The UK news publication The Telegraph has a scoop on a transcript of cockpit communications between the lost Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the Kuala Lumpur airport and air traffic control covering the 54 minutes up until it disappeared as a transponder identified airliner on the ATC radar screens.
This includes 15 minutes of talk between the flight and tower at the airport before it lifted off on its intended five hours fifty minutes service to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board, and with normal reserves, fuel for around eight hours flying time.
The last words transcribed are “all right good night” believed to have been spoken by the co-pilot co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid at 1.19 am local time, after wheels up at 12.40.
There is nothing unusual in the transcript apart from whichever pilot was doing the earlier communications repeating its establishing itself at its initial cruise altitude twice.
But …. the transcript doesn’t tell us whether it is the same voice that repeats the earlier message.
As The Telegraph reports:
The first was a message delivered by the cockpit at 1.07am, saying that the plane was flying at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet. This message was unnecessary as it repeated a call that had already been delivered six minutes earlier.
But this message occurred at a crucial moment in the plane’s flight history: it was at 1.07am that the plane’s ACARS signalling device sent its last message before being disabled during the next 30 minutes, apparently deliberately. A transponder signalling device was disabled at 1.21am but investigators believe the ACARS was shut down before Hamid’s final farewell message.
A note at the end of the transcript document says it is an English translation from Mandarin. However the cockpit communications should have been in English, which introduces the risk to meaning that could arise if this is in fact a Mandarin translation of an English original translated by a different person back into English from a written document rather than from a direct recording.
Which also raises the question as to whether Fariq Abdul Hamid or perhaps someone else used Bahasa Melayu or English to say “all right good night” on signing off from Malaysia ATC prior to the flight planned hand over to Vietnam ATC as it made its way across the Gulf of Thailand.
The question as to whether the voice recording of that message indicates that whoever made it was under duress or otherwise sounded ‘different’ now assumes even greater importance in the investigation. Malaysia Airlines and the authorities in KL have stonewalled media questions seeking clarity as to who spoke those words and how he sounded.
The new question is now whether or not there is a change of voice apparent during the 54 minutes of conversation available to the investigators as well as whether or not there is a voice present in the cockpit which is not that of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid. It’s not of course a question that wouldn’t have been the subject of extensive expert study for much of the two weeks since MH370 went missing.
The transcript used in the UK report is unofficial.
The Telegraph story could be seen as atonement for the absurd story it published earlier in the week linking MH370 to a plot disclosed in a terrorist trial to fly an airliner into Kuala Lumpur’s landmark structure the Petronas Towers.