MH370 probe: M’sia faces credibility issue


Experts are puzzled over the new revelations on the last words from the MH370 cockpit

(FMT) – The clarification issued by the Department of Civil Aviation late last night on the last message from the MH370 cockpit only reveals weaknesses of the Malaysian authorities in investigating the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines.

“The change in wording weeks into the search for the missing plane raises questions about how Malaysian officials have handled the investigation,” said CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo.

“It speaks to credibility issues, unfortunately,” Schiavo said, as quoted by CNN.

Weeks ago, Malaysian authorities had said the last message from the airplane cockpit was: “All right, good night.”

Investigators had said the sign-off was spoken by the plane’s co-pilot and was among the few concrete details officials released publicly.

However last night, the DCA said the final voice transmission from the cockpit of Flight 370 was actually “Good night Malaysian three seven zero.”

It gave no explanation for the discrepancy between the two quotes but said a full transcript would be released during a briefing with relatives of the missing passengers.

And authorities are still trying to determine whether it was the plane’s pilot or co-pilot who said them.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya had said on March 17 the last words from the cockpit were believed to have been spoken by the co-pilot.

Shortly after the last message from the plane, communications were cut and the Boeing 777, carrying mostly Chinese nationals, vanished from civilian radar.

Schiavo added that the new message from the cockpit was routine and was not a sign that anything untoward occurred aboard the flight.

CNN aviation analyst Miles O’Brien meanwhile was quoted as saying that it was hard to understand what the words meant without more details from authorities about what they said and how they said it.

“Without the preceding information … either the transcript or the recordings themselves, it’s difficult to know what any of that really means,” he said. “And that’s the problem with this investigation, which has been so opaque.”

A former US aviation expert also questioned the way the Malaysian authorities were leading the investigations.

“We haven’t had a straight, clear word that we can have a lot of fidelity in,” said Michael Goldfarb, former chief of staff at the US Federal Aviation Administration.

“We have the tragedy of the crash, we have the tragedy of an investigation gone awry and then we have questions about where we go from here,” he said.

‘We are not hiding anything’

Yesterday Acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein defended their handling of the situation.


He said the authorities were not hiding anything by declining to release some details of the missing flight.

Some details are part of ongoing investigations into what happened to the plane, he said.

“We are not hiding anything,” he said. “We are just following the procedure that is being set.”

Meanwhile, CNN also reported that a Malaysian government source as saying that the airliner’s turn off course was being considered a “criminal act,” either by one of the pilots or someone else onboard the missing airliner.

And in a background briefing given to CNN, Malaysian investigators said they believed the plane was “flown by someone with good flying knowledge of the aircraft.”

This revelation corroborates with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s disclosure two weeks ago that the plane’s communications and transponder were deliberately switched off by someone in the cockpit.

Earlier investigators had revealed that only a skilled flier could have maneuvered the plane from its original flight path to the opposite direction.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 passengers and crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared an hour into its journey over the South China Sea. Satellite analysis later showed that the plane could have crashed in southern Indian Ocean almost eight hours after taking off.

Today enters that 25th day of search efforts to locate the missing plane. While Malaysia remains officially in charge, Australia has assumed increasing responsibility in the search ops, appointing retired air chief marshal Angus Houston to head a new coordination centre in Perth.