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Missing plane update: MH370 pilot Captain Zaharie Shah now 'chief suspect'

The Malaysian Airlines MH 370 pilot Captain Zaharie Shah now 'chief suspect' as search for the missing plane shifts to the south, the Sunday Times reported Sunday.

Missing plane update: MH 370 pilot Captain Zaharie Shah now 'chief suspect'
Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

The Times reports, "The official Malaysian police investigation of the disappearance of the airliner MH370 has identified the captain as the prime suspect after checks cleared all the other people on board."

The Independent reported that authorities say the pilot was named as the chief suspect after plans for an Indian Ocean flight were found on his flight simulator and that the pilot made no plans for the future after the doomed March 8 flight.

The Independent takes up the story, "The police probe has also revealed that the 53-year-old captain was unique among those on board the flight for having no recorded commitments, either socially or for work, to take place after the date of the MH370 journey.

"This was not in keeping with Zaharie’s usually outgoing and open nature, police said, and in contrast to the activities of his co-pilot, Fariq Hamid, and the rest of the crew."

Search shifts to south

Meanwhile, the story of the search for the missing Malaysian plane is shifting south, the Telegraph reports.

The Telegraph headline read, "MH370: search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane to shift south

"Senior investigator says probable crash site hundreds of miles south of area of fruitless underwater search that lasted months"

Now search efforts are moving south, hundreds of miles from where authorities initial believed the plane went down on March 8, ABC News reports.

The chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Martin Dolan, told reporters that an announcement will be made next week about where the search will be focused. The new search site covers about 23,000 square miles and will use powerful state-of-the-art sonar equipment.

Dolan told the AP that he thought the probable crash site would be hundreds of miles south of where the previous searches have been.
One of the main pieces of equipment involved in the search is an underwater drone. It had searched 330 square miles last month alone.

At first, searchers had hope that acoustic signals were coming from the missing plane’s black box. But now they believe those signals were coming from another source, not Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It is not clear what could have generated those weak signals that gave searchers a false hope.

The BBC's Jonathan Amos, reports, "The new search area(s) that the ATSB promise to announce shortly must be tied to the ocean-bed mapping now being conducted by survey ships. Their information is critical to guiding underwater sweeps. Without proper depth data, you cannot choose the most appropriate submersibles to look for MH370 wreckage.

"The Australian authorities tell me that the Dutch-owned Fugro Equator is currently working in an area located along the arc where Inmarsat made a seventh and final connection with the lost jet."

Authorities say that the planed new southern search area is based on refining analysis of satellite information from the lost plane. The Malaysian plane, a Boeing 777, inexplicably went off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.

"All the trends of this analysis will move the search area south of where it was," Dolan said. "Just how much south is something that we're still working on."

"There was a very complex analysis and there were several different ways of looking at it. Specialists have used several different methodologies and bringing all of that work together to get a consensus view is what we're finalizing at the moment," he added.

The new search will be conducted by private contractors and it won’t be done quickly. It is expected to take as long as a year.

When MH370 went down with 239 passengers and crew. No debris has ever been found.

The new search area will stretch as far southwest as off the Australian city of Perth.

The starting new development of Captain Zaharie Shah being named the chief suspect has not come as a surprise to many, but it will not affect the efforts by searchers to find the missing plane.

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