Malaysia Airlines MH370 transcript released

AIMEE GULLIVER IN KUALA LUMPUR
Last updated 23:46 01/04/2014

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The full transcript of communications between missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and air traffic control has been released by Malaysian authorities, who say it indicates nothing untoward.

On Monday, an earlier account of last words heard from the cockpit of the ill-fated plane was changed, as the Malaysian Ministry of Transport said the sign-off was "good night Malaysian three seven zero" – not "all right, goodnight," as Malaysian authorities had said.

The Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared from civilian radar in the early hours of March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 people on board, including two New Zealanders. 

Defence and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein released the 54-minute transcript to relatives of passengers and crew on Tuesday. 

"There is no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript," Hishammuddin said.

Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport gave no indication over the discrepancy in the reported last words from the cockpit of the plane, or why it had taken until the fourth week of the search to determine the inaccuracy in earlier reports. 

But the transcript did not change the view that the plane's course was deliberately altered by someone on board, although no apparent motive had been determined by investigators looking into the backgrounds of the passengers and crew.

“The international investigations team and the Malaysian authorities remain of the opinion that, up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, MH370’s movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” Hishammuddin said. 

The released transcript showed a message from the cockpit at 1.07am, which repeated a communication delivered six minutes earlier, saying the plane was flying at 35,000 feet.

That message was delivered at the same time the plane’s ACARS communications device sent its last message, before being disabled some time in the following 30 minutes. 

At 1.19am, “good night Malaysian three seven zero” came from the cockpit, and police continue a forensic examination to confirm the earlier claim of Malaysia Airlines’ CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya that the sign-off was made by co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.

The aircraft’s transponder was disabled, investigators believe deliberately, at 1.21am as the plane crossed from Malaysian to Vietnamese air space. 

Minutes after it lost communication, the plane made a sharp turn west, deviating significantly from its plotted route and turning back across Malaysia, heading towards the Indian Ocean.

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on March 24 that the flight had “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean, based on unprecedented analysis techniques of radar data. 

A multi-national search effort in a vast area west of Perth, Western Australia, had failed to spot any sign of the Boeing 777-200ER, and search co-ordinators cautioned on Tuesday it could drag on for some time, with wreckage possibly never found. 

The Department of Civil Aviation, Malaysia Airlines and technical experts from Malaysia, China and Australia will participate in a briefing for families of passengers on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur. 

- Stuff

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