The last words of the pilot from the missing flight MH370 have been revealed for the first time at a meeting between the Malaysian government and Chinese relatives in Beijing.
Experienced pilot Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who had logged close to 20,000 flight hours, spoke in response to Malaysian air traffic controllers who had informed the cockpit that they were now entering Vietnamese airspace and that air traffic controllers from the capital Ho Chi Minh city were taking over.
He concluded: "Alright, good night."
At the same meeting on Wednesday morning, one relative, who is acting as the families' representative told Malaysian and Chinese officials that the families are angry with the Malaysian government's "delayed and un-transparent" rescue efforts.
Experts from 12 countries are now searching 27,000 nautical square miles for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, with officials stressing on Wednesday that no answers could be given until the plane's black box is found.
Hishamuddin Hussein, the country's acting transport minister, said at a press conference on Wednesday morning that the search had been expanded into two new areas, with 42 ships and 39 aircraft deployed, from 12 countries, with India, Japan and Brunei joining search teams.
Hussein said it was "overwhelming" to have such strong support from Malaysia's "neighbours and friends".
"As time passes I fear search and rescue becomes just search, but we will never give up hope," he said.
Reporters at Wednesday morning's press conference pressed for answers on whether the plane could have been hijacked or malfunctioned, and queried reports in the Chinese press of a body being found in the sea.
"Unless we find the plane and the black box, we will be unable to answer any of these speculative questions," Hussein barked back. Accused of being in utter chaos and confusion by another journalist, Hussein said the reality was "far from it".
In recent days, experts have said that it is technically possible for a plane to be missing over the sea indefinitely, arguing that GPS tracking and radar capabilities are not as extensive as widely thought.
"It is a misconception that airline pilots are in constant communication with air traffic control, or that planes are constantly watched on radar. Once a plane is more than 100 or 150 miles from shore, radar no longer works. It simply doesn’t have the range," retired Col J Joseph told Wired.
And while the plane itself has GPS, that tells the pilot the direction he is going in, it doesn't tell air traffic control where the plane is. “It’s very very difficult to spot things in the water unless you’re on top of it,” Joseph said, but added that a plane falling from such a height would have been extremely unlikely to stay intact, and debris could have spread over a wide area.
Patrick Smith, the author of Cockpit Confidential, who blogs at AskthePilot.com said the lack of a mayday call did not tell us anything about what happened.
"In an emergency, communicating with the ground is secondary to dealing with the problems at hand," he wrote. "As the old adage goes: you aviate, navigate, and communicate — in that order. And so, the fact that no messages or distress signals were sent by the crew is not surprising or an indicator of anything specific."Suggest a correction