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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Search for Flight 370; New Developments on Missing Malaysian Flight
Aired March 20, 2014 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It's 11:00 here on the east coast of the United States, 11:00 a.m. off the coast of Australia, where soon perhaps within the hour if not it is already there, a P-3 Orion search aircraft will be above the search zone, nearly 1500 miles southwest of Perth. It and several others will be scouring the ocean surface trying to get a better look at several pieces of debris revealed in these photos and other versions that investigators have seen. But they are trying to determine whether they belong to Malaysian airlines flight 370.
Now, searchers will be using other sophisticated equipment as well that were originally designed on enemy submarines to locate other debris below the waves. Sonar buoys, metal detector, not to mention old fashioned eyeballs. But be careful knowing that there had been false sightings before, we want to caution everybody watching, we simply do not have the answers tonight about what it is in the water.
There is certainly hope. Emotions already boiling over among some of the families who are waiting for answers, real answers. Hard to fathom what they have been going through. But it's clear right there. It has not been easy to believe that any -- with any certainty, even if the news is bad, would be better than day after day and not knowing. It is not soon there a search aircraft might provide the first inkling of it whether on site, at least for the moment, is said to the ideals. So I want to go to Kyung Lah at Royal Australian Air Base, in Belzberg, Australia where the aircraft departed earlier this evening in Perth time. And to Chad Myers looking at weather conditions, especially ocean conditions in t he search area.
Kyung, do we know how today's search efforts? Do we know either going there so far, any updates?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're only estimating at this point, Anderson, because the military here in Australia playing it very, very close to the vest. They don't want to release too much. They want to make sure that the prime minister is involved, so they are being very, very cautious about what they do release.
If you like at the timeline of what they have told us, how long it's going to take to get out there, we can assume at this point the planes are now flying above the area that they want to look at. That's 600,000 square kilometers that they're going to comb over. They are going to have by the end of this day, they'll have a total of five planes searches and combing over this area. A very tough area. Each of those planes with only two, two critical hours before they have to race back here to this air base. So a very, very tough day for everyone involved here. And they are really, truly racing against the clock, Anderson.
COOPER: And that's they only have those two hours because the distance it is from Perth and fuel considerations.
Chad Myers, I want to bring you in here. Well, you and I talked several hours ago. You said conditions were probably ideal in terms of visibility. As we know, when we were on the air early this morning around 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m., visibility was poor for searching. How is it now?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, I don't think it could have been worse yesterday, Anderson. We had the cold front with thunderstorms on top of it. We had low visibility distance. We have low ceilings where the planes couldn't fly high, and then we have white caps on every single wave. Thinking about looking for a white airplane with white caps makes my head spin. Literally, I just don't even understand how they even tried yesterday.
Today and tomorrow will be the days, the next 48 hours will be crucial to finding this. There are waves out there, five to ten feet. But that's not a bad thing. They're roller waves, they are ocean waves, they go up and down. And with those roller waves, when you get a roll like this and you're standing on the bridge of a ship or on the railing and you see this happen, all of a sudden you almost get a bird's-eye view of what's in the water because of that spin, 25 to 10 feel. Not like yesterday where we had 30 footers in the ocean. Today, much better.
We don't get any rainfall for the next 48 hours, that's the good news. This is the rain map from CNN international right there, thanks to our guys down there. And there's the window that's going to come in, in 48 hours. Just to the south of the breeze zone. But that's bad. That's going to make huge white caps and huge problems.
COOPER: Chad, let's talk also about the depth of the ocean here. Because, you know, when they were searching in the gulf of Thailand or early on, in the first couple of days, you're talking about, you know, 296 feet deep. It's a whole other story here.
MYERS: Absolutely. Almost two miles. So, if we're looking for the pinger, the pinger pings about two to four miles depending under the surface of the floor of the ocean. If you're going to ping, all of the sudden, you need to be almost right on top of that ping to be able to hear it, because you're already two miles away because you're 10,000 feet from it.
Here we go, 14,000 feet to the north, 11,000 feet here, a very close right at 10,000 feet. I can do one thing right now, I will take you under the water and show you what this looks like graphically. We'll fly you right down here and see the surface. Fairly flat. There's some undulation here. But it is volcanic. There is not big bridges. This is not Mariana trench going down seven miles or so. This is pretty good. We'll be able to find something on here. We will try to pop you up out d the water, turn you around and show you that this is a fairly flat area, even though it's 10,000 feet. And it's not inaccessible. 10,000 feet for a diver, obviously you can't do it. But there are many submersibles that can go down this low. And look, all the way through these oceans.
COOPER: Yes. And that that's what, of course, was used for air France, that flight 447 back in 2009 to bring up those black boxes at 13,000 feet.
Kyung, do we have any idea of sort of the timeline? How information is going to be announced? And we saw, you know, really surprising the prime minister of Australia yesterday making an announcement at press conference to maritime safety officials, John Young, are there more press conferences scheduled or they just going to be kind of piecemeal?
LAH: Very, very piecemeal. From what we understand, there are no press conferences scheduled. And as far as that prime minister's statement yesterday, you know, this is being greeted by quite of skepticism by many of us internationally. But if you talk to people who are here in Australia, all of them who have come across say look, the prime minister would not have come out and said this unless he was fairly certain that this might lead to something, fairly certain, not 100 percent, but fairly certain, that he is somebody that does like the press but he does want to be careful about what he does. So they are taking this very cautiously.
COOPER: All right. Kyung Lah, appreciate it. Chad Myers, as always, thanks.
In a moment, Randi Kaye has a look at some of the high tech equipment that can penetrate even the deepest part of the ocean. Really interesting, stick around for that.
So far, attention is on the surface. And now might be a good time to add at least a small note of caution to imply with Kyung Lah said. This is a part of the ocean known as maritime garbage dump. Because of the currents, a lot of trash ends up swirling around there. And we know there have been false alarms before in this mystery from left to right.
I want to show you some of the false alarms. There was debris spotted on March 9 on Vietnam, then the junks spotted by China on March 12, finally, the object from today.
With that in mind, let's introduce the panel of experts who are going to be with us throughout the hour tonight. CNN safety analyst David Soucie, author of "why planes crash and act in investigators fight for safe skies," Les Abend is a 777 captain and a CNN aviation analyst. Mary Schiavo was the department of transportation inspector general, fight the best man on agency watchdog over time. Currently, she represent acts of the victims and their families and David Gallo was co-leader of the search for air France flight 447, He is director of special projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Jeff Beatty is a former FBI/CIA Intel support officer with years of experience.
Good to have you here this evening, as well.
Les, let's start with you. Knowing what you know about the 777, you see that large object, that large object said to be as much as 79 feet long, can you make anything out of that -- I mean, could that be an actual piece of the aircraft?
LES ABEND, AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. And to me, that looks like it could be the wing because it's much too big to be the vertical stabilizer as in the previous accidents of American 587 and then air France 447. I mean, it's possible, but that if it's indeed a 78-foot piece, it's a wing.
COOPER: Given that -- I mean, the resolution isn't all that clear, there are those who said it could be several pieces kind of -- that are tied together or strung together.
ABEND: Of course. I'm saying it's the wing by virtue of the fact that it's got empty cavities and the center tank fuel probably was not filled up. It was probably no center tank fuel.
COOPER: David, you actually mapped this sea floor near this area, you no better than most. There is reason to be skeptical about all this, given the rough nature of the area in the ocean. Is there -- I mean, could a piece o plane this big be there after an accident after so long?
DAVID GALLO, CO-LEAD, THE SEARCH FOR AIR FRANCE FLIGHT 447: Sure, I think if it's buoyant and its closed off to the ocean, I don't think that's beyond possibility. And when I was out there, it was 1986, and it was horrible. We had 60 knot winds, 30 foot seas and I spent as much time walking on the walls and ceiling of the ship as the floor. So it was rough going that whole time.
COOPER: Mary, you've been involved in investigators where there pieces this big, haven't you?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Right, yes. TWA 800, air France 447, American airlines 587. They all had large floating pieces. And, you know, there is every hope that you are particularly (INAUDIBLE) how the plane came down and the engines failed at the same time where it managed to glide for half that it has easier entry into the water than a stall and a spiral in.
COOPER: And Mary, we were talking about this in the previous show at 8:00. But just think it's fascinating that even with small pieces of debris or even a large piece, if in fact this is a piece of the plane, you can start to understand what actually happened to the aircraft, even without finding the aircraft itself, depending on where the pieces are from, correct?
SCHIAVO: That's right. Depending on the pieces, where they're from, what's on the pieces, the tear pattern, the force pattern, whether there's any residue on them, if there is any burn marks. NTSB investigators and other investigators from around the world, very good at picking up the clues and every piece can hold just a wealth of information. Very valuable pieces.
COOPER: And David Soucie, you and I, we've talked about this again in the 8:00 hour, but I do think it is fascinating that the ELT, which most people would think would have signaled something if this plane went down hard in water. And you actually have one of these devices, though, not the kind that would be onboard this plane.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Right, and that's what is most troubling to me still is this emergency locator transmitter, all around the world there's satellites looking for the signal from this thing. And if it decelerates, it's going to go off. It is what this is design to do. And we've done a lot of work, the FAA has done a lot of work to make it. It still a lot of work to make it more and more and more reliable.
COOPER: And there are a number of these on board an aircraft. In fact, if you go in like the first class cabin, often sometimes, you open up in the front of the plane, they are trying to get your luggage and there, you can actually maybe see one of these things, right?
SOUCIE: Yes. It's accessible to the cabin, at least that one is. There's one in the nose of the aircraft too. That is the diesel rail. It is deceleration trigger.
COOPER: So when the plane starts to decelerates, it's has actually triggered?
SOUCIE: Well, let me define decelerate. That doesn't mean take the throttle off and release the brakes. What we're talking about is a rapid deceleration like (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: And the, there is also some sometimes in life rafts?
ABEND: They should all be in life rafts, in the what we call this library -- . The slides deploy and they can be detached from the fuselage and they're in pockets in the rafts.
COOPER: So why wouldn't -- I mean, is there an answer why they wouldn't be going off if in fact this plane hit the water?
SOUCIE: Not in my mind because you have doubled, triple, quadruple redundancy. There's so many of these on board the aircraft. The ones that Les was talking there on a raft, there is d designed to go off on saltwater. So, if it is in the saltwater, they ought to be going off. Unfortunately, they only run for about 48 hours.
COOPER: But the efficiency of this has gotten remarkably better from the original models.
SOUCIE: The effective is yes. Yes. It's mump more reliable, much more reliable at 400 megahertz frequency. You have already 16 satellites, so within literally minutes, this being transmitted, those satellites are able to triangulate the location of the ELT. That's what it is for.
COOPER: And is not something that if electrical system were shutdown on a plane would go up along the post.
ABEND: You know, David can correct me if I am wrong, but there is no way to disable these things, at least the ones that in the slide back.
SOUCIE: This older one here, I don't know if I can back to the camera now, but this older one you have the switch here and you can turn it from armed to off to on. Now, at five minutes after the hour, this typically when you test them.
COOPER: Something this size you would get an assessment.
SOUCIE: Yes, but it's a similar range. But no, it's not dependent on aircraft power.
COOPER: Jeff, I want to turn to the pilots of this plane because that obviously still going on. The FBI said today they have confidence they'll be able to get something from those hard drives to piece together the files that were deleted. What kind of timeline do you think we're looking at on that part of the investigation, is that a relatively simple thing to retrieve?
JEFF BEATTY, SECURITY CONSULTANT: Yes, Anderson. I think that you're talking -- this is the best in the world at work at this problem right now. So I think it's a matter of hours and days, not days and weeks.
And if I could just say something about the report you started the broadcast with. The problem with flying four hours to get on station, two hours on station, four hours back. Thank goodness President Obama came on yesterday and said he's going to put whatever resources necessary to the search, because the United States has aerial refueling capability that would enable aircraft to stay on station. We even have black hawk helicopters that can be aerial refueled. And so, you can triple and quadruple the amount of time that people can stay on station if we get more American resources out there to help in this effort because there isn't just enough time being sent right now when 80 percent of it is going back and forth.
COOPER: And the planes that would actually do the refueling, would those be flown out of Australia?
BEATTY: Correct. They could be flown out of Australia, out to the operational area, conduct the refueling. They set up a racetrack and conduct the refueling and aircraft are able to stay on station longer. They carry multiple crews. And it would just really by order of magnitude or two, increase the amount of time. And we all know that time is critical. The amount of time we're able to put eyes into that operational search area.
COOPER: Well surely, be watching in the days to come if that actually develops. We are going to have to take a short break.
Up next, an up close look at really an incredible piece of equipment that could extend the search for flight 370 deep beneath the ocean's surface. Its remarkable. We are going to show you up close.
Later, why some experts are giving extra credence to the debris sighting. Why this time they believe this could be the real thing.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are back with are our breaking news tonight. Australian military search planes are over the area in the southern Indian Ocean where they may have seen debris from flight 370. Now, if objects are found and proved to be part of the flight, it would be a major breakthrough, the fist really. But it will only be the first step. As we mentioned earlier, the vast ocean, of course, will need to be scoured with the most advanced technology available. It has been done before. Randi Kaye takes an up close look.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This robot submarine may hold the key to finding Malaysia airlines flight 370. It's called the Remus 6,000, and was developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod. It's 13 feet long, weighs almost a ton and costs about $2.5 million.
Mike Purcell is the principal engineer here.
MIKE PURCELL, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION: They can go up and down mountains that are up there 40 degrees in slope. They are very stable so you get really good data almost all the time.
KAYE: Why would this underwater robot find something even the U.S. Navy and search teams from more than two dozen different countries haven't been able to find?
First of all, the torpedo shaped vehicle can reach depths up to 6,000 meters or more than 3.5 miles below the surface. And it can survey wide swaths of the ocean floor using what's called side scan sonar.
PURCELL: They send a sound pulse to sort of a fan being out to the side and it will travel out almost half a mile from the vehicle and it bounces off the sea floor and we get a reflection back to the vehicle.
KAYE: They call the process mowing the lawn because it works its assigned grid back and forth before returning to the surface with images captured on a high resolution camera. It is all done at the touch of a laptop on dry land. How do you tell the difference and how would you know if it's a fish or a rock or plane engine?
PURCELL: I think you can just tell from the return, manmade objects, metal down there on the sea floor responds very strongly.
KAYE: The team here hasn't been asked yet to help search for the plane in the ocean. But if they are, it won't be the first time. The Remus 6,000 was called on to help find air France 447 in June 2009. Two years later, a search team from Woods Hole located the wreckage of the jet about 2.5 miles beneath the surface after months of searching. Something only possible because of this underwater robot. This is the initial shot of the air France debris field captured by the Remus 6,000.
PURCELL: There were obvious signs this was from the plane.
KAYE: One team member first noticed a backpack on the ocean floor belonging to a passenger. Closer images revealed the plane's engine, one of the wings, even the landing gear.
Before you put one of these vehicles in the water, you have to narrow down the search area. The team from here searched 5,000 square miles for the air France flight and it still took them more than 100 attempts to find the debris. That is just a fraction of the area they're looking at for flight 370.
And while the team here, with their underwater robots, is ready for the call if it comes, what they hoped to discover more than anything are survivors.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
COOPER: It is amazing to see that technology. I want to bring in David Gallo from Woods Hole.
Something like the Remus 6,000, and it seems you were really have to at least have a basic idea where the plane might have gone before you could really effectively use it, correct?
GALLO: Well, we had a big -- at the time we thought the search area was amazing -- huge , Anderson. It was 40 miles in diameter, and you know, that vehicle, we had three of those on one ship, which was unprecedented. Each vehicle can cover about 50 square miles a day, the way we like to do it, which is slow and detailed.
But he thing I love about this is that vehicle, there was no government program to make that vehicle. It was Mike and his colleagues sitting around a small bench/desk engineering bench that came up with the idea. Now it's turned into this incredible power house of a vehicle.
COOPER: So can you -- I mean, can you just send -- I don't know, three or four of those out, you know after day to just keep mapping the entire area?
COOPER: Around, you know, 1500 miles off southwest Australia?
GALLO: Yes, yes. That's the idea, is that it would -- in the olden days, and still today in some cases, you tow a single vehicle behind a ship. And so, it's like mowing that lawn with the lawn mower hooked on to five miles of a cable to helicopter trying line at the bottom of the ocean.
But with this, the Pan tell that ship almost a nice like an aircraft carrier. These vehicles being launched, recovered, download data, recharge the vehicles, turn the mud around, and send them out. That team worked tirelessly on that expedition. They were exhausted getting these all this data. And you know, it is like I can't say enough about the team and about the technology. It was superb.
COOPER: Well, it's cool what a wide swath of the floor it can map really at once.
David Soucie, the Malaysian defense minister tweeted a short time ago, something that I want read out. He said we really need pinger locater hydrophones. Not many countries have them. Will be speaking to secretary Hagel again tonight. What are pinger locater hydrophones?
SOUCIE: Well, David Gallo referred to those a little bit earlier with the cable that drags they call the fist, the tow fish. And do, you have a tow fish, tow cable, hydraulic system to draw that in. But the problem with these is they're not stable like the Remus 6,000 is.
(INAUDIBLE), it is going like pulling a water ski or underwater. And so, as you go and to get deeper, you have to give it more cable. So, you can as much as 55,000 feet of cable to be able to get down to 6,000 feet, which is the maximum depth of operating here. Whereas the Remus 6,000 is much deeper than that. The (INAUDIBLE) models would go deeper. But the problem with doing that is you have to have more cable. So by the time you get that much cable out and try to make a turn, you come back around.
COOPER: We were talking during the break about something, I just want our viewers on because I do think it is interesting in relation to the ELT conversation we were having before the break. We don't know for a fact that, you know, we are all trying to figure out why didn't this ELT go off? We don't know for a fact that Malaysian airlines bought these systems for these planes, correct?
SOUCIE: We haven't it on reliable authority when the aircraft is delivered past a certain serial number, which this one is, that it is delivered standard. So they would have to go way out of their way to say, by the way, we don't want it.
COOPER: We know they didn't go for the more expensive ACARS system.
SOUCIE: Correct. That's an optional system.
ABEND: But David, are we confusing that with the impact the G-force part of it? In other words, you always get the ELT that's going to activate with seawater. I think that's a requirement.
SOUCIE: No. both of them are, the front one is the -- but the back one does impact and saltwater. It is still flashing.
Mary, bad weather, I mean, it not only makes the search itself harder, but can cause the debris to degrade, and sometimes sink, right?
SCHIAVO: That's right. The longer it's in the elements, the longer it's out there, it sinks and degrades and it gets further disperse. So time is really in the essence.
COOPER: I appreciate all of our panel. Stick around. I want to talk to -- coming up, a leading airlines safety analyst about why searchers are putting so much credence into today's images?
And later, we are going to 777 simulator to explore what happens when an airliner runs out of fuel. Does it nosedive into the sea or perhaps glide down gently? Again, that may -- whatever happened, we may be able to tell early on by some of the debris that's found. We will check out a whole range of scenarios coming up.
COOPER: Some breaking news tonight. China is sending three warships to join the search for flight 370. They joined P3 and Remus search aircraft nearly 1500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia, where satellite has spotted debris, as you know, possibly from the 777. The race to locate the debris and identify is happening in one of the most remote corners of the planet. And we want to be careful and clear that we don't know what this debris is at this point.
Tonight, it is unanswered question. Geoffrey Thomas is editor in chief and managing director of airlinesratings.com. He joins me by phone from Australia.
Geoffrey, I understand that you're hearing from your own sources that there are multiple radar returns in the search area indicating that something is there. What more can you tell us about that?
GEOFFREY THOMAS, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look, there were some additional radar returns yesterday, we understand. We also understand that there was some more satellite data that indicate that there is a little bit more debris than the two major pieces that have been identified. But the major focus of course is on the size of the larger piece of debris which is the 24-meter which is about 65-foot long piece, which one might think could be part of wing or part of the horizontal stabilizer of this aircraft.
COOPER: Let me just drill down a little bit on that -- on that satellite information and the radar information you're talking about. Do you know what the sources of that radar information is? Is it radar information from planes or from ships, or from something else?
THOMAS: There was -- there was additional confirmation from satellites, according to the Australian Maritime Search and Rescue Organization. So there's corroborating evidence from -- out of satellites. There was also some radar returns that were reported off the U.S. P-8 Poseidon that was out there yesterday, although they're not exactly sure what they were. There's some discussion about that being just standard return off the ocean.
There's a little bit of confusion around that. And hopefully we'll get clarity with -- one of the aircraft that's already left. And as I'm talking to you now, I think the other one is also airborne, left about 30 minutes ago. And I understand there's another four airplanes going out there during the course of today. It's now 8:00 in -- 8:30 in the morning where I am. So hopefully within about four hours we'll get some intelligence coming back concerning more details at that debris.
COOPER: And we'll of course be live on the air for that.
But, Geoffrey, you also mentioned more satellite information. To your knowledge, and you may not know this so I don't want to put you on the spot but they -- last night early in the morning or I guess it was around 1:00 in the afternoon when John Young gave that press briefing this morning, they talked about redirecting commercial satellites. Do you know -- has that already been done? Has that information already been looked at?
THOMAS: My understanding is that they have redirected them yesterday. And that data is now being processed and sent through. There's a few protocols involved. I'm not sure whose satellites they're using. But there are of course protocols, you know, depending on whose country satellites are being used. And then of course the other thing they're very careful about doing is to analyze the data and make sure that -- that what they're saying publicly is as accurate as it possibly can be. And obviously eliminating false returns or things that are clearly not related to an airplane.
COOPER: Geoffrey, I know you say also the debris field is similar to that of Air France Flight 447 which in your opinion strengthens the possibility that this is debris from Flight 370. In what way are you saying it's similar?
THOMAS: Well, with Air France 447 they found the tail and then they found tiny bits of debris everywhere. Most of the airplane tragically was at the bottom of the sea. And there were obviously as we know no survivors. Here we're finding two large pieces on the surface. Apparently there are other bits and pieces, the detail of which is still very sketchy. And if this is the airplane and we have to qualify that.
THOMAS: If this is the airplane then it does not look like a very good outcome. And one senses that it hit the ocean then disintegrated on impact, which is what happened with Air France 477.
COOPER: Geoffrey, do you believe -- I mean, you're on the ground there in Australia and know the scene better than anyone. Do you think authorities in Australia have more information than they have publicly shared? Because it was surprising that the Australian prime minister came out and announced the finding himself.
THOMAS: Look, indeed, Anderson, I think that's spot on the mark. I believe that the Americans and of course the Australians working as we always have worked very, very closely together have done for decades and decades. There's lots of information that the United States shares with Australia that it probably wouldn't share with anybody else. We have joint defense facilities in this country. And I was very interested that when we were tasked with the southern area south of Indonesia, very quickly there was a very precise area. And I know the area is large, but in the context of the entire area that's being searched for this airplane, the area identified was very, very small. Two clear distinct tracks of what they believe or where they believe the airplane flew. And then a couple of days later we're now presented with these images.
My sense is that there's a little bit more to this than we are being told. And obviously for very important reasons, I don't think the United States wants to flag exactly how good its satellite technology is. And -- from a defensive point of view. And that's understandable. But the bottom line is, they're using their intelligence with Australia to try and find the airplane.
COOPER: And certainly the evidence -- the huge amount of resources that Australia is putting into this as well as the United States is clearly the best bet they have going right now.
Geoffrey Thomas, I appreciate your reporting based on your sources.
COOPER: One other piece of information on Chinese participation in the search. In addition to the three warships we mentioned, they'll be sending an ice breaker, the Snow Dragon it's called, which is in port right now in Perth. That information according to the Associated Pres.
Up next, more with our panel and we'll check in with Martin Savidge in a 777 flight simulator. He's reality checking how far Flight 370 could have flown on -- with the fuel that they had on board.
Later, how the families are handling the latest word and what's being done to help them prepare for the moment when answers finally arrive. We'll talk to a psychologist who has been involved in counseling them.
COOPER: Tonight's breaking news, long-range reconnaissance planes, ships and other aircraft searching the area off the Southern Indian Ocean where a satellite has spotted debris. Now the mission is to determine obviously if the debris is in fact wreckage from Flight 370. The location where it was spotted is about as remote as you can get, as we mentioned, about 1500 miles southwest of Perth. So much so that this story is really about what we can't see right now.
All this week, CNN's Martin Savidge has been trying to give us perspective, reporting from inside a 777 flight simulator. He's helped us visualize what might have gone on, the various theories that investigators have been looking. He joins us again tonight along with flight instructor Mitchell Casado.
I understand this plane can fly 16 to 18 hours on a full tank, but it was heading to Beijing. It only had about seven hours or so of fuel. So would it have been able to reach the destination where the suspected debris has been found or somewhere in that vicinity? Because obviously this debris has had a lot of time to float.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's the same question we had and so that's why earlier today what we did was we programmed everything that we knew of Flight 370, seven-hour fuel load and we pointed it south.
There a number of factors we couldn't account for. Headwinds on the route, what altitude they may have flown, that simply not known. But running that we found the yes, the plane easily could have made the region where this debris has been discovered. In fact might have been able to go a little bit further, but eventually of course the engines just quit. Right? It just stops.
MITCHELL CASADO, PILOT TRAINER, 777 FLIGHT SIMULATOR: Yes, absolutely. They do. They just run out of gas and the airplane would start a gentle descent toward the ocean floor.
COOPER: Let me ask you about that. If a plane like this runs out of fuel, does it continue just on a gradual glide? I mean, how would it have -- if it did in fact crash into the ocean, we don't know that, how would that have happened?
SAVIDGE: This specific question actually I was talking to Mitchell about this before we came to air, which was, OK, assuming -- do both engines quit at the same time or is it possible one keeps going and the other one sputters out?
CASADO: It's quite possible that both engines could fail at the same time and it's quite possible that they could fail at different times.
SAVIDGE: OK. So if they fail at different times, don't you have, you know, a plane now spinning because of the fact that one engine is driving forward and the other is drag -- dead drag on the other side?
CASADO: In smaller, less sophisticated airplanes, yes, 737s, 500, stuff like that, in this airplane we have thrust symmetric compotators that account for that. So essentially one engine could be out and one off functioning and the airplane would still continue straight on.
SAVIDGE: So somehow what he's saying is that the plane would sense it lost one engine and adjust accordingly with the other engine.
SAVIDGE: Thereby continuing, you know, this kind of flying.
SAVIDGE: If both engines quit it's the slow descent down to the ground.
COOPER: Guys, stick with us there in the cockpit because I want to bring in David Soucie and Les Abend. Both of you looked like you had questions about that. SOUCIE: I don't know if this is what you were talking about. But if -- they're assuming that you have electrical power in the aircraft at that point. You know, if this aircraft had been flying by itself without communications, it's possible that the electric power wasn't there. So that correction wouldn't exist. So it's potential that it could have gone. If it had electrical power to (INAUDIBLE) it probably would have.
COOPER: Les, if both engines went out at the same time, would it be a gradual descent?
ABEND: Yes. If they went out at the same time. But I very much doubt it. I mean, it's --
COOPER: You doubt that would happen?
ABEND: I doubt it. And I'm not sure the system, all due respect to Mitchell, I'm not sure that what they call a thrust asymmetry compensator would actually be effective or be active with that scenario. The airplane may very well have turned, which might explain what it did initially.
COOPER: And -- but Les and David, you were saying that there's a lot we can learn even -- I mean, even from one or two pieces of debris, you can start to put together the pieces of the puzzle.
SOUCIE: Absolutely. This fuselage when it goes in, you can tell just from a small piece of that fuselage if it was twisted, if it was bent or it's was cracked. And what speed. All three of those are different. Yes.
COOPER: So you could read from any piece of debris or a sizeable piece of debris something about how it got in the water.
SOUCIE: If it was in the stress affected line. You know, there's portions of it that of course would go around and it might be a piece of it. But likely there's pieces of metal that will give you a lot of clues as to how it hit the ground, particularly like Les was saying if the wing came off you could surmise that it may have gone to the right or the left. Or -- you know, so there's a lot of information we can get about that.
We may even be able to determine whether it was a fuel outage or whether it was intentionally put in. You know, there's a lot of information you could get out of -- not just a small piece, but you have to have a set of debris.
COOPER: And David Gallo -- I think we still have David Gallo with us.
David, in terms of debris floating, obviously where the debris would be found, you know, 12, 13 days after an impact is not where the plane went in. I know on 447 it took two years to find the actual plane, and at first I think in one of the areas you guys searched it was in the opposite direction of where you initially had begun to look. So how do you go about trying to triangulate from debris location to where the plane might have gone in? GALLO: Yes. It's very tricky and it is a science. And there are scientists that work on that, they're good at that kind of thing. The one thing they want to know having been through this with Air France is they want to know what that debris looked like in the water. Was it sticking out of the water? In that case like a sailboat would be driven mostly by the winds? Was it under the water mostly like an iceberg, and in that case driven by currents? Was it a little bit of both?
So if you lined up five pieces of debris, of all different aspects, sizes, out of the water, under water, and gave them same current and the same winds, they would scatter over time, so the trick is to plug all the information about the size, the character, and then about the environmental stuff, what did the currents and winds look like. How variable were they.
And then the model over time back tracks those. And if you're good, all five of those things that you set up in the beginning are going to end up back on the same X marks the spot. That means your model is right on.
COOPER: Mary Schiavo, you know, obviously authorities began looking intensely at this area before at least the public knew that this debris had been found. Do you think they've already gone through a lot of that modeling on where they think the plane might have gone in on this southern sector?
SCHIAVO: I do, especially when the prime minister spoke early this morning or late last night. And the authorities spoke as well. They did say that they were working with the United States National Transportation Safety Board and they had been crunching the data and that it was the National Transportation Safety Board that had come up with the different paths and tracks.
So we had some pretty good clues that there was an awful lot of work and smoothing on the data going behind the scenes, which is probably giving them that confidence level to be so confident about announcing this to the world.
COOPER: Mary Schiavo, it's great to have you on again. Les Abend, David Soucie, as well, David Gallo. Also I want to thank Martin Savidge and our pilot in the flight simulator.
Next, as the aerial search for debris began, we're going to look at how the families of the missing are handling news about the debris. We're going to talk to a psychologist whose been counseling some of them.
COOPER: All throughout our coverage of this mystery, we've been trying to focus as much as possible on the families of the 239 people on board Flight 370. The debris that's been spotted in the Indian Ocean. Obviously it's not welcomed news even for those desperate for some kind of answers. They've been waiting 13 days now, not knowing where their loved ones are. But it's also created some space for hope.
Here's what Sarah Bajc, whose partner Phillip Wood was one of the three Americans on the plane, told CNN earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH BAJC, PARTNER PHILLIP WOOD, AMERICAN ON FLIGHT 370: I keep hoping that somebody took the flight for a reason which means they would have preserved it and tried to hide it someplace, tried to take it someplace. So if this debris is indeed part of a -- part of that plane, then it kind of dashes that wishful thinking to pieces. So I really hope it's not a part of the plane. But you know, if it is, then at least what he can go down another path of deciding that maybe -- you know, maybe we need to start prepping for another scenario instead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How are families preparing? Psychologist Paul Yin has been spending time with families of the missing in Beijing. We talked to him in recent days. He joins us again tonight.
Paul, thanks for being with us. You and your team have been working around the clock I know counseling families of 370. As you told us before, a lot of the families have not given up hope that their loved ones are still alive. I know you've spoken to some of them since the news of the possible debris came in. What's their outlook now? What are you hearing?
PAUL YIN, GRIEF COUNSELOR: Well, over the last week, it feels like we're waiting for the eruption of a volcano. And yesterday would be best described as a partial eruption. There are some family members upon hearing the news have appeared to have accepted finality that their loved ones are not coming back. So there was a strong burst of emotion coming out, some very, very strong and in some cases ambulances needed to be called in.
And the rest of the families seem to be holding on for the next 24 to 48 hours to try to get the final official clarification. And there are still some family members that are just still steadfastly holding onto hope and hoping that this is not it and eventually we will find them on land.
COOPER: And I've heard you say that some of the strongest reaction actually came from men.
YIN: Exactly. Because in the beginning in the family the women tended to have the stronger emotion. And the men felt like they had to be the strong one to hold everybody together, to support the women. And in fact, what results from that is that their emotion did not have a chance to come out. And when they are finally faced with possibly accepting finality, that's when all the pent-up emotion over the last 12, 13 days just poured out.
And so yesterday of the families that reacted strongly, the men reacted far more strongly than the women. And the women I think over the last 12 days, every day they were pouring out their emotions and the men were just holding it for that one last -- for the one initial burst together.
COOPER: You know, sometimes on TV you hear people use that word "closure." And I just think it's the worst word because I don't think anybody who's experienced loss I think everybody who's experienced loss knows that there is no such thing as closure.
What do you say to families in this situation? I mean, is it just a question of listening and not even saying much? How do you deal with this?
YIN: Well, what we have decided to do is this. With most of these families, we have identified members in their very small circle of trust who are perhaps more able and we train them to be able to deal with the situation better. So that for the initial burst of emotion, we try to let the family handle it with the people that we have trained. And we would not come in unless they call on us until that first wave, they ride the first wave. And the other thing I need to point out is you're absolutely right. There certainly there's no closure.
COOPER: Yes. And -- I mean, there never is in any kind of loss like this.
Paul Yin, I appreciate what you do and I appreciate you talking to us tonight. I wish you the best.
Well, I said it before and it bears repeating. We want to make sure as often as we can to take time to honor the missing in informing about who the people were on -- and are on this flight. And stay focus on the concerns of their families. You can find out more about the passengers in Flight 370 in our Web site AC360.com.
We're going to be right back.
COOPER: Hey, that's it for us. Thanks very much for watching. Make sure you set your DVR so you never miss 360.
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