No clues in MH370 cockpit transcript as search wears on

Observer Masaki Sunako from the Japan Coast Guard looks out of a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream V aircraft as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean looking for debris from missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 April 1, 2014. (REUTERS/Rob Griffith/Pool)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia revealed the full radio communications with the pilots of its missing flight Tuesday, but the routine exchanges shed no light on the mystery as an Indian Ocean search for wreckage bore on with no end in sight.

The previously unreleased conversations between MH370’s pilots and air traffic controllers had been the subject of much speculation as suspicions have focused on whether one or both of its pilots deliberately diverted the plane on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

In the final entry from just after 1:19 a.m. one of the pilots responded with an innocuous: “Good night, Malaysian Three Seven Zero.”

Malaysian officials said more than two weeks ago that “All right, good night,” were the last words and that the co-pilot uttered them.

But the new transcript revealed nothing about what happened aboard the ill-fated jet. “There is no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript,” a government statement said of the 43 separate transmissions over nearly 54 minutes, which were thick with air traffic and navigational jargon.

Malaysia believes the flight was deliberately diverted by someone and flown for hours before crashing.

Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul-Hamid, 27, have come under intense scrutiny, especially amid conflicting reports about the final words in the cockpit and whether they indicated trouble or an intent to commandeer MH370.

But the transcript gave no hint of either as Malaysian air traffic controllers bid the plane “good night,” and instructed the pilots to contact controllers in Vietnam, over which the plane was due to fly.

Malaysia Airlines had said previously the last words were believed uttered by Abdul-Hamid, but the statement said the ongoing investigation was yet to confirm that.

Shortly after the final message, communications were cut and the Boeing vanished from civilian radar.

Tuesday’s developments meant another day of frustration for anguished families desperate for firm information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 02, 2014, on page 10.




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