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Mystery of Flight 370

Aired April 7, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It is 8:00 p.m. here on the East Coast of the United States, 8:00 a.m. off the west coast of Australia. And there's breaking news.

The search dramatically narrowing down. Australian authorities making the announcement less than an hour ago with time ticking away on those batteries in the Flight 370's black boxes. All eyes around the clock are now on sonar scopes and all electronic ears are now being directed into a much more focused area. About 1400 miles northwest of Perth.

Now that after sounds were heard in two locations, several hundred miles apart over the weekend. Sounds that might, might be sonar locator pings from the Boeing 777's flight data and cockpit voice box recorders. Now whatever the source, searchers are desperately trying to pick them up again. Because if they're from the plane, if this is not a false hope they might be dying pings.

Batteries do not last forever. Just about 30 days. Flight 370 has been missing for 32 days now. So this really is a race. But it's far from the only new development tonight. There's also new hypothesis that Flight 370 may have taken a route into the Indian Ocean after it made the baffling turn that investigators believe it took, a circuitous route. This flight path were taken around Indonesia and raises the possibility the aircraft was being piloted or programmed to avoid radar.

And like everything else so far these latest leads are tantalizing. They're baffling, frustrating, possibly false or this might be the breakthrough so many people have waited so long for. I'm going to ask some of the best minds tonight but we can start with the latest tonight from Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After weeks scouring the Indian Ocean, this is the best lead yet in the desperate search for Malaysian Flight 370.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: The towed pinger locator departed from HMS Ocean Shield has detected signals consistent with those emitted by aircraft black boxed.

CHANCE: This is the remote area nearly 1,000 miles off the western coast of Australia where officials say two sets of electronic pings were detected by an Australian ship. The pings were heard in waters that are nearly 15,000 feet deep, or more than 4,000 meters down. The first pings lasted more than two hours, the second just 30 minutes.

But could they be from the ship? To find out, rescuers have this robotic submarine with cameras attached on board, which can be deployed in hopes it can get a visual.

ANGUS HOUSTON, CHIEF COORDINATOR, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CENTRE: Essentially this is being done without finding any wreckage thus far, and I think it's quite, quite extraordinary, and while I'd like to see now us find some wreckage because that will, that will basically help solve the mystery.

CHANCE: But the pings picked up by the Australians weren't the only ones detected. A Chinese ship, the Haixun 01, said it too briefly detected electronic pulses. But those came from a different search area all together, 300 nautical miles from the Australian find. Chinese television showed images of the crew using a basic sonar device on a small rubber boat to pick up sounds.

Given the distance between the two locations could both be from Flight 370, Australian officials say it's possible but unlikely. And a new potential flight path only complicates the picture. A senior Malaysian government source telling CNN the aircraft skirted Indonesian airspace as it veered off course saying the plane may have taken a route designed to avoid radar detection.


COOPER: And Matthew Chance joins us from an air base just outside Perth with more.

So while objects are also spotted on Saturday by Chinese air force search plane has there been any verification of what those objects might have been, these white ones?

CHANCE: No, there hasn't been. I mean, they haven't given up the search for any kind of debris that's floating on the sea but since the Chinese issued those photographs and announced that they've found those white objects or spotted them from one of their aircraft, I mean, nothing else has been heard from them.

But, you know, we've seen a lot of debris that's been spotted that's been ruled out of the investigation in the search. We've seen, you know, ocean liner tankers, cargo tankers, just use boats, just general flocks of jets from the world which ends up in the Indian Ocean because of the currents. This may fall into that category. Certainly they don't seem to be a focus of the search at this point -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Matthew, thanks very much.

So the update again the process now centers on listening for trying to reacquire the source of those two hours and 13 minutes of pinging noises. Doing that before launching a much, much longer effort of taking sonar pictures mile by mile of the ocean bottom.

We want to give you of an explanation of exactly what is going on, we turn once again by phone to Commander William Marks, spokesman for the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet.

Commander, correct me if I'm wrong here. It's my understanding that on Sunday over the course of the two hours, the pings, the pings got stronger for a while and then weaker. Does that mean that the ship was closer and then further away from the source?

CDR. WILLIAM MARKS, USS BLUE RIDGE SPOKESMAN: You know, at that point those were very encouraging signs and, you know, now, you know, we're being more cautiously optimistic. But then, you know, a couple of pings really gave us some optimism. First, that the signals did get stronger and stronger and then we crossed where we thought was the line of bearing to it, and then it got weaker and weaker.

And that's consistent with how you would expect it to be when you get closer to the signal, and then you pass it, and then you get further away. And when that happens that's encouraging. What you do is you retrieve the TPL and you do a very slow turn with the ship, and you wind up on that exact reciprocal course and then you do it again.

And hopefully you get -- still get a strong signal and you get another set of lines of bearings and that -- where those cross that gives you the location. And so what was the good news was we had about two solid hours of coverage on the one course. Then we did a slow deliberate turn to get on the reciprocal course.

We add another almost another 15 minutes and then that's when we lost the signal. So we were in the process of getting a good triangulation when we lost the signal.

COOPER: Obviously you want to be as cautious as possible, you don't want to raise false hopes, you don't want to make a mistake on this. Is there any other really, truly, feasible explanation, though, for two hours and 13 minutes worth of pings? I mean if -- I've read, you know, it could be a whale, something natural? But is that really feasible for that length of time?

MARKS: We're thinking of the same thing. You know, why would you have two hours of coverage, turn the ship around on the reciprocal course then have another 15 minutes of coverage? Where does that go?

And, you know, the way I look at it, it's not so much a surprise that we haven't re-acquired it, it's the surprise that we even acquired it at all. Just to -- you know, so to give you a little bit of timeline perspective, if we don't have a good location from the black boxes, the search would be by side scan sonar. It's not a matter of days. We're talking months. Could even be years potentially.

COOPER: Would you have a recommendation and if you would, are you comfortable saying what it would be in terms of a timeline?

MARKS: You know, I think we're not in a rush to get the side scan sonar going. You know, there's a potential that the battery can go on for another couple of days, really, can even go on for another week or so. You really don't know. So -- and then, you know, once you take your towed pinger locator out, and once you stop using it, and that black box is no longer pinging, it's pretty much done. So the time to maximize the effectiveness of the TPL is right now. I don't think we're in quite a rush to get that out of the water and to get the side scan sonar in the water. When we do search with the side scan sonar, you know, there's really no limit to how long that can keep going. It just takes the picture of the ocean floor.

COOPER: Well, Commander Marks, again, I appreciate talking to you. Thank you.

MARKS: Thank you.

COOPER: Well, let's bring in our panel, aviation analyst and veteran private pilot, Miles O'Brien, David Gallo, co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447 and director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, also aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

Richard, I mean, is this the best lead that there has been in this entire four weeks?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. No question about it. Just listen to Angus Houston last night. Very promising. Encouraging. The best lead we've got.

So whichever way you cut it, Anderson, what they are dealing with now is the only lead that they've got as it has been throughout --

COOPER: And they're zeroing in on this one search area now.

QUEST: They have completely. It's the northern part of the southern corridor. They now -- and they know that from the Inmarsat data, that all the work that's been done up in KL by that international working group on the handshake.

You've got a series here, Anderson, where events have come together. Different bits of a jigsaw are starting to make the picture. We've talked about this jigsaw so often. Well, we've got another piece of it. The problem is that piece, you know, keeps falling on the floor and you can't keep finding it, and the real risk is of course that it might be too late and then you're in for this long hard slog of searching the ocean.

COOPER: David Gallo, what I don't understand is if they already have, you know, more than two hours of these pings that went up in volume and then reduced in volume which indicated they were getting closer and then farther away, so they have a sense of the coordinates of this, why do they -- I mean, if they don't find, hear any more pings don't they have good enough location that they can send in these underwater vehicles?

DAVID GALLO, CO-LED SEARCH FOR AIR FRANCE FLIGHT 447: Well, already, Anderson, they've cut down the size of that haystack incredibly down to something manageable. But I think what they'd like to do is to get it down even further. So as Commander Marks said they don't want to waste time while the battery may still be operating. So I think they're going to keep going, listening, hoping they acquire that signal one more time.

COOPER: I mean, David, you just talked about this before how the ocean can play tricks on you with sounds. Commander Marks said the same thing.

GALLO: Sure.

COOPER: But realistically, I mean, is there any chance this is a whale? Is there any chance that this is some sort of natural phenomenon other than the black box?

GALLO: Yes. You know, I have some friends that say it's possible, some biologic noise. It's not impossible that it's biologic noise. Also there's underwater volcanism in that area. But you know it's all --

COOPER: What does that? Underwater --


GALLO: That's a very volcanic area.


GALLO: Especially to the south of this. So maybe there's hot vent, these underwater geysers that may put up certain frequencies. But none of those fit exactly. I mean, I think the best possible fit is the pingers on the black boxes.

COOPER: Miles, do you know -- I mean, it's incredible to me that they might have found the black boxes and yet not a shred of debris has actually been found that's been confirmed to be from this plane. Do you know of any other cases where that's happened, Miles?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: No. You can knock me over with a feather on this one, Anderson. This is the complete backward scenario that we would have expected. We would have expected to see a floating seat cushion or a piece of a -- an (INAUDIBLE) and then we would have had oceanographers busy trying to hind cast or figure out where it came from.

This is extraordinary that they just stumbled upon this pinging f it is in fact what we think it is and hope it is. And this is a testament to the clever engineering that the folks at Inmarsat Satellite Company were able to do in sort of creating tracking information from a satellite which is not designed to provide tracking information.

It just so happens that one of these arcs that they drew, the last arc reported from the aircraft, the sort of half handshake they call it, last reported communication with the satellite, is right -- you can see it there. The red line is right over the spot where they are hearing the pinging. So this is -- this is lucky but it's also, you know, luck that is based on an amazing piece of engineering.

COOPER: Richard, the pings heard reportedly by the Chinese vessel over the weekend some more than 300 miles from where the Navy is looking, is it possible that they are actually related?



QUEST: Well --

COOPER: Very unlikely?

QUEST: The Angus Houston said it is unlikely. He's being diplomatic. Every expert I've spoken to says no. And quite blunt. I guess -- you know, we can create a scenario that has those pings relevant. But we could also create a scenario in the world of fantasy. And at the moment we have to sort of basically call it as it seems to be. What the experts are saying is no. And unless any of my colleagues, Miles or David, want to put their neck out in the opposite direction I would say it's not relevant.

COOPER: Miles, you agree with that?

O'BRIEN: I think it's a red herring, Anderson. I think as much as anything that was a little handout after all they had the cameras there. That was a piece of photo opportunity to send some images back to China to let people know that they are doing their best to do some searching.

What they heard is another matter. They did in fact have a pinger on board that vessel which helps them, you know, test their equipment. But as David Gallo will tell you, you're not supposed to put it on the boat when do you're actually doing a search because you might end up hearing something -- hearing yourself, which could have happened here.

But just looking at it with -- you know, sharing the iPhone buds and the pole, with the thing, I mean, given the -- given the relative sophistication I think we have to defer to the Ocean Shield.

COOPER: Yes. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to have more to talk about our panel.

Follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper. Tweet us questions using#ac360.

How much longer can the pingers last? We'll go straight to the source on that.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So it's instant. As soon as it hits the water it starts pinging.

ANISH PATEL, PRESIDENT, DUKANE SEACOM: That switch doesn't take a lot of water to activate. It's designed that way. It's fool-proof as much as possible.


COOPER: Also ahead tonight I want to take you back into the simulator to explore this idea that the 777 was on a course to deliberately avoid radar coverage. Does that automatically mean that there was a human at the controls of this plane? We'll be right back.


COOPER: Our breaking news. The announcement just over an hour ago that today's search area is dramatically narrowing. Crews racing the clock trying to hear once again what they heard over the weekend. Noises that might be coming from those black boxes. So what we're talking about is a lot of the technology for picking up these pings, things like the towed pinger locator there, hydrophones, passive sonar, and so on, all of them basic high tech ears for picking up certain noises underwater.

We're going to take a closer look at the noise makers, the pingers themselves. We asked 360's Randi Kaye to find out exactly how they work and what they actually sound like.


KAYE (voice-over): If search teams in the Indian Ocean are hot on the trail of Flight 370's black box this man would know it. He's president of the largest manufacturer of black box pingers.

PATEL: It is activated by this water switch. And on this side is the lithium battery.

KAYE: Anish Patel invited us to Dukane Seacom in Sarasota, Florida, where they turn out about 100 of these underwater airplane beacons daily. Authorities believe it was one of his team's pingers on board the doomed flight. He also told us authorities allowed him to listen to the pinger sounds just detected over the weekend.

(On camera): So you actually heard the pinger sound that the ship picked up?

PATEL: They've sent us some data.

KAYE: And how did it sound to you?

PATEL: Just like one of our pingers.

KAYE (voice-over): What does one of their pingers sound like? Listen.

(On camera): So it's instant. As soon as it hits the water it starts pinging.

PATEL: That switch doesn't take a lot of water to activate. It's designed that way. It's fool-proof as much as possible.

KAYE: So if this were in an airplane and hit the ocean this would start immediately, this pinging sound.

PATEL: If it was not damaged in the incident you saw how quickly it began to ping. KAYE (voice-over: In perfect conditions the pinger's pulse can travel as far as two and a half nautical miles. Ocean caverns and cliffs, even vegetation can get in the way, though, limiting that distance.

Before any beacon is shipped from here its sound output is measured in one of these huge 50,000 gallon tanks. It's lowered into the tank through the floor above. Surrounded by hydrophones, ultrasonic readings are recorded on this computer.

(On camera): This pinger is from TWA Flight 800 which went off the coast of New York back in 1996. Now this company made this pinger but after it was recovered they got it back. Now this one was found in shallow water but they are designed to function in water as deep as 20,000 feet.

(Voice-over): But what about the frequency? Crews at sea picked up a slightly lower frequency than the pinger's standard frequency of 37.5 kilohertz. Patel says water temperature can shift the frequency.

(On camera): It's so distinct, right? There's nothing else that would sound like this with this frequency.

PATEL: 37.5 kilohertz was selected because it is unique from the background noise in the ocean.


COOPER: Randi joins us now.

So, Randi, you've been working with these beacons all day. How much water does it actually need to be in before it starts pinging?

KAYE: Well, Anderson, we know that they could survive in depths of 20,000 feet. So what we want to show you tonight is just how sensitive they actually are. So we have this tin cup here. It just has a moist paper towel in it. There actually isn't any water in there. And this is one of the beacons that they manufacture here, one of the pingers. And this is the water switch that we talk about.

So we have the tester right here. I'm going to be quiet for just a moment as we put this in and just with a moist paper towel listen to it activate right away.

So you hear that right away. It starts to work. Now we also want to tell you tonight that we talked to the people here who make these and they said that we talked a lot of course about the 30-day deadline for the battery to run out because it only lasts 30 days once it hits the water. They said there's actually a three to five-day grace period so that was certainly some good news that we may have a few extra days.

They also talked about the fact that just -- and they really want to make this point, is just because they think that they heard this sound from one of their pinger, their beacons down in the ocean, it doesn't mean that the plane or the pinger is right there. It radiates out so widely -- we talked about this 2.5 nautical miles -- that it could be far, far away. COOPER: Right.

KAYE: So they're going to have to narrow down the search area, these search teams, to try and find it -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Randi, I appreciate the demonstration. Thanks.

I want to bring back David Gallo. Joined now by CNN safety analyst, David Soucie, author of "Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator's Fight for Safe Skies." And former Department of Transportation inspector general, Mary Schiavo, who currently represents accident victims and their families.

David Soucie, you believe these pings are from the black boxes, right? I mean, is there just too much evidence for them to be anything else?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Absolutely. Without a question in my mind they are. Especially now that we've gotten it from the sources that we have. The Chinese didn't seem very credible to me because of the equipment they were using and it was highly possible that they were doing some testing of the pinger since it was on board the ship. So I didn't give that a lot of credibility. But now that we've got it from this machine, from that pinger locator, I'm very confident that that's what we're listening to.

COOPER: And, David Soucie, even though the frequency that they heard was slightly different than the normal frequency for these?

SOUCIE: Well, yes. Remember that there are 37.5, but even at manufacture they have a tolerance level of one -- of one frequency, of one kilohertz. So it could be 38.5, it could be 36.5, from the manufacturer. So we've got that to think about. In addition as the battery gets lower its potential -- has potential for reducing the frequency sound as it relates to the decibels, to the -- it has 160 decibels at new, but as those decibels decrease, as Anish had mentioned, that they can actually play with the frequency that comes off of it.

So there's just nothing in that range especially something that would be clicking every second like that. There's just nothing in the natural environment that would create anything even similar to that that I'm aware of.

COOPER: David Gallo, let's assume they don't hear any more pings. They just have the pings that they got on Sunday. You know, Randi said these can be heard for two plus miles. To a layman that still doesn't seem like such a huge amount of area to cover with sonar under the water, with side scanning sonar, even with underwater vehicles. I mean, are -- is that -- is that -- am I -- is that even incredibly naive to think that? Is that still such a huge swab in the ocean?

GALLO: No, it's not naive to think that. It seems like a small amount. But, you know, under the sea there's no GPS navigation. It's pitch black. It's a fairly hostile environment. And where they are actually working right now is on the north face -- the north facing side of an underwater feature called the Wallaby plateau. And if it's like any other plateaus I know about that place is going to be covered with landslides and steep cliffs, and so working in that area, even though it may be a limited haystack is going to be less than easy. It's going to be fairly tricky, in fact.

COOPER: And, I mean, on -- on Air France Flight 447, David, you had a general idea where the plane went down. You had found debris, the pingers on the black boxes never worked. It still took you months and months of searching over two years to actually find the wreckage, correct?

GALLO: Took two years with all the mobilization and things like that to get back out there but all together on the water about 10 weeks. And actually two months of that, eight weeks was spent almost on a wild goose chase because of a bad model for retrodrifting. So the drifting debris backwards took us to a bad place. But it's -- you know, it's definitely doable. Definitely findable. The team out there, Phoenix International, they're superb at locating things like that black box. So we'll have to see how they solve this issue.

COOPER: So that's interesting, David. You're saying that really on the time on the actual water was 10 weeks to actually find the wreckage from the time you found the debris, not including all the kind of bureaucratic time spent getting approvals, getting permission and the like.

GALLO: Right. Took a year to get out there after the tragedy. We spent two months that first year in the wrong part of a haystack being led there by the retrodrift models that put us out there. Then it took another year to get back out there. And within eight days during that second phase we had located the aircraft.

COOPER: Wow. That's really interesting. Because a lot of people focus on that two-year search but a lot of that is just bureaucratic delays and getting permissions. That's really interesting.

GALLO: Sure.

COOPER: Now, Mary, the fact that no debris has been found, we talked about that a little bit in the first block. Does it tell you something about the way the plane may have entered the water?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, it can. And it also may say that it's been so long that the debris was out there and storms have come through that the debris that did float has gone away. But, you know, in historic, you know, accidents there are cases where planes have gone down and remained largely intact. Usually they are like military planes, there are some World War II planes that were found largely intact, and then light planes.

Lots of light planes go down, they land on the water, they don't break up and they sink. But big aircraft like a 777, it's very hard to bring them down and there's been cases where they intentionally tried to land on water and usually on the ocean a wing will catch a wave and they will break up. So it's very unusual. I won't say it's impossible but it's going to be -- this would be a first for a modern jetliner if it remained intact on the ocean.

COOPER: And, David Soucie, if the boxes are recovered, and that's obviously a big if, who actually takes control of them? I mean, would it be Australia, Malaysia?

SOUCIE: Australia would take control of them. Right now they are under a mandate by the Joint Committee to have everything that's located come back to Australia. So Australians would contain that and then the Malaysians would decide where those things go from that point but there's a central locating area for all debris including the black boxes in Australia.

COOPER: All right. A lot more to talk about. For more on the story and others, of course you can go to

I want to go into the 777 flight simulator exploring a riddle within this mystery. Didn't Malaysia Flight 370 actually skirt Indonesian airspace intentionally because whoever was flying the plane was trying to keep it from being detected by radar? Some new reports indicate it did. We'll look into that or look at the possible reasons why.

Also tonight, what if they do actually find the black boxes or anything else at the bottom of the ocean we'll take a look at the technology that will let search teams recover wreckage from incredible depths and we are talking about two and a half miles at this point.


COOPER: The mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 spawned new mini- mysteries at every piece of new information. One of the latest is the word from a senior Malaysian government source telling CNN that the plane skirted Indonesian airspace as it veered off course and went off the grid. That source says whoever was flying the plane also a mystery could have been trying to avoid radar detection.

What would that look like and what are the implications here? Martin Savidge joins us now from inside the flight simulator along with pilot instructor, Mitchell Casado. Also back with us, our aviation analyst, veteran private pilot, Miles O'Brien, aviation correspondent, Richard Quest and former Transportation Department inspector general, Mary Schiavo, currently represents accident victims and their families.

So Marty, if this plane were indeed to have skirted Indonesian airspace give us an idea how this would to be done from the cockpit. Anyway this would not have been done by somebody actually flying the plane?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a couple of ways you could have done it. Yes, manually. Let's start with the really convoluted way and Mitchell would tell us that, you know, you could enter in the way points and we figure there are how many way points to make this route go the way we think they went?

MITCHELL CASADO, PILOT TRAINER: Well, I put in 18 way points. SAVIDGE: OK, so he would have entered them through the flight management system. It's a rather big, what looks like a, you know, computer, but here it is played out on the screen. This is us, the triangle, and this is the path we're following, go to Beijing. Right here. We know everything changed for this flight. That's when you would have had that hard turn to the west. That would have sent the plane going over the northern part of the Malaysian Peninsula.

Then this part here, Anderson, this is the outline almost of Indonesia. It's just offshore, can't tell exactly how far, but skirts on the outside above Indonesia and then, of course, we know the aircraft went around. Was that done to get around from radar? We don't know. Could be. We'll also show you could do it by using the heading --

CASADO: So a turn of the knob.

COOPER: Way points to guide the aircraft by literally turning a knob and you can see how easily the aircraft moves. Lastly, you could manually try to fly that although it's pretty taxing. That's how you could do it. The only thing I would point out is that maybe we know the Indonesians say that they did not see this aircraft that night. Whether that's true or I don't know. We do know that other nations saw it, specifically Malaysia says they saw 370 and I believe the Thai military says they saw 370. That's how they know it supposedly what we just demonstrated.

COOPER: Richard, I don't understand though. I mean, entering 18-way points to me when I hear that this may have skirted Malaysian airspace if that is in fact true to me as a layman it seems like somebody must have been under the controls of that plane.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: There was no question about it. The Malaysians have said it was deliberate. They didn't say nefarious. Somebody did control the maneuvers that the planes made that night. Marty, I got a quick question for you, for you and Mitch. How long did it take you, Mitch, to put in those way points, and is it possible you could have when programming before the flight, you could have put it on the scratch pad, but only executed once you were in the air?

CASADO: It took me a minute-and-a-half, Richard, to put in those way points.

SAVIDGE: A list of them.

CASADO: It's quite a long time. Could it have been done beforehand? It could have in theory. The other pilot would have noticed it on the screen. It would have come up on the navigational display.

SAVIDGE: What about on the scratch pad?

CASADO: The scratch pad is only enough to put in maybe your first and last name. Eighteen way points wouldn't fit in the scratch pad. SAVIDGE: The other thing I'll point out it's a long way this plane deviated. We did the math. I mean, it looks like, you know, it would be with equivalent of going from New York to Chicago, almost 800 miles out of the way by this course.

COOPER: And, Miles, if it did, in fact, skirt Indonesian airspace, the whole idea it was trying find some place to land or it would nullify that whole concept.

SAVIDGE: Yes. That concept goes out the window when you look at this. If you're in an emergency situation. You are not doing this, this is a deliberate act, forced by somebody or the crew itself was taking the action. I'm skeptical about, first of all if you're trying avoid radar the reason we know about this route is they got it on radar. It wasn't very successful.

The altitude we picked is 12,000. We don't know that's accurate. If you want to avoid radar, you want to be down 100 feet or so literally. Also why would they fly right across Malaysia if the goal was to avoid radar? Malaysia has radar too and this is a primary target. They don't know what it is without a transponder on. I wonder if this was an effort to make it difficult for people to use cell phones by staying over water. That's an option as well.

COOPER: Mary, how about you? I understand you're skeptical about this flight path mostly because you don't think Indonesia has the ability to say 100 percent the plane didn't cross its airspace. How so?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: That's right. I want goes back to the old saying how do you prove a negative. I did some research on the Indonesian airspace and what was very interesting is Indonesia in the Indonesian press contrary to what the government says, the Indonesian radar is very problematic. Seventy percent of them don't function well.

The military radar, according to some articles was so bad that they only operate 12 out of 24 hours a day. One article said civilian radar is absolutely impossible to pick up a civilian plane and they have a new process going where they are rebuilding their radars and it won't to be done until 2024.

So, to me, I have to question how they could say well we didn't pick it up on radar therefore it skirted us. Perhaps they didn't pick it up on radar because their radar is antiquated and very bad and one article said it was a point of national pride it would be an embarrassment if they hadn't picked up the plane. Maybe it's a problem with embarrassment and lack of radar rather than affirmatively say --

COOER: That's a good point.

QUEST: Right, but the reason we know this track that it took or the strong evidence of the track is the Thai radar. That radar that they did pick and the handshakes. So, you know, we've actually known that it did this since we got the first Inmarsat document back on the 20th of March. So we've known it took that route. By the handshakes, by Thai radar and what we've not known and what nobody has been prepared to do now is nail that to the mast and say it proves x, y or z.

COOPER: All right, panel, thanks. Up next, we're going to take a look at the technology that could be used to retrieve wreckage from these incredible kind of depths that we are talking about. Depths that no human can actually go to. We're looking at what technology exists. Also tonight Oscar Pistorius taking the stand in his murder trial. We'll bring you inside the courtroom.


COOPER: The pingers from the plane's black boxes could stop transmitting really at any moment now. The battery is designed to last 30 days give or take. The Australian official coordinating the search effort says that signals have been detected already. Could it be the most promising lead yet? If those signals turn out to be from Flight 370.

I want to take a look what happens then, how wreckage is pulled from the bottom of the ocean. The technology is fascinating. Here again our Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what it looks like trying recover an airplane in the ocean. You're watching a U.S. Navy salvage team gather piece of TWA Flight 800, which down off New York in 1996. Here divers are maneuvering among pieces of the twisted wreckage.

RET. CAPTAIN CHIP MCCORD, FORMER U.S. NAVY SUPERVISOR OF SALVAGE: The U.S. Navy has a helicopter. They have the capability. They have done this before.

KAYE: Retired Navy Captain Chip McCord has been involved in at least 50 ocean salvage operations including TWA 800 and Swiss Air Flight 111, which crashed in 1998 off the coast of Nova Scotia. Those were both in water much shallower than the Indian Ocean, but the Navy has remote underwater vehicles designed for deep water salvage operations. They can go as deep as 20,000 feet, but the deeper the recovery, the slower the process.

MCCORD: It takes about an hour for every 1,000 feet you need to descend. So if you are going to 11,000 feet you can count on 11 hours.

KAYE: At those depths its pitch black at those depths so the vehicles are equipped with lights and cameras. They are also outfitted with sonar to scout for debris. They are steered by two operators on board the ship above who use instant feedback from the salvage vehicle's cameras to direct the robotic arms.

MCCORD: They can move right forward, aft, and go to where they need, very carefully hover over a piece and pick it up if they need to.

KAYE: Remember Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, two years later, an unmanned underwater vehicle found the debris field for that flight, 13,000 feet beneath the surface. The engines were pulled from the ocean floor. If Flight 370 is found, search teams are prepared to do the same.

MCCOR: If it's small like the black boxes you can put a little basket on the ROV and arms where it can be picked up.

KAYE: But the remote underwater vehicles can only carry 4,000 pounds. Anything heavier like a large piece of the fuselage will have to be attached to a cable and pulled the surface by a crane on the ship.


KAYE: Keep in mind this could be happening miles below the surface, an incredibly difficult task. Still, no doubt salvage teams will keep their eyes peeled for the black box hoping to give much needed answers first. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

COOPER: Up next tonight, a riveting day at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. The double amputee athlete took the stand in his own defense, spoke directly and tearfully to Reeva Steenkamp's family just several feet away.


OSCAR PISTORIUS: I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved.



COOPER: Crime and punishment tonight testimony so far a lot of people have been waiting to hear. Oscar Pistorius taking the stand today at his murder trial and for the first time speaking publicly about Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he killed whom he said is the love of his life. He said her death on Valentine's Day 2013 was a terrible accident. It still haunts him. His defense team began making its case today. Pistorius was the second witness they called. Robyn Curnow was in the courtroom. Here is her report.


JUDGE: He does look exhausted, he sounds exhausted.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With that Oscar Pistorius's much anticipated appearance on the stand came to an end. After nearly two hours of testimony the judge agreeing with the defense that a day of unreserved emotion deserved an early adjournment.

PISTORIUS: I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Mrs. and Mr. Steenkamp, to Reeva's family, to Reeva's family, to those of you who knew her here today, family and friends --

JUDGE: Mr. Pistorius, yes, I don't like doing this to you, but I can hardly hear you.

CURNOW: Even before beginning his testimony a teary-eyed Pistorius turned away from the judge and towards the mother of Reeva Steenkamp.

PISTORIUS: I wake up every morning and you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can't imagine the pain and sorrow and the emptiness that I've caused you and your family.

CURNOW: The Olympian telling the court he still replays the night he shot and killed Steenkamp.

PISTORIUS: I wake up and I smell, I smell, I can smell the blood and I wake up to being terrified.

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Clearly laying a foundation for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. This speaks to the manner in which the extent to which the events of that night in question have profoundly affected him.

CURNOW: Pistorius says he's on anti-depressants and sleep aids because he's scared to sleep and has terrible nightmares. The defense also building an image of Pistorius as a young boy growing up afraid. His mother often alone with her children, acutely aware of South Africa's high crime rate. He remembers her calling police in the middle of the night when she heard noises.

PISTORIUS: She would come at night and call us to sit in her room and many times we would just wait for the police to arrive.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Where did she keep her firearm for instance?

PISTORIUS: My Lady, she kept her firearm under her bed, under her pillow.


COOPER: So Robyn, Pistorius is still on the stand tomorrow. Do we know what he's expected to talk about then because today was pretty much about his character?

CURNOW: Today was all about his character. He painted himself and the defense trying to prove that he's remorseful, that he was vulnerable, and he was scared person. All of that playing into their case. Now, of course, crucial is his testimony on day two has to be more about the facts, about the timeline, his version of events. His story. What actually happened that Valentine's morning and that's what's so crucial.

Because this is really his version of events, the timeline, because he's really the only one who can explain what happened and, of course, Anderson, after that we're going to hear the cross- examination, the prosecutor is known for being quite a bulldog they say here in South Africa, he'll try to poke holes not only in the consistency of his story, but in the authenticity of it. We're not talking about just the facts, but also the way Oscar Pistorius delivers himself, holds himself, whether he's credible, whether he's believable.

COOPER: Robyn, thanks very much. We'll continue that coverage tomorrow. Let's get caught up on some other stories we're following. Susan Hendricks has a 360 Bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a military official tells CNN that Fort Hood shooter, Ivan Lopez apparently felt mistreated by some members of his unit and asked to be transferred. Lopez opened fire on the base last Wednesday killing three and wounding 16 before taking his own life.

Violence broke out today in the eastern Ukrainian city as pro- Russian protesters tries once again to take over a building. Ukraine's government blames the ongoing unrest on Russia.

Britain's baby, Prince George, has made his first public engagement arriving in Wellington, New Zealand with his parents. The royal family will tour New Zealand for ten days before moving on to Australia. Cute shot there.

COOPER: He's a natural. Susan, thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Programming note. Tomorrow night we'll bring the story of a remarkable woman named Adrianne Haslet Davis. You may remember I met her a few days after the Boston marathon bombing. She's a dance instructor and even though she lost her lower left leg below the knee in the blast she told me she was determined to dance again. She said that days after the bombing. When she did she would give me a dance lesson.


ADRIANNE HASLET DAVIS: I didn't think I would be here the last time I saw you. Feels good to be making progress.

COOPER: You're making amazing progress.

DAVIS: As are you.


COOPER: OK. It's embarrassing to watch me dance. But it was an amazing moment to see her dancing. Getting there took hard work. Hundreds of hours of rehabilitation and physical therapy. We can stop showing me dance. Tomorrow we'll bring you Adrianne's story much of what she shot on her phone. Unlike anything you've seen before.

Join us tomorrow for the survivor diaries at 10:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN and AC360, we'll be at regular time at 8:00. Adrianne will also join Dr. Sanjay Gupta and me for a Google hangout tomorrow at 1 p.m. Eastern. You can get information on that at the AC Google Plus page or at That does it for us. Thanks for watching.