The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 16, 2014

Final words from jet came after systems shutdown

(Continued)

Police searched the homes of both pilots Saturday, the first time they had done so since the plane vanished, the government said. Asked why it took them so long, Khalid said authorities "didn't see the necessity in the early stages."

Police confiscated the elaborate flight simulator that one of the pilots, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had built in his home and reassembled it in their offices to study it for clues, Khalid said.

Zaharie, 53, who has three grown children and one grandchild, had previously posted photos online of the simulator, which was made with three large computer monitors and other accessories. Earlier this week, the head of Malaysia Airlines said the simulator was not in itself cause for any suspicion.

Malaysian police were also investigating engineers and ground staff who may have had contact with the plane before it took off, Khalid said.

Even though the ACARS system was disabled on Flight 370, it continued to emit faint hourly pulses that were recorded by a satellite. The last "ping" was sent out at 8:11 a.m. — 7 hours and 31 minutes after the plane took off. That placed the jet somewhere in a huge arc as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia or far into the southern Indian Ocean.

While many people believe the plane has crashed, there is a small possibility it may have landed somewhere and be relatively intact. Affendi, the air force general, and Hishammuddin, the defense minister, said it was possible for the plane to "ping" when it was on the ground if its electrical systems were undamaged.

Australia said it was sending one of its two AP-3C Orion aircraft involved in the search to remote islands in the Indian Ocean at Malaysia's request. The plane will search the north and west of the Cocos Islands, a remote Australian territory with an airstrip about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) southwest of Indonesia, military chief Gen. David Hurley said.

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