Authorities today clarified the final recorded words spoken by the pilots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, as the search for the missing plane stretches into a fourth week.
Malaysia’s transport ministry released a transcript today of voice transmission from the plane’s cockpit, with the final words, “Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero.”The government had previously said the final words were “All right, good night.”
There’s no explanation for the discrepancy, and authorities are still trying to determine whether the voice belongs to the pilot or co-pilot. Aviation experts say this signoff is routine and provides no new clues in the mystery of flight 370.
In a statement released with the communications transcript, Malaysia acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein stressed that the transcript doesn't indicate anything abnormal, and investigators still believe the flight's movements are "consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane."
Today’s search for the jetliner includes 10 planes and 9 ships and continues amid poor weather conditions. At a news conference today, retired Australia Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston said Australia will soon be deploying an E-7A Wedgetail to act as a flying air traffic controller over the Indian Ocean.
A British nuclear submarine, HMS Tireless has arrived in the southern Indian Ocean to join the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370. While the British military never comments on submarine movements, Malaysia’s deputy chief of navy Vice-Admiral Dato Kamarul has confirmed via twitter that the Trafalgar class submarine had arrived to join the hunt.
Houston said the search area is roughly the size of Ireland. “This search and recovery mission is the most challenging I’ve ever seen,” he said.
“If we don’t find wreckage on the surface, we are eventually going to have to probably, in consultation with everybody who has a stake in this, review what we do next.”
During the news conference, Houston mentioned the World War II warship HMAS Sydney, which sank in the ocean during a 1941 battle. The wreckage was finally uncovered in 2008.
“We’ve got much better technology now, and that wouldn’t happen in this day and age, but we are working from a very uncertain starting point,” Houston said of the search for Flight 370. “And I just wanted to reinforce that because it will take time.”
The missing plane is a key focus of the International Air Transport Association's yearly operations conference, which began today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Officials are considering ways to better track aircraft to ensure that a situation similar to Flight 370 never occurs.
"The best way for all of us involved in aviation to honor the memory of those on board is to learn from what happened to improve safety in the future," transport association director General Tony Tyler said.
The search area for the doomed plane has been refined because of data from the satellite company Inmarsat, which tracked the jet on a southern route off the western coast of Australia. But even knowing the plane did crash-land in the Indian Ocean, the exact location remains a mystery, said Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat’s senior vice president.
“We can’t give you a definitive ‘X marks the spot,’ we can give you a range area in which to look, which is what the world’s navies and aircraft are now doing,” McLaughlin told ABC News.
Hishammuddin is scheduled to appear at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense ministers meeting in Hawaii, which starts today and runs until Thursday. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is convening the meeting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.