Malaysia Airlines flight 370’s missing flight was captained by Zaharie Ahmad Shah. In his home, a flight simulator was found amongst his belongings by Malaysian police during their investigation. Could a pilot learn more from this source? Experts say, a pilot couldn’t likely learn much more, especially if he was experienced.
The mysterious disappearance of the Boeing 777 on the 8th March, had on board, 239 people flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The pilot (age 53) had more than 18,000 flight hours of experience and had worked for the airline since 1981; he wasn’t a rookie! Investigators claim that it appears as if the flight was blown off-course by someone with flight knowledge of Boeing 777s. There is no evidence that points to Zaharie or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid (age 27) being in control of the plane when it disappeared. Zaharie was apparently an ‘aviation tech geek’ as per a pilot who had been on flights with hime before. Zaharie had posted on Facebook a picture of a flight simulator with three monitors. Investigators decided to take the simulator from the pilot’s house to examine it.
Why is this technology under investigation? Captain John Cox, founder of the consulting firm, Safety Operating Systems said, “For people who don’t fly or for private pilots, it’s normal to have these kinds of things. For professional pilots, it’s unusual.” Nobody who has more than 18,000 hours in the air needs flight simulator training. The software needed to simulate a Boeing 777 is not uncommon. Microsoft Flight Simulator allows people to adjust complicated controls on a cyber jet, through all sorts of drastic and different weather and landing conditions.
However, there is a far jump from software to landing an airplane successfully. It takes a lot of hands-on training and practice, says aviation expert, Bob Hager. Hardware makes it incredibly difficult to practice for a real flight. During training, pilots use expensive and complex simulators that allow pilots to experience flying as if they were actually doing it. If someone wanted to build something like that at home, it would not be easy or cheap.
All sorts of theories have been suggested about this missing flight, from crashing into the ocean to landing in a remote area. Could someone like Zaharie prepare for such landings on a flight simulator? “Theoretically, yeah, I guess you could,” Cox said. “But a highly experienced pilot would have the skill set to do that even without training with a simulator.”
What do you think? As always, your sensible comments are always.
[Image via flyawaysimulation]