On March 8, 2014, flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur Airport on route to Beijing, China, with 239 people on board. Captain Zaharie Shah was in control of the plane when it last communicated with air traffic control at 1:19am over the South China Sea. However, moments later, the plane vanished from civilian radar screens following a routine handover from Malaysian to Vietnamese channels.
Radar and satellite data shows how the jet suddenly changed course and flew back across Malaysia before turning south of Penang and then towards the southern Indian Ocean.
Captain Zaharie Shah has come under scrutiny over the years amid claims he went on a suicide mission and took his passengers with him.
This was fuelled in 2016 when Australian officials confirmed Mr Shah had practiced a route where the plane is said to have vanished using an in-flight simulator he built at home.
However, these practice routes did not end up with the plane at the bottom of the ocean, it has been claimed.
An unnamed source told Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian in 2014: “The simulation programmes are based on runways at the Valana International Airport in the Maldives, an airport owned by the United States (Diego Garcia), and three other runways in India and Sri Lanka, all have runway lengths of 1,000 metres.
“We are not discounting the possibility that the plane landed on a runway that might not be heavily monitored, in addition to the theories that the plane landed on the sea, in the hills, or in an open space.”
However, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), who is leading the search for the plane, did not think the find was significant.
A spokesman said: “The simulator information shows only the possibility of planning.
“It does not reveal what happened on the night of its disappearance nor where the aircraft is located.
“For the purposes of defining the underwater search area, the relevant facts and analysis most closely match a scenario in which there was no pilot intervening in the latter stages of the flight.”
It was previously revealed how former pilot Christopher Goodfellow believes the sudden change in direction of MH370 was no mistake.
The aviation expert believes the veteran pilot made himself well aware of all the nearby airports before a trip in case of the worse.
He believes MH70 then suffered a mid-air emergency.
He wrote in a blog post in 2014: “The turn [back across Malaysia] is key here.
“Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a very experienced senior captain with 18,000 hours of flight time.
“We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbour while in cruise.
“Airports behind us, airports abeam us, and airports ahead of us – they’re always in our head, always.
“If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what are you going to do, you already know what you are going to do.”
Mr Goodfellow went on to explain why he believed Mr Shah was heading for Langkawi International Airport in Malaysia, following a fire on board.
He added: “When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for that airport.
“He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles.
“The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lumpur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross.
“He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.”