Co-pilot spoke last words heard from Malaysia jet
Reassuring words from the cockpit - 'All right, good night' - were spoken to air traffic controllers after the ACARS system was shut off
The co-pilot of a missing Malaysian jetliner spoke the last words heard from the cockpit, the airline’s chief executive said on Monday, as investigators mull suicide by the pilot or co-pilot as one possible explanation for the disappearance.
“Initial investigations indicate it was the co-pilot who basically spoke the last time it was recorded on tape,” Ahmad Jauhari said on Monday.
The airline boss also told a news conference that it was unclear exactly when one of the plane’s automatic tracking systems had been disabled, appearing to contradict the comments of government ministers over the weekend.
No trace of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been found since it vanished on March 8 with 239 people aboard. Investigators have begun to believe that was diverted perhaps thousands of kilometers off its flight path by someone with a thorough understanding of the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial navigation.
Suspicions of hijacking or sabotage were increased when officials said on Sunday that the last radio message from the plane - an informal “all right, good night” - was spoken after the system, known as “ACARS” was shut down.
Police and a multi-national team composed of investigators from 26 countries may never discover what happened in the cockpit unless they find the jet, which could prove a difficult task.
Satellite data suggests it could be anywhere in either of two vast corridors that arc through much of Asia: one stretching north from Laos to the Caspian Sea, the other south from west of the Indonesian island of Sumatra into the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia.
Kazakhstan – one of the basin countries of the Caspian Sea, said it had not detected any “unsanctioned use” of its air space by any planes on March 8, making it unlikely that the jetliner could have been diverted along a northern route via Thailand.
The airliner could have hypothetically reached the Central Asian nation’s air space, but it would have been detected there, the Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee said in a detailed statement sent to Reuters.
“Even if all on-board equipment is switched off, it is impossible to fly through in a silent mode,” said the statement signed by the committee’s deputy head Serik Mukhtybayev. “There are also military bodies monitoring the country’s air space.”
China, which has been vocal in its impatience with Malaysian efforts to find the plane, called on its smaller neighbour to “immediately” expand and clarify the scope of the search. About two-thirds of the passengers aboard MH370 were Chinese.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he had spoken to Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak by telephone, and had offered more surveillance resources in addition to the two surveillance aircraft his country has already committed.
“He asked that Australia take responsibility for the search in the southern vector, which the Malaysian authorities now think was one possible flight path for this ill-fated aircraft,” Abbott told parliament. “I agreed that we would do so.”
Malaysian Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said diplomatic notes had been sent to all countries along the northern and southern search corridors, requesting radar and satellite information as well as land, sea and air search operations.
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