KUALA LUMPUR - The cockpit recording of the conversation between an airplane and ground control were yesterday played for the first time in public in a Beijing conference room in China.
CNN said the recording Malaysian officials played was purportedly the last communication with Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight 370 before it disappeared on March 8.
"Malaysia three-seven-zero contact Ho Chi Minh 120.9, good night," says a voice identified by Malaysian officials as that of a radar controller in Kuala Lumpur.
"Good night, Malaysian three-seven-zero," answers a male voice, believed to be that of a crew member on the plane.
Malaysian officials released the recording more than 50 days after the plane disappeared, in a long-awaited briefing before relatives of the flight's Chinese passengers.
The session yesterday included the release of a chronology of the aircraft's last-known contacts with radar stations as well as a satellite orbiting over the Indian Ocean.
The report quoted Sayid Ruzaimi Syed Aris, an official with Malaysia's aviation authority, that at 2.03am local time on March 8, the MAS operational dispatch centre sent a message to the cockpit instructing the pilot to contact ground control in Vietnam.
He said flight 370 did not respond.
Nearly 20 minutes later, at 2:22am, the Royal Malaysian Air Force picked up the flight for the last time on its radar system.
By that point, Sayid said, the plane was believed to have swerved far off course over Penang.
According to Malaysian officials in Beijing, there was no direct communication between MAS and Flight 370 for a five-hour period.
"At 7.13am, MAS tried to make a voice call to the aircraft, but there was no pickup," said Sayid.
If all had gone according to plan, MH370 would have landed at the International Airport in Beijing at 6.30am on March 8.
Malaysian officials told Chinese families that by their calculations, the aircraft would have run out of fuel seven hours and 31 minutes into the flight.
"Based on the fuel calculation, the aircraft fuel starvation would have occurred at 8.12am," said Subas Chandran, a MAS representative.
The Malaysian delegation also published slides showing the last known "handshakes" between the aircraft and an Inmarsat satellite over the Indian Ocean.
The sixth and final handshake took place at 8.11am, Malaysian time.
According to these Inmarsat data points, in relation to the Inmarsat satellite, flight 370 was far south of where it should have been if it had been on its route to Beijing.
The briefing marked a sharp change from previous combative meetings between Chinese family members and Malaysian officials.
The "families' committee" formed during the agonising month and a half since the plane's disappearance had spent weeks demanding details on the aircraft's last-known location.
Last week, about 100 family members marched at midnight to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing and staged a 15-hour sit-in, demanding a meeting with a high-level technical delegation.