The pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was likely behind the plane's disappearance on March 8, 2014, according to a member of an investigative group. Victor Iannello used civilian radar data made public in April 2018 for his comprehensive report.

According to the MH370 independent group, the plane’s flight path near the Malaysian state of Penang was consistent with a navigation system that is fully operational, Sputnik News reported.

“In order to better understand the sequence of inputs to the flight control system, we created a simulation using the PMDG 777 model in Microsoft Flight Simulator. In particular, we studied whether the aircraft might have been flown with the pilot providing inputs to the autopilot, and what those inputs might have been,” Iannello said, adding that it was possible the pilot tried to evade radar detection. 

“MH370’s flight path near Penang can be replicated with the autopilot engaged and the flight path near Penang is consistent with the image of the military radar data in the Malacca Strait that was never officially released. It is very unlikely that there was an intention to land at Penang Airport," Iannello alleged.

The study’s findings somewhat coincide with a widely popular "death-dive" theory. Larry Vance, an aviation expert and former investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said in May 2018 that he believed Flight MH370 was intentionally flown into the ocean in an act of murder-suicide.

Flight MH370 was carrying 239 people on board when it went missing while traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Despite several search efforts, the plane's main body was not found. The mystery behind what happened to the jet continues as investigators were unable to determine what caused the crash.

mh370 A new theory says the pilot of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was likely behind the plane's disappearance. In the image, a young girl holds a balloon with a message during a memorial event for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Kuala Lumpur, March 3, 2018. Photo: Getty Images/Manan Vatsyayana

In July 2018, Malaysia released a report stating Flight MH370 deviated from its path "not because of anomalies in the mechanical system. The turn back was made not under autopilot but under manual control.” However, it added that a “third-party interference” couldn’t be ruled out. The biggest lead in the investigation came when a plane flaperon was found by villagers in the French island of Réunion. Possible pieces of wreckage had also turned up on the shorelines of Africa, Mozambique and Mauritius, investigators said. Another report said 27 pieces of wreckage found were believed to be from MH370, though only three were confirmed as parts that actually belonged to the doomed jetliner.

Since the plane went missing, several conspiracy theories emerged, including the murder-suicide claims alleging pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah deliberately veered the plane off course, crashing it into a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.

In December, an ex-United Airlines captain claimed pilots made desperate attempts to land the plane in Malaysia while the jet was on fire, rejecting the death-dive theory.

"The initial turn, whatever they did to get off the airway, I think they may have initially tried to go to Penang Airport," Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, told Daily Star at the time. "And while they were going towards it I think they either lost consciousness or they died, and then the aircraft went that way... And for some other reason it made another left turn, going south towards the south Indian Ocean."

However, none of these claims could be confirmed.