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Malaysia releases transcript of last words from missing plane, revises final words from cockpit



By Matt Siegel and Niluksi Koswanage

(Reuters) - The last words from the cockpit of a missing Malaysian jet were a standard "Good night Malaysian three seven zero", Malaysian authorities said, changing their account of the critical last communication from a more casual "All right, good night".

Malaysia on Tuesday released the full transcript of communications between the Boeing 777 and local air traffic control before it dropped from civilian radar in the early hours of March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. (To read the transcript in full, click here.)

The correction comes as Malaysian authorities face heavy criticism, particularly from China, for mismanaging the search, now in its fourth fruitless week, and holding back information. Most of the 239 people on board the flight were Chinese.

"There is no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript," Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in the statement, without giving explanation for the changes in the reported last communication.

"The transcript was initially held as part of the police investigation," he added.

Malaysia Releases Flight 370 Cockpit Transcript

Minutes after the final radio transmission was received the plane's communications were cut off and it turned back across Peninsular Malaysia and headed towards the Indian Ocean, according to military radar and limited satellite data.

The search is now focused on a vast, inhospitable swathe of the southern Indian Ocean west of the Australian city of Perth, but an international team of planes and ships have so far failed to spot any sign of the jetliner.

"In this case, the last known position was a long, long way from where the aircraft appears to have gone," retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the head of the Australian agency coordinating the operation, told reporters in Perth.

"It's very complex, it's very demanding and we don't have hard information like we might normally have," he said.

Malaysia says the plane was likely diverted deliberately, probably by a skilled aviator, leading to speculation of involvement by one or more of the pilots. Investigators, however, have determined no apparent motive or other red flags among the 227 passengers and 12 crew.

The transcript, issued on Tuesday and shared with families of the passengers and crew, covers about 55 minutes of apparently routine conversation, beginning about quarter of an hour before take-off.

The last exchange took place at 1:19 a.m. Nothing appeared to be wrong, as Malaysian air traffic controllers told the pilots they were entering Vietnamese air space, and received a fairly standard sign-off with call sign in reply.

Air Traffic Control: "Malaysian Three Seven Zero contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9, good night."

MH370: "Good night, Malaysian Three Seven Zero."

"Previously, Malaysia Airlines had stated initial investigations indicated that the voice which signed off was that of the co-pilot," Transport Minister Hishammuddin said in the statement.

"The police are working to confirm this belief, and forensic examination of the actual recording is on-going."

Malaysia's ambassador to China had told Chinese families in Beijing as early as March 12 that the last words from the cockpit had been "All right, good night", which experts said was more informal than called for by standard radio procedures.

SEARCH GOES ON

Nine ships and 10 aircraft resumed the hunt for wreckage from MH370 on Tuesday, hoping to recover more than the fishing gear and other flotsam found since Australian authorities moved the search 1,100 km (685 miles) north after new analysis of radar and satellite data.

Houston said the challenging search, in an area the size of Ireland, would continue based on the imperfect information with which they had to work.

"But, inevitably, if we don't find any wreckage on the surface, we are eventually going to have to, probably in consultation with everybody who has a stake in this, review what to do next," he said.

Using faint, hourly satellite signals gathered by British firm Inmarsat PLC and radar data from early in its flight, investigators have only estimates of the speed the aircraft was travelling and no certainty of its altitude, Houston said.

Satellite imagery of the new search area had not given "anything better than low confidence of finding anything", said Mick Kinley, another search official in Perth.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will travel to Perth late on Wednesday to see the operation first hand. He was expected to meet Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday.

Among the vessels due to join the search in the coming days is an Australian defense force ship, the Ocean Shield, that has been fitted with a sophisticated U.S. black box locator and an underwater drone.

Time is running out because the signal transmitted by the missing aircraft's black box will die about 30 days after a crash due to limited battery life, leaving investigators with a vastly more difficult task.

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in PERTH and Jane Wardell in SYDNEY; Rujun Shen and Stuart Grudgings in KUALA LUMPUR; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Paul Tait and Alex Richardson)

Join the discussion

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Mary M. Revis April 01 2014 at 12:14 PM

I am very saddened to hear of this plane crash and the mass loss of life. I also am HIGHLY concerned that in this day and age of advanced technology...NO ONE can seem to find this plane. Is using submarines under the surface...to detect pings ruled out? or has no one simply had that thought yet. There was NO precision, no real planning and sense of urgency in the approach to this tragic event. Also WHY when transcripts are bound to be seen, would any one want to change what was said...if even by word or two?? It only lends to incompetence and suspicions toward the fools who are "running the show". My prayers to the families for their loss and may their loved ones be found. I don't feel they will have a sense of closure in this, even if the passengers are found, because there are just too many mistakes here and hollow excuse being given here by the Malaysian officials.

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Fran Bishop April 01 2014 at 9:48 AM

When something like this happens why are governments so arrogant and childish that they don't immediately request help! GEESH

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Tom T. April 01 2014 at 9:48 AM

Seems as if the more we know, the less we know......how many more "revisions"? All we know, so far, is that the A/C is lost. Several news sources are still pumping it for commercial value, last night, BBC and CNN with speculation but nothing of real value. Even the search area is, at best, a good guess. By the time the ship with listening device arrives in the area, the black box will probably be dead even if, big if, they are in the right area......

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Christopher J. April 01 2014 at 9:51 AM

Obviously they are spending millions of dollars and man power to do so.

By the way, what were all those 300 pieces of debris?

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1 reply
Jan Christopher J. April 01 2014 at 10:40 AM

Jelly fish, fishing gear, trash from cruise ships and tankers. Yay. We have a sewer for an ocean.

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SELAMAT JAVA41 April 01 2014 at 9:53 AM

I am with davehenderson. Logic dictates that planes which are inadvertendly diverted are under
human control. The satellites would have picked up the plane's ultimate destination .
The data needs to be analyzed - or maybe it already has- and the facts are NOT made public due
to the sensitivity of the situation. If GoogleEarth can identify my house and the car license plate,
a Boeing 777 should stick out like a sore thumb. It's a matter of time until someone either escapes or the abductors make a mistake and the truth slips out.

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1 reply
Jan SELAMAT JAVA41 April 01 2014 at 10:37 AM

I think the issue is that the reason Google Earth has your house is someone came and took pics on the ground, that is why the close up never changes for long long periods of time, and the satelite does change the above pic. It is a true pic, real time. But the satelite has to be there, they are mot over the ocean the same way, or in remote areas. They have a lot if them focused in neighborhoods and etc for our travel devices, etc. they make money with them. They entertain us with limited under ocean views, looks at foreign areas but when it comes to this, they are more limited. However, i whole heartedly believe we have spy satelite capability to do more than we have. The problem in part has been global community and responsibility. I think there will arise a formation like NATO for this type of catastrophe in the future. Necessity is the mother of invention and this has been an eye opener. ALL countries should have had all resources on board immediately. The hosting country should have bern transparent from jump, opened it all. Military info from radar surveillance as regards this plane from every country should have been turned over pronto. With a central agency overseeing this, it would have had a much better chance.

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Darrel April 01 2014 at 10:30 AM

There is one who knows where that plane is! And, my prayer is that (He) God would expose what happen to it. Please join with me in praying that God would expose the truth and for comfort for all the families who have lost a loved one. There is great power in us joining together in prayer. My heart goes out to them all. God comfort them.

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Jennifer Long April 01 2014 at 7:58 PM

Eventually this mystery will be solved, but it has definitely been hampered by poor communications, misinformation secrecy, , and lack of cooperation between all the various governments and agencies trying to help with the search. It nothing else, I hope this serves to point out the need for better worldwide communication and assistance during these disasters.

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crrunch April 01 2014 at 1:32 PM

Revised???? Either it says what it says or it doesn't. Not real difficult to figure out.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
a502cc April 01 2014 at 10:06 AM

Stop the junk.............The sign off from the aircraft was normal. The media should know better. If there was a further clearance the pilot should have repeated the clearance repeat the new contact frequency and the tail number.............goodnight

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totalstudentsvcs April 01 2014 at 10:07 AM

QUESTION .... is it me or can anyone read that transcript. I cannot enlarge it.

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2 replies
motown571 totalstudentsvcs April 01 2014 at 10:17 AM

It's not you, I can't read it either.

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rickhagman1 totalstudentsvcs April 01 2014 at 11:18 AM

I was able to enlarge on my laptop from tools. Still hard to read and no real information, more about take-off runway to use and elevation the flight deck was requesting. Approved to travel at 3 five zero or thirty five thousand feet.
Kind of useless to this complex mystery.

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