The MH370 cockpit transcript has been in the public domain since April 2014. The transcript exposed a huge lie that was never properly explained away by Malaysian authorities. The final words heard by air traffic control were not the informal “All right, good-night” as originally reported, but “Good-night, Malaysian Three Seven Zero.”
This untruth led, not only me but a number of interested parties to seek out an independent analysis of the original sound recording. In doing so, as with most processes surrounding MH370, it served only in adding a slew of unanswered questions to an already unacceptably long list.
“ATC Delivery” (Pre-Departure)
Mayalsia Airlines Flight 370 cockpit (12:25:53): Delivery MAS 370 good morning.
Air traffic control (12:26:02): MAS 370 standby and Malaysia Six is cleared to Frankfurt via AGOSA alpha departure 6,000 feet squawk two one zero six.
ATC (12:26:19): … MAS 370 request level.
MH370 at (12:26:21): MAS 370 we are ready requesting flight level three five zero to Beijing.
ATC(12:26:39): MAS 370 is cleared to Beijing via PIBOS a departure 6,000 feet squawk two one five seven.
Cockpit (12:26:45): Beijing PIBOS a 6,000 squawk two one five seven MAS 370 thank you.
ATC (12:26:53): MAS 370 welcome over to ground.
Cockpit (12:26:55): Good day.
“Lumpur Ground” (Kuala Lumpur airport ground movements)
Cockpit (12:27:27): Ground MAS370 good morning Charlie One requesting push and start.
ATC (12:27:34): MAS370 Lumpur Ground morning push back and start approved Runway 32 right exit via Sierra 4.
Cockpit (12:27:40): Push back and start approved 32 Right Exit via Sierra 4 POB 239 Mike Romeo Oscar.
ATC (12:27:45): Copied.
Cockpit (12:32:13): MAS377 request taxi.
ATC (12:32:26): MAS37….. (garbled) … standard route. Hold short Bravo.
ATC (12:32:30): Ground, MAS370. You are unreadable. Say again.
ATC (12:32:38): MAS370 taxi to holding point Alfa 11 Runway 32 right via standard route. Hold short of Bravo.
Cockpit (12:32:42): Alfa 11 Standard route Hold short Bravo MAS370.
ATC (12:35:53): MAS 370 Tower.
ATC (12:36:19): (garbled) … Tower … (garbled).
Cockpit (no time given): 1188 MAS370 Thank you.
Lumpur Tower (Kuala Lumpur airport runway)
Cockpit (12:36:30): Tower MAS370 morning.
ATC (12:36:38): MAS370 good morning. Lumpur Tower. Holding point.. (garbled)..10 32 Right.
Cockpit (12:36:50): Alfa 10 MAS370.
ATC (12:38:43): 370 line up 32 Right Alfa 10.
Cockpit (no time given): Line up 32 Right Alfa 10 MAS370.
ATC (12:40:38): 370 32 Right cleared for take-off. Good night.
Cockpit (no time given): 32 Right cleared for take-off MAS370. Thank you bye.
Lumpur Approach (Kuala Lumpur area controllers)
Cockpit (12:42:05): Departure Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
ATC (12:42:10): Malaysian Three Seven Zero selamat pagi identified. Climb flight level one eight zero cancel SID turn right direct to IGARI.
Cockpit (12:42:48): Okay level one eight zero direct IGARI Malaysian one err Three Seven Zero.
ATC (12:42:52): Malaysian Three Seven Zero contact Lumpur Radar One Three Two Six good night.
Cockpit (no time given): Night one three two six Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
Lumpur Radar (Malaysia regional controllers)
Cockpit (12:46:51): Lumpur Control Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
ATC (12:46:51): Malaysian Three Seven Zero Lumpur radar good morning climb flight level two five zero.
Cockpit (12:46:54): Morning level two five zero Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
ATC (12:50:06): Malaysian Three Seven Zero climb flight level three five zero.
Cockpit (12:50:09): Flight level three five zero Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
Cockpit (01:01:14): Malaysian Three Seven Zero maintaining level three five zero.
ATC (01:01:19): Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
Cockpit (01:07:55): Malaysian…Three Seven Zero maintaining level three five zero.
ATC (01:08:00): Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
ATC (01:19:24): Malaysian Three Seven Zero contact Ho Chi Minh 120 decimal 9 Good night.
Cockpit (01:19:29): Good Night Malaysian Three Seven Zero.
If You Want A Job Done….
The voice on the telephone sounded languid yet authoritative, but I didn’t hear too well what it said – partly because I was only half awake and partly because I was holding my phone upside down. I shuffled it around and mumbled hello.
“Are you there? I said my name’s Tony Parizeau, from Parizeau Forensics.”
“Tony Parizeau, gotcha.”
“You’re Johnny Green, aren’t you?”
“Yeah. That’s me.” I snuck a peak at my iPhone screen. It was 5.35am, not my best hour.
“Johnny, I’ve analysed the recordings: they’re edited.”
“You’ve edited the recordings?”
“No,” he snapped. “The recordings were…the recordings themself were edited…”
“Woe!” I interrupted. “Don’t tell me anymore over the phone. You better come here.”
“Where is here?”
I gave him the address of my place on Sicaria Avenue, and told him how he would find it.
“All right,” he said mildly. “I’ll be there in an hour.”
He hung up. I sprang out of bed, showered, shaved, and was chomping on my third piece of toast when the intercom buzzed.
“I’m Tony,” he said in a relatively monotone voice.
“Come on in.”
He was quite short. He wore a crumpled grey suit, a red scarf, a well-oiled head of black hair, a manilla folder, and a pair of brown eyes that looked at me as if I had just told him his pet dog died.
Tony sat at the table and I made him a cup of coffee. When I set the coffee down he had the manilla folder open before him. “Can I talk now?” he asked.
“Go ahead,” I said sitting opposite him with my iPhone recording.
“I can’t tell you why the recordings were edited, but in my opinion they most certainly were. I discovered at least four clear breaks in the audio that indicate edits to me.” Tony cleared his throat and continued. “The beginning and end of the recording are high-quality with a low noise floor, meaning ambient background noise is almost silent, unlike the middle.”
Tony selected an A4 page from the folder and handed it across the table to me. “At one minute fourteen,” he said, reading from the same page as I, “the tone of the recording changes to where to me it sounds like someone is holding a digital recorder up to a speaker, so it’s a microphone-to-speaker transfer of that information. That’s a pretty big deal because it raises the first red flag about there possibly being some editing.” He paused to sip his coffee.
Next Tony drew my attention to a three second snippet between the 2:06 and 2:09 mark. “I can hear noise in the room,” he said quietly, “along with the increase in the noise floor. I can hear a file door being shut; I can hear some papers being shuffled. Also, this whole section beginning at 1:14 continuing through 2:06 to 2:15, I’m sure it’s a digital recorder being held up to a speaker.”
“What did you make of those long gaps we discussed?” I said, looking up at Tony.
Tony glanced at his wristwatch. “The long gaps in the communication throughout the recording also imply some editing.” He took another sip of coffee. “There’s a huge edit at 6:17. The conversation is cut off. It’s interrupted. And the noise-floor tone changes again.” he said.
“Can you explain the noise floor thing to me, please?”
“Yes.” He straightened some papers and cleared his throat before settling his dark eyes upon me. “The noise floor, when you’re authenticating a recording from a forensic perspective, is a very important part of the process. Noise floor is defined as any signal other than the one being monitored. So background noise, basically. You can hear it at 4:07, you hear pages turning and a person breathing, which is unusual. I mean, it’s not uncommon for the background of a recording to change when a cockpit communication turns over from ground control to air controllers — which happened about four minutes into this recording — but that doesn’t explain the noises that are audible.”
He paused for a while and appeared to be studying me. “It’s not unusual that there would be clicks,” he said at last, “such as when they push the button on the microphone, but it’s very unusual to have a disturbance. Normally you wouldn’t have any background. Is this making sense to you?”
I assured him it was. I put it to him that a cut-off word also wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility, surely.
Tony nodded. “It wouldn’t be unthinkable to have a truncated word because if somebody let go of the trigger on the microphone, it might cut off their word. But it would be very unusual to find a background differential at the same time, suggesting that Malaysian authorities or whoever presented this made edits for, well, I’m not exactly sure why.”
“Perhaps the pilot said something the government did not want leaked,” I suggested.
Tony agreed. “If the pilot dropped something they did not want going public, sure.”
I shrugged. “Maybe he said something that didn’t fit with the Malaysian Government’s party line.”
“Or,” he said, “it could be an inadvertent thing. But, I will say this: it’s a very sloppy way to handle evidence.”
There was a brief silence as my eyes scanned over his report. I could see the MH370 pilots in my imagination, illuminated by the cock-pit controls. Maybe one of them had an expression that was looking a little nervous, maybe not. “So no smoking guns,” I said quietly. “But there are edits and the edits are clear, yeah?”
“Yes, but the recordings have come from different sources,” he said earnestly. “You can assume that the recording while the plane’s still on the ground came from the tower and then you could assume that the communication with air controllers was switched while they’re in the air. As I said, my take is they’ve mishandled the cobbling process. It’s just plain sloppy or it could be part of a larger cover-up. That’s for people like you to decide.”
I leaned back and plucked an envelope off the breakfast bar. “Thanks Tony,” I said, sliding it across the table to him. “The jury will always be out on this one, even when that plane is found.”
Tony looked at the envelope, picked it up and slotted it into the inside pocket of his crumpled grey suit. “Of course, there’s dozens of issues, things that have to do with timelines and radar information that exists but for one reason or another the Malaysians are sitting on it all. It appears to be a covering up of something, but I had to base my findings on the sound recording that was presented to me.”
“I know that; they wouldn’t give over anything that would be enlightening,” I said in a dead-pan tone. “They’re sloppy not silly. But trying to nail down who exactly is screening the evidence before it’s made public is a problematic issue.”
“Considering a few hundred people are dead – presumed dead – purposefully covering up critical clues as to what happened is certainly a problematic issue.” Tony was just as dead-pan as I was.
We stood up. We gave each other those looks and shook hands. He went out.