Over a dozen microphones are propped on a table as Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar answers questions from the media during a press conference, Tuesday, March 11, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. One of the two men traveling on a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner with a stolen passport was a 19-year-old Iranian man believed to be trying to migrate to Germany, and had no terror links, police said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
MH370 investigation termed 'criminal'
02:50 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: WSJ: Police have recorded 170 statements and will interview more people

Search area for new day shifts eastward

Malaysian authorities revise language used in last radio communications

Wednesday is the 26th day authorities have been searching for Flight 370

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia CNN  — 

The investigation into Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is now classified as a criminal investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing the Malaysian police chief.

Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said authorities have already recorded more than 170 statements and will interview more people for the Flight 370 probe, the Journal said.

But Bakar cautioned that what happened with Flight 370 might still be unknown after the investigation.

He added that the investigation into the flight simulator in the pilot’s house is still inconclusive. Authorities are awaiting an expert’s report on the simulator, he said.

After three and a half weeks, the search for the missing plane has come down to this: a lot of floating rubbish, hundreds of heartbroken relatives and, now, quibbling over words all acknowledge offer no clues into what happened to the doomed plane.

Malaysian authorities on Tuesday released the transcript of radio chatter between air traffic controllers and the plane in the hour or so before it vanished while flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing on March 8 with 239 people on board.

The transcript shows the last voice transmission from the doomed plane was “Good night Malaysian three-seven-zero” – not the “All right, good night” transmission authorities had previously used.

The comments are “exactly what you’d expect” in a cockpit, airline safety expert John Gadzinski told CNN’s “The Lead.” Still, even if this new transcript offers no clues about the plane’s mysterious disappearance, the discrepancy has provided fresh fodder for critics of Malaysia’s handling of the investigation.

Read the cockpit transcript

That authorities gave one version and let it stand uncorrected for weeks undermines confidence in the investigation, air accident investigation experts told CNN.

“High criticism is in order at this point,” said Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

And Michael Goldfarb, a former chief of staff at the Federal Aviation Administration, added that people following the investigation “haven’t had a straight, clear word that we can have a lot of fidelity in.”

“We have the tragedy of the crash, we have the tragedy of an investigation gone awry and then we have questions about where we go from here,” he said.

Malaysian officials have defended their work, with acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein recently saying, “History will judge us well.”

Regardless of one’s assessment of Malaysia’s response, that doesn’t change the immense challenge it faces – especially given the few apparent details on altitude, speed and, of course, location.

“They are looking in a vast area in very deep waters, … and we really have no idea where it went in,” Bill Schofield, an Australian scientist who helped create flight data recorders that could be key in determining what happened, told CNN. “… A needle in a haystack would be much easier to find.”

Inside the flight simulator

Search ‘could drag on’

After refocusing their search Friday to a new patch of Indian Ocean hundreds of miles from where they had been looking, authorities still haven’t found anything definitively linked to Flight 370.