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New Developments on Missing Malaysian Airline Flight 370

Aired March 18, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Breaking news tonight that could lend credence to the theory that Malaysia airlines flight 370 was deliberately taken. NBC News reporting that the now famous turn the plane was not only programmed into the 777's flight computer, but was punched into the computer at least 12 minutes before the first officer made his last radio contact with air traffic control. Again, 12 minutes before it was apparently routine words from the flight deck, all right good night.

The implication if true is deeply important. Because again, if true, it would cast doubt on the notion of pilots programming the turn because of some kind of emergency. It could suggest premeditation.

Now, there is also a more benign interpretation that the crew preprogrammed the turn as part of a normal contingency plan to be executed in case of mechanical problems with the plane. That's the latest on many key developments today. We are going to focus on it with our team of experienced pilots in and out of the flight simulator. It takes, again, it takes it place and against the daunting fact that the search area, instead of narrowing, is just growing. Growing again today, nearly as big as the continental United States.

More on all of it tonight starting with our Kyung Lah reporting from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia -- Kyung.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The investigation into why Malaysia airlines flight 370 vanished took another strange turn today. Officials believe the jet's navigation system was intentionally altered, saying someone in the cockpit with knowledge of how it works entered in new coordinates to steer them way off course. It's unclear whether the changes occurred before takeoff or during the flight.

Police also continued to investigate both pilots, their homes, personal computers and e-mails were all searched for anything suspicious. But so far, nothing's been found. Authorities are also scrutinizing all communications between the pilots and air traffic control before that final signoff of "all right good night."

U.S. investigators today say they've reviewed the recordings and found nothing to provide any clues why the plane veered off course. But there was a tantalizing clue. Thailand's military said Tuesday their radar tracked an unidentified aircraft, thought to be flight 370, flying west back towards the Malay peninsula before traveling out of range. The route backs up the belief the plane unexpectedly turned left and continued out into the Indian Ocean.

Reconnaissance missions are also falling prey to international bureaucracy. Indonesia's reportedly refusing to permit flyovers of its territory, forcing plane that is could be scouting new areas to be grounded. But Malaysian officials say they need help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an enormous search area. And it is something that Malaysia cannot possibly search on its own.

LAH: The two search corridors stretching from deep into Asia, down through the Indian Ocean, are now being led by China and Kazakhstan in the northern quadrants and Australia and Indonesia in the south.

But there's no concrete evidence on where the Boeing 777 may be after disappearing 11 days ago and the clock is ticking. There's a 30-day battery life for the tracking device on the missing plane's flight data recorder.


COOPER: And Kyung Lah joins us now from Kuala Lumpur.

So ten days later, Thailand's military is just now telling Malaysian officials that they detected an unidentified aircraft? Do we know why they didn't release the information earlier?

LAH: Yes. Their answer is as baffling as holding back this information, which really could have been useful ten days ago. But the Thai government is saying its military is that they did see this plane, they saw it happen, but it didn't enter Thai air space so they didn't view it as a threat.

Now, the Malaysian government did ask governments in the region to help them detect this plane. Did anyone see anything? Well, the Thai government did. Not a threat. So they didn't report it because they weren't specifically asked by the Malaysian government, so they did not gave specific answer -- Anderson.

COOPER: And we're learning today details about U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel's conversation with his Malaysian counterpart. He raised the issue of transparency with him. Now, a lot of people obviously have been saying the Malaysian government has been less than forthright or giving conflicting information. You're in Kuala Lumpur. Is that how it's being perceived there?

LAH: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. That's what's driving everything here. Because the perception is that there was certainly not any sort of transparency by the Malaysian officials who were trying to lead this investigation. We spoke to a pilot, a former Malaysian airlines pilot, and he said that yes, absolutely that the government wasn't being transparent. He was urging people he knows inside to please be transparent. He says he believes it's gotten better. But that's what's driving all of this. If you look at the local papers, all the false leads, all the reports, under all of this is this sense, a deep distrust of what the government is doing because of how the investigation was handled in the early days, that lack of transparency, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Kyung Lah, appreciate it from Kuala Lumpur.

Throughout the hour we are going to be putting some of the best minds in the business to work on this new information we have. Now we're going to explore possible scenarios in the flight simulator and inside a virtual replica of the 777's electronics bay.

First tonight, Michael Schmidt of the "New York Times," also former U.S. department of transportation inspector general Mary Schiavo who now represents accident victims and their families and 777 captain CNN aviation analyst, Les Abend.

Appreciate all of you being with us.

Les, let me start with you. This information that NBC News has broken tonight that the change in direction was programmed into the computer at least 12 minutes before that final communication. How do you interpret it? Because, again, as in everything, there are multiple interpretations of this.

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I hate to use a common word we all seem to be using, but baffling. You know, to me, 12 minutes prior indicates that maybe there wasn't a problem. But at the same token, it could have been programmed for maybe a being away point and maybe it was a mistaken way-point initially.

COOPER: Let's just run through the options here. At least 12 minutes before the final communication of good night which was a routine, just good night communication. So if there was some sort of incident on board, a fire on board for instance that they were changing direction in order to respond to this, you would think that they would then have made mention of it in that final communication.

ABEND: Well, you know, the only thing that I can come up with one that is that they were looking at a non-serious problem. And it started to compound and develop into something more serious. So as a backup they may have put in let's say an alternate airport that they could potentially utilize.

COOPER: But they didn't think -- one possibility is they didn't think it was serious enough to actually communicate that.

ABEND: Correct. And it may have been involved with working on the problem and a professional flight crew, you're not going to detect necessarily something, concern in their voice or any sort of stress.

COOPER: Mary, you also as people have been discussing the idea of terrorism, there are codes pilots can give in communications to indicate that there is some sort of attempt at a hijacking. If again this was entered 12 minutes before the final communication, there was no communication -- that final communication there was no indication of any attempt to take over the plane.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Right. And the key words for me are "at least." we've had lots of conflicting stories this week about what times things happened.

COOPER: Right. At least 12 minutes. That's a wide window.

SCHIAVO: At least. And plus they could have entered it before. At this particular coordinate is there an airport, a wide unobstructed airport? Could it be an emergency if you have an emergency soon after takeoff on climb out? What's your alternative airports for emergency? We don't know when specifically it was entered.

What's concerning to me or actually helpful, at the last hand off at the all right good night they didn't indicate any of the hijack codes. So that lessens my concern that they were being commandeered, that there was somebody in the cockpit. Because you would have two opportunities to do that, the transponder and verbal code.

COOPER: Michael you broke the story at the "New York Times" of that turn being entered into the system last night. This new information from NBC, if accurate, there was entered at least 12 minutes before the all right good night, how do you read that? I mean, to some it makes it even more likely this was a deliberate act.

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. It certainly makes the issue of foul play seem more significant. Because bay doing that, what it basically shows is that this thing was already headed in a different direction when they're saying good night. That just really sort of reinforces this whole notion that someone was trying to take it in a different place and take it down.

But it still doesn't make sense that if this was a suicide mission, if this was a person who was just trying to take down the plane, why they didn't just put an put it in the ocean and why they took it in the other direction. So, like everything on this story, we learn a little bit but have more questions. And I'm still kind of stumped myself.

COOPER: Mary, you don't -- the whole suicide thing you say based on past incidents of that it doesn't fit any kind of profile.

SCHIAVO: No. And I'm not surprised they didn't find anything at the pilots' homes. I've worked on many cases where the pilots were suspect. And it turned out to be a mechanical and horrible problem. And I have a saying myself, sometimes an erratic flight path is heroism, not terrorism. And I always remind myself of that not to jump to that conclusion. Because sometimes pilots are fighting just amazing battles and we never hear about it.

COOPER: There is also now a report out of local media in the Maldives that a number of eyewitnesses say they saw a plane heading in their direction. Again, these are eyewitness reports from the Maldives, reported from the local media there. So, I mean, take everything (INAUDIBLE). What do you make of it Mary?

SCHIAVO: I say go look. I mean, if -- there two different scenarios, one is a crime one a horrible accident. And if somebody saw something, I mean, it doesn't take long to rule it out just like the fishermen's story where they saw wreckage there. Go check it out. We know that is what about four hours out into the ocean. They could be soon out of fuel. Do a fly over. Let's rule out the things we know can't be. And we know one thing from the Thai radio report by the way. The report that came out today they said they did not enter Thai air space. So, does that mean they weren't going north? I think so.

COOPER: Unless you also -- there was also a report about another plane that had been contacted by authorities in Vietnam to see if they could make contact with flight 370. To you that's significant.

ABEND: Yes. My understanding is that that airplane was about 30 minutes ahead which is a fair distance. And it's difficult -- the procedure that I was explaining before we went on air was that if the controllers are expecting an airplane at a certain spot, it seemed very compelling to me that they decided to attempt contact with the airplane. That means, where are they? In other words in their head they're saying, where is this airplane? So the first attempt would be to contact them on the frequency they were designated to be on. Then they would attempt on the guard frequency, which is the emergency frequency. After that, they would try to relay through another airplane.

So it indicates to me that maybe the problem was developing. But for that other airplane, it's not uncommon to not be able to contact them as a favor to air traffic control to relay information. So they probably just wrote it off as, we just can't get a-hold of them. They're too far behind it.

COOPER: Michael, I mean, again, you've been breaking a lot of stories on this. From what you understand, from your sources, all options are still on the table for investigators. And they are still looking at all the things that we are sitting around discussing are things that they are sitting around discussing.

SCHMIDT: Yes. I would say the most significant thing, though, is that what law enforcement officials tell me if this was terrorism this is a completely new paradigm. This is something they've never seen before. There was no chatter leading up to it, no claim of responsibility now. They scrubbed the flight manifest. They looked at all these people as hard as they could. And they've they really haven't found anything. So they say, look, if this is terrorism we've just never seen anything like this before.

So that's why I think the U.S. has sort of been on the outside looking in on the investigation in Malaysia. Because fit was terrorism I think the U.S. would be able to sort of force its way in because they have this expertise on this issue. But otherwise, as we've seen so far they're still not very involved.

COOPER: Michael Schmidt, it is good to have you on the program as always Mary Schiavo as well. Captain Abend is going to stick with us. He is going to join us a little bit later in the program. He is going to be joined by two other veteran pilots bringing their years of experience to bear on all the scenarios investigators are looking at. Also, we will to answer some of your questions. Follow me at twitter @andersoncooper. Tweet us using #AC360.

We are going to have more on this breaking news, this more than 12 window between the programming and the last communication. We're going to take you to the flight simulator so you can see for yourself how simple it actually is to program in coordinates to send a plane off to a different course.

Plus our exclusive virtual tour below deck on a 777. What it reveals about disabling the one piece of equipment that could have shed a lot of light on what happened,, that ACARS system to the airliner. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back.

The breaking news tonight reported by NBC News first, that flight 370's left turn was preprogrammed punched into the plane's computer at least 12 minutes before the co-pilot signed off with Malaysian air traffic control and only executed later on.

What we don't know is why, whether it was foul play or simply kind of precaution in case of emergency or if there was some sort of malfunction on board they were trying to find a close airport they could land at. We simply do not know.

What we do know is it would be very easy to do. And that's what we want to show you now. We want to head into the cockpit of a 777 flight simulator. That's accurate down to the very last detail.

Martin Savidge is in the right seat. Flight simulator Mitchell Casado is in the left. Also with this is aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

Martin, let's start with you. This idea that the turn was entered into the system at least 12 minutes before the all right good night. How does the pilot put the turn into the flight management system? How complicated a process is it?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean you know, if you know what you're doing it's pretty easy. Let me point it out to you, a little bit of show and tell here. This is the flight management system. This is one of the consoles here. They are actually three of them right in front of us.

But this thing does a lot of things on this airplane. It primarily makes the job of flying for the pilot and copilot easier. But think of it really in this sense as a GPS, really beefed-up GPS. And prior to takeoff, you would have loaded in all the coordinates that were necessary, the way-points for this aircraft flight 370 to go from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Every turn, every aspect of that flight would be here.

However, once in the air you could alter it. You could change it in fact, Mitchell, you can point out how simply that's done.

MITCHELL CASADO, COMMERCIAL PILOT INSTRUCTOR: Very easily, Martin. This magenta line here indicates the path that the aircraft is on to its destination. This white triangle is the aircraft. We're pretty much next to our route here. That triangle is us. All I need to do to change my route, first, I need to know where I want to go. I enter that information in the computer here with the keypad. And then I enter it into the flight plan itself. Then it tells me -- it would show here I punched one in at the database. It would show me a line. And then, I would execute that and I would do the turn. So it's very simple.

COOPER: Let me ask you, Martin, how quickly would a turn be executed after entering it into this? Or is it just -- is one not necessarily following the other?

SAVIDGE: Well, I guess there are a couple of ways you could do this. But I mean, if you did it manually like that and then you instantly hit the button that confirms you're making the turn, the plane begins to make that motion immediately. Could you sort of set it up with an alternate and then hit it later? Yes, you could do that, too. And remember, you know, there are legitimate reasons to change course.

CASADO: Absolutely. Yes, mechanical failure, weather, a sick passenger, all of those are really good reasons to deviate.

SAVIDGE: So it isn't just the fact that because the plane changed course dramatically that it necessarily means sinister intent. It does look rather odd, though, that you've got a plan in there and you say rather calmly all right good night, that doesn't sound like you're you've got an emergency on board.

COOPER: Right. Richard, that's what raises questions that the copilot didn't say anything about it when he did actually communicate.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: What's interesting here about what we're seeing from the flight deck here is this 12 minutes, Anderson. Because deduct 12 minute s from the last known all right good night and you get into roughly the time when the last ACARS message would have been sent.

So a question for you, Martin and Mitchell in the flight simulator, if either by the heading knob or by the flight management system a route change was made, would that have been sent out on ACARS or would the ground have been informed? Mitchell, what do you think?

CASADO: I don't think it would have, Richard. I think that unless you actually made the turn -- if you entered it, I don't think so. I think if you made the turn obviously then yes.

COOPER: So in that last communication, there was no turn had been made yet, correct?

SAVIDGE: That's what the information we're getting that yes, there had not been a turn as yet. A lot of this has to do with the ACARS and what information they got and how it's being interpreted. But that seems to be the way it's going now.

COOPER: So because the last ACARS did not --

QUEST: 1:07. Last ACARS is at 1:07. The good night is at 1:19. I'm sort of hedging that if the NBC report is correct and that was a programmed change, how else is the ground going to know? How else would anybody know that it was done 12 minutes earlier other than if the plane had reported hey, somebody has changed the flight management system. Somebody has input something. Because we know from the radar operators that the actual turn didn't come until after 1:19.

COOPER: Right. Again, a lot of questions. Martin Savidge, thank you. Mitchell Casado as well. Richard Quest, thank you.

As always, you can find more on the story at

Just ahead, Martin mentions ACARS. We're going take an exclusive virtual tour below decks in a 777. We will show you actually what it takes to turn that crucial communication system that we have been hearing so much about turned it off. We're going to show you what it's liked. You might be surprised how easy it is.

Plus, investigators say they have not ruled out anything as an explanation, fire, pilot suicide, hijacking, all on the table. Our panel of "Season Pilots" weighs in on what investigators are looking at. The different theories and how each of them raises more questions next.


COOPER: Welcome back.

Tonight's breaking news reported from NBC lending more credence to the possibility the plane's course change was not just programmed, but preprogrammed increasing the possibility of premeditation in whatever happened next. Now, we simply don't have the answer to that or whether a more innocent explanation is a better fit, whether some sort of malfunction on board they were responding to. Nor do we know whether the plane's ACARS system failed or was shut off. We do, however, know that monkeying around with equipment down here in the 777's electronics bay doesn't take a rocket science.

This is "360 exclusive" panoramic view of the area, really, the plane's nerve center, this racks you see hold the avionics and navigation here, flight computers, communication equipment and yet, even the ACARS system.

Jim Sciutto joins us to show us more along with former NTSB member and aircraft mechanic John Goglia.

And before we do this, I just want to clear, we're not showing our viewers anything that is secret information. This is all information that somebody who is very interested in this can find out online and elsewhere. So I just don't want to give people the idea we're showing something we should not be showing. Jim, this compartment where the computer maintenance system known as ACARS, walk us through this, show us what it looks like. In every plane I know is different, every system is different, but how would someone go about disabling the system?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, I like you thought it was much more difficult to get here and that once you're here it would be much more difficult to disable systems. But it's really not.

So first, here's how you get here this. This little ladder here comes down from the cockpit so you'd open that trap door, walk down the stairs and then you're in the avionics bay here. And here on the right side, circuit breaker board looks kind of like the circuit breakers you'd have at home, and just simply pulling out one of those black knobs disables the system. And all the systems are labeled along here.

And then on this side of the bay, as you get here, these are the actual components. This one, John has told me, is the component that keeps the cabin pressurized, for instance. Up here this is the one where the plane would identify itself to other planes if it got too close. All right, you have to do is unscrew these blue knobs and pull the component out that system's disabled. So right here, within reach climb down the stairs. You have two ways to disable key systems on the aircraft.

JOHN GOGLIA, FORMER NTSB MEMBER: Point out the circuit breaker. Point out you can see right here in the circuit breaker where the white ring around it. That shows the circuit breaker is popped. It takes very little finger pressure to pull that out that circuit break.

SCIUTTO: This one's out that's been popped and this one is in.

COOPER: And John, I mean, some people, you know, have been asking me on twitter and elsewhere, why is it designed like this that it's possible to shut down the system? But you're saying it's actually designed intentionally to do this kind of relatively easily.

GOGLIA: Yes. Mainly because the airplane is operated by countries all over the world. I mean, there's people with less skill base than we have here in the United States that have a desire to move their people around. So this airplane was designed from the beginning to be maintained and used in countries like China and other countries where they don't have the technical skills and they don't understand English very well. So it's really -- it's almost like a computer for a multinational audience.

And Les Abend is with us as well.

When we see this it's fascinating to see what it looks like, most of us have never seen on a plane before. You fly 777s, you note plane very well. We still don't know the circumstances of why that ACARS system or how that ACARS system was shut down. And that's very important. ABEND: True. But even though I might be a little bit more intimate with the systems on the airplane, this is not an intimate part of my knowledge.

COOPER: As a pilot --

ABEND: This is nothing a place that I view. A friend of mine after being on the airplane for four years and now retired, says he has never been out there because there is no real need for us to be down there. There is one circumstance that I would go down there and that simply after an incident we -- there is diagram on where to pull a particular circuit breaker like what has been pointed out.

COOPER: If there was a fire on board or smoke, is that part of the procedure, to turn circuit breakers off, and to turn off the in-flight system, to turn off the ACARS?

FOREMAN: It wouldn't be to go down those steps to do it. It would be something that's done in the cockpit.

We have circuit breakers in the overhead panel that might help perform that. Most of that are switches, as opposed to just circuit breakers. But that would be a troubleshooting process. If we had a fire situation, our objective is to get the airplane on the ground as quickly as possible.

COOPER: John, can you show some of the other systems down there, depressurizing, some of the other things that are possible to look at?

GOGLIA: Well, some of them, they're tough to see.

But Collins makes radio gear. You can see here -- we will give them a little commercial, Collins radios extensively used. Hamilton Standard makes lots of controls that are on airplanes and some electronics. We saw the cabin pressure controller on the other side.

We have here control units for certain actuators. Remember, the 777 is a digital airplane. It's run by electronics. Even the connections from the pilot, there's only I think seven cables in the whole airplane for the flight controls. It's a fly-by-wire airplane with minimum backup.

SCIUTTO: You can see some of them labeled here. Here's the traffic alert and TCAS, as they call it, right, when you get too close to another airplane.


GOGLIA: There's the cabin controller right here, cabin pressure controller. For the most part these boxes, locations are standardized. But it depends on whose installation you have for your avionics package where they will be located.

COOPER: John, can you think of any non-nefarious reason for somebody, a pilot or someone else, to go down there and shut systems off?

GOGLIA: They never should go downstairs, never. There's no reason why anyone in flight in a normal flight would go downstairs.

COOPER: But even if there's a mechanical problem.

Les, can you see a reason why somebody would?

ABEND: He's right. I only was referring to after the airplane is parked at the gate. There might be a reason to pull a particular circuit breaker which involves the cockpit voice recorder.

COOPER: But even if there's a fire, even if there's some sort of mechanical issue, you don't see a reason for them to go down there?

ABEND: That wouldn't be part of the checklist. Unless of course you can see where the smoke is originating perhaps, you would get into that galley, we have a way to access into that compartment. And you bring a fire extinguisher down.

COOPER: Again, a lot of questions.

Jim Sciutto, John Goglia, fascinating to see this. I appreciate you doing this. Thanks for joining us again, also CNN aviation analyst and 77 captain Les Abend. Les will stick around a little bit later on. We have got a lot more ahead.

New insight from our panel of seasoned pilots. Do they believe that Flight 370 was hijacked? We're basically going to run through the top scenarios that investigators are looking at. And, as I said, the frustrating thing, and you know if you have been following this, is that each of these, though possible, is -- there's also good reasons why it's not possible, why it doesn't seem likely. So we're going to kind of look at what all the investigators were looking at.

We're going to talk to a partner of American passenger Philip Wood. about why she is not giving up hope of seeing him alive again. We will be right back.


COOPER: In the 11 days since Flight 370 vanished, a handful of clues have surfaced, radar blips, pings from the plane's ACARS system, a timeline of when the plane's communications systems went silent.

And now tonight's breaking news, NBC reporting that Flight 370's turn was preprogrammed at least 12 minutes before the co-pilot signed off with the words all right, good night. So combine them all and what do the clues tell us? What are investigators looking at?

They haven't officially ruled out any of the theories on the table. We want to spend some time tonight drilling down on those theories that investigators are looking at with our experts.

Back with CNN aviation analyst Les Abend, a 777 captain with nearly 30 years experience. Also with us tonight, CNN's aviation analyst Jim Tilmon, who was a captain for American Airlines. He retired with nearly 30 years of experience. And John Nance, an aviation analyst for ABC News with more than 13,000 hours of flight time in commercial and Air Force jets.

So, Les, let's start with you. One of the theories that a lot of people have been particularly focusing on just in the last couple of days is the idea of a fire on board and the pilot and co-pilot perhaps trying to make an emergency landing at a different Malaysian airport.

What do you make through that, Les? Run us through that scenario.

ABEND: Well, to me, it's one of the more plausible scenarios. I'm not sold on that scenario.

But up until the point that we got this information, which I'm still skeptical about the 12 minutes prior, it seemed to me that that -- having a smoke situation, getting beyond that last verbal communication with air traffic control, it seems to me that if the crew was trying to handle an emergency, realized they had an emergency, what would happen in my cockpit would be I would say I have got the airplane. OK?

And then the co-pilot would begin the checklist process. Since I have the airplane, the flight management computer would be part of my control. And I would put in that waypoint and go to the co-pilot and verify that he liked what I put in, assuming that was an alternate airport, because that's what I would be thinking.

And he would say looks good, and I would execute that and start the airplane turning and help him to continue the checklist.

COOPER: And I want to show you all the airports that are around, all the possible airports. There are obviously runways and alternatives that the plane could have been aiming for.

John, though, for those who say, again, if this NBC News report is correct, that the change was programmed at least 12 minutes before that final communication, then why wouldn't in that final communication the co-pilot have said something about, there's an issue on board, there's a smoke in the cabin, whatever it may have been?

JOHN NANCE, ABC NEWS: Well, he would have. And that's the thing that's so puzzling here.

We're all standing on a stack of assumed facts. And every, day they seem to change. But the thing is that there is an opportunity here and a lot of opportunity for something to be said, if it happened, anything happened before, including smoke in the cockpit. And the turn afterwards would make sense if the turn was back. And even if they were having problems keeping control of the airplane because of smoke or fumes, there would have been an attempt to go back to Kuala Lumpur or to the nearest airport, not to turn off to the west, as it did, and then to have several course changes.

Those course changes are what tell me that regardless of what happened, this was not an in-flight emergency. This was purposeful.

COOPER: So you're saying, John, that if the crew had been overcome or was dealing with some sort of mechanical issue, there would not have been those course changes?

NANCE: I don't think there would have.

Those course changes, it could turn out, were not the correct information. We have had other rugs pulled out from under us in the last number of days. But if they did change course and very severely and a numbers of times up until they were in the north portion of the Straits of Malacca, that is not indicative of an airplane out of control.

On top of that, we really have got the situation here where the turn to begin with, whether it was programmed before or not, was off in the wrong direction. And if we had a fire, remember Swiss Air 110, it progressed. It would burn through oxygen hoses, it would get more intense, and I think we would have lost the airplane right then and there.


ABEND: Depending upon where that fire originated. We don't know what part of -- if indeed it happened, where the equipment was that was starting to shut down. So different things would have happened depending upon where the origination of that fire was, assuming that it was in that E&E bay that we saw earlier, the avionics bay.

But as far as the turns, once again I agree with John, John Nance, that it seems a little suspicious that there were a bunch of turns. But where were the bunch of turns if that's accurate information?


COOPER: How accurate -- and, again, we have to look at all this. How accurate is that information, that radar information that we have been getting?

ABEND: True.

But beyond that, let's just say that the airplane continued to that way-point that was entered. It may very well have been an airport. They may have been overcome by the smoke, the fumes. That airplane, once it hits that waypoint, it just continues on a heading. Now you still have the fire progressing. What's the airplane going to do? We're in unchartered territory.

COOPER: Jim Tilmon, let me ask you this. I got a tweet from a viewer. Francis (ph) tweeted the question: "Could a plane with an onboard fire remain in flight for six to eight hours with or without pilots?"


When you start thinking in terms about what a fire is on an airplane, particularly an electrical fire, it's not necessarily big flames. It may very well be smoldering and then smoking. And its biggest threat to you is the fact that it's throwing out toxic fumes, as opposed to burning through something, whatever. It could take place over a period of time, and if you're not really careful and right on top of it and get an oxygen mask on, you can become incapacitated pretty fast and make a lot of bad decisions before you pass out.

COOPER: Again, I keep coming back to, though, and if this is an emergency situation, maybe we shouldn't be looking at any sort of rational light of day. But wouldn't the co-pilot have said something in that final communication, rather than just, OK, good night?

NANCE: Well, he not only would have said something, Anderson, he would have said something in his oxygen mask. And that we would -- there's a special sound, because the microphone is in the oxygen mask.

To the best of my understanding, that is not what the air traffic controller heard at the very last. Now, if I'm wrong about that, we will be able to tell, because that's a very specific sound.

COOPER: Let's look at the idea of some sort of hijacking or the plane being forced to land somewhere. That's obviously one of the other scenarios.

Cynthia tweeted a question: "Could it be hidden in a hangar somewhere?"

Les, possible but unlikely?

ABEND: Highly unlikely. Where do you hide it, a 200-foot-and-change airplane? It seems very unlikely to me.

COOPER: A lot of people would know about it. It would be -- any plane landing would probably be picked up by a country's radar.

There's even issues of people's cell phones, passengers' cell phones. Wouldn't they be able to be traced somehow unless those phones were somehow disabled?

ABEND: Well, assuming there was cell phone coverage there. But I wouldn't hold that -- hold that license on that one. But if the intent was just to capture this airplane, was the intent also to take it off from that particular landing strip also? And that would have to be selected quite carefully.

John, what do you make of the idea of terrorism, whether a crash or some sort of landing?

NANCE: The landing isn't impossible, but it certainly is a very, very low level of probability. I agree with that entirely.

I'm more concerned with the possibility of a rogue or a wannabe terrorist who might have taken over this airplane. We don't know if there was somebody riding in the cockpit. So far, the profiles we have had of both the pilot and co-pilot do not indicate a high propensity for a murder-suicide, although humans are humans and we can't necessarily read the surface stuff. But there's still a lot that we don't know here. That's putting it mildly. So it's hard to say. I -- if I had to vote I would say it's probably at the bottom of the ocean. By the same token, nothing really is impossible at this point.

COOPER: Jim, there have been pilots who have committed suicide, but basically they have turned the plane just nose down and just gone into the water, gone into the ground. This is a plane, Jim, that continued to fly apparently.


If he wants to commit suicide, he doesn't have to fly halfway across the Indian Ocean to do that. He's got lots of opportunities prior to that to do it. And I have to tell you something here. I don't underestimate a person who wants to take over an airplane in today's world. I mean, they're not necessarily dumb or stupid or not capable.

Could very well be very, very highly trained and very skilled. So I want to keep that door open because of what it means. My first question is, why and what is the endgame? If they were going to do that, whoever decided to do it, where do they want to go with this? Where are they going to take this nice big airplane?

COOPER: And as the reporter from "The New York Times" was saying, there hasn't been any chatter, according to his sources in the intelligence community.

We have got to take a break here. Les Abend, great to have you, Jim Tilmon, John Nance. Thank you very much.

Just ahead, the partner of Philip Wood, one of the American passengers on board Flight 370, she has not given up hope he's still alive. She's speaking out tonight on 360. We will talk to her in just a moment.


COOPER: Families of some of the Chinese passengers on Flight 370 have threatened to gone a hunger strike until Malaysian officials tell them the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

Understandably, there is a lot of anger, frustration over the lack of answers. They have now been waiting 11 days.

Philip Wood is one of three Americans who were on Flight 370. Sarah Bajc is his partner. They have been together two years and were about to prove from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur, where they both have new jobs. They also planned to get married this year.

She has not given up on those plans. Sarah Bajc joins me now from Beijing.

Sarah, I can't imagine what these last 11 days have been like for you. I know you're staying busy. You're a teacher. You're continuing to teach. How are you holding up? How are you getting through this? SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF MISSING PASSENGER: I'm staying busy, Anderson. Coming to speak with you is part of that. And I appreciate the attention you're paying to this story, keeping it alive.

COOPER: I know you have a son. Philip has two sons. How are they doing?

BAJC: I actually have two sons and a daughter, so between us, we have five.

And they're all finding this to be a very, very difficult process. I mean, we just finished planning a big family reunion in Kuala Lumpur over the summer. Both of Philip's boys were going to come over, and my older two kids who are in university in the States were going to come over. And the seven of us were going to go to an island off the coast of Malaysia to do some scuba diving. And the flights are booked, the hotel is booked, and now this.

COOPER: I know you have created a Facebook page where you and Philip's family are keeping up the energy for the search, keeping hope alive. You're doing the same on Twitter.

You say you have been heartened by reports that the disappearance could have been intentional, that this might be something like a hijacking. Explain how that gives you and the other families hope.

BAJC: Well, partly, it makes me feel like I'm not crazy, because that's the scenario that I hypothesized way back the first day after it happened.

So, by Sunday already, I was starting to think there's clearly no sign of crash. It was a nighttime activity. So, satellites should have been able to pick up any kind of flames. So the only logical answer for a completely silent jet would be that it had been taken.

And over the week, of course, all my friends were starting to think that perhaps I was just in denial. And I was even starting to doubt myself a little bit. And so when all of this new evidence started to come out, it gave me confidence that I wasn't so crazy after all.

COOPER: I understand that Philip's brother, Tom, who I spoke with before, is now saying he believes there's a miracle coming in this. You have a bag all packed and ready for Philip.

BAJC: Well, I have a backpack packed for me to go to wherever he is and a set of clothes in there.

And miracles do happen. They happen every day. I had somebody tell me last night about a family experience where her father had been kidnapped. And everybody had given up hope. But six months later, he showed up. And I think those things can happen.

And if whoever has done this is trying to accomplish a bigger thing, this is just one step. I will leave it to the experts to look at the evidence. I don't have any expertise in planes or satellites. But I have intuition. And I have a feeling that they're still alive, and common sense to say, if I was a terrorist, what would I do? I would want to protect those very valuable assets of the people on the plane, because that would be the leverage point.

So, if we spent as much energy looking into motives and potential places where that plane could be hidden, maybe we'd be coming up with some different answers. I don't know.

COOPER: And I know it's important to you, because I have been following you on Twitter and on Facebook, you have a message for people out there. You have a message for anybody who you believe may have been involved in this.

BAJC: Yes.

I want to make a request. First of all, I can't imagine the pain and frustration that somebody would have to have gone through to resort to this kind of a stunt, a prank. But the reality is, whoever has done this has been successful. They have fooled all the experts and all the governments of the world.

They have made a very serious point. But I think they can accomplish their goals without hurting people, because, in the end, in the end, the families and the god of whoever is doing this could forgive them creating this crisis. It's a terrible thing that they have done.

But I think they couldn't forgive if they took innocent lives. And so I'm just hoping. I'm hoping and I'm asking, please, to not hurt the people on the plane. Find some other way to accomplish what you're trying to accomplish, but don't hurt the people. Let Philip come back to me, please.

COOPER: Well, Sarah, again, our thoughts are with you, with your family and with Philip's family. And we just wish you the best through all this. And stay strong.

BAJC: Thank you.

COOPER: Stay strong.

We will be right back.



COOPER: That does it for us.

We will you see again at 11:00 p.m. Eastern for another edition of 360.

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