Newspaper article International New York Times

Cockpit Transcript Is Made Public ; Exchanges of Final Hour Give No Hint of Why Malaysian Jet Vanished

Newspaper article International New York Times

Cockpit Transcript Is Made Public ; Exchanges of Final Hour Give No Hint of Why Malaysian Jet Vanished

Article excerpt

It provides no apparent indication why Flight 370 suddenly veered from its intended flight path to Beijing and vanished.

The radio communications between the cockpit of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and air traffic controllers before the plane disappeared early on March 8 provide no apparent indication why the plane suddenly veered from its intended flight path to Beijing and vanished over the Indian Ocean, according to a transcript released Tuesday by the Malaysian authorities.

The transcript covers about 54 minutes, from just before the plane pushed back from the gate at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the cockpit's last words with air traffic personnel in Malaysia before they lost contact with the aircraft at about 1:19 a.m. as it was approaching the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.

Malaysian officials have said that the behavior of the plane -- including its change of course and ensuing route, as well as the disabling of its communication systems -- suggested that someone onboard deliberately diverted the plane. As a result, the plane's pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and his co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, have come under intense scrutiny.

In a statement accompanying the transcript's release, Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia's defense minister and acting transportation minister, said there was "no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript."

But the banality of the communications, he said, did not change the opinion of investigators that up until the plane dropped off military radar, more than an hour after the cockpit's last contact with air traffic controllers, Flight 370's "movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane."

The transcript's release came as the international search for the missing plane continued in the Indian Ocean. At least 11 aircraft and nine ships explored the latest search zone on Tuesday, officials said, and for the first time, Australia deployed an airborne traffic controller to help coordinate the many aircraft involved in the hunt and help avert mid-air collisions.

But the searchers had to contend with rough conditions all day, including "heavy seas and strong winds," the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a Twitter message. …

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