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Search For Flight 370 Moves To New Area; New Analysis: Plane Traveled Faster; Russian Troop Buildup Nears 100,000; Possible Tornado In Missouri

Aired March 28, 2014 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A press conference just wrapping up in Malaysia after a very big shift in the search for flight 370. This is breaking news just this morning. The search area has now moved almost 700 miles northeast of where that old search was after a new analysis of radar data that alters how much fuel was burned and how fast the plane was going.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now this news conference that's been going on, Malaysian officials are going into great detail, quite defensively I might add, about why they changed the search. They say the new analysis comes from a large working group from around the world and the search has been based on the best information that they've had up until now. That includes those satellite images we were looking at all week, which officials say could still be drifting debris.

Let's start our new coverage this morning with Andrew Stevens live in Perth, Australia. Good morning, Andrew.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Certainly getting news to the twists and turns in this mystifying search and investigation into Flight 370. Today, it really was a radical new turn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVENS (voice-over): This morning, a major shift in the search for wreckage. Australia moving their focus just over 680 miles northeast of the most recent search area. Australian authorities crediting the ship to what they described as new and credible radar information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It indicates the plane was traveling faster than was previously estimated resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance it traveled south into the Indian Ocean.

STEVENS: This revelation moves the search hundreds of miles closer to Australia's coast, giving reconnaissance planes more than the previous one to two hours of search time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new search area remains considerable and the search conditions although easier than before, remain challenging.

STEVENS: The new search area covering 123,000 square miles. The waters there reaching depths of about 2 1/2 miles. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It needs to be continually adjusted and the likely drift of any wreckage floating on the ocean surface.

STEVENS: The full search back on today after yesterday's tumultuous weather. Dedicated to the search, ten aircraft and six ships from six countries. Australia also shifting their satellites to focus cameras on the new search area. No satellite sightings of debris just yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will put data marker buoys so that we know with accuracy where the water is moving. That provides us the best way to keep the search area confined.

STEVENS: Now 21 days into the investigation, reporters ask if the previous search zones were a waste of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the normal business of search and rescue operations. Refined analysis take you to a different place. I don't count the original work as a waste of time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEVENS: Not counting anything out of this stage, but I think it's important to note from the Malaysian press conference that the objects previously identified, all these satellite objects, five of them in all, could still be valid. They could have floated given the drift of the oceans up into that search zone -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Andrew, they did say they could have traveled hundreds of miles since the satellite images were taken. The search area now continues to move it seems day by day. Andrew Stevens covering all of it from Perth, Australia for us. Andrew, thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this dramatic shift in the search. Joining me now to discuss, David Soucie, a CNN safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash." He's also a former FAA inspector, and David Funk, a pilot, now with Eliot Aviation and a former captain at Northwest Airlines. Gentlemen, good morning.

A new day, a new shift in the investigation, and I really want to get your take. David Soucie, first to you. This new search area, some 680 miles northeast of where we have been searching. We're now almost three weeks in. Does this surprise you?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It really doesn't that much. It does a little bit because of the fact that I was so hopeful that those were parts. In fact, I had convinced myself that I had saw aircraft parts in there, which is really difficult as an investigator to try to accept that this --

BOLDUAN: Why doesn't it surprise you?

SOUCIE: Well, because of the fact -- in fact I'm pleased about the fact that this group is starting to work together, really analyzing data, going back and rechecking themselves. You have to make sure that every day you check with each other, am I going off the wrong path. And to have the knowledge and the ability to re-evaluate this huge undertaking of going south and saying, look, we were wrong, let's move on. That's a huge advancement for me on this team.

BOLDUAN: I want to talk about that question of were they wrong, wrong or refining the search. But David Funk, one question that this all comes down to is also this came from, they believe, continued analysis that showed that the plane was traveling faster than previously had thought. One thing that makes me wonder though, if a plane is traveling faster, how is it traveling a shorter distance? Explain this to me.

DAVID FUNK, PILOT AND FORMER INTERNATIONAL CAPTAIN, NORTHWEST AIRLINES: Because the fuel consumption is at a much higher rate. Basically they've run out of gas. We said you go out to the furthest point the airplane could be and you work your way back. It looks like that's what's happening here. They're able to work back quicker because the data shows that perhaps this airplane did not fly as far.

Like David, I'm optimistic that as this group works together better and better, it looks like we might be getting closer to putting hands on pieces of airplane, which is really the important. It's nice to fly over it, but nothing like a ship pulling up and somebody in a boat pulling something out of the water to confirm we are in the right location.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. And also what's your take on I assume that all of the satellite data, that was going to be thrown out the window with this shift in the search area. But Australian officials are saying that's not so much the case. Do you believe that?

SOUCIE: Yes, absolutely. If you look at the math, if you do math just now what you're talking about is a shorter distance which brings those points closer together. If the arc is slightly like this, as you get closer together, the arc gets sharper and closer.

BOLDUAN: One also interesting fact that's coming out this morning, David Funk, this is coming from this working group. Many international organizations coming to work on this including the FAA, NTSB and Boeing as you well noted. Would you assume that that information comes from U.S. satellite, coming from U.S. intelligence?

FUNK: I'm not sure. I know that Boeing has access to the best information in the world regarding the performance of the airplane. They built it. The question is what is the FAA and NTSB bringing in. I wouldn't be surprised if we have subsets of information from all of them. We may see something further north that although not publicly shared, is shared among the closest allies in the world, the Australians in helping them in their search.

BOLDUAN: But David Soucie, how would fuel consumption change so dramatically from one look at the data to another? It almost makes you think they had a math calculation wrong and forgot to carry the wrong.

SOUCIE: It's the assumptions. Any type of investigation, you're solving for x, you have to say A and B equals y. So at some point you have to re-evaluate your assumptions. I think that's what happened here. The FAA has some of the best radar people in the world. The technology and the ability to take the smallest dot -- remember, they don't have information coming back from the airplane. There's thousands of dots they have to interpret.

BOLDUAN: David Funk, finally to you, what does this tell us or at least tell you about maybe what was going on in the cockpit? Does it tell you anything that the plane was traveling faster than originally thought?

FUNK: I would gather something. That is that the lower altitudes, your mock numbers will get a lot higher. Perhaps the crew did what I thought originally, they were diverting to an emergency airport and just overwhelmed and incapacitated.

It's going to fly along at whatever speed and altitude are in the auto pilot system and that very well may be what's happened here. It locked up at 275, 280 knots, which is going to burn an awful lot of fuel at that altitude. Australians also have that over the horizon radar. Certainly that working group is going to know if they painted an aircraft with a south-southwest track across that area out at the limits of its range.

BOLDUAN: And of course, while this may start getting us one step closer to where the plane is. This isn't getting us any closer to why the plane was going in that direction and what happened in that cockpit. David Funk, David Soucie, thank you very much. We'll continue to speak with you throughout the show -- John.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much, Kate. We'll have much more about this breaking news on Flight 370 in just a bit.

But right now, President Obama is on his way to Saudi Arabia. This is the final stop on his week-long overseas trip. He's meeting with the leader there. The Saudis have interests of their own and the two, they don't always line up. CNN's Michelle Kosinski is in Rome where the president just left with more. Good morning, Michelle.

MICHELLE KOSINKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. Right, big shifting of gears here. Ukraine crisis is not front and center anymore, but there's still many big, important pressing issues in that region. Ones in which the U.S. and Saudi Arabia do not necessarily see eye to eye fully. They said, this is still about alliance management, but this is alliance management in the face of tremendous upheaval.

Saudi Arabia, of course, is very worried about instability in that region and what the U.S. is doing or not doing to prevent it. They don't like, for example, that the U.S. has reached out diplomatically to Iran recently and that the U.S. has not intervened militarily in Syria. They would have liked to see a stronger U.S. response there.

Human rights also obviously another place where these two powers do not agree. But things have changed dramatically in the region, after the Arab spring. In that shifting landscape, both Saudi Arabia and other gulf states want to hear from the U.S., what exactly our role will be moving forward and where priorities lie -- Michaela. MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Key discussions up for today. Thanks so much, Michelle. Let's take a look at the rest of your headlines. Grim news is expected later this morning in the catastrophic mudslide in Washington State. Officially 17 people died in Saturday's disaster. Eight more bodies have been located but not recovered. The local fire chief says the death toll is about to rise sharply. Right now, 90 people remain missing and unaccounted for.

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial postponed for ten days. The so- called "Blade Runner" was expected to take the stand this morning as his defense begins presenting its case. But the judge announced one of assessor has been hospitalized and ordered the trial resumed April 7th in South Africa. Assessors are experts who typically assists judges during trials.

Obamacare sign-up numbers hitting a big milestone with four days to go before the deadline. The administration says 6 million people have now enrolled and the numbers are surging as the end of the month draws near. On Wednesday alone, officials say healthcare.gov had 1.5 million visits with help centers filling more than 430,000 phone calls.

Critics are dismissing a Bridgegate investigation that clears Governor Chris Christie taking issue with the fact that the investigation was conducted by a law firm hired by Christie. They found the governor knew nothing about those notorious lane closures on the George Washington Bridge and blames two of his now fired aids. State and federal authorities are still actively investigating. Christie is expected to address the media today for the first time since January.

The city of Boston in mourning today for two firefighters killed in the line of duty. A memorial is growing outside the fire house where 33-year-old Michael Kennedy and 43-year-old Edward Walsh worked. Last night, the Boston Bruins honored the pair. They brought the guard onto the ice while the national anthem was sung. A fitting tribute to Boston's finest.

BERMAN: You know, the city's sports teams are so intertwined with the psyche of Boston. They won that game 3-0 by the way.

BOLDUAN: All right, the weekend is almost, I would argue, is upon us. Let's get to meteorologist, Jennifer Gray who is in for Indra Petersons tracking the latest forecast. So what is it looking like?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we've had very cold air this week. Now it's going to all change to rain. We have another storm system pushing across the country. The main component with this will be the severe weather. It's not going to be the snow. It's going to be the storms. You can see rain already through Atlanta even West Virginia this morning pushing up into New England. Even some snow in the higher elevations, but the severe weather is what we're watching.

Very warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico colliding with that front that's going to come down from the north and that's going to spark up some showers and storms. Large hail, damaging winds, possibility of an isolated tornado, in fact, 700 tornado reports yesterday in Northern Missouri. It was a wild day yesterday. The focus today is going to be on the gulf coast. Tomorrow, it's going to push to the east coast so the severe weather threat lasts all the way through Saturday.

Let's track this for you. We are going to see a couple of showers push through the northeast on Saturday. The bulk of the rain is going to be down to the south. It's going to push through the northeast. Rain all day from D.C., New York, even up into Boston. It's going to try to push out on Sunday, but still hanging around the area as of 11:00 p.m.

But it's not going to have a lot of cold air behind it. Temperatures are going to stay in the 60s. The place to be this weekend is going to be Denver, 70 degrees by Sunday.

BOLDUAN: Well, at least my sister's going to be having a good weekend in Denver.

PEREIRA: I was going to say the best place to be a under an umbrella.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jennifer. We're going to take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, more on the new search area. Is this the break everyone's been waiting for? Why the location is making the search effort easier.

BERMAN: Plus we'll speak with the partner of an American on board Flight 370 who says she doesn't believe still that the plane went down. She says she needs the evidence. The question is, will she ever get it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, breaking news this morning as new information comes in for the search for Flight 370. The search area has now shifted 684 miles to the northeast. This new analysis comes from a large working group from around the world including the NTSB, the FAA, and Boeing. Here to walk us through the latest search area is CNN aviation analyst and contributor to Slate, Jeff Wise who's been with us throughout this whole thing.

Let me show you the new search area here. This is the old search area in green right there and the new search area up here in red about 680 miles away. Jeff, they call that a refinement. You don't buy that.

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: That's not a refinement. That's a replacement. They say they are narrowing the search area. They are actually making it bigger and they're looking somewhere else. You have to look at that language a little bit skeptically.

BERMAN: Now, Jeff, you've been looking at the Inmarsat data, which showed the southern plane route, which showed the plane coming down here south, having these periodic handshakes with the Inmarsat satellite. To your credit, you've been saying all along that it's very possible they're searching in the wrong search area.

WISE: Right, basically they've been modeling the flight path based on this Inmarsat data. It actually gives you -- if you assume it was traveling at constant speed, you can plug in an air speed and it will deliver you an end point along this famous southern arc. If you imagine the plane came out to the west and came to the south and flew at a certain speed somewhere over the Indian Ocean, if we know the speed, we know the path that it took.

If you assume about a 450-knot air speed, you get pretty much you wind up in the green square with their assumption. We assume they had some data that would lead them to believe that. Whatever that information was, whether it was just a hunch or whether it was solid data, that now seems to have been ruled out. All that stuff from the last week, throw it out the window.

It was just junk in the ocean. Now this new area corresponds to an air speed of about maybe 400 knots. So again counter to what the press release said, the plane wasn't going faster, it was going slower. What this means is, same amount of time, shorter distance, equals lower speed.

BERMAN: So you're questioning the reasoning behind the new search area, but you also seemed to be suggesting you think they must have a lot more going into this to make this decision and just recalibrating the search speed.

WISE: No. On the contrary, this starts to seem like they're just making wild guesses and they don't have any information.

BERMAN: Well, this is one thing that concern me. They said all these satellite images we've been seeing in the last few days, 122 pieces of debris, 300 pieces of debris, 10 pieces of debris, they're saying that these -- which they found by the way in this green search area over here, those still could be related to the crash even though they're investigating over here now in the red search area.

WISE: Listen, I think this latest development really calls into question the credibility -- they've been putting their credibility on the line. The prime minister of Australia and Malaysia have been coming forward and saying, we believe that we have a credible lead. Now it turns out those were just guesses.

BERMAN: A mathematical extrapolation I think.

WISE: We put in an assumption and get another assumption. At this point, it seems like the assumptions were not based on very much.

BERMAN: Or they were wrong. They search and got to the wrong place for the wrong reasons and now they are searching somewhere else. How much hope do you hold out for this new search area?

WISE: Look, I hope they either do have some information or that they just get lucky. Every day that goes by, whatever material in the water is going to get spread out and more diverse and less information we can extract from it. We are hoping to find the debris on the ocean floor, that's where the black box is going to be. That's what is going to solve this riddle. BERMAN: They do say one good thing, the planes could be above it for a longer period of time. The weather situation not quite as dire. That only helps you if they find anything here.

WISE: It's also a much bigger search area. We heard reports early on that a third country, unnamed, which had to have been Indonesia had radar track information that they weren't sharing with the public, the fact that they were looking at that area and then ruled it out means that whatever they were basing that assumption on was inaccurate or not relevant. We're starting from square one here with a whole new search and premises.

BERMAN: All right, Jeff Wise, always great to have you here. Really appreciate it -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John. Let's take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, the search area might have changed, but one thing has not changed. A loved one's hope. She is still expecting to be reunited with her partner on Flight 370.

Plus the latest on the mudslide disaster in Washington State. Authorities are expecting the death toll to continue to rise today. We are going to have the very latest from Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Almost half past the hour on this Friday. Let's take a look at our headlines at this hour, President Obama is set to meet with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah in Riyadh later this morning. He could be in for a bit of a chilly reception. The Saudis are not happy about the administration's handling of rogue nations in the region like Syria and Iran. One Saudi official complained they've seen several red lines drawn by the president only to watch them turn pink and then white.

New developments in Ukraine. The Russian troop buildup along the border now nearing 100,000. This as the U.N. General Assembly Thursday overwhelmingly approved a resolution rebuking Russia and dismissing the annexation of Crimea as illegal. The International Monetary Fund is sending up to $18 billion over two years in exchange for tough economic reforms. This bailout comes as the opposition leader formally joins the presidential race.

People living in rural Missouri picking up the pieces this morning after a violent storm quite possibly a tornado damaged, even destroyed several homes. The small community of Trenton took a brunt of the storm, power lines were down. Crews are now working to restore power to businesses and residents in the area. Thankfully no one was seriously injured.

A fourth person identified as 18-year-old DeAndre Tatum has died after the suspected drunk driving crash at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. More than 20 other people are recovering from their injuries. The driver 21-year-old driver, Rashad Owens is already charged with capital murder and aggravated assault with a motor vehicle. Prosecutors says they expect to seek additional charges against him from a grand jury.