1 April 2014
ABC Australia reports – Malaysia’s civil aviation authority has clarified the last words spoken by one of the pilots of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, changing a previous account that the pilot’s last words were “all right, good night”.
“We would like to confirm that the last conversation in the transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit is at 0119 (Malaysian Time) and is ‘good night Malaysian 370’,” the department of civil aviation said in a statement .
The correction of the official account of the last words was made as Malaysian authorities face heavy criticism for their handling of the disappearance, particularly from families of the Chinese passengers on board who have accused Malaysia of mismanaging the search and holding back information.
Malaysia’s ambassador to China told Chinese families in Beijing as early as March 12, four days after the flight went missing, that the last words had been “all right, good night.”
“Good night Malaysian 370” would be a more formal, standard sign-off from the cockpit of the Boeing 777, which was just leaving Malaysia-controlled air space on its route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The statement said authorities were still conducting a “forensic investigation” to determine whether the last words from the cockpit were spoken by pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah or co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.
Previously, Malaysia Airlines has said that the words were believed to have come from the co-pilot.
Black box locator en route to search area
The development comes as an Australian Navy ship carrying specialist equipment to detect the black box of the missing plane is en route to the southern Indian Ocean search area.
The Ocean Shield, carrying a towed pinger locator and an underwater vehicle, is not expected to reach the search area for three days.
Once in the area, 1,800 kilometres west of Perth, the Ocean Shield will tow the equipment at just five kilometres per hour in an attempt to pick up a signal from the plane’s black box.
Timing is crucial as authorities say the plane’s black box may only have enough battery power to send out a signal for another week.
So far, the search for debris from the missing flight has come up empty.
Four orange items found on Sunday, described as the “the most promising leads” so far, were in fact fishing equipment, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has confirmed.
Navy personnel say more surface debris has been spotted by military aircraft, but it is yet to be collected from the ocean.
Weather in the search zone is expected to be poor today, with areas of low visibility.
Search crews are expected to be met by Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, who is due to arrive in Perth tomorrow to witness the operation and thank those involved.
In Kuala Lumpur, the government has promised to provide key investigators to brief grief-stricken Chinese family members who have arrived in the Malaysian capital demanding answers.
The Chinese say they will never forgive those who have hidden information from them but Malaysia insists it is providing all the details it has.
The financial impact of the loss of MH370 is also beginning to surface, with global rating agency Standard and Poor’s estimating a cost to insurers of between $250 million and $450 million, depending on the outcome of any court settlements.
It says the losses will be spread throughout the global aviation insurance markets but adds it is unlikely to trigger any major changes to the cost of aviation insurance.
Tony Abbott reiterates Australia’s support for search
Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated Australia’s support for the search, with more than 1,000 sailors now scouring the ocean for debris.
Monday’s search involved a total of 10 aircraft and 10 ships from numerous countries.
“I’m certainly not putting a time limit on it,” Mr Abbott said.
“As I said, we owe it to the families, we owe it to everyone who travels by air, we owe it to the governments of the countries who had citizens on that aircraft.”
Families of the missing have strongly criticised Malaysia’s handling of the search and investigation, including the decision last week to say that, based on satellite evidence, the plane had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Mr Abbott rejected suggestions his Malaysian counterpart had been too hasty to break that news, given that no confirmed wreckage from the plane had been found and its last sighting on radar was north-west of Malaysia, heading towards India.
“No, the accumulation of evidence is that the aircraft has been lost and it has been lost somewhere in the south of the Indian Ocean,” he said.
Mr Abbott announced on Sunday that former Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston would take a leading role in coordinating the international search effort.
The plane, en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, was carrying 239 passengers and crew, including six Australians.
Numerous objects have been spotted in the two days since Australian authorities moved the search 1,100km closer to the WA coast.
- Orange objects confirmed as fishing equipment
- MH370 search won’t be scaled back any time soon: Abbott
- US Navy black box recovery devices set to aid search
- Ex-Defence chief to take lead in MH370 search
- More objects spotted in search for MH370
- AMSA changes search zone after ‘credible new leads’
- Satellite finds 300 floating objects in MH370 search zone