A transcript of the last exchanges between MH370 and air traffic control

Published: March 21, 2014

Japanese Air Self-Defense Force loadmasters and trained spotters scan the ocean aboard a C130 aircraft while it flies over the southern search area in the southeastern Indian Ocean, 200 to 300 kilometers (124 to 186 miles) south of Sumatra, Indonesia, Friday, March 21, 2014. AP Photo/Koji Ueda

Last 54 minutes of Flight MH370: The Daily Telegraph obtains transcript of exchanges between co-pilot and air traffic control

JONATHAN PEARLMAN and ADAM WU
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

A transcript of conversations between the co-pilot and the control tower, and other air traffic controllers, runs from the time the Boeing 777 was taxiing to its last known position thousands of feet above the South China Sea.

It includes exchanges from a point at which investigators believe the plane had already been sabotaged, as well as the last words of Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, the co-pilot: “All right, good night.”

Last night analysts said the sequence of messages appeared “perfectly routine”. However two features, they said, stood out as potentially odd.

The first was a message from the cockpit at 1.07am, saying the plane was flying at 35,000ft. This was unnecessary as it repeated a message delivered six minutes earlier.

But it occurred at a crucial moment: it was at 1.07am that the plane’s Acars signalling device sent its last message before being disabled some time in the next 30 minutes, apparently deliberately. A separate transponder was disabled at 1.21am but investigators believe the Acars was shut down before Hamid’s final, 1.19am farewell.

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The other odd feature, one reason for suspicions that the plane’s disappearance was no accident, was that its loss of communication and subsequent sharp turn west occurred at the handover from air traffic controllers in Kuala Lumpur to those in Ho Chi Minh City.

“If I was going to steal the aeroplane, that would be the point I would do it,” said Stephen Buzdygan, a former British Airways pilot who flew 777s.

“There might be a bit of dead space between the air traffic controllers … It was the only time during the flight they would maybe not have been able to be seen from the ground.”

The fresh details add to speculation over the fate of MH370, whether it was the victim of a sudden accident or a hijacking. The transcript also suggests that if the pilots were involved, they were very careful to hide their true intentions.

Last night, dozens of ships and aircraft continued to search an area off the Australian coast where debris, potentially from MH370, was spotted by a spy satellite earlier this week.

Malaysia has begun contacting the handful of nations with deep sea detection equipment for help in what may be a long search for the aircraft’s black box. The area of interest spans 9,000 sq miles of waters up to 13,000ft deep with strong currents.

Warren Truss, Australia’s deputy prime minister, acknowledged that the apparent debris may never be found. “Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating,” he said. “Any debris or other material would have moved a significant distance, potentially hundreds of kilometres.”

Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s acting transport minister, said the search was proving frustrating and cautioned: “This is going to be a long haul.”

Malaysia Airlines said yesterday that the aircraft was carrying lithium ion batteries, which are deemed “dangerous” cargo and can overheat and cause fires. But Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the airline’s head, said the batteries – used in laptops and mobile phones – were packed in accordance with regulations and were unlikely to have posed a threat.

A photo taken on March 21, 2014, shows a crew member on a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft participating in the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean. BOHDAN WARCHOMIJ/AFP/Getty Images

He would not comment on whether Hamid, the co-pilot, appeared to have been under duress during his final message.

The Daily Telegraph has repeatedly asked Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority and the office of Najib Razak, the Malaysian prime minister, to confirm the communications record; only the prime minister’s office responded, saying it would not release this data.

Daily Telegraph, London
212119 GMT Mar14

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