New clues about MH370 from cockpit transcript?

posted at 2:31 pm on March 22, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

Even in the midst of the Chinese finding something new floating in the ocean, questions continue to swirl around what happened to flight 370. CNN’s Jake Tapper had an interview this morning regarding the release of what is alleged to be the transcript of the cockpit communications from the flight, and it might shed a little more light on the mystery. (The network is quick to point out that they haven’t confirmed that this is the actual transcript, which Malaysian officials had said would not be released for some reason, but why would you fake something this seemingly mundane?)

The Telegraph reported Friday it had a transcript documenting 54 minutes of back-and-forth between the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370′s cockpit and ground control – from taxiing in Kuala Lumpur to the final message of “All right, good night.” CNN hasn’t confirmed that this reported transcript it genuine, and The Telegraph said Malaysia’s prime minister said the transcript wouldn’t be officially released.

The transcript reported by the Telegraph contains seemingly routine conversations about which runway to use and what altitude to fly at.

But does anything stand out?

The report from the Telegraph, as well as the transcript, is available here. The majority of it, as Jake pointed out, is fairly routine, mundane tower chatter, dealing with permission to taxi, take off, what altitude to fly at, etc. But at the very end of the conversation, just before 370 essentially went dark on the radio, there was at least one possible item of interest.

01: 01: 19 ATC: MH370

01: 07: 55 MH370: MH370 remaining in flight altitude 350

01: 08: 00 ATC: MH370

01: 19: 24 ATC: MH370 Please contact Hu Chi Minh City 120.9, good night

01: 19: 29 MH370: All right, good night

This transcript brings us right back to that short, curious communication from the cockpit right at the end of transmissions… All right, good night. But it wasn’t until we saw the transcript that something potentially odd stood out about it. It wasn’t what the pilot said, but what he didn’t say, and that was both his call sign and a confirmation of the instructions he’d just been given.

For those who tend to fly a lot like me, and who occasionally use the in-flight headsets some airlines still offer, you’ve probably listened in on the cockpit chatter. The pattern of identifying yourself on every communication and echoing back instructions is so routine as to be buried in the hind brain of the pilot. This is almost identical to the clear communications protocol in the military. If you’ve ever seen a bridge watchstander in the Navy performing their tasks, the order of business is nearly identical. When the Officer of the Deck gives an order to the helm, such as all engines ahead one third, the watchstander will respond, all engines ahead one third aye. They never just say, “aye.” This is to ensure that they heard the order correctly and gives the officer a chance to stop them if they did not.

Reading through the full transcript, the pilot follows this same protocol. When Air Traffic Control (ATC) tells him, please get on the runway from 32R A10, the pilot responds, runway from 32R A10, copy that. When ATC gives him an altitude and a target waypoint to navigate toward, he repeats the information back. This repeats for pretty much the entire flight, and the pilot say “MH370″ in nearly every single transmission, again following the protocol showing ATC that they are being answered by the correct aircraft of the many planes currently in their coverage area.

But on that final transmission, he’s given another order and simply says, All right, good night. Does this show that something else was going on at that point? Many of the aviation experts on cable news are still speculating about a fire in the electronics bay or a massive decompression, but this probably wouldn’t be the cause of a sudden lapse in the pilot’s communications routine. If that were the case, the pilot certainly may have been too busy to answer at all, but if he was able to take the time to answer, you’d think he might add something like, All right, good night. And by the way, my plane is on fire. Or, before I sign off, I thought I’d mention that the top just ripped off my aircraft.

So what makes more sense? Perhaps he was a bit too busy, along with his crew, beginning to switch off transponders and program a new destination into the auto-pilot. At that point, it might have been more along the lines of, Yes, yes, good night. Leave me alone. Of course, this still doesn’t prove anything. It may have just been a momentary lapse or a sign of a tired pilot being a bit lazy in his comms routine. But it’s darned curious to be sure.


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The Malaysians denounce this.

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Aliens.

rbj on March 22, 2014 at 2:39 PM

This isn’t ‘new’.

gh on March 22, 2014 at 2:42 PM

OT…speaking of aliens and mysteries

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Or, perhaps those two Iranians took over the4 aircraft and weren’t familiar with pilot habits?

oscarwilde on March 22, 2014 at 2:42 PM

This was hashed to death a couple of days ago on CNN.
Conclusion: Nothing there.

albill on March 22, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Anyone sane, especially in the media, should simply say “We don’t know what happened”. All else is absurd.

It’s also unethical to parade the families on TV and keep them in that room, or those rooms. Send them all home, in the name of decency.

It c/b years before anything, if at all, is uncovered.

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Over on PPRuNe.org (ProfessionalPilotsRUmorNEtwork) this (“All right, good night”) has been hashed to death, and from my reading of much of the extensive thread over there (over 7300 posts to date), the opinion, though divided, seemed to come down on the side of “Eh, so what?”

There are numerous comments that it was not unusual to be somewhat informal with the “home” ATC; these comments came from both pilots and controllers (caveat: it’s the internet, so the actual identity and qualifications of each poster are never certain).

bofh on March 22, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Maybe he had a gun to his head and thought the breaking of protocol might send a subtle signal that something was amiss to ATC that the hijackers wouldn’t pick up on.

Mark1971 on March 22, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Speaking of unknowns… the pilot’s wife and children ‘left town’ the day before his flight.

Where is she… and I’ve seen nothing in the way of curiosity as to her whereabouts.

Wonder why…

CPT. Charles on March 22, 2014 at 2:49 PM

But the psychic said she saw trees. Green trees.

Murphy9 on March 22, 2014 at 2:49 PM

This was hashed to death a couple of days ago on CNN.
Conclusion: Nothing there.

albill on March 22, 2014 at 2:45 PM

They also hashed out whether a black hole swallowed them. That’s clearly racist.

Just like a business being “in the black” financially.

Exit question: Is my black light racist?

rightside on March 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM

To sum things up: each day we seem to know less and less. At this rate, in another month, we won’t even know the plane took off.

VorDaj on March 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM

rightside on March 22, 2014 at 2:51 PM

RIGHTSIDE… shhhhhhh….. <— winks eye…

oscarwilde on March 22, 2014 at 2:57 PM

I don’t mean to be critical, but how can we criticize CNN for its “Breaking News” chryon when the topics are neither breaking nor newsworthy and then bring up this topic? There is nothing new or newsworthy in this posting.

STL_Vet on March 22, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Didn’t CNN also use astrologers?

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 3:03 PM

To sum things up: each day we seem to know less and less. At this rate, in another month, we won’t even know the plane took off.

VorDaj on March 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM

What plane?

rbj on March 22, 2014 at 3:04 PM

There is nothing new or newsworthy in this posting.

STL_Vet on March 22, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Give Jazz a break. He’s a good-natured RINO.

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

…I don’t care anymore!

KOOLAID2 on March 22, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Haven’t you guys seen that this was Bush’s doing? Freescale had 20 employees on the plane. One of Freescale’s largest share holders is the Carlyle Group, whose former adviser was Bush Sr. No Naturally GW took down the plane.

GW must be the absolute greatest genius to ever live on this planet.

The Notorious G.O.P on March 22, 2014 at 3:07 PM

I’m concerned that these people seem like my cats. They will be doing something and they get distracted by something else and go over there. Are they looking anywhere else or will they endlessly search that part of the ocean until something else happens to attract their attention? Are there islands and has anyone looked there? Is anyone listening for chatter in Pakistan, etc? Is anybody but me watching golf?

crankyoldlady on March 22, 2014 at 3:09 PM

CPT. Charles at 2:49 PM asked

“Speaking of unknowns… the pilot’s wife and children ‘left town’ the day before his flight.
Where is she… and I’ve seen nothing in the way of curiosity as to her whereabouts.

Tuesday, March 18th, it was reported:
“Captain Zaharie’s wife and three children had camped at their second house in Subang a day before the incident,” said Norhayati Wahiduddin.

heroyalwhyness on March 22, 2014 at 3:16 PM

maybe he keyed mike as saying it and its cutoff.
thats a pretty tenuous link really.
until we get the cvr its all just mental gymnastics anyways.

dmacleo on March 22, 2014 at 3:18 PM

sounds like the copilot wasn’t on his game or distracted. I think there was a battle between the pilot and copilot: the pilot changing the autopilot to go west and then going down in the belly of the plane to pull circuit breakers and cables including that to the black box if he couldn’t do it in the cabin and then came back up to the cockpit right about the plane started turning left. The copilot saw what was happening, a fight ensued and the plane started making these wild changes in elevation effectively knocking everyone out and maybe killing them if the oxygen ran out. And somewhere along the line somewhere about the time the copilot was dead and the pilot was close to it the plane got headed south, ran out of gas after using all its fuel, and plunged deep into the southwest Indian ocean going about 500 mph and broke into a million pieces just like the already dead people on board and they are all unfortunately going to look like sea trash. Nothing worth finding anymore at 3 miles down. What could possibly have been recorded on the black box the last 2 hours of the flight? Silence? Time to stop the search and head north just to make sure the 777 isn’t squatting in a pakistani cave.

gracie on March 22, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Getting an accurate and honest transcript of the CVR from the NTSB, which supposedly was investigating an aircraft incident, was an extremely burdensome and costly multi-year challenge a few years ago. The version that the NTSB attempted to foist on our client was entirely legible until the key word was about to appear. What appeared instead of that key word was “inaudible.” Of course, the supposedly inaudible key word did not fit the pre-determined outcome of the supposed investigation. We persevered and finally forced the NTSB to back off.
The NTSB is part of the federal government. Beware.

GaltBlvnAtty on March 22, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Sorry if this shows up twice, but I don’t believe my first post is in moderation, thus I must have pushed the wrong button. Yes there are mandatory read backs, but no regs on the exact wording of said read backs. BACK to playing Hide Away by Freddy King.

In the last article on air traffic control clearance read back, I quoted this guidance from the Airman’s Information Manual (AIM):

4−4−7. Pilot Responsibility upon Clearance Issuance

b. ATC Clearance/Instruction Readback.
Pilots of airborne aircraft should read back those parts of ATC clearances and instructions containing altitude assignments or vectors as a means of mutual verification.

Bear in mind the AIM is a collection of best practices and not regulatory, meaning, you are not required by law to read back any clearance. For regulation, we have to look to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). What do we find there? Almost nothing on the requirement to read back a clearance. Just this:

§ 91.123 Compliance with ATC clearances and instructions.
(a) When an ATC clearance has been obtained, no pilot in command may deviate from that clearance unless an amended clearance is obtained, an emergency exists, or the deviation is in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory.

[And]

(e) Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, no person operating an aircraft may operate that aircraft according to any clearance or instruction that has been issued to the pilot of another aircraft for radar air traffic control purposes.

Nothing from Something Does Not Equal Nothing

So why does Air Traffic Control expect a read back of these types of clearances?

“Cleared to land,” or, “Cleared direct to Ormand Beach [VOR],” or, “Cleared for takeoff.”

Maybe the Air Traffic Controller’s Manual, (FAA Order JO 7110,) has something to say on the subject. Let’s take a look:

2-4-3. PILOT ACKNOWLEDGMENT/READ BACK
a. When issuing clearances or instructions ensure acknowledgment by the pilot.
NOTE-
Pilots may acknowledge clearances, instructions, or other information by using “Wilco,” “Roger,” “Affirmative,” or other words or remarks.
REFERENCE-
AIM, Para 4-2-3, Contact Procedures.
b. If altitude, heading, or other items are read back by the pilot, ensure the read back is correct. If incorrect or incomplete, make corrections as appropriate.

The Controller’s Manual says a pilot should acknowledge clearances or instructions, but it does not direct what a pilot should specifically say in the read back. According to the manual, the words “Wilco,” “Roger,” or “Affirmative,” are acceptable responses to a clearance. The Manual also refers back to the AIM, which is not law, to reference the possibility that pilots might read back “altitude, heading, or other items,” but there is no specific legal requirement to do so.

How Many Ways Can They Dance Around the Subject?

After dancing all around this subject in the regs, it comes down to this. Traditionally, air traffic controllers expect you to read back all relevant information that affects the direction, speed, and altitude of your flight. This includes
◾heading assignments;
◾altitude assignments;
◾speed assignments;
◾altimeter settings (because altimeter accuracy influences your aircraft’s altitude;)
◾rate of climb or descent assignments;
◾route changes, including holding pattern instructions;
◾approach and landing clearances;
◾takeoff and departure clearances;
◾taxi instructions.

Best Practices

Why? It all goes back to the best practice stated in the AIM:

4-2-1 General

b. The single, most important thought in pilot- controller communications is understanding. It is essential, therefore, that pilots acknowledge each radio communication with ATC by using the appropriate aircraft call sign.

4-2-2 Radio Technique

c. Subsequent Contacts and Responses to Callup from a Ground Facility.

You should acknowledge all callups or clearances unless the controller or FSS specialist advises otherwise.

There you have it. Zero instruction from the FARs or the AIM on exactly what to say in your read back, but a strong recommendation to acknowledge instructions from ATC. Traditionally, air traffic controllers expect you to precisely read back any instruction that affects the flight path, (or ground path,) of your aircraft.

In my last article on this subject, I’m going to point out some examples of information pilots read back on the radio that have no bearing on their flight, and waste time on the radio. This will be an opinion piece, sure to stir up some controversy, so don’t miss it.

HonestLib on March 22, 2014 at 3:28 PM

It wasn’t what the pilot said, but what he didn’t say, and that was both his call sign and a confirmation of the instructions he’d just been given.

This is nothing. Good try, though.

BTW, the answer to this whole mystery is here.

BobMbx on March 22, 2014 at 3:34 PM

As a private pilot, I don’t find the failure to repeat the call sign or the instructions as odd. It was late at night and the channel was probably pretty quiet. Reciting your call sign is kind of a chore and if there’s no real danger that the controller is going to mistake you for someone else, you might well forego it on such a mundane transmission as a “good night.”

As for the failure to recite the contact frequency at the Ho Chi Minh City air route control center, it isn’t really necessary. They’re published and well-known — they don’t change on each flight. Except in unusual circumstances I wouldn’t expect a pilot to repeat a radio frequency at a handoff from departure control.

Next theory, please.

Cicero43 on March 22, 2014 at 3:35 PM

There is nothing new or newsworthy in this posting.

STL_Vet on March 22, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Give Jazz a break. He’s a good-natured RINO.

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 3:05 PM

You are right indeed, and it is a slow news day.

STL_Vet on March 22, 2014 at 3:36 PM

“Speaking of unknowns… the pilot’s wife and children ‘left town’ the day before his flight.
Where is she… and I’ve seen nothing in the way of curiosity as to her whereabouts.

Occams razor: Wife left Mr. Fundamental Islamic Fanatic pilot; pilot flies plane into ocean to make her feel bad.

BobMbx on March 22, 2014 at 3:36 PM

It needs to be pointed out that this transcript is supposedly an English translation of a Chinese translation of an English conversation between non-native English speakers. Some error(!) may have crept in.

PersonFromPorlock on March 22, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Regarding wife and kids departure: according to PPRuNe.org, the pilot and his wife have been estranged for some time, and the ‘kids’ are all adults living on their own.

PersonFromPorlock on March 22, 2014 at 3:44 PM

This is becoming like Canticle for Leibowitz

vityas on March 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Possible northern and southern routes consistent with ACARS pings posted at freerepublic:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3136027/posts#29

agmartin on March 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Hey don’t change your email address as your posts go somewhere, but not on this site? Chuckle!

HonestLib on March 22, 2014 at 4:05 PM

None of the accident theories work, as they don’t account for several known facts:

1. The timing of the event cannot be ignored. The fact that the airplane completely disappeared without any mayday communication or any other indicator and remains unfound is already a fantastically rare event in and of itself in modern aviation. Couple that with the timing of how this all went down and it’s beyond possibility that an accident is to blame. This plane’s transponder went dark and it disappeared from civilian radar at the absolute perfect moment if one was trying to buy more time before arousing suspicion during a hijack: in the “no man’s land” between two countries’ air traffic control. They had just said goodnight to Malaysian ATC and were due to report in to Vietnamese ATC. They were, at the moment, being handled by neither. This is when the transponder shut off, only one to two minutes (depending on the reporting) from their last calm “goodnight” communication and they immediately made their left turn. Doing it in this window ensured they wouldn’t just “drop off” an active ATC radar and would thus have crucial extra minutes, maybe up to half an hour, before everybody realized what was up and the alarm really sounded in full (which seems to be what happened). No way this timing was just a huge coincidence in support of another enormous rarity. The timing was perfectly and diabolically deliberate.

2. The plane did not only fly to Penang, which is the heart of the accident hypothesis, but once it got there started heading NORTHWEST, turning each time along three navigational waypoints as it made its way to a corridor that would take it to the Middle East. Most people seem to forget this now, acting like the trail just goes cold in a straight line from where the flight first disappeared to Penang, but that is not true. The path was originally described as heading Northwest after Penang, again on a known route, including making precise turns at three waypoints. Why on earth would pilots program THAT into the auto-pilot if they were just trying to get to Penang to land? Further, if the pilots were “overcome” then their jet would have presumably passed Penang and continued on in a straight line. It did not do that. If they for some reason programmed the northwest route in after Penang, and they were “overcome” then, they would have continued on their current northwestern flight path, along the known corridor taking the plane to the Middle East and crashed somewhere. Why didn’t they? There is no indication at all that the plane turned south – it had already turned northwest and was heading in that direction for over 120 miles when it disappeared off radar – again toward the Middle East, and navigating waypoints to do it. It was going somewhere.

3. The two comments above are enough to squash the accident theory, but the following pieces of evidence, while more tentative at this time, also do not support a fire theory. That is that the plane was probably flying very low over the Maylay Peninsula, using terrain tracking to try to avoid primary radar for as long as it could until it got closer to the northwest corridor and closer to being out of Malaysian airspace. There have been leaks that radar indicates the plane was flying at 5,000 feet or lower. This has been backed up by witness reports from March 11 – reported by fisherman and citizens of Kota Bharu only three days after the disappearance of MH370 when everybody still assumed the plane exploded or went down in the South China Sea or Gulf of Thailand, and before anybody had even thought of the plane turning around and heading to the strait of Malacca. But these witnesses, as reported that day in the paper, separately said they saw a plane about 1:30 AM flying very low over the city, coming the opposite direction that planes usually go. The fisherman said it was so low “that its lights looked like coconuts”. The citizen in town said most planes are very high but this one was lost to his field of view behind some trees – it was quite low. Though they couldn’t have known it at the time, these reports line up precisely with the plane’s now known flight path and fit with the leaks that the plane may have gone down to 5,000 feet. This information also doesn’t fit in a “fire” scenario, as the autopilot would not take the plane that low. Thailand also came out yesterday and said their radar tracking of the plane over the Malay peninsula was “spotty”, which would indicate that it was indeed flying low for terrain masking purposes. Malaysia hasn’t said this for obvious reasons, but I’ll bet it was spotty on their radar, too, which is why they didn’t scramble any planes for an unidentified object flying right over their peninsula – because they didn’t notice it until it was ascending and almost out of their airspace. It took them a week to “confirm” it was 370, no doubt because of the spotty radar track – had it been a clean track from where it first turned around on the Igari waypoint it would not have taken nearly so long to determine it was the same plane. They couldn’t tell because the plane was flying low over the peninsula and terrain masking, making its trail harder to track back to the last known normal location of 370. This was obviously intentional, as the riskiest part of the hijackers’ plan was traveling over the Malay peninsula – if planes had been scrambled the gig was up, and I assume at that point they could just fall back to a regular terror operation of having a plane blown up rather than taking it somewhere which is what seems to have happened here.

Also, reports that came out the other day that the new flight plan for that left turn was programmed into the computer at least 12 minutes before the co-pilot calmly said “goodnight”, if true, clearly don’t support the fire theory. But the above facts squash the accident theory on their own even without this further information. Pilot suicide does not make sense either, for a variety of other reasons.

“This was no boating accident, sir. It was a shark.”

daviddunn on March 22, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Here we go once/twice/three times a lady. Sorry if this shows up more than once. There are mandatory read backs, but no specifics and wording. The below is from the FAR/AIM, but is accepted as the rules of the road internationally. I hate to push submit as the other posts will surely show up and make me look like an even bigger idiot than I have to date.

Federal Aviation Regulations on ATC Read Backs

by JeffKanarish

Air Traffic Control expects a read back.
In the last article on air traffic control clearance read back, I quoted this guidance from the Airman’s Information Manual (AIM):

4−4−7. Pilot Responsibility upon Clearance Issuance

b. ATC Clearance/Instruction Readback.
Pilots of airborne aircraft should read back those parts of ATC clearances and instructions containing altitude assignments or vectors as a means of mutual verification.

Bear in mind the AIM is a collection of best practices and not regulatory, meaning, you are not required by law to read back any clearance. For regulation, we have to look to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). What do we find there? Almost nothing on the requirement to read back a clearance. Just this:

§ 91.123 Compliance with ATC clearances and instructions.
(a) When an ATC clearance has been obtained, no pilot in command may deviate from that clearance unless an amended clearance is obtained, an emergency exists, or the deviation is in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory.

[And]

(e) Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, no person operating an aircraft may operate that aircraft according to any clearance or instruction that has been issued to the pilot of another aircraft for radar air traffic control purposes.

Nothing from Something Does Not Equal Nothing

So why does Air Traffic Control expect a read back of these types of clearances?

“Cleared to land,” or, “Cleared direct to Ormand Beach [VOR],” or, “Cleared for takeoff.”

Maybe the Air Traffic Controller’s Manual, (FAA Order JO 7110,) has something to say on the subject. Let’s take a look:

2-4-3. PILOT ACKNOWLEDGMENT/READ BACK
a. When issuing clearances or instructions ensure acknowledgment by the pilot.
NOTE-
Pilots may acknowledge clearances, instructions, or other information by using “Wilco,” “Roger,” “Affirmative,” or other words or remarks.
REFERENCE-
AIM, Para 4-2-3, Contact Procedures.
b. If altitude, heading, or other items are read back by the pilot, ensure the read back is correct. If incorrect or incomplete, make corrections as appropriate.

The Controller’s Manual says a pilot should acknowledge clearances or instructions, but it does not direct what a pilot should specifically say in the read back. According to the manual, the words “Wilco,” “Roger,” or “Affirmative,” are acceptable responses to a clearance. The Manual also refers back to the AIM, which is not law, to reference the possibility that pilots might read back “altitude, heading, or other items,” but there is no specific legal requirement to do so.

How Many Ways Can They Dance Around the Subject?

After dancing all around this subject in the regs, it comes down to this. Traditionally, air traffic controllers expect you to read back all relevant information that affects the direction, speed, and altitude of your flight. This includes
◾heading assignments;
◾altitude assignments;
◾speed assignments;
◾altimeter settings (because altimeter accuracy influences your aircraft’s altitude;)
◾rate of climb or descent assignments;
◾route changes, including holding pattern instructions;
◾approach and landing clearances;
◾takeoff and departure clearances;
◾taxi instructions.

Best Practices

Why? It all goes back to the best practice stated in the AIM:

4-2-1 General

b. The single, most important thought in pilot- controller communications is understanding. It is essential, therefore, that pilots acknowledge each radio communication with ATC by using the appropriate aircraft call sign.

4-2-2 Radio Technique

c. Subsequent Contacts and Responses to Callup from a Ground Facility.

You should acknowledge all callups or clearances unless the controller or FSS specialist advises otherwise.

There you have it. Zero instruction from the FARs or the AIM on exactly what to say in your read back, but a strong recommendation to acknowledge instructions from ATC. Traditionally, air traffic controllers expect you to precisely read back any instruction that affects the flight path, (or ground path,) of your aircraft.

In my last article on this subject, I’m going to point out some examples of information pilots read back on the radio that have no bearing on their flight, and waste time on the radio. This will be an opinion piece, sure to stir up some controversy, so don’t miss it.

HonestLib on March 22, 2014 at 4:14 PM

hmm. the “all right, good night” does seem suspicious. i had read several articles before about how the plane’s sudden turn left was at the exact time that the plane was supposed to switch from malaysian radar to vietnamese radar. so there was a “blind spot” with those radars. this new transcript is interesting because the “all right, good night” lack of protocol just so happened to come right at that time when the plane was supposed to contact vietnamese air traffic control. the co-pilot does not confirm that he has any intention of contacting them, but he was supposed to confirm that! instead, he simply said “all right.”

and then the other suspicious thing is what the telegraph said about the repeated statement at 1:07. normally that wouldn’t be suspicious, but… 1:07 just so happens to be when ACARS sent its last signal before it was deliberately turned off.

and there have been several other news stories that have explained clues that the plane’s disappearance was no accident and it was deliberate. so adding this transcript story to those other stories makes even more clear to me that someone tried to steal the plane (whether the pilots acted on their own or under someone else’s control)

If that were the case, the pilot certainly may have been too busy to answer at all, but if he was able to take the time to answer, you’d think he might add something like, All right, good night. And by the way, my plane is on fire. Or, before I sign off, I thought I’d mention that the top just ripped off my aircraft.

yeah i never believed the “fire” speculation. it seemed strange to me.

Sachiko on March 22, 2014 at 4:20 PM

The fact is that we don’t know if anything we’ve been told about this is true. I think we should proceed in our thinking accordingly.

crankyoldlady on March 22, 2014 at 4:36 PM

The fact is that we don’t know if anything we’ve been told about this is true. I think we should proceed in our thinking accordingly.

crankyoldlady on March 22, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Given that, I’d say it safe to say that something definitely happened.

Unless, of course, it didn’t.

But I wouldn’t bet on it :^)

db on March 22, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Traditionally, air traffic controllers expect you to read back all relevant information that affects the direction, speed, and altitude of your flight.
HonestLib on March 22, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Which is why no one ever says “rodg” or even clicks the push to talk switch in acknowledgment. ;-)
Standards all over the world are different from the USA, what we can’t get away with here we could get away with elsewhere. I posted something the other day on flying under the radar and how it wasn’t feasible (I still don’t think it is) but I realized later that I was going by North American standards that I am most familiar with. I’ve never been to Malaysia much less flown out of it, I suspect their procedures and equipment might be different, at least in practice.

V7_Sport on March 22, 2014 at 4:43 PM

So what makes more sense? Perhaps he was a bit too busy, along with his crew, beginning to switch off transponders and program a new destination into the auto-pilot. At that point, it might have been more along the lines of, Yes, yes, good night. Leave me alone. Of course, this still doesn’t prove anything. It may have just been a momentary lapse or a sign of a tired pilot being a bit lazy in his comms routine. But it’s darned curious to be sure.

Or… it wasn’t the pilot who said ‘all right, good night’, but someone else that doesn’t have communications protocol in their head as second nature.

Midas on March 22, 2014 at 4:46 PM

I have no idea what happened, but if you read the transcript, on every communication from the airplane, they repeated all instructions with their call signal except the last one.

Barred on March 22, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Anytime the media goes into wild speculation mode, this becomes obligatory:

There’s Something Happening in Haiti

db on March 22, 2014 at 4:50 PM

I have no idea what happened, but if you read the transcript, on every communication from the airplane, they repeated all instructions with their call signal except the last one.

Barred on March 22, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Yes, and at that point the only thing really left to say was “good night”..

V7_Sport on March 22, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Cartoon 15.

AesopFan on March 22, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Maybe that was when he saw the black hole open up right in front of the plane.
I’m not going to ask if that comment is racist. I’m not going to.

Kissmygrits on March 22, 2014 at 5:19 PM

So what makes more sense?

How about talking about what makes most sense when you have a missing Boeing 777, two Muslim pilots, and lots of unanswered questions. It doesn’t seem as anybody wants to use the “T” word.

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2014 at 5:32 PM

More than once I’ve ended a communications exchange without using a call sign. Usually very late at night, not much traffic on the radio, and you’ve talked to a controller enough you recognize the voice and he/she recognizes ours. Phraseology in the US usually follows the Aeronautical Information Manual (hasn’t been Airman’s in a long time), but not in all cases or all times. Hardly ever hear someone say Tree or Niner.

TulsAmerican on March 22, 2014 at 5:35 PM

A pilot would probably reply, “MH370 will contact Ho Chi Minh City at 120.9. Roger that.”

Since this conversation occurred AFTER the plane turned west, it’s possible that someone hostile had taken over the cockpit, and didn’t know the protocol, but did not want to alert ATC that anything was wrong, but had no intention of contacting Ho Chi Minh City.

Steve Z on March 22, 2014 at 5:36 PM

The horse is still dead.

corona79 on March 22, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Hardly ever hear someone say Tree or Niner.

TulsAmerican on March 22, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Reminds me of this scene from Airplane!

Roger Murdock: Flight 2-0-9′er, you are cleared for take-off.

Captain Oveur: Roger!

Roger Murdock: Huh?

Tower voice: L.A. departure frequency, 123 point 9′er.

Captain Oveur: Roger!

Roger Murdock: Huh?

Victor Basta: Request vector, over.

Captain Oveur: What?

Tower voice: Flight 2-0-9′er cleared for vector 324.

Roger Murdock: We have clearance, Clarence.

Captain Oveur: Roger, Roger. What’s our vector, Victor?

Tower voice: Tower’s radio clearance, over!

Captain Oveur: That’s Clarence Oveur. Over.

Tower voice: Over.

Captain Oveur: Roger.

Roger Murdock: Huh?

Tower voice: Roger, over!

Roger Murdock: What?

Captain Oveur: Huh?

Victor Basta: Who?

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2014 at 5:48 PM

BTW, the answer to this whole mystery is here.

BobMbx on March 22, 2014 at 3:34 PM

No it ain’t you conspiracy geek!
Its here.

cozmo on March 22, 2014 at 5:59 PM

I think we’re ALL pretty gullible if we believe the U.S. has NO IDEA where this plane is!!! The U.S. has satellites—some of the BEST satellites—covering the entire world! We found out about the “missing plane” before it even continued its last few hours on it’s wayward flight! General McInerney states that the U.S. intelligence community has a pretty good idea of where the plane went—and he said they do not believe it’s at the bottom of the ocean! He said he could not say any more than that. So, yes, I do believe the U.S. knows where the plane went, and where it landed.

DixT on March 22, 2014 at 6:26 PM

No it ain’t you conspiracy geek!
Its here.

cozmo on March 22, 2014 at 5:59 PM

My conspiracy theory is like…..waaaayyy better than yours. And its in color, so everyone knows mine is better.

BobMbx on March 22, 2014 at 6:26 PM

or even clicks the push to talk switch in acknowledgment. ;-)

V7_Sport on March 22, 2014 at 4:43 PM

True, but I have been guilty of a double click in a high workload situation. Example…..flying a bird that barely pushes 180kts and landing at a Class B in the northeast at night in rough weather with ceilings near minimum. What happens is approach will sequence you in with the heavy(s) at a 60 degree intercept or so, usually a tad high so you can keep your speed up without using a lot of power on the descent, and usually on top of the FAF. When I heard wtf999 contact tower at 120.10 or such….I gave ‘em a double click as I was busy and then contacted tower. Now, just break out….dirty up…..bleed speed and know you have 10,000’ feet to work with. Of course they always wanted a turn off at the first intersection. Fun times so long ago before GPS.

HonestLib on March 22, 2014 at 6:49 PM

General McInerney states that the U.S. intelligence community has a pretty good idea of where the plane went—and he said they do not believe it’s at the bottom of the ocean! He said he could not say any more than that. So, yes, I do believe the U.S. knows where the plane went, and where it landed.

DixT on March 22, 2014 at 6:26 PM

I’m inclined to believe McInerney knows whereof he speaks. Of course he could be senile but he is very convincing.

crankyoldlady on March 22, 2014 at 6:58 PM

8m
Australian Prime Minister Abbott on debris seen in Indian Ocean: ‘a number of small objects, fairly close together within the Australian search zone, including a wooden pallet’ – @newscomauHQ
read more on news.com.au
MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MISSING, MARCH 2014
11m
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott: Civilian aircraft gets first direct sighting of debris found in search for missing Malaysia Airlines jet – @newscomauHQ
read more on news.com.au

Murphy9 on March 22, 2014 at 6:58 PM

General McInerney states that the U.S. intelligence community has a pretty good idea of where the plane went—and he said they do not believe it’s at the bottom of the ocean! He said he could not say any more than that. So, yes, I do believe the U.S. knows where the plane went, and where it landed.

DixT on March 22, 2014 at 6:26 PM

I’m inclined to believe McInerney knows whereof he speaks. Of course he could be senile but he is very convincing.

crankyoldlady on March 22, 2014 at 6:58 PM

I believe they think Pakistan. Hannity had McInerney on and repeated what you said above. Hannity also said that many of his contacts in the military said “don’t quote me, but it’s in Pakistan”.

slickwillie2001 on March 22, 2014 at 7:13 PM

One Second After.

I really, really hope the crazy cats that stole MH370, pick the East coast to EMP, instead of the West.

a5minmajor on March 22, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Nope. Black hole. Everybody knows this.

HiJack on March 22, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Yes, McInerney unequivocally stated it’s Pakistan. There are elements that want to keep it secret possibly for good reasons. If there’s a ransom thing going on you wouldn’t want it public.

crankyoldlady on March 22, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Yes, McInerney unequivocally stated it’s Pakistan. There are elements that want to keep it secret possibly for good reasons. If there’s a ransom thing going on you wouldn’t want it public.

crankyoldlady on March 22, 2014 at 8:04 PM

Another possible reason, we know it’s Pakistan because of some piece of equipment or system we don’t want to talk about, or some human resource we don’t want to reveal.

slickwillie2001 on March 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM

The pilots are making some pocket change on delivery of the flight (read plane) to Pokeestaan. Both pilots seemed accultured to the “good life”

kenny on March 22, 2014 at 8:31 PM

Another possible reason, we know it’s Pakistan because of some piece of equipment or system we don’t want to talk about, or some human resource we don’t want to reveal.

slickwillie2001 on March 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM

This is the Obama administration right? LOL

kenny on March 22, 2014 at 8:37 PM

Which is why no one ever says “rodg” or even clicks the push to talk switch in acknowledgment. ;-)

My flight instructors were pilots with American Airlines and United. Admittedly a while ago. There was no “Roger, Wilco and Out.” You said “Copy that” or answered with your N number like “57 Sierra”.

This Malaysia’s copilot could have said “Goodnight Mrs Calabash wherever you are” and that would not have sent up red flags to me given the experiences I had next to these professionals.

vityas on March 22, 2014 at 8:38 PM

or even clicks the push to talk switch in acknowledgment. ;-)

V7_Sport on March 22, 2014 at 4:43 PM

True, but I have been guilty of a double click in a high workload situation. Example…..flying a bird that barely pushes 180kts and landing at a Class B in the northeast at night in rough weather with ceilings near minimum. What happens is approach will sequence you in with the heavy(s) at a 60 degree intercept or so, usually a tad high so you can keep your speed up without using a lot of power on the descent, and usually on top of the FAF. When I heard wtf999 contact tower at 120.10 or such….I gave ‘em a double click as I was busy and then contacted tower. Now, just break out….dirty up…..bleed speed and know you have 10,000’ feet to work with. Of course they always wanted a turn off at the first intersection. Fun times so long ago before GPS.

HonestLib on March 22, 2014 at 6:49 PM

What were your “favorite” northeast airports for such conditions? I know many pilots hate Boston’s Logan for the approaches over H2O in bad weather.

Del Dolemonte on March 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM

It may have just been a momentary lapse or a sign of a tired pilot being a bit lazy in his comms routine.

No big deal…I ended transmissions the same way many times. Even OK, see you later. Listen to the tower tapes of controllers sometimes.

Twana on March 22, 2014 at 9:53 PM

What were your “favorite” northeast airports for such conditions?

Teterboro, Logan, LGA and Lake Front for me. It wasn’t H20 at TEB for me….it was the traffic and environment around that place.

Twana on March 22, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Actually, this isn’t that unusual at all. A small lapse. When flying commercial routes there are fairly routine changeover spots, and you know which frequency to contact. Heck, I once changed frequencies without telling anyone because the controller wouldn’t speak to me in English (long story). Nobody complained and the flight went on as normal.

(BTW, almost no one uses the proper phonetic numbers nowadays, either: fife and niner. Transmissions are mostly crystal clear and it isn’t as necessary.)

GWB on March 23, 2014 at 1:03 AM

What were your “favorite” northeast airports for such conditions?

Del Dolemonte on March 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Not northeast, but flying into Lowry one rainy (and possibly sleety) night on a LONG arcing route and I got spatial disorientation. I had to hand off to the instructor – I felt like I was in 30o of left bank, but knew I was turning to the right. *shudder*

GWB on March 23, 2014 at 1:09 AM

The refresh monster ate my post again.
Re.HonestLib

I have been guilty of a double click in a high workload situation.

That sprang to mind because I got reamed for it once and it stuck with me. Back when I was 16, my flight instructor would occasionally do things like double click to acknowledge and fill the tanks without connecting the static line. He didn’t own a fuel cup, he would check the gas by looking at it intently as he let it flow on the tarmac.
I was doing some touch and goes (this was in the ‘80s) at the small airport that I learned at when I was in high school and acknowledged the tower with a double click. Next circuit I was informed that the instructor wanted me to bring the aircraft in. I rolled up and he was standing at the door very intent to find out where I had learned such a sloppy habit.
In retrospect I was actually really lucky to have him. He gave a damn.

flying a bird that barely pushes 180kts and landing at a Class B in the northeast at night in rough weather with ceilings near minimum. What happens is approach will sequence you in with the heavy(s) at a 60 degree intercept or so, usually a tad high so you can keep your speed up without using a lot of power on the descent…

Class B in Northeast = Logan, (New England at least, NY is arguably as bad) Not the place for general aviation aircraft. Surprised you got a slot. Even with the landing fees I think the ATC considers it their personal mission to exclude anything smaller than a 737.

V7_Sport on March 23, 2014 at 1:40 AM

My question is: What happened after that?

WHEN did anyone notice the plane missing? WHO noticed? Did Vietnam ever try to pick up the handoff? Are there protocols to ensure the receiving tower knows they are supposed to be getting a new plane? Or did Viet Nam just never know the plane was supposed to be on their radar?

Was the first time they knew the plane was missing when it failed to arrive in Beijing???!!!!

I can’t believe we’re so far into this story and we don’t know that one basic fact: when did the alarm go out?

jeanneb on March 23, 2014 at 8:49 AM

What were your “favorite” northeast airports for such conditions?

Del Dolemonte on March 22, 2014 at 9:04 PM

Not northeast, but flying into Lowry one rainy (and possibly sleety) night on a LONG arcing route and I got spatial disorientation. I had to hand off to the instructor – I felt like I was in 30o of left bank, but knew I was turning to the right. *shudder*

GWB on March 23, 2014 at 1:09 AM

Here in New Hampshire we have one regional airport (LEB, aka Lebanon) that is legendary for its horrible approaches. This airport gets a lot of GA traffic but also scheduled airline traffic. In the late 1960s a Northeast Airlines DC-3 crashed into the top of Moose Mountain northeast of the airport on its approach. And just a few years ago, on Christmas Eve Day, a Lear Jet flying in from Connecticut in poor weather missed its approach and started to circle to try again. Took them 2+ years just to find the wreckage.

Class B in Northeast = Logan, (New England at least, NY is arguably as bad) Not the place for general aviation aircraft. Surprised you got a slot. Even with the landing fees I think the ATC considers it their personal mission to exclude anything smaller than a 737.

V7_Sport on March 23, 2014 at 1:40 AM

Actually, Cape Air flies a lot of small planes into Logan as part of their scheduled service. They fly mainly Cessna 402C planes.

And I remember when PBA Airlines flew their DC-3s into Logan in between the big planes. “NOVA” on PBS even did a show about those planes.

Del Dolemonte on March 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

I got refreshed again.

Actually, Cape Air flies a lot of small planes into Logan as part of their scheduled service. They fly mainly Cessna 402C planes.

And I remember when PBA Airlines flew their DC-3s into Logan in between the big planes. “NOVA” on PBS even did a show about those planes.

Del Dolemonte on March 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Cape air must have a heck of a deal, the landing fees that Massport used to charge were obscene. I’ve never flown the 402C, but it can be a challenge maintaining separation in a smaller aircraft. (“barely pushes 180kts”) I donno, I found logan to be crowded, expensive and stressful, I had a long wait for fuel there one summer baking on the flight line in an aircraft that was like a hot box. I’ve avoided it for years.

Norwood is a great alternative to Logan, it’s close to the city and un crowded, it’s a zero stress proposition.

V7_Sport on March 23, 2014 at 3:41 PM

WHEN did anyone notice the plane missing? WHO noticed? Did Vietnam ever try to pick up the handoff? Are there protocols to ensure the receiving tower knows they are supposed to be getting a new plane? Or did Viet Nam just never know the plane was supposed to be on their radar?

Was the first time they knew the plane was missing when it failed to arrive in Beijing???!!!!

I can’t believe we’re so far into this story and we don’t know that one basic fact: when did the alarm go out?

jeanneb on March 23, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Actually, most of these things are assumed. The receiving controller knows there is an aircraft coming because the flight plan goes through the system to the appropriate ATCs.

IIRC, they alerted within a couple of hours. And, yes, “a couple of hours” is about standard. If you lose your radios, you don’t have to land right away, but can continue to your destination following certain rules. And, yes, it is possible that the cultures and attitudes in the region might have contributed to a less … enthusiastic response, until someone thought it actually disappeared.

GWB on March 23, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Obviously there is debris out there somewhere (the only possible exception is if the pilot was able to land the plane in smooth ocean water-Hudson River style-and the plane sank like a stone-but, then, why no Mayday call?).

Just because debris hasn’t been found doesn’t mean there isn’t any.If a 70 foot piece of the wing fell into the CIA parking lot in Langley, Va., these super-sleuths are bound to find it in a month or two. But the search area is potentially larger in size than the United States and Africa combined (especially if a pilot deliberately ditched the plane in a remote spot to evade detection.)In addition to area size, there are ocean currents, making debris a continually moving target.

MaiDee on March 24, 2014 at 9:56 AM