WASHINGTON: Malaysia has asked the FBI to help recover data deleted from a flight simulator in the home of the pilot of a missing Malaysian jet, a US official said Wednesday.
The official, who spoke to Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity, confirmed the request related to the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 probe — first reported by the New York Times — without offering further comment.
Malaysian police removed the flight simulator from Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home on Saturday.
The Times quoted a senior US law enforcement official as saying that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Kuala Lumpur would likely make copies of the simulator’s hard drive and send the contents back to analysts in the United States who specialize in retrieval of deleted computer data.
“Right now, it’s the best chance we have of finding something,” that official told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
FBI investigators are aiding a team probing the disappearance of MH370, which vanished in the early hours of March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board.
Personnel from the US National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are also helping to track down the Boeing 777.
“We have contributed a significant number of resources and assets to the search for the plane and to the investigation into what happened,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday.
“The NTSB and the FAA are the primary interlocutors with the Malaysian government, but the FBI is also assisting in the investigation,” he said.
Carney declined comment on the New York Times report.
A FBI spokesman told Agence France-Presse: “The FBI… continues to engage with appropriate Malaysian authorities and provide support where necessary to the Malaysian government in their investigation of the missing aircraft.”
That spokesman declined comment on the specifics of the investigation.
Following the disappearance of the jet, FBI agents were reportedly kept at arm’s length by Malaysian authorities, as the difficult search for the jet shifted from the Gulf of Thailand to the Indian Ocean.
Now, in addition to the FBI agents, two US naval surveillance aircraft have helped in the search effort.
A P-8 Poseidon is aiding Australian efforts off Perth, and a P-3 Orion aircraft was taking part in a search to the north in the Bay of Bengal, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters.
The New York Times quoted a senior US military official as saying Washington was now using its spy satellites to try to whittle down the vast area in which a multinational team was looking for the plane.