On the day Flight 370 vanished, air-traffic controllers and Malaysian Air struggled for hours to understand what was happening even as the country's military watched the plane appear to reverse course.
The initial confusion was disclosed in Malaysian government documents tracing the start of a mystery that began in the early morning hours on March 8. Malaysian and Vietnamese controllers traded phone calls and relayed a tip from the airline that the jet may have gone to Cambodia, the papers show.
As that exchange unfolded, the Malaysian military detected an unidentified radar target believed to have been the Boeing 777-200ER as it headed west across the country, Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.
"The aircraft was categorised as friendly by the radar operator and therefore no further action was taken at the time," said Hishammuddin.
The report also states that the night the plane disappeared, an official rescue operation was activated by the airline only four hours after it was noticed that the plane had gone off radar. There was no explanation as to what happened during those four hours.
The report gave no new clues about why a beacon that helped mark the jet on radar went dark shortly before Flight 370 aborted its trip to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board. Neither did it explain why Malaysia waited seven days to reveal that it had spotted Flight 370's turnabout.
Investigators have concluded the plane flew south toward Australia and crashed in the Indian Ocean after running out of fuel.
The hunt for the wreckage is the longest for a missing passenger jet in modern aviation history.
Controllers lost radar contact with Flight 370 at 1.21am local time.
Vietnamese controllers contacted their Malaysian counterparts 17 minutes later because the pilots hadn't made radio contact as they were due to enter Vietnamese airspace, according to a log of early actions in the case.
At 1.57am, the Vietnam controllers reported they had been unsuccessful trying to reach Flight 370 on "many" radio frequencies and with the help of other aircraft in the vicinity.
Then Cambodia, a country that hugs Vietnam's western border, became part of the narrative. Shortly after 2am, Malaysian Air told authorities that it "was able to exchange signals with the flight", and that the plane may have flown into Cambodian airspace.
That idea was quashed about 90 minutes later, when Malaysian Air told controllers that its estimate of the plane's location was "not reliable for aircraft positioning", according to the log. By 4.25am, controllers had begun querying authorities in Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore.
All the while, military radar tracked the plane, which remained unidentified because its transponder beacon wasn't functioning.
At 5.20am, about four hours after civilian authorities lost contact, someone identified only as "Capt" spoke to controllers.
"He opined that based on known information, 'MH370 never left Malaysian airspace'," according to the log, which didn't give the source of that information or indicate whether any action was taken.
Military authorities replayed a recording of the radar track at 8.30am, more than seven hours after the plane's disappearance.
That information was passed up through the ranks and Hishammuddin was informed at 10.30am. He then informed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Two ships and a military aircraft were sent to the waters off the northwest coast of Malaysia to search for the airliner.
It wasn't until March 15 that Najib confirmed the plane's course in a press conference.
While the motive behind the jet's southerly heading remains unknown, Najib has said the jet was deliberately steered back toward Malaysia as it reached Vietnam's airspace.
The airline said it would make advance payments to the next of kin of Flight 370 passengers. The payouts would not affect families' rights to claim compensation later, and would be calculated as part of the final sum.
The carrier didn't say how much would be disbursed.
The report on the disappearance, which has been sent to the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation, includes a recommendation that standards for real-time aircraft tracking are developed.
"There have now been two occasions during the last five years when large commercial air transport aircraft have gone missing and their last position was not accurately known," said the report, referring to Air France Flight 447, which was lost in the Atlantic in 2009.
"This uncertainty resulted in significant difficulty in locating the aircraft in a timely manner."
The recommendation didn't address whether a real-time tracking system should be designed so pilots can't switch it off.