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The Mystery of Flight 370

Aired April 7, 2014 - 22:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN special report, "The Mystery of Flight 370." I'm Don Lemon.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We have breaking news for you tonight.

We are awaiting a news conference from Royal Australian Air Base Pearce with the man in charge of the hunt for Flight 370. We're going to bring that to you the moment it starts. We have been getting great information from those press conferences each night. We will bring it to you when it starts.

Meanwhile, searchers are working feverishly to answer the questions the world is asking. Have we finally found a trace of Flight 370? A towed pinger locator on that Australian ship the Ocean Shield picked up signals over the weekend that are being called the most promising leads so far.

And ever since, they have been searching and researching the area, trying to pick up those pings again. If they do, they will launch the Blue Fin 21, an underwater vehicle with more accurate sonar that might also carry a camera for mapping the ocean floor. But officials warn the process could take days.

And as the search goes on, there are still more questions than answers. And you have been tweeting us your questions by the thousands. And we have got top aviation and security experts standing by to answer them for you, like this. It's a very timely question. It's from Rick. He says, "Let's say they find the black boxes. What's next? Who gets to analyze them first?"

Let's get right to CNN reporters in the region. Matthew Chance is in Perth, Joe Johns is in Kuala Lumpur, and Richard Quest here with me in New York.

Good evening to you. Good evening to everyone.

Matthew, I'm going to start with you. On the one hand, the searchers must be very encouraged by hearing the pings this weekend. On the other hand, by many estimates, the batteries in the pinger should have already run out. Do they feel like they're closing in?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think there's a sense, or the at least there was 24 hours ago, when this announcement was made, that they're making good progress.

Of course, they're being very cautious, saying that they haven't found the aircraft yet. But they did describe these two separate acoustic events, the detection of these pings under the surface of the Indian Ocean, as, you know, the best evidence they have, the best clue they had, the best lead they had, I think was the word they used, going forward. Much more optimistic yesterday than they were a week ago, with the words of Angus Houston, the Australian official who's heading up the multinational search teams.

But there's going to be a news conference here over the course of the next hour with the Australian defense minister. He will be giving a statement as well, after meeting with base officials and meeting with the search teams as well, getting a briefing from them. He will be answering questions from the media.

Angus Houston will be next in and potentially he will give us some detail as well. So we're hoping to get some more clarity in the coming hour or so about what exactly has been found, have they managed to verify it. At the moment, we understand from the U.S. Seventh Fleet, which is, of course, the part of the U.S. Navy that lent the very sophisticated monitoring equipment to the Australian ship the Ocean Shield that detected these pings that so far they haven't managed to reacquire those pings. They can't find them anymore.

They monitored them for two hours and 20 minutes on one occasion and for 13 minutes on another occasion, but that was a day or so ago, and that haven't managed to find them since then. So, that's a concern. Again, we will get some more clarity we hope in the coming hours.

LEMON: Matthew Chance, thank you very much.

And, Richard, we shouldn't downplay that. When we hear Angus Houston will show up at a press conference, he's been giving us some really great information.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: And it will be his opportunity to bring us up to date. The Australians will say thank you for what's been going on, but we really need to know the latest situation on the pingers.

LEMON: All right, stand by. We will bring that you. It should happen at the top of the next hour, 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's go to Joe Johns now.

Joe, it's been an agonizing month in limbo for the families. How are they reacting to the news of these new signals?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been very hard to trust, I think we can say, and these families have had quite a tough time of it.

And, frankly, they have been through this before. Again and again, we have seen times when it looked like we were going to reach closure on this. Each time, it all sort of went away. So I think the overriding sentiment from the families here is wait and see, show us some evidence, and then we will start talking, but probably not until then, Don.

LEMON: Joe, families were told the flight ended in the Southern Indian Ocean. Now Malaysia's transport minister says, miracles do happen. How much more can these families take, Joe?

JOHNS: Well, quite frankly, I think you can say that the transport minister is really doing a very delicate balancing act.

On the one hand, he has to show himself as credible to the Malaysian people, and speaking straight with them. On the other hand, there really is something that he has to do for the families. He has to show them a bit of respect and he has to be sensitive to their concerns. It would be insensitive to pronounce their family members dead before the first piece of debris is found, John.

LEMON: Absolutely. I think everyone will agree with that. So, Joe, mixed messages about the flight path. Was there a conscious and some say suspicious move to avoid Indonesia's radar?

JOHNS: Well, there certainly was.

And a very credible source that CNN has told us that there was what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to skirt the radar of Indonesia in the last hours of that plane. Of course, the question is why, and this may indicate, at least for some of us, why the law enforcement authorities here in Malaysia continue to insist that this is a criminal investigation, because from looking at the radar and all of the other information they have, it seems pretty clear that someone did quite a good and skillful job of trying to avoid radar along the Indonesia coast.

LEMON: Joe Johns, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

I want to bring in now Geoffrey Thomas. He's the editor and chief of Also, Mike Dean, he's a deputy director for salvage and diving for the U.S. Navy, and forensic audio expert, Paul Ginsberg, who analyzes black box recordings. And, of course, Richard Quest is here with us as well.

Geoffrey, I'm going to start with you. You have been talking, talking to your sources on the ground in Perth. Do you believe these sounds are, in fact, the black boxes?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look, the evidence is, and the belief is, that the signals are from the black boxes.

One of the factors that reinforces that is they were detected on exactly the flight path, which is the seventh recalculation, if you like, of the original Inmarsat pings. It's the seventh recalculation used by bringing in more evidence on the radar tracking of this airplane.

And the location is exactly on this track that these ships were told to go and have a look at. So there's some supporting evidence that, yes, they are the black boxes.

LEMON: You listened to this press conference live from Angus Houston, Paul. You were optimistic about this, but now CNN is hearing that the frequency detected actually was 33.3 kilohertz, not 37.5. Do you still believe that these are, in fact, the pingers, and is it an exact match? Is 33 that close to 37?

PAUL GINSBERG, FORENSIC AUDIO EXPERT: OK, we're talking about 10 percent.

And we had a discussion this evening before air about the effects of temperature gradients on the transmission of different signals through water and the effects that can have with respect to frequency of signals. And I believe there was a study -- and Bill Nye is here, who will elaborate on this -- that showed that this could be as much as 10 or 11 percent.

So this is within the tolerance, perhaps, and might be the cause.

LEMON: So, it's close, but not specific, and that's OK, because that can happen, correct? Is that what you're saying?

GINSBERG: Yes, but also, there are other descriptors to the signal, that is, the pulse reputation rate, the shape, the amplitude, the way it increases, decreases with the movement of the ship. Is it consistent or does the amplitude stay at one rate, which would indicate that it was something coming from the ship?

Apparently, it doesn't, so that it's something in the water and it's something that's pinging or giving us a repetitive signal. It just may be that due to the different temperatures, it may be at a different rate.

LEMON: Understood.

Mike, this is nearly three miles underwater. How reliable are these pings and how different are they to track back to their source at that depth?

MIKE DEAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR SALVAGE AND DIVING, U.S. NAVY: Well, the depth really doesn't concern us so much. If the bottom is relatively flat, the equipment is very reliable. So we're more concerned, really, with the bottom topography than we are depth. It's not uncommon to search and locate objects at this depth of water.

LEMON: Geoffrey, back to you in Perth. Is it possible that the Chinese and the Ocean Shield could somehow be picking up the same pings, despite being over 300 miles apart?

THOMAS: That's a very good question, Don. And most people would say, no, it's not possible. But in actual fact, we spoke to some oceanographers, some experts in this field here locally, and they said, yes, it is technically possible that they did, because of the ocean layers, the temperatures, the gradient, et cetera.

It's technically possible they picked up the same ping from the black boxes, if that's what they turn out to be. Indeed, yes, the answer is yes.

LEMON: Mike, I imagine there's a lot of noise in the ocean. What other, if any other, natural sounds could be confused for the pinger?

DEAN: We have talked about this throughout the day. We can't really identify a sound that would be misconstrued as this pinger sound.

As you heard earlier, there's multiple aspects to the pinger, not just the frequency, but the pulse rate, the repetition rate, and it appears to be consistent with what we would expect to hear from an aircraft pinger.

LEMON: Yes, as Paul has been saying all along, there are other signatures that go along with these emergency pingers, and it appears from the information that Angus Houston gave last night that they are -- they carry all of those signatures.

But, Mike, are you concerned that there's no debris floating in this area? Because this is like, you know, finding the needle before you find the haystack, really, if this is, indeed the black boxes.

DEAN: No, it doesn't concern me. Given that we're 30 days into this, I wouldn't expect to see surface debris in this area.

But having spent enough time now, and having acquired the signal twice, which I think is very reassuring to us, that we pick a signal up and then we manage to reacquire the signal on a reciprocal course, that gives us at least one good line of where we suspect we might find the recorders.

LEMON: Paul, I just have a quick question for you about the batteries. Do they weaken the signal strength before dying, or is it like an iPhone and they just suddenly just go dark?

GINSBERG: It's my understanding that lithium batteries are used, and they remain at most of their active power output until the very end of their lives.

LEMON: All right.

Thank you, guys. Mike, Dean, Paul Ginsburg, thank you. Geoffrey Thomas, Richard Quest, stay with me. Lots more to come.

When we come right back, high hopes that those pings are coming from the plane's black boxes, but what if they're not? Where do we go from here?


LEMON: Want to tell everyone that we're awaiting a news conference from Australia and we're going to bring that to you as it happens live here on CNN.

Meantime, those pings captured by the Ocean Shield are being called our best leads so far, but there are questions about exactly what they do mean. And I want to bring in now our team of experts, Bill Nye, who is a former Boeing engineer, Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the Department of Transportation. She is now an attorney for victims of transportation accidents. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kay, a former adviser to the U.K. minister of defense, Jeff Wise, the author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger," Jim Tilmon, a retired American Airlines pilot, also Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief of, and Richard quest is back with me.

Why don't I start with you, Richard? It's been 32 days in this search, the most promising lead so far. But how promising is this lead, do you think?

QUEST: It was very promising last night, optimistic, encouraging, all the words we heard. And tonight, Captain -- Commander Marks, I think, of the Seventh Fleet, who's been very much involved in keeping us informed, we spoke to him at length last night.

He said he was less encouraged, because they haven't heard anything from this from the last 30-odd hours. And more than that, he said, started to suggest that, as the pinger life span dwindles, he's looking now to when he hears the from the Australians when -- what's the next path? When will they decide to use the side-scan...


LEMON: Possibly, what we're going to hear at 11:00 Eastern, maybe, in about 45 minutes.

QUEST: Possibly, indeed. Yes.

LEMON: Bill Nye, I just wonder, does that mean that the -- it can mean both, that the battery life has run out or a false positive? What's your take on this?

BILL NYE, THE SCIENCE GUY: I'm skeptical that it's a false positive. I have heard the ping, albeit in the lab, and it's very distinctive.

So I'm skeptical that it's a false positive. I think this is really something. But you hit the nail on the head, the ping on the circuit. This is to say, if -- this press conference, I'm sure, will be very revealing. But I just want to point out that it is not unreasonable when you add up all of the errors, the -- there's been storms in this part of the ocean, which will change the salinity and the surface temperature.

You will get -- you might, you might get a difference in temperature between a lower layer and an upper layer and a difference in salinity, in density. And this would affect the path of sound waves. And so the two ping signals could very well be coming from a signal source. And with all the errors adding up, they seem to be very far apart. But if you're going to look some place, this is sure a very good start.

LEMON: Yes. Jeff, we are learning tonight that the pings detected by the Ocean Shield, as Bill Nye was just referencing, were actually at 33.3, where he said you may get a different temperature, right, a lower standard than the standard beacon frequency of 37.5 kilohertz.

That's according to the pinger manufacturer. Do you think this still could be the black boxes, in your estimation, even at these different temperatures or different rates?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: There's a lot of problems with this pinger data. The 33.3 megahertz frequency, that's a big problem.

It may be explainable do to some of these factors that Bill Nye was talking about. It may not be. We have the fact that we had other false positives in recent days. And I want to bring us something that someone mentioned to me in an e-mail, but I haven't heard mentioned on air. There's a simple math problem, that if the ship is pulling the tow fish along at three knots and the tow fish can detect the signal within two miles, then, basically, you wouldn't expect it to retain a signal for two hours.

There seems to be a fundamental mathematical problem there right there. And then you add on to that that they weren't able to reacquire the signal in the most recent day of searching, it starts to add up to a big problem.

LEMON: Bill Nye, our science guy, do you want to weigh in on that? Do you agree?

NYE: I don't disagree, as the saying goes. It depends. It's very reasonable, as crazy as it sounds, that they got the last few pings out of this thing. I mean, there's just so many mysteries.


LEMON: But we also hear, too, at this depth, that sound can actually -- that you can hear sound at a longer distance at this depth. Go ahead.

NYE: Well, I mean, whales communicate -- they exploit this so-called thermocline or halocline. This is the difference in density caused temperature and salt, saltiness and temperature of the water.

And they can communicate a long, long way underwater. There's just a lot that can go wrong. And my experience with people in the Navy -- I was a contractor for the Navy briefly -- they are very, very diligent. When it comes to this thing being towed at three knots and listening to it for two hours, they take that -- my experience is they would take that into account.

And this is why this press conference is such an important thing, and just to get everybody hanging on the edge of our...


LEMON: And you're right. Every night, we say, you know, what can they possibly tell us? And then Angus Houston comes out, Richard, seriously, and we get really great information, last night, the best information so far that we have gotten, the night before, the same thing. QUEST: And I thought it was...



I want to get Mary in.

Mary, in your experience in investigating these sorts of incidents, and this one has been as unusual as it can be, have you heard of a pinger being detected at these depths and from hundreds of miles away in different spots?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: No, not from hundreds of miles away. I mean, you can -- the most I have heard is two, three miles. The hundred miles away doesn't make sense, although I heard many explanations today about heavy water and thick water and dense water and all of that.

But regardless of the water, there have been many other accidents, crashes and planes lost in ocean water. And the range is about three miles. So I don't know. This would be a first if it traveled 200. But I suppose it's possible. But I have never encountered that.

LEMON: Yes, again, everything has been unusual about this particular incident.

Michael, if these pingers turn out to be something else, then where do we go from here?

DEAN: Well, look, Don, an investigation has lasted over 31 days now. This is all we have got.

You know, we have heard a lot of reasons as to why it couldn't be, and that's fair game. But when we spoke to Commander William Marks yesterday, we were interested in the way that this would be located once they have the signal.

And one of the things that fascinated me was, as they were tracking along the towline, especially for the two hours and 20 minutes, there was an increase in amplitude of the signal, which meant that they were getting closer, and then it tailed off, which means, or implies, that the signal was geolocated and stationary.

So, for me, that's a positive. And I think the next couple of days will be critical, for all the reasons that we have talked about, the fact that the batteries may have died. If they have died, then that's a new conversation. But if they do pick up the signal, it's going to take two to three days to go down these seven-mile tracks three times to triangulate and locate it.

I think the next two to three days will be essential to where we go next.

LEMON: Even if it's run out, at least there is somewhat they have somewhat of a -- they have somewhat of a location. Jim, in a matter of hours or days, the pingers from the cockpit and flight data recorders may have stopped transmitting, if they haven't stopped already. If that does happen, do you think there's enough information that searchers are, as I said, in somewhat the right location?

JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: We now have the best information we have had since this whole thing started.

I could be just as critical as anybody else on a scientific level. But I have got to tell you, from just a strict emotional level, I'm uplifted by the fact that we do have something that sounds sound -- sounds like it's scientifically derived, and it gives us hope that we may be on the right track, and I certainly hope that we are.

LEMON: This is the first time that I think I have heard optimism from Jim Tilmon on this panel.

You have been very skeptical, and rightly so, throughout this whole process. So we -- I must make note of that.

Stand by, everyone.

Geoffrey Thomas, thank you very much, Geoffrey.

Everyone else, stick with me.

When we come right back, the deep sea search. Even if those pings are the real deal, finding the wreckage of the plane is far from a sure thing. And we are awaiting a live news conference, I should tell you again, from Australia. We are going to bring that to you as soon as it starts.


LEMON: Searchers are back out trying to find those pings that officials call the best leads yet.

But if the black box batteries are still working, they may not for much longer.

CNN's Jean Casarez has more on the desperate and difficult search.



JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Very deep and very mysterious. Search vehicles may have to travel two-and-a-half miles down to try to find aircraft wreckage. And much about the ocean floor is unknown.

CHRISTINE DENNISON, OCEAN EXPLORER AND EXPEDITIONS LOGISTICS EXPERT: It is a mystery. It's very -- we know it's deep. It's 4,500 meters.

CASAREZ: Christine Dennison is an ocean explorer. She says what adds to the mystery is the terrain.

DENNISON: You have valleys. You have gullies. You have mountain ranges. It's very much in areas that will mimic what we have topside.

CASAREZ (on camera): This is what searchers are trying to find, through acoustic events or pings, the black box. In air, sound travels in a straight line. But it's not like that in the sea. It can angle and bend up to 90 degrees.

(voice-over): That means you can't be exactly sure where the sound is coming from.

PETER LEAVY, ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY: Acoustic energy, sound through the water, is greatly affected by temperature, pressure, and salinity.

CASAREZ: If Ocean Shield hears another ping and is able to fix the position, it will likely lower the autonomous underwater vehicle Blue Fin 21 into the water and attempt to find wreckage on the sea floor.

If wreckage is located, though, one aspect of the deep sea may work in investigators' favor, very low temperatures.

DENNISON: Cold water does preserve everything much, much better than shallower, warm temperatures.

CASAREZ: The search for Flight MH370 continues.

HOUSTON: And what I would like to see now is us to find some wreckage, because that will -- that will basically help solve the mystery.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN.


LEMON: All right, Jean, thank you very much.

So, if we do find the black boxes, what happens next?

Joining me is David Mearns. He's a marine scientist and a deep water search-and-rescue expert. Also back with me, Mr. Richard Quest.

I'm excited to talk to you about this, Mr. Mearns. Because let's assume that the pings that, you know, have been picked up and towed with this pinger locator are the black boxes. And you led the expedition that found the HMAS Sydney, which sunk in 1949, very near the area where the Ocean Shield detected pings. What can you tell us about the challenges of working in those types of waters?

DAVID MEARNS, MARINE SCIENTIST: Well, our challenge was similar to this one, in that it was first finding the wreck. Sydney was one of the shipwrecks that people thought would never be found. And actually, that phrase was used the first time. Forget about the needle in a haystack, we don't even know where the haystack was. So finding it was -- was really the difficult thing. But once it was found, working in -- we were a bit closer, or actually, quite a bit closer to the coastline. We're still deep water, about 2,500 meters. And really, we had other problems related to equipment and things like that that were really making our lives difficult. And while we were out there for about 40 days, we were chased twice by two cyclones.


MEARNS: That's the Australian version of a hurricane. And they didn't -- you know, they didn't damage us or anything like that, but they moved us off-station and ate up a lot of our time.

LEMON: So you were not in as deep of water, but pretty deep water. Let's talk about the retrieval of the black boxes out of that water. How long did it take you?

MEARNS: Oh, to find these two shipwrecks?


MEARNS: Well, actually, we found them quite quickly. We found -- we had to find the German one first. This is the one that sank the Sydney. And then find the Sydney after that. And we found the German wreck, I believe, in 64 hours, and Sydney in 68 hours.

LEMON: How long do you think it will take here?

MEARNS: Well, I think they've -- you know, on the basis that these pingers are from the black boxes, I think they're going to be able to localize the wreckage on the seabed quite quickly. The Bluefin, the key thing is whether the depth is still within the range of the Bluefin AUV.

Right now they're reporting the depth at about 4,500 meters. That also is the maximum depth rating of the Bluefin. Now, the AUV can probably go a little bit deeper. You've got to get permission from the company that manufactured it. They have tolerances that allow them to go a little bit deeper.

But if it, for example, if it was in maybe 5,000 meters of water, then there may be a problem there. And they may not want to risk the Bluefin and they would have to bring out a different search vehicle with even a deeper depth rating.

So I think that's one of the first things they'll want to do, in addition to trying to reacquire these pingers, also get the best measurement of depth there. And I think they'll probably get that using HMS Echo.

LEMON: Go ahead, Richard.

QUEST: A quick question for you, David. What is the length of the search season, if you like, before the weather turns nasty and they would have to think about postponing for winter, regrouping, if they don't find it, and starting again in the next season. LEMON: But aren't these warmer waters where they are now? Do they really have to worry about that in these particular waters?

MEARNS: These are much better. It's a completely different scenario than what they were looking at when they were talking about the roaring 40s. And when we were looking at "Sydney," we conducted a year-round -- well, we looked at weather year-round to see what was the best time to be out there. And actually, right about now is when we chose to be there.

We were there in March going all the way up until the first week of April. And the weather, there wasn't really -- there was a couple of months during December that we wanted to avoid, November we wanted to avoid. This isn't the bad time.

Also, they've got a bigger ship than we have. And that will help things. The only difference is with putting an AUV in and out of the water really, you somewhat get limited in terms of what kind of conditions you can do that in. You can't do that in heavy swells or in big waves.

LEMON: Good information, David.

And thank you, Richard. Richard's going to stick around.

When we come right back, the man who hasn't heard from his mother since she boarded Flight 370 more than a month ago.

And we're awaiting a live news conference from Australia. We're going to bring that to you as soon as it starts.


LEMON: The world is obsessed with the mystery of Flight 370, but no one wants answers more than the families.

Earlier in Beijing, this candlelight vigil for the passengers and their families.

Steve Wang's mother was on board Flight 370. He's been awaiting word since the flight disappeared. I want you to listen to what he said just a little while ago.


STEVE WANG, MOTHER ON FLIGHT 370: A month's passed and we are -- we are just going through so many, so many kinds of emotion. Maybe just desperate, sad, and something like that, everything. So a month's passed and we are thinking about what we should do now. I think it's to just keep on waiting.


LEMON: So how long will family members like Steve Wang have to wait? Joining me now is Steven Marks. He's an aviation attorney who represents the families of another air disaster, Air France Flight 447. Richard Quest is still here with me, as well.

Steven Marks, you've advised many other families of air disasters. With every day that passes, what is your advice to these families?

STEVE MARKS, AVIATION ATTORNEY: I think the only they can do is sit and be patient, get as much support as they can. If they need counseling, to get counseling. Most of the families can support one another. And it's very good that they're there, they're holding vigils, they're all in the same location. The frustrating part is the fact they keep getting misinformation and they've lost faith and trust in the honesty of the investigation. So many inconsistencies makes it very difficult for them.

LEMON: You know, what do you make -- what do you make of the new reports that the plane might have skirted Indonesian radar? Does that, you know, make a criminal case more likely at some point in the future for these families?

MARKS: I don't think the criminal case really will impact the civil aspects of the case. But as far as trying to avoid Indonesian air space, I think it's really suspect, without having any of the raw data.

We're relying upon a technology that hasn't been used in air disasters and reconstructions in the past. It is a company that has close ties with Boeing. Boeing and the Malaysian government are investigating themselves, as I said before, and there's a lack of credibility.

So the fact that this airplane may have skirted air space is very difficult to believe, especially since it was over Malaysian airspace for so long and was undetected.

LEMON: So you speak of lack of credibility. I'm going to ask this, Richard, and you can ask the question. How hard is it, do you think, for the families to trust the Malaysian authorities at this point?

MARKS: Well, I don't know how they could trust the Malaysian authorities. They've given so much misinformation, and they've colored everything they've said with characterizations and conclusions, as opposed to the raw facts.

And the fact is, we know the transponder stopped working. We don't know that it was turned off yet. Now it's accepted as a fact that it was. We keep hearing about intentional misconduct, when there's really no facts to support it.

We have abandoned every single theory that would put any responsibility on the part of the airline or on Boeing, and Boeing and the airline are the ones investigating themselves. So it's really difficult. This has exact -- is exactly what occurred in the Indonesia Silk aircraft, where we kept hearing the same things early on, even days before anything was uncovered, before there was any radar data. You heard the same kind of talk.

QUEST: All right. Mr. Marks, you managed to make the point eloquently that you've just about sort of taken everybody off the table. So what are you suggesting?

MARKS: I don't know what occurred, but I do know that you have to keep every possibility open. The most logical, and the most reasonable conclusion is that there was some type of problem in flight. And it doesn't mean that it was an intentional problem. It could have been a mechanical problem. It could have incapacitated the flight crew. They could have tried to get back to the airport. That would explain a turn, if that, in fact, occurred. So those possibilities or probabilities should be on the table, and they don't seem to be.

QUEST: Well, I disagree with you: they are on the table. But I put it to you very briefly and finally, you have just put on the table exactly something for which there is exactly as little evidence as those you're complaining about for Boeing and Malaysia Airlines. You've done exactly the same thing, Mr. Marks.

MARKS: No, I've said everything should be considered. I'm not suggesting one over the other. What I am suggesting is that this investigation lacks independence. We haven't had a truly independent investigation with reliable, accurate, consistent information.

And how can you justify the kinds of communications to these families? You get text messages that their loved ones are in the south Indian Ocean. They recant that story. Now, there's hope that they say maybe there might be survivors. How can you have any faith in this process?

BLITZER: Steven Marks, you'll be back with us next hour, so stick with us, after that news conference from Perth.

Could a giant 777 intentionally avoid radar? My experts will dig into that when we come back.

And again, we're awaiting a live news conference from Australia. We're going to bring that to you just as soon as it starts.


LEMON: While we wait for tonight's live news conference, I want to check in you with CNN's Martin Savidge. At this moment, he is in a 777 flight simulator along with flight instructor Mitchell Casado.

Martin, I want to ask you to take a look into questions about the path of Flight 3-7-0. Sources tell CNN that the plane curved north of Indonesia before turning south toward the southern Indian Ocean. Is it possible that whoever was flying the plane was trying to fly around Indonesia to avoid radar detection?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is possible. And let me show you exactly how it could be done. There's three sort of ways here.

First and foremost, Mitchell Casado, the pilot, has programmed the aircraft with about 18 to 20 different way points. To show you where we are, we're flying, as if out of Kuala Lumpur, headed to Beijing. Igari (ph) is a way point in the sky where everything changed for this particular 370 flight. And that's when it veered off. And so here you would see this pink line. That's actually depicting the flying over northern -- the northern Malaysian peninsula. And then here the course change again, this time to the north, and the outlying of Indonesia, flying just above that nation. So that's how you'd do it with waypoints.

You can also make these kind of maneuvers using heading select, as Mitchell's about to show us. You essentially can program in a different heading, push the button, and as you can see, the aircraft turns gently, steeply, however you program it, will follow the course.

That way, you can also do it manually. But it was about 800 miles, I think, we figured to make that kind of maneuver. So that's a lot of flying to do it manually.

Now, it also didn't work. Because if the goal was to avoid radar, they didn't. They might have avoided Indonesia, but they were picked up by Malaysian and Thai radars.

Let me show you another really out-there theory that some have put out, which is how to avoid being detected by radar by shadowing another plane. So Mitchell, if you would? We'll try and bring up -- here it is -- you would have to get close to another large jet, and this is what we're simulating here, and you would be, in essence, be flying in its radar shadow. So you'd already turned off your transponder. You're invisible to radar. You merge your blip with this plane that is identified, and you follow it step by step, move by move, all the way.

Mitchell points out one very good thing about this, besides being difficult to do, is the fact that, what?

MITCHELL CASADO, FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR: Well, you're flying on an airway, which is akin to a highway in the sky. So you're obviously not the only car on the road. You're not the only plane on the highway. There's going to be a guy beside you on your left, a guy beside you on the right. There's going to be guys in front of you, guys especially ahead of you.

SAVIDGE: Someone's going to say, "Hey, do you happen to know you've got another big plane right on your behind?" So that's the theory. But you can see there's a lot of flaws to it.

LEMON: And not to mention -- not to mention dealing with all the wake turbulence that you would have to, that, you know, would be generated from that.

Thank you, guys, we appreciate it.

So if it turns out that whoever was flying the plane was deliberating trying to avoid radar, what was the motive? I want you to check out this new map. The plane has skirted Indonesian airspace, as it veered off-course.

So I'm back now with my experts. And we're answering your questions right now. And we're going to start with Bill Nye.

Bill, a Malaysian source tells us that the plane flew around Indonesian airspace to avoid radar. What do you make of that?

NYE: Well, as you pointed out, I don't think it's possible. You know, the thing that makes it real hard are the engines. The engines on big planes reflect a lot of radar.

Now, with that said, apparently, the pinger is the thing that I'm relying on. Apparently, it got all the way out there, largely undetected.

And I want to emphasize here, we had a little dispute before the last break, in my experience, with airplane problems, it's never just one thing. It's a series of things. And so, this will all be, sooner or later, this will be resolved. It may be tomorrow, it may be years, it may be at this press conference at 11 Eastern. But it's very reasonable, as far as the cause and effect, that it was not just a single problem.


NYE: And it's very reasonable to me that the airplane just kept flying, for a long time. And how it got on that course is the -- the sequence of events that we don't know. It's just riveting. It's got everything, aviation mystery.

LEMON: Boy, do I know, every night, for a month, I've been here with no time off, reporting on this, because the world is riveted by it.

Mary Schiavo, I looked at my notes tonight from the producers, and you have, it says, basically in a word, you're skeptical about this avoiding radar.

SCHIAVO: I am. Just because, you know, first of all, just because Indonesia didn't get them on radar doesn't mean that they were avoiding the radar.

And I did a lot of reading and in Indonesian papers, thanks to Google translations, and their radar has been just the subject of tremendous criticism. One of the air force generals themselves said that 70 percent of it is aged, and it only works half the time. And by the way, military radar is only up 12 in 24 hours a day.

And one commentator said, "Ah, the radar couldn't pick up a civilian aircraft anyway."

So I was really skeptical, because if the radar is that -- oh, and they're rebuilding it, and it's not going to be done until 2024. So I guess I'm skeptical of anybody who -- of a country who doesn't cooperate and doesn't provide the information for 30 days. And then comes out with a statement and says, "Oh, by the way, you know, they didn't come through our radar. Radar didn't detect them. They didn't come that way."

Well, I'm just skeptical, all of a sudden, after almost 30 days, they make a pronouncement, and we're supposed to change our thinking. No, I need a little more than that. LEMON: All right. I told you, you were skeptical. You know, as a commercial airline pilot, Jim Tilmon, I would imagine it's not far- fetched to understand how to fly around certain air space, but would an airline pilot know how to avoid radar? Is that, you know, a military pilot's sort of M.O., to know how to do that?

TILMON: The military aircraft have facilities on board to detect when they are being absorbed on radar. It's -- we don't have that in commercial aviation. We don't have anything in the cockpit to let us know whether we are being seen on radar or not. And I don't think you can just look at a map and make that determination.

But you know what? I don't really -- I didn't think that he was trying to avoid somebody's radar, necessarily. It seemed to me, he was flying between nations, kind of staying over international waters. That would make it not a good idea for that nation to scramble jets or anything else. They may not even care. And he may not have even cared whether or not he was seen on radar if he was in the right place to make it not a good idea for a nation to react violently for where he was.

LEMON: That's a very good point. As a military pilot, Michael, you trained how to avoid radar.

MICHAEL KAY, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: That facility that he's talking about is a radar warning receiver, and a little scope inside the cockpit that allows you to identify where a radar is, from the energy that's coming from it. But more importantly, for a pilot, you can hear the blip in your ear. So every time the radar tracks around and paints across the fuselage, you can hear that. And that's what draws your attention to where the radar is.

But I think an equally compelling analysis case here is the track of it crossing Malaysia. If you can go to the map, you'll see that the aircraft actually made a case in point of avoiding Thailand.

Now, the triple-7 is a wide-bodied jet. That means it's going to have an absolutely huge radar cross-section. So it will be seen on radar. The question that I have, if Malaysia had seen this, it's a wide- bodied jet. It's not IFR flight planned, it's not VFR flight planned. It's not part of routine air traffic and it's not wearing a squawk. So why didn't Malaysia interrogate it by getting some jets airborne and going to have a look at it. That to me, from a government perspective, isn't acceptable.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, everyone. I need to tell our audience we're awaiting a live news conference from Australia. We're going to bring that to you just as soon as it starts. It should happen in just a few minutes. But we have time for one more question -- one more segment from our panel of experts. Are we at another dead end? That's the question. We're going to talk about that next.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. We're awaiting a news conference to begin at any moment in Australia. And we have time for one final thought. So let's just say that these are not the pings. Are we back here at square one?

QUEST: No. We're not at square one. We're on to Plan B or Plan C. We know the rough area of the ocean where this now took place.

LEMON: Yes. So we do know. All right. Stick around, everyone, because, again, we're awaiting that news conference.