Final 54 minutes of communication from MH370 'perfectly routine', say analysts
Published on Mar 22, 2014 7:44 AM
A purported transcript of the final 54 minutes of communication between air traffic controller and the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 appears “perfectly routine”, say analysts.
According to British publication The Telegraph, the transcript contains exchanges between MH370 and air traffic controllers from before the flight took off until the final transmission.
It includes communications believed to be the last words of the 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid: “All right, good night”.
According to reports from The Telegraph and CNN, nothing in the purported transcript suggests that anything unusual occurred before communications with the Boeing 777 ended. However two features, analysts said, stood out as potentially odd.
At 1:07am, MH370 communicated that it was flying at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, information that was already provided six minutes earlier.
It was also at 1.07am that the plane’s ACARS signalling device sent its last message before being disabled during the next 30 minutes, apparently deliberately.
The second odd feature was that the plane's loss of communication and subsequent sharp turn west occurred at the handover from air traffic controllers in Kuala Lumpur to those in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. This is one reason for suspicions that the plane’s disappearance was not an accident.
Mr Stephen Buzdyga, a former British Airways pilot who flew 777s, was quoted by The Telegraph saying, “If I was going to steal the aeroplane, that would be the point I would do it.”
Mr Buzdyga said that the possible "dead space" at handover would have been the only time that air traffic controllers might not be able to see MH370 from the ground.
Commenting on the repeated information about the flight's altitude, Mr Steve Landells, a former British Airways pilot, said that although the message was not required, he found nothing suspicious about it.
"It could be as simple as the pilot forgetting or not being sure that he had told air traffic controllers he had reached the altitude," Mr Landells told The Telegraph. "He might be reconfirming he was at 350 (35,000 feet). It is not unusual. I wouldn't read anything into it."
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines said in a press statement released on March 22 that the lithium ion batteries carried onboard MH370 were in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements, where they are classified as "Non Dangerous Goods".
Earlier, Malaysian authorities confirmed on March 21 that the missing flight was carrying some lithium ion batteries in its cargo hold. These batteries are commonly used in laptops and mobile phones.