks the beginning of the third week since the Boeing 777 went missing. The plane left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 headed for Beijing, China. Partway across the South China Sea, aviation radar lost the aircraft's signal. The transponder that normally emits signals when airplanes fly outside the range of ground-based radar systems was also not operating. But the mystery really began when Malaysia military radar picked up the plane on its radar off the west coast of Malaysia a few hours later.
No debris field or isolated wreckage from Flight MH370 that can be considered credible has been found.