The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has published details about data gleaned from the personal flight simulator of MH370 captain Zaharie Shah.
"Six weeks before the accident flight the [pilot-in-command] had used his simulator to fly a route, initially similar to part of the route flown by MH370 up the Straits of Malacca, with a left-hand turn and track into the southern Indian Ocean. There were enough similarities to the flightpath of MH370 for the ATSB to carefully consider the possible implications for the underwater search area."
In the weeks after the 8 March 2014 disappearance of the Boeing 777-200ER with 239 on board, unsourced media reports emerged stating that Shah had used his home flight simulator to simulate a course resembling that taken by MH370.
In was only in August 2016, over two years after the jet's disappearance, that news of Shah's simulator activity was confirmed by Malaysia's transport minister Low Tiong Lai. This was in response to widespread media reports that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had recovered allegedly deleted home simulator data from one of Shah's hard drives.
At that time, Liow downplayed the data, saying that the simulator had contained "thousands of simulations to many destinations."
The ATSB, for its part, says it received the simulator data on 19 April 2014, five weeks after the aircraft's disappearance.
"The simulator data was a partial reconstruction of a flight simulator session from 2 February 2014," says ATSB.
"It comprised four complete and two partial data captures of various aircraft and simulator parameters at discrete points during the simulation. The aircraft simulated was a 777-200LR."
The initial data point shows the simulated aircraft at Kuala Lumpur International airport. No useful location data was available from the second data point.
The next two data points show that the aircraft had flown north up the Straits of Malacca. By the fourth data point the simulated aircraft had reached 40,000ft, was in a 20° left bank, 4° nose down, and had a southwest heading of 255°.
Data points five and six were in the far reaches of the Indian Ocean, 820nm southwest of Australia's, Cape Leeuwin, with the simulated aircraft having exhausted its fuel.
Data point five has the simulated 777 at 37,651ft, at an 11° right bank, and almost due south heading of 178°.
The sixth, and final, data point was incomplete. "It was 2.5nm from the previous data point and the aircraft right bank had reduced to 3°.The aircraft was pitched nose down 5° and was on a heading of 193°. At this time there was also a user input of an altitude of 4,000ft," says the ATSB.
It adds: "By the last data point the aircraft had flown approximately 4,200nm. This was further than was possible with the fuel loaded on board the aircraft for flight MH370. Similarly, the simulated aircraft track was not consistent with the aircraft tracks modelled using the MH370 satellite communications metadata."
The simulator revelations are part of the ATSB's 440-page final report on MH370.
The ATSB says that until the wreckage is located, it is impossible to ascertain the cause of the disaster.