(Adds officials warn of long search, quotes and details,
paragraphs 4-8, 12-16)
* Final cockpit words "Good night Malaysian three seven
* Changed account of final words comes in fourth week of
* Ten planes, nine ships resume hunt west of Perth
* Australian officials stress challenges of search
* Malaysia PM heading to Perth to visit search base
By Stuart Grudgings and Matt Siegel
KUALA LUMPUR/PERTH, April 1 The last words from
the cockpit of a missing Malaysian jet were a standard "Good
night Malaysian three seven zero", Malaysian authorities said,
changing their account of the critical last communication from a
more casual "All right, good night."
The correction more than three weeks after Flight MH370
vanished with 239 people on board was made as Malaysian
authorities face heavy criticism, particularly from China, for
mismanaging the search and holding back information.
Painstaking analysis of radar data and limited satellite
information has focused the search on a vast, inhospitable swath
of the southern Indian Ocean west of the Australian city of
Perth, but has so far failed to spot any sign of the jetliner.
Search coordinators warned the hunt could drag on for some
"In this case, the last known position was a long, long way
from where the aircraft appears to have gone," retired Air Chief
Marshal Angus Houston, the head of the Australian agency
coordinating the operation, told reporters in Perth.
"It's very complex, it's very demanding and we don't have
hard information like we might normally have," he said.
The Boeing 777 disappeared from civilian radar in the
early hours of March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Minutes later its communications were cut off and it turned back
across Malaysia and headed towards the Indian Ocean.
Malaysia says the plane was likely diverted deliberately,
probably by a skilled aviator, leading to speculation of
involvement by one or more of the pilots. Investigators,
however, have determined no apparent motive or other red flags
among the 227 passengers and 12 crew.
"We would like to confirm that the last conversation in the
transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit is
at 0119 (Malaysian Time) and is "Good night Malaysian three
seven zero," the Department of Civil Aviation said in a
statement late on Monday.
Malaysia's ambassador to China told Chinese families in
Beijing as early as March 12 that the last words had been "All
right, good night". About two-thirds of the passengers on board
The statement said authorities were still conducting
"forensic investigation" to determine whether the last words
from the cockpit were by the pilot or the co-pilot. Malaysia
Airlines had previously said the words were believed to have
come from the co-pilot.
SEARCH GOES ON
Nine ships and 10 aircraft resumed the hunt for wreckage
from MH370 on Tuesday, hoping to recover more than fishing gear
and other flotsam found since Australian authorities moved the
search 1,100 km (685 miles) north after new analysis of radar
and satellite data.
Houston said the challenging search, in an area the size of
Ireland, would continue based on the imperfect information with
which they had to work.
"But, inevitably, if we don't find any wreckage on the
surface, we are eventually going to have to, probably in
consultation with everybody who has a stake in this, review what
to do next," he said.
Using faint, hourly satellite signals gathered by British
firm Inmarsat PLC and radar data from early in its
flight, investigators have only estimates of the speed the
aircraft was travelling and no certainty of its altitude,
Satellite imagery of the new search area had not given
"anything better than low confidence of finding anything",
said Mick Kinley, another search official in Perth.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will travel to Perth on
Wednesday to see the operations first hand.
Among the vessels due to join the search in the coming days
is an Australian defence force ship, the Ocean Shield, that has
been fitted with a sophisticated U.S. black box locator and an
Time is running out because the signal transmitted by the
missing aircraft's black box will die about 30 days after a
crash due to limited battery life, leaving investigators with a
vastly more difficult task.
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in PERTH and Jane
Wardell in SYDNEY; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Paul