Malaysia releases MH370 transcript, says nothing 'abnormal'

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities on Tuesday released the full transcript of communications between the pilots of missing Flight MH370 and air traffic controllers, saying the exchanges showed nothing unusual.

"There is no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript," a statement by Defence and Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.

The 43 separate transmissions over nearly 54 minutes are thick with air-traffic and navigational jargon and give no hint of trouble aboard the ill-fated plane, which disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

The transcript concludes with Malaysian air traffic control first bidding MH370 "good night", as it instructs the pilots next to contact controllers in Vietnam, over which the plane was due to fly.

The final entry from just after 1:19 am comes from one of the two MH370 pilots, who says "good night, Malaysian three seven zero". The plane disappeared from radar shortly thereafter and is yet to be found, though Malaysia now believes it was deliberately diverted and flew on for hours to the Indian Ocean, where it is presumed to have crashed.

The transcript - and particularly the final words from MH370 - have been the subject of much speculation following earlier statements by authorities and the airline that the last transmission from the plane was a casual "All right, good night".

That apparent non-standard sign-off fuelled speculation that one of the pilots - either Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, or First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27 - diverted the plane on purpose.

Under pressure to clarify the matter, the government corrected the final words late on Monday but until now had not released a full transcript.

Tuesday's statement said the transcript was "initially held as part of the police investigation", but gave no other reason for the delay. Malaysia Airlines had said previously that the last words were believed uttered by First Officer Fariq, but the statement said the ongoing investigation was yet to confirm that. 

MH370's cockpit transcript and full statement from Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on April 1, 2014:

1. Briefing for families

Tomorrow a closed-door briefing meeting for the families will be held in Kuala Lumpur.

The Department of Civil Aviation and Malaysia Airlines will lead the briefing, which will be moderated by the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to China. Technical experts from Malaysia, China and Australia will participate in the briefing, and the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia will attend.

2. Transcript

Today we are releasing the full transcript of communications between flight MH370 and Air Traffic Control Kuala Lumpur. The transcript has been shared with the families, and is attached as an Annex to this press release. There is no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript.

The transcript was initially held as part of the police investigation. Previously, Malaysia Airlines had stated initial investigations indicated that the voice which signed off was that of the co-pilot. The police are working to confirm this belief, and forensic examination of the actual recording is on-going.

The international investigations team and the Malaysian authorities remain of the opinion that, up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, MH370's movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.