A family member of a passenger shields herself from journalists as she exits a rest area for relatives of passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, after a morning meeting at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 12, 2014. Photo: Reuters
After more than 100 hours after Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing early Saturday, the airline on March 12 revealed for the first time the last radio transmission from the pilots of the aircraft during a meeting with Chinese relatives in Beijing.
Malaysia Airlines said that the last words heard from one of the pilots of the missing airplane was "OK, got it" at a press conference held on March 12 at Metropark Lido Hotel, which was attended by Malaysian Ambassador to China Datuk Iskandar Sarudin.
The "OK, got it" reply was made after the pilots were told by Malaysian air traffic controller that the aircraft was entering Vietnamese airspace, where the right of air traffic control was taken over by Ho Chi Minh City.
"I hereby guarantee to you that Malaysia will do our best to solve the problem. The questions you ask will be brought to our domestic officials. We will notify you when we hear back from them," said the ambassador, adding that they will notify the relatives when they get confirmed information on the missing airplane.
On Tuesday, the relatives presented Malaysia Airlines with a list of demands for clarification about the financial assistance it offered them, including a 31,000-yuan consolation fund to cover immediate expenses.
After the press conference, the relatives said that they had been given a commitment that no strings would be attached to the offer, and that it would not be deducted from the final compensation.
Below is an excerpt of the conversation between the Chinese relatives and Malaysia Airlines and the ambassador at the press conference:
Relatives: There are many news agencies reporting that the military radar screens have detected the signal of the passenger aircraft over the Strait of Malacca. But the reports were later denied by Malaysian military. Can you explain it?
Malaysia Airlines: Despite the fact that the reports were not corroborated by Malaysian military, we have expanded the search coverage to the whole territory of Malaysia.
Relatives: What is the purpose of Boeing to send a technical assistance team to Malaysia?
Malaysia Airlines: Boeing's technical assistance team was sent to help our investigations into whether the oil slick and floating fragments spotted by the research and rescue teams are related to the missing Boeing 777 jetliner. The hypothesis has already been refuted.
Relatives: Do you have the sign to show that the missing aircraft once changed course or turned back to Malaysia?
Malaysia Airlines: There was no sign to prove it.
Relatives: What were the last words heard from the pilots of the missing aircraft?
Malaysia Airlines: The contact with Flight MH370 was lost when Malaysia Airlines handed over the right of air traffic management to Ho Chi Minh City. The last heard words from the cockpit of the missing aircraft were "OK, got it", which were made in response to Malaysia Airlines' last directive saying "You (Flight MH370) are being taken over by Ho Chi Minh City.
Before losing the contact (with Malaysian air traffic controllers), Flight MH370 did not report any abnormality.
We are looking at pilots' intentional operation, hijacking, radio communication failure or disintegration as possible causes of the vanishing of the aircraft.
Relatives: Military radar once scanned the signal of an unknown flying object, which later disappeared. Can you reveal the location of the disappearing signal? Did it vanish suddenly?
Malaysia Airlines: The military radar did not measure the flight altitude and speed and Malaysian military did not provide detailed information. The Malaysian government is communicating with the military for further details. The results of the communication cannot be released currently.
Relatives: If the aircraft was hijacked, could the crew members have connection with it?
Malaysia Airlines: We hope that the aircraft was hijacked, rather than dropping into the sea. And we wish the passengers and crew members could survive the calamity. The pilots have received strict trainings and passed strict tests. We are conducting a probe into what was exposed on the Internet. (Reports that the co-pilot aboard the missing flight once invited two Australian teenagers to sit in the cockpit of his plane during another international flight in 2011 are circulating on the Internet)
Relatives: Why can't we get the visas we applied for on March 10?
Malaysian Ambassador: Malaysia Airlines will handle the formality as soon as the press conference concludes. Malaysia Airlines promises that, if seat availability allows, five relatives from one family can be arranged to fly to Malaysia.
(The article is translated and edited by Ding Yi)