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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Divers Pulling Bodies From AirAsia Crash Area; Divers Pulling Bodies from AirAsia Crash Area; Firm Claims Laid-Off Employee Behind Sony Hack
Aired December 30, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN GUEST HOST: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. Bodies covered, debris found, searchers finally located the first evidence of the lost AirAsia plane as day breaks and the search resumes. The question remains, what brought down flight 8501?
Plus, a second incident involving AirAsia and an A-320, what sent the plane skeeting off the runway passengers fleeing down evacuation slides.
And one cyber-security firm raises new evidence that a company insider could be behind the Sony hack? But the government have been wrong about North Korea? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Jim Sciutto in again tonight for Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, the recovery of flight 8501. As the sun breaks over the Java Sea, researchers are now resuming their grim and difficult task. The plane's debris discovered some 62 miles, perhaps more than a hundred miles from its last known location in the air. Seahawk helicopters from the guided missile destroyer, the USS Sampson have discovered some debris as well. At this hour at least three bodies have been recovered. Some family members of the passengers first learned the news when images of dead bodies aired on Indonesian television. Overwhelmed by the confirmation of their worst fears. Among those lost, a family of five on vacation, two families of four, a man heading to Singapore for his wedding.
Earlier, a military aircraft spotted a shadow of what looked like a plane in the water and soon what appeared to be an emergency exit and a number of those bodies. The debris field is in the Cara Matta Straight (ph), the water depth there send the average between just 80- 100 feet. Large waves though continue to hamper the recovery. Among the questions we'll going to examine tonight are, did the aircraft stall and if so, why? Also, why has debris been found so far from the plane's last known location in the air? And why did authorities wait some 90 minutes to declare 8501 missing? Also while no one will speculate on the cause of the crash yet, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes indicated that the region's severe weather is at least a cause for concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY FERNANDES, AIRASIA CEO: The flights in Malaysia, flights in Thailand, there is a lot of rain. So that is something that we have to look at more carefully because the weather is changing. (END VIDEO CLIP)
Andrew Stevens is OUTFRONT tonight live in Surabaya, Indonesia where the flight 8501 originated. Andrew, tremendous amount of progress today, the first signs of debris, bodies. What is the latest now as another day of search begins?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this is the grim basically aftermath of an air crash. We are at the Surabaya Airport and I've counted about ambulances here just lined up waiting for those bodies to come back and they're going to be transported about an hour or so to a police hospital where the identification will take place. But the conditions we're being told are rough, it is still rough out there. That shadow of the plane, such a crucial part of this puzzle, finding the actual main part of the plane, they can't relocate it. That is what we are being told about 15 minutes ago. So that is going to be a focus of the search today. Obviously as finding bodies as well. But it has been an absolutely heart-rending past 24 hours for the families of the passengers and the crew on board that flight. Take a look.
STEVENS (voice-over): A grim recovery operation is now underway in the waters off Indonesia. There is rescue teams working to retrieve bodies and debris from the wreckage of AirAsia flight 8501. It was found off the coast of Borneo, about 60 miles from the aircraft's last known location over the Java Sea.
FERNANDES: It is an experience I never dreamt of happening and it is probably an airline CEO's worst nightmare, after 13 years of flying millions of people. It is the worst feeling one could have.
STEVENS: As searchers pull bodies from the waters, some family members watch the scene on live television. After seeing debris, they saw video of a helicopter lowering a diver to what appeared to be a floating body. Some people fainted, others burst into tears. One hundred and fifty five passengers and seven crew members were on that flight.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (through a translator): When they explained not only did they find debris but also found bodies floating in the water, everyone became hysterical, especially the mothers. One mother even blacked out.
STEVENS: The airbus A-320 that took off from Surabaya lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control early Sunday morning, it happened shortly after the pilot requested permission to turn and climb to a higher altitude because of bad weather. CNN obtained audio of air traffic control moments before the plane left Indonesia's second biggest city.
CONTROLLER: Wagon 8501 cleared for takeoff.
OZ8501: Cleared for takeoff Wagon 8501. STEVENS: Officials are hoping to find the plane's black boxes which should contain critical information about what happened in the plane's final moments. Search and rescue teams are diverting all of their resources to where the debris was found. The U.S. is one of several nations contributing to the effort. A U.S. navy destroyer arrived Tuesday, another is being prepared to deploy from Singapore.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: The USS Fort Worth, that ship is getting ready to sail and can be ready in early as a day or two to get on station and can be there fairly quickly.
STEVENS: And we know that heavy rain bands, Jim, are sweeping through the search zone. There are strong winds moving and also -- strong winds and quite high waves. So this is going to be a challenge for the search teams as they try to pull bodies out, as they try to locate crucially the main fuselage of that plane which of course has the voice recorders, the cockpit recorders and the black boxes, Jim.
SCIUTTO: And this is just the beginning of a long and difficult and painful search effort. Thanks very much to Andrew Stevens live in Surabaya in Indonesia.
Well, now the search teams have found some debris from AirAsia flight 8501, the next step will be identifying the exact location of the plane itself. The main debris field.
Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT with the latest. Tom, how are they conducting this search, particularly in the conditions there that they have much shallower water than were involved for instance with the MH-370.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Much, much shallower. Those are very, very deep. This is only about 100 feet or so. Let's just go over the basics. Because what you have really are three layers of search. The first is what we're talking about all day. We know where the plane went, we know where the search areas were established, we know where debris has now been found in the red box down there, also know that there are roiling waters around here that can move things around a great deal. That is the first layer here. The top of the water. The first layer of searching matters because that is where the first clues come. If you think about all of those things that they found so far, these pieces on top of the water, those can give you an idea of where to look. They may or may not be critical clues to what happened to this plane, but if you take those and go to the second area of searching, which is the water column beneath the surface, this 80-100 feet down to the bottom and you study what's happening with all the currents out there, you can sort of reverse engineer where those pieces on the top may have come from, what relationship they may have to something on the bottom.
So that can lead you to the parts that you really want, which is the third level down here. The things that are actually on the ocean floor. Those matter because those are the heavy bits, to put it quite simply. You are talking about things that will tell you what happened to this plane, pieces of wings and pieces of the tails and the electrical system and the flight data recorder and the voice recorder, the engines, each at about 9,000 pounds and landing gear all sorts of things. Because those are the things Jim that if you collect enough of them you can reassemble and get a picture of what really happened to this plane. And they are all in the third layer in all likelihood, the bottom layer. What is on the bottom of the water there?
SCIUTTO: So Tom, if we can, let's compare this to past under water search efforts. We already said, of course much shallower waters than we're involved with MH-370, of course that search still going on. But is TW-800 off the coast of Long Island, shallow water as well, is that the best comparison here?
FOREMAN: It is a very good comparison. Because it was a large passengers jet. It was a lot closer to shore than this. So, that made the search somewhat easier. And make no mistake, it is not easy under water. Divers and robotics, no matter what you do. Even if you're 80 or 100 feet down, it is a big challenge.
But that is a good comparison because they were able to go on that water and by searching for all of the heavy bits on the bottom, look at what they came up with. They were able to assemble 95 percent of that plane. They recovered all of the victims, even though it took ten months to get to the last one and it took them a lot of time to get all these pieces together.
But this is what really counts. Because once you have this, you can reassemble the plane and you can look for damage to the plane, you can see if it tore apart on impact or if it landed largely intact. You can see if there was a fire, if there was an explosion or if there was a failure of a major system. That is why it is so important that they collect all of the pieces and all three layers, top, middle and bottom, particularly those big pieces on the bottom because that is how you reassemble, in effect, the scene of the crime, the scene of the accident and how it happens. SCIUTTO: That is a great point. Because even with all of those
pieces, we know it took years to determine what brought that plane down. So, that's just a reminder.
FOREMAN: Four years.
SCIUTTO: It could be a long time before we know in this case. Thanks very much Tom Foreman in Washington.
I want to bring in now CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest as well as Anish Patel, he's president of Dukane-Seacom, it's the company that manufactures the locator beacon on AirAsia flight 8501. Richard, if I could begin with you. So, major progress today. They find wreckage where they positively identified from this plane. But the other bit of information today which is interesting is that 60 miles possibly to 100 miles from the last known location in the air, it is early and we know this is speculation, but does that give you a clue, does it tell you anything about how that plane might have come down?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Not yet. No. I'm afraid it doesn't. And we can hypothesize, you know, did it come down because if it fell out of the sky, it should have come straight down? It should have come forward movement to get that far away? But this 60 to 100 miles, is actually behind the aircraft, so did it land here and then drift off? No, it doesn't really tell us. But what it does do, the crucial importance of this is, it tells us the plane fell out of the sky in that area. And that sounds obvious. But at least you are narrowing the field down. You have this vast water, but now at least it is not quite as vast. Look at that debris field, where the debris was recovered. You can get rid of the rest of that area. It is not going to be that far away from there. It is just not.
SCIUTTO: And of course, again, when we compare it to MH-370, imagine, just remember those large portions of the South Indian Ocean we were talking about at the time, that is a major step forward. But many steps. And if I can bring you in, because this gets to that point as well. Explain the range needed to detect a ping from the black box? It is no more than two miles or so.
So already we are talking about 60 miles from last known location in the air of this plane, which raises the possibility of a very large debris field. So does that make it clear that there is still a lot of work to be done before you can start reliably putting something in the water, a hydrophone and quickly come to find where the black box is?
ANISH PATEL, PRESIDENT, DUKANE-SEACOM: Correct, Jim. Good evening, Jim and Richard. Here is a pinger. This is a typical of the one that's going to be installed on the aircraft in question. The range of these pingers is, like you said, about two miles in great or perfect sea-state conditions. So you are talking about few ways, not a lot of chop and you can get that kind of range. So you need to be pretty close to these pingers to really get a good location. So we have a lot of work in front of us in terms of narrowing the debris field to be able to triangulate on a location just yet.
SCIUTTO: But a big step forward today in that you have some debris which begins to give you a sense of the debris field and it gives you a much better target to look for and listen for I should say for this pinger than, for instance, when they were listening, remember months ago for MH-370.
PATEL: Right. And if we like to say that you have the hay stack, now at least you know where to look to find the needle.
PATEL: I like to -- if you go back a little bit, since they started putting beacons on black boxes in the late '60s, early '70s, they've had 12 incidences where they have not recovered a flight data or a voice data recorder. Of those, three of those are in relatively shallow water. So we still have a lot of work to do to really make sure we can triangulate and pick up on these data devices.
SCIUTTO: No question. Richard, we're going to step back just for a moment here, just back to the moment where that plane disappeared. Because, you know, it is also become clearer that it was 90 minutes after air traffic controllers lost contact with this flight before they declared it missing. That is a crucial 90 minutes. And I know what is difficult to imagine that someone could have survived this, but at least you would have started the search quicker, wouldn't you?
QUEST: But you don't start a search like that. When you declare a plane missing and you elevate it to code red and you elevate the process, you are aware that you are putting in place ships and planes and people are starting to move. So, you had better, you know, this might not just be a pilots who has been of a dilatory or a radio that just failed. So 90 minutes sounds like a long time, but look at how long it was for MH-370. It was hours. Not 90 minutes -- they are not sitting there doing nothing in that 90 minutes, Jim. They are calling each other and saying have you seen it. Call the other aircraft, call the previous aircraft controller, call the company, call the airline. And everybody is going backwards and forwards and before long an hour has gone past.
SCIUTTO: I don't mean to unfairly blame.
SCIUTTO: But I'm asking the question, because if there is any chance, and maybe you can tell us, you know this very well, if it is completely unreasonable to imagine that you might have saved lives, had you been able to move more quickly?
QUEST: Yes, is the short answer. You could save lives if the plane didn't fall out of the sky.
QUEST: But let's take the hypothesis, assuming the plane had landed on the water --
SCIUTTO: And attempted water landing.
QUEST: Yes. And that 90 minutes could have been crucial. Yes, absolutely. It could have been crucial.
SCIUTTO: Something we don't know, but it is a possibility you have to account for.
QUEST: The 90 minutes on its own is not an unreasonable amount of time before somebody pushes a big red button and says panic.
SCIUTTO: Okay, fair point. Thanks very much, Richard Quest as always. And Anish Patel.
OUTFRONT next, investigators are looking at the possibility that AirAsia 8501 stalled in flight. How is it possible for a modern jetliner to stall? We're going to have a special report.
Plus, the plane's black box is still somewhere under the Java Sea. Ahead, what the U.S. Navy is bringing to that search.
And another AirAsia accident with again with an airbus A-320. What sent passengers scrambling for the emergency shoots?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCIUTTO: Welcome back and breaking news, searchers back at work on the Java Sea resuming the search for bodies and the critical black boxes from AirAsia flight 8501. At least three bodies have been recovered so far. Searchers have also found pieces of the wreckage but the main body of the passenger jet is still lost. At this hour, the Pentagon readying two dive teams and a reconnaissance plane to join the search in case they are requested among the leading theories and to what may have happened to the plane in the air, the possibility that flight 8501 stalled in flight. But how could a state of the art aircraft flown by an experienced pilot simply fall out of the sky?
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When an airplane loses lift or stalls, the result could be catastrophic.
(on camera): Once you are in an unrecoverable stall, what happens?
LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: There are various types of stalls, but for the most part on a swept wing airplane, okay, you are going to see more less a flat situation because the pilots are going to try to control it and will almost be like a leaf.
MARQUEZ: How is that possible?
ABEND: Well, it's possible --
MARQUEZ: How can you be moving forward?
ABEND: It is possible because they go to such a slower speed.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): A stall occurs when not only the airspeed slows but the wings are at such an extreme angle or as pilots call it the angle attack, the plane loses lift and can plummet.
ABEND: The reason the airplane flies is because you have high pressure underneath the wing and low pressure on top. If this is the nose of the airplane might tip down my fingers, and this is the relative wind, okay, the steep of the angle, the attack occurs, the more likely you get a stall.
MARQUEZ: In the case of QZ8501, already possible critical piece of information, air traffic control showing the A-320 ascending shortly before disappearing from radar.
ABEND: It's disturbing to me that the attempt was being made at least that's the evidence so far. We haven't verified it with data that he was avoiding weather by going up and that is not something we normally like to do. We would rather to go left or right.
MARQUEZ: As with flight 8501 and Air France like 447 in 2009 was flying from Rio to Paris on a powerful storm. Ice formed on the pedo tubes, on the plane's exterior. The tubes deliver critical information to the plane's computers. Pilots had confusing signals as to what was happening with the plane.
ABEND: They were getting horns and sirens, readouts on their displays and they are trying to determine what is happening with the airplane.
MARQUEZ: The 447 pilot, thinking the plane was losing airspeed, increased power and climbed, pushing the aircraft into a catastrophic stall. The flight voice recorder captured the confusion in the cockpit, with the stall warning blaring, the plane's captain says, watch out, you are pulling up, one of his co-pilots chillingly responds, am I pulling up? With flight 8501, despite equatorial heat at that altitude and in those stormy conditions, ice could rapidly and easily form. Were the pilots of flight 8501 getting similarly bad information about what was actually happening to the plane?
ABEND: You are talking super cools water droplets at these altitudes. What would happen, the concentration was such that it blocked the pedo tubes and perhaps the heating system either failed or didn't keep up with it.
MARQUEZ: All questions for investigators as the search for victims continues, the search for answers just as intense.
MARQUEZ: So the question is could we have another airbus plane with a similar problem to 447 and that is something investigators certainly want to understand. Just as one who flies, as we all fly so much, just the idea that these modern aircraft could just fall like that is stunning. Hard to get your head around -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: No question. Well, that is early, that's one of many theories and they're just beginning. Thanks very much to Miguel Marquez here in New York.
Joining me now, David Soucie, he's CNN safety analyst. Also, the author of the upcoming book, "Malaysia Airlines Flight 370" Richard Quest. CNN aviation correspondent and the host of "Quest Means Business." And Dan Duke, he's a retired United Airlines pilot who has flown the A-320 including in this part of the world. David, I wonder if I could begin with you. You know, this is a difficult assignment at this stage because it is early. But we did get new information today. Of course, the most crucial you found debris from the plane. You know it hit the water. But two, also, that much of the debris, at least today, 60 miles from where the last known communication is, what does that tell you?
DAVID SOUCIE, FORMER FAA SAFETY INSPECTOR: Well, the part about the debris still has so many questions in it for me. And it could be answered by a thousand different scenarios. So to go into any of the scenarios isn't really beneficial at this point but there's a few things that we should point out. One is that debris is not indicative of what would be a single point of impact of the aircraft. If you look at 447, we look at all kinds of other aircraft --
SCIUTTO: It would be a bigger concentration? SOUCIE: Well, more than that -- yes it would be more, but it would be
concentrated and it would be spread out and after these days it would have a pattern to it. And I spoke with David Gallo about that pattern and what we're seeing now in the pattern and where they pick these pieces up doesn't necessarily tell us that there was a significant point of impact. So, I'm still holding out on that.
SCIUTTO: So, let's look at what new clues can tell us and what value they add. Richard, I wonder if I could ask you this question. Looking at the bodies, a difficult subject, but this has been raised by several experts today, if the clothes have come off the body, it is an indication that the body was outside of the aircraft, possibly the wind would take them off, I mean, is that a key clue at this stage or could that mean, as David has referenced, multiple things.
QUEST: Multiple things, depending. What it won't tell you -- let me reverse engineer this. What it won't tell you is why the plane came out of the sky.
SCIUTTO: It could tell you -- give an indication as to the condition of the plane.
QUEST: Yes, it can give an indication of the nature of the fall, the nature of the velocity of it, whether they and how they perished on the way down. But you get better information actually from the aircraft itself in terms of the metal and the stresses on the metal.
SCIUTTO: Of course, when you find the black box, presumably you do.
Dan, I would love to speak to you as well. You have flown this plane. No one will know the inside of that cockpit but also the conditions this crew might have gone through. Stall is a possibility of many. How can a pilot get out -- get an airplane out of a stall and would this pilot have been specifically and repeatedly trained for that kind of scenario?
DAN DUKE, RETIRED UNITED AIRLINES PILOT: I can't speak to what he was trained at. But we at United were certainly trained for that. We had upset recovery training almost every recurrent simulator period. And there are more than one kinds of stall. We keep kind of imaging a low-speed stall, the airplane can stall at a high speed. What happens is you actually end one with a shock wave on the top of the wing, which destroys the lift and it will stall at a higher than normal speed, above the critical mark. It can stall because it is accelerated.
When the airline is turning, it is actually pulling more G's and it's requiring more lift out of the wings and more lift than you have airspeed to create and it can stall. But as far as training, we received an extensive amount of training. And each recovery was different. The goal is always the same. Get the airplane back into a stable state as quickly as possible. And I think one of your other guests said that -- that there should be more training. Well, you can't train for every scenario, you just have to be ahead of the airplane and not let it get away from you and recover it as quickly as possible. SCIUTTO: Well, it would be remarkable to have another situation like
this, a stall like we saw with Air France 447. David, I wonder if I can ask you. Again, let's focus on the information we have at this point and there is some. Very limited but there is some information. You made a good point when we were speaking earlier about what debris has been recovered so far, what appears to be an evacuation ramp and also a case which might indicate that it came from aft section, the rear section of the plane.
SOUCIE: Right. It is a fly-away case and what that means is, if the aircraft ever has to land in an area where there is no maintenance available, then it has some basic needs and it has some basic tools, it has some light bulbs, oils and things like that to be used to get the aircraft fixed if there was anything wrong within a light method. That is right next to the aft department doors where it is typically put and that is what we believe is here. I've talked to several mechanics and they validated the fact that yes, it was --
SCIUTTO: What would that tell you? If you seeing -- what concentration of just one part of the plane? Does that give you an indication it break up?
SOUCIE: Well, it says something happened and from what we can tell, from what we have here, and after talking to these mechanics that have worked for Asia, they both said that this is from the right side of the aircraft, the slide looks like it is from the right side of the aircraft as well and the bottle that we saw with it as well is what inflates it. So that is all attached to some seats just inside that exit door.
SCIUTTO: David Soucie, Richard Quest, thanks very much as well as Dan Duke. A-320 pilot. Great to have you on.
OUTFRONT next, the U.S. Navy adding high tech air and sea assets for the search of flight 8501. We're going to get a live update from the U.S. 7th Fleet.
And another bad of high winds and bad weather in the Philippines and another AirAsia accident. Is it a coincidence? We're symptomatic of why there are problems in one of the most heavily travelled air markets in the world.
SCIUTTO: And welcome back. We're continuing to follow breaking news of the extensive search underway for AirAsia Flight 8501.
At this moment, the search is under way to find more debris and more bodies. It is an international effort consisting of divers, ships and aircraft, including now a U.S. destroyer.
Here's what we know. Wreckage from the plane was spotted somewhere between 62 and 124 miles from its last known location in the air on Sunday morning. This information remains fluid as we learn more about exactly what happened in the air. Search teams are focusing on a debris field in the Caramatta Strait,
located in the Java Sea, off the coast of Indonesia. The water there to average between just 80 and 100 feet.
It is however monsoon season. High winds, rain and heavy seas making for yet another challenge to search and recovery efforts. Search teams are equipped with some very high tech underwater tools, though, to help find plane wreckage and, of course, the remains of some 162 passengers and crew that were on board.
I want to bring in Captain Christopher Budde. He's deputy chief of staff for operations of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet whose USS Sampson is already at the crash site. It is at work. He joins me now by phone.
Thanks for joining us, Captain Budde. I wonder if you can tell us what progress Sampson has made so far. I understand that it has been sighted some debris.
CAPT. CHRIS BUDDE, U.S. SEVENTH FLEET OPERATIONS OFFICER (via telephone): Good morning.
Sampson joined the search yesterday and using her embarked helicopters began to search the area from the coordination center and late yesterday afternoon was one of the aircraft that was spotting the initial debris fields that were found in the area.
SCIUTTO: Now, I understand that the U.S. is rendering more forces, hasn't been asked for yet, but two diver teams, as well as other ships, perhaps the P-8 Poseidon, the very advanced surveillance aircraft. No request, though, yet for those extra assets to take part in the search?
BUDDE: No requests yet. We tend to try to prepare as much as possible and then wait to see what the country coordinating the effort needs to have added to the overall effort. In this case, the Indonesians have organized a very good response. The neighboring nations, Singapore, Malaysia, have all chipped in some significant assets. So, there was not a bigger request for U.S. support.
SCIUTTO: What special capability does the U.S. bring to bear here in light of the difficult tasks that are coming forward? Of course, the debris and the delicate task of rescuing bodies, but also that key of under water search. What special capability does the U.S. have?
BUDDE: We're one of the navies that operated side scan sonar systems that can be deployed from ships or small boats and search a fairly small area. We're talking tens of square miles instead of hundreds of square miles. But the ability to find wreckage on the ocean floor, it's a fairly advanced system and also available commercially.
So, if the Indonesians request that assistance, we've got it available. They may actually use commercial systems available locally though.
SCIUTTO: Well, it is going it be the important part of the search as we go forward, finding not just the main debris field on the ocean floor but also those crucial black boxes.
Thanks very much to Captain Budde with the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet.
OUTFRONT tonight to discuss the conditions and the rescue efforts, we have CNN analyst David Gallo. He's director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. And we also have Alan Kipping. He served as a naval training supervisor for rescue swimmers for the U.S. Navy who might be called into service here.
David, I wonder if I could begin with you. Your group, Woods Hole, responsible for the difficult task of locating air France 447 and much more difficult than what we are seeing now. So even though, however, they are searching a relatively shallow area here, this debris field looks like it could be dispersed over a large part of the area which require a lot of mapping.
Can you help manage expectations here of how quickly this search progress?
GALLO: Sure. Yes, I think we're early in the game for the debris field. I'm not sure how much we know that's actually been seen. I'm a little bit mystified that it seems so small and that there are few bodies and a few pieces of the aircraft.
Without having other bits of debris trailing off into the distance -- and Air France, it was five days after the tragedy that the first debris was located it, was thousands of miles away from land so it is understandable. But they are picking up debris for probably two weeks after that in a huge field that was tens of miles on either side. So, you know, I know here the waves are not quite as ferocious, maybe the winds not quite as strong. But the currents can move things around and it's been day three.
So, we'll have to see what they find out today as they start focusing on this particular area with aircraft.
SCIUTTO: Alan, this clearly is not just an investigation scene but is also sadly the families are very well aware, it is a graveyard. You have trained delivered to take on this very -- divers to take on this difficult task. How difficult is it for divers to go under water, not only are they pulling up wreckage, they are pulling up children, mothers and fathers? How tough is that?
ALAN KIPPING-RUANE, FORMER NAVY RESCUE SWIMMER: It's super tough. I mean, you're talking about picking up children. Some of these guys probably have families and they are picking up mothers and children, I mean, there was an infant on board and males on board as well.
So, it's just -- it wretches your heart, but at the same time, you want to take careful in terms of dealing with the bodies because, you know, bringing the bodies back intact, you want to be able to give autopsies so they could figure out kind of what else happened. But it's super tough dealing with seeing kids and children.
SCIUTTO: No question, 18 children on board this plane.
SCIUTTO: David, one concern, I know, out there is about interference as you begin to listen for, using a hydrophone for the pingers from these black boxes. You have a number of things. It's a limited range, one to two. We have a large search area. There is worry about the batteries, right, 30-day life span, but also interference. You've got a lot of ships, a lot of boats in that area.
How difficult does that make the search even as you begin to refine the search area?
GALLO: Very much more, Jim. I mean, we've got some of the elements. You have the right kinds of technology showing up and the right kinds of teams showing up.
But, you know, the next thing that's got to happen has to be a solid plan where all of this stuff is coordinated. And part of that coordination is that when you are listening with listening devices, hydrophones, under water microphones, you need quiet. And if there is shipping in the distance and ships making noise, it's going to make the job tougher, especially since the water is shallow in places and you might start hearing noise from the surface itself.
So, those kinds of things have to be worked into the third thing, the operational plan to make this all come together.
SCIUTTO: Alan, this is certainly not just an emotional difficult task for the drivers, but it's also dangerous. I mean, you've got 10-foot waves, you've strong winds, you've got currents under water. How do these conditions impact the search efforts, but also how much danger will the divers be in these conditions?
KIPPING-DUANE: So, you know, the conditions above sometimes may not reciprocate under water. But at the same, sometimes, they might. And while I'm not completely familiar with the area that they are actually diving in, you know, you need boats, you need a dive master and you needed captains that are competent operating these ships and these boats.
But if the boats can't go out, you can't send divers down. So, not only is it dangerous for the divers, but it's dangerous for the people operating the boat.
So, it's extremely difficult getting people down, looking at the debris that's come up on the sonar.
SCIUTTO: Right. We are just beginning as we know.
Alan Kipping-Ruane, great to have you on board.
KIPPING-RUANE: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: David Gallo, great to have you on the air as well.
OUTFRONT next, just days after the crash, another accident for an AirAsia flight in bad weather. We'll have the details ahead. Plus, new evidence that the Sony cyber attack may have been pulled off by a company insider. Were government investigators wrong about North Korea?
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York.
There was another flight scare involving an AirAsia aircraft and an Airbus 320. This time, a plane flown by their regional partner AirAsia Zest went off a runway. "Reuters" is reporting the A320 traveling from Manila and carrying 159 passengers and crew members, skidded and overshot the runaway at Kalibu International Airport in the Central Philippines.
You can see in this photo, here the emergency slides were deployed. A passenger telling ABC News, quote, "It was an uneventful flight until the turbulence nearing descend."
Now, despite the rocky landing, fortunately, no one was hurt. At the time, the region was again being slammed by a tropical storm, bringing flash floods in the Central Philippines and killing on the ground more than 30 people.
CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien is OUTFRONT.
So, Miles, not only the pilots were dealing with bad weather, what can you tell us about the airport they were flying into, and the conditions there when this other accident happened?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, without getting too deep into arcane of aviation, Jim, this particular approach is called a non-precision approach, meaning it is not the precise tunnel in the sky that the instrument landing system is. And as a result, they had to fly and step themselves down through the clouds in sort of a steep fashion.
So, they were up against a steeper approach already, just by the design of the approach to this particular runway. Couple that with the fact we've been talking about the horrible weather in that region right now. It is the monsoon season, perhaps a contributing factor in the AirAsia crash that we have been talking about in the Java Sea.
So, it is a situation where the flights might very well have broken out of the clouds a little too far down the runway and should have executed what's called a go-around or a missed approach and tried once again. But in this case, they overran.
SCIUTTO: I don't want to equate the two, because this is not a crash. It's what you might call, the military called a hard landing. But this incident happening so soon after AirAsia 8501, same airline, similar weather conditions, two and three days apart, a horrible coincidence? Is this a sign of a company having safety issues? Because until this point, it had no safety issues.
O'BRIEN: Well, I think -- you know, it could be a coincidence but you have to put it in a broader concept, Jim. We are talking about incredibly fast-growing sector in Asia. Asia is now the largest airline sector in the globe, surpassing the U.S. and Europe, and it's growing very rapidly. They have a hard time, frankly, getting enough qualified pilots into cockpits as the demand increases, and couple that with the fact there is tremendous pressure to drive down the ticket prices.
This particular airline, AirAsia, is -- according to what I've been able to dig out -- the cheapest airline as far as cost per seat mile in the world. So, this is as low a cost an airline as there is. They operate at a high productivity levels, very short turnarounds, long days for the crews. The question you have to ask, I don't know the answer to it, but it's reasonable to ask for passengers and government entities alike, are they cutting corners on safety or maintenance and are they training the crews to handle situations like this?
SCIUTTO: Certainly a fair question. Fair also to mention, though, that before 8501, this airline did have a clean safety record for a number of years. But these are questions that are going to be asked going forward.
Miles O'Brien, great to have you on.
OUTFRONT next, the U.S. was quick to blame North Korea for the Sony hack attack. Now, at least one cybersecurity company says it could have been an inside job. Is it possible that the FBI got it wrong?
Plus, the president's golf party plays through one couple's wedding in paradise. Ahead, the golfer-in-chief phones in his apology.
SCIUTTO: A U.S. security firm says that a laid-off Sony employee and not North Korea is responsible for the Sony hack. Data scientists from Norse have met with FBI officials and shared their findings. The administration still points the finger firmly, however, at Kim Jong- un. The National Security Council telling me, quote, "the administration stands by the FBI assessment."
Joining me now is Kurt Stammberger. He's senior vice president of Norse.
Curt, thank you for joining us.
I wonder if you could explain, first, to our viewers, how you came to this conclusion. The assets you have here, 60 million sensors, or 6 million, rather, in 50 countries. How did you come to this conclusion?
KURT STAMMBERGER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, NORSE: Right. Norse is a company that focuses on threat and attack intelligence, exclusively. We have a worldwide network of sensors that track attacks live around the globe. And we have a staff of about a hundred, and about nine of those people are focused exclusively on intelligence analysis and counterintelligence analysis. SCIUTTO: But let me ask you this, because we're looking in fact at
the demonstration of that. That's quite a big network. But, remember, we're matching this up against the resources that went behind the U.S. investigation here. That includes the U.S. intelligence community, the NSA. We know its resources, the Department of Homeland Security, America's foreign intelligence partners.
Those are some pretty tremendous resources as well. And I will tell you this. It's the FBI's view that Norse focused in the words of the FBI on one narrow part of the hack and even interpreted that incorrectly.
I wonder how you respond to that.
STAMMBERGER: Well, that's actually an interesting interpretation. How they haven't received our data transmission yet. We briefed them yesterday, but the data packet which is very large is being prepared today and hasn't been sent to them yet. So they haven't actually had a chance to look at the raw data yet.
SCIUTTO: But you did sit down with them, we understand, presented your case to the FBI and after that presentation, the FBI saying and I've spoken to the White House as well, saying they're still very comfortable with the conclusion they made about North Korea.
Yes, I would say we remain very comfortable with the conclusions that we're drawing as well. Remember, we're not alone in the threat intelligence community. The scientific academic and technical community that forms the outside the government expertise on threat and attack intelligence is itself quite large and capable doing thorough investigations on its own. And we're not saying or positing that the FBI is necessarily wrong in these assertions.
What we're saying is that, with -- all of the analysis that has come from both our company, Norse, and from dozens of other companies that have very smart people working for them with different types of sensors and different type of linguistics expertise, none of them have been able to come up with data that corroborates this narrative that North Korea directed masterminded or funded this attack.
SCIUTTO: It is, we understand, attribution, the toughest part of in these kinds of investigations.
STAMMBERGER: Yes, absolutely.
SCIUTTO: Kurt Stammberger, thank you so much for joining us and giving us your case why it may not have been North Korea.
OUTFRONT next, an executive action was in order when the president's back nine was interrupted by one couple's very big day. That's right after this.
SCIUTTO: Captain's Natalie Heimel and Ed Mallue Jr. met at West Point. After being engaged for nearly a year and a half, their wedding was planned on the 16th hole of the golf course of the Marine Corps base in Hawaii.
One small problem: a presidential golf game scheduled for the exact same time. But after learning he had forced a last minute change of wedding plans, the commander-in-chief called his troops and apologized. And the couple had a special request. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED MALLUE, JR., GROOM: Thank you very much and you're more than welcome to come to our reception at the officer's club.
NATALIE HEIMEL, BRIDE: There's an open bar.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via telephone): You know what, I've already messed something up. You don't want me there. Everybody would have to be magged.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: While the president said he shot 84, if he had if he'd skip the 16th hole, would have been shot 79.
Thanks for joining us. We're going to see you again tomorrow.
"AC360" starts right now.