MH370: No info on audio tampering, says Hishammuddin

There has been no information that the audio recordings from MH370 were tampered with, said Malaysian acting Transport Minister.

Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein | Astro Awani
There has been no information that the audio recordings of the final conversations on MH370 were tampered with, said Malaysian acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein today.

Hishammuddin was responding to a query on allegations that the recordings of what transpired between pilots of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and air traffic controllers, made public in a detailed preliminary report last Thursday, could have been “edited”.

“Any documents released... will be open to all sorts of speculation.... in regards to that particular audio. I have had no information that it has been tampered with,” Hishammuddin told a press conference in Canberra.

According to an NBC News report, audio experts said there were “at least four clear breaks” in the audio which indicated “strange” edits.

The American news agency quoted audio-video forensic expert and registered investigator Ed Primeau and Kent Gibson, a forensic audio examiner with Forensic Audio in Los Angeles.

The same report quoted Tom Owen, a consultant for Owen Forensic Services audio analysis and chairman emeritus of the American Board of Recorded Evidence, as saying that edits were to be expected.

According to experts quoted in the report, the tapes appear to be recorded by at least two different audio sources, one of which may have been a digital recorder held up to a speaker.

However, the analysts also cautioned that their observations don't necessarily imply anything about the investigation into the missing flight.

They said the quality and brevity of the interactions between the cockpit and controllers made it impossible to glean any information about the pilots' state of mind before the plane disappeared, or even to determine whether both the pilot and co-pilot were speaking or if just one can be heard.

Aside from the audio recordings, the preliminary report released by Malaysian authorities last week included the plane's cargo manifest, seating plan.

The report, which admitted that the lack of real-time tracking devices caused "significant difficulty" in the hunt for MH370, also called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to consider such tracking of passenger airplanes.

The same report also revealed that it took 17 minutes for air traffic controllers to realise that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had disappeared from their screens - and four hours to launch a rescue operation.

MH370 disappeared shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am on March 8, bound for Beijing, with 239 people on board.

Investigators believe it was deliberately diverted but say they have not ruled out any possibility.

A multinational search was launched to find the missing plane and the focus is now in the southern Indian Ocean, off the west coast of Australia.

However, the search to date has yielded nothing.