Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was operating for almost an hour before ground controllers lost communication with the pilots in the cockpit, but until then, the conversation between the pilots and air traffic controllers were completely normal, a new report says.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper got its hands on a transcript of communications between the pilots and controllers on the ground that the paper says runs from the time the Malaysia Airlines plane was taxiing on the runway before takeoff from Kuala Lumpur, to the moment when co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid said the final recorded words, “All right, good night.”
The time period covered by the transcript runs 54 minutes.
And in that entire time, communications were totally normal and the pilots gave no indication that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was anything other than routine, no different from any other uneventful flight.
The only moment that could even be considered slightly odd, expert aviation analysts told the paper, came at 1:07 am, when the pilots reported the plane’s altitude as 35,000 feet — needlessly repeating the same information they had told air traffic controllers six minutes earlier.
Otherwise, conversation covered such standard topics as the plane’s location and ascent, all very ordinary. At no time do the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pilots indicate that there is anything going on that would cause the plane to suddenly cut off communication and veer thousands of miles off course.
But communications end at the point where ground controllers in Kuala Lumpur pass responsibility for the Malaysia Airlines plane to their counterparts in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. That handoff could produce a few minutes of dead air — and it was in that brief moment that Flight 370 vanished, seemingly into thin air.
“If I was going to steal the airplane, that would be the point I would do it,” former British Airways 777 pilot Stephen Buzdygan told the English newspaper. “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.”
But the apparently unremarkable nature of cockpit conversation on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 would seem to contradict the “fire” theory being proposed by forner pilot Christopher Goodfellow, who wrote in Wired magazine that he believes a probem with landing gear on the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 caused a slow burning fire, with smoke filling the plane.
The sharp left turn was caused by the Malaysia Airlines pilots turning back toward Malaysia in hopes of reaching the nearest airport before smoke overtook them, Goodfellow wrote.