In the last 54 minutes of communications between the cockpit of the missing MH370 and the control tower, two things stood out, UK's the Telegraph reported today.
The first was a message from the cockpit at 1.07am, saying that the plane was flying at 10,700m, but this was apparently unnecessary, as it was repeating a message delivered six minutes earlier.
However, the report noted that it occurred at a crucial moment at 1.07am, because this was the time the plane's ACARS signalling device sent its last message, where it was disabled at some point within the next half hour, an act believed to be deliberate.
Investigators also believe that the ACARS was shut down before co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid's last words of “All right, good night” at 1.19am.
The second puzzling feature that is fuelling speculation that the plane going missing was no accident is the fact that the loss of communication and the sharp turn-back towards the west happened at the point of handover from air traffic controllers in Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh City.
“If I was going to steal the aeroplane, that would be the point I would do it,” said Stephen Buzdygan, a former British Airways pilot who flew 777s, according to the paper.
“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,” it quoted him as saying.
The paper said the fresh details added to speculation over the fate of MH370, whether it was the victim of a sudden accident or a hijacking.
It said the transcript also suggests that if the pilots were involved, they were very careful to hide their true intentions.
The transcript runs from the time the Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) was taxiing to its last-known position thousands of metres above the South China Sea and includes exchanges from the point where investigators believe the plane had already been sabotaged, as well as Fariq’s last words.
Other than the two oddities, analysts reportedly said the sequence of messages appeared “perfectly routine”.
It was earlier reported that investigators suspect flight MH370, which took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing shortly after midnight on March 8, was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled path.
They are focusing on hijacking or sabotage but have not ruled out technical problems.
The search for the Malaysian jet, which is now focused on the Indian Ocean, is the longest in modern passenger-airline history.
The previous record was the 10-day search for a Boeing 737-400 operated by Indonesia’s PT Adam Skyconnection Airlines, which went missing off the coast of Sulawesi island on January 1, 2007. – March 22, 2014.