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Pilots’ own gear yields few clues

Officials reveal new search zone

WASHINGTON — The flight simulator and hard drives that Flight 370’s pilots had at their homes appear to be a dead end, yielding few clues about whether they deliberately diverted the missing jet, said two people briefed on the investigation.

Malaysian authorities seized the devices early in their investigation and, after initially keeping US officials at a distance, turned to the FBI last week for help in analyzing them. The Malaysians were particularly interested in learning what the captain of the flight apparently deleted from the simulator days before the plane disappeared.

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The FBI said it would not discuss what it had found on the hard drives because the investigation was continuing.

Though investigators are continuing to focus on the pilot’s role in the plane’s March 8 disappearance, no concrete evidence indicates they sabotaged the flight.

James B. Comey, FBI director, testified before a House committee Wednesday that the bureau was close to completing its analysis of the simulator and hard drives. “I have teams working really around the clock to exploit that,” Comey said. “I don’t want to say more about that in an open setting . . . Within a day or two we will finish that work.”

No physical trace of the plane has been recovered from the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia, where officials have concluded that the flight must have ended in a crash. Growing numbers of floating objects have been spotted in satellite photos, but search planes were unable to hunt for them Thursday because of bad weather, the second time this week storms have interrupted the search.

The search zone for the airliner has shifted 680 miles to the northeast after new analysis of radar data suggested the plane flew faster than thought and used more fuel, which may have reduced the distance it traveled, the Associated Press reported Friday, citing Australian officials.

The revised search area comes as the weather cleared enough to allow planes to hunt for fresh clues on Friday.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the change was based on new analysis from the international investigative team in Malaysia.

‘‘This is a credible new lead and will be thoroughly investigated today,’’ Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

The new area is 123,000 square miles and about 1,250 miles west of Perth, Australia, the launching area for the search.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people aboard. It stopped communicating with ground controllers about 40 minutes later and veered radically off course. Radar traces and satellite signals indicated it flew west over the Indian Ocean and then south. The probable area of impact is roughly three times the size of France.

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