A full transcript of communications between missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and air traffic control until the moment the plane disappeared has been published. The new context shows that the flight disappeared the moment it left Malaysian airspace and was commanded to contact Vietnamese air traffic control.
According to The Telegraph, the transcript spans 54 minutes of time and increases suspicions that the plane was deliberately hijacked rather that suffered a calamitous accident. The transcript indicates that all was normal on the flight and the pilot obeyed the commands of air traffic control up to the last one: “Please contact Ho Chi Minh City… good night.”
The plane did not contact Ho Chi Minh City but is instead believed to have taken a sharp turn west, never to appear again. Stephen Buzgygan, an experience pilot with Boeing 777s, told TheTelegraph that the timing was ideal to hijack the plane because “there might be a bit of dead space between the air traffic controllers… it was the only time during the flight they would maybe not have been able to be seen from the ground.”
The Telegraph noted one other strange feature: the pilot repeated the altitude–53,000 feet–at 1:07 AM, which pilots do not need to do for air traffic control. This was the exact time one of the communications devices on the plane sent its last ping to satellites.
The final communications sent from Flight 370 once again place the focus of the investigation on the plane’s pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah. As the communications mechanisms on the plane, including the transponder, require someone with knowledge of airplane equipment to fully shut down, Zaharie was a prime suspect in the plane’s disappearance from the beginning, though many have cautioned that the pilot could have been dealing with an in-flight disaster like an electrical fire.
Others have noted that Zaharie seemed to be a politically active individual who was disgruntled with the currently Malaysian government. Many of Zaharie’s Facebook posts attacked government officials in power, including the head of the current investigation, Hishammudin Hussein. Zaharie also appeared interested in atheism, which is a taboo topic in Malaysia.
Nonetheless, Malaysian government officials have warned that Zaharie is innocent until proven guilty, and little can be said of the pilot until investigators fully parse through his in-home flight simulator. Malaysian press reported earlier this week that five runways in the Indian Ocean, including one in the Maldives, were loaded onto the simulator. Malaysian authorities have moved the search closer to Australia, however, where Australian officials announced this week that they found satellite images of debris that could be from flight MH370. No ships or planes in the area have located any such evidence yet, however.