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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Germanwings Copilot Deliberately Crashed Flight; Families Arrive at Crash Site. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 26, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
It has been a difficult day in the final moments of Germanwings 9525. We now know there was no sound from the co-pilot who sat at the controls of the airbus A320 as it head into the mountainside.
There was no sound, no last minute prayers, no apologies, no sound but his breathing picked up by one of the microphones in the cockpit. Also picked up, the sound of the captain banging on the door trying to get in. Also picked up the screams of passengers who knew their lives were about to end.
Tonight, we try to make sense of the news and the sickening notion that a single person responsible for taking down this flight and murdering 149 other men, women, and children. Authorities now believe the Germanwings first officer, Andreas Lubitz, that man there, a man who is only job was to fly people safely to their destination, instead flew them to their deaths, locking his captain out of the airbus A320 flight deck aiming the airline straight into the French alps.
The flight tracking web site flight radar 24 claiming to have data, showing that he set the autopilot as low as it would go sealing the fate of 149 lives. Tonight, all the questions being raised about what possessed him to do it and how airlines can spot a rogue pilot if they can at all.
Also, reassessing the cockpit security measures that have so far prevented another 9/11 but cannot stop an inside job.
We are live for the next two hours because there's a lot to cover tonight, taking your questions on that and everything else people are talking about.
We begin with justice correspondent Pamela Brown with the very latest on the investigation.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, investigators remove boxes from 27-year-old German native Andreas Lubitz's apartment, the man who deliberately crashed flight 9525 into the French Alps. The CEO of Lufthansa said Lubitz was an experienced pilot with more than 600 hours of flight experience, a good record. CARSTEN SPOHR, CEO, LUFTHANSA (through translator): He was 100
percent fit to fly without restrictions. His flight performance was perfect. There was nothing to worry about.
BROWN: Lubitz passed his initial medical screening. But the Lufthansa CEO said the airline does not do ongoing psychological testing leaving open the possibility something could have changed after Lubitz began his job at Germanwings in 2013. The CEO also raise question when he said Lubitz had at one point quote "interrupted his training for several months in 2008." He wouldn't explain why but said Lubitz eventually completed his training.
SPOHR (through translator): They went to the aviation school in Phoenix, Arizona. They underwent training there. There was an interruption with regard to the training and after then, the candidate managed to go through. He continued his training.
BROWN: A pilot who was a flight club member with Lubitz said he never showed any signs anything was wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As far as I'm concerned, I could say he was a very normal young man, a very normal pilot. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing at all. There were no accidents that I'm aware of. Nothing. No incidents whatsoever.
BROWN: Another flight club member said Lubitz enjoyed his training.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was a lot of fun. Even though he was perhaps sometimes a bit quiet. He was just another boy like so many others here. He was well integrated and I think he had a lot of fun here.
BROWN: Why he would deliberately steer flight 9525 for nearly 10 minutes into the French Alps remains a mystery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I can't understand it. We'll have to wait and see for the investigation to continue.
BROWN: The FBI is in a support role in the investigation on standby waiting to see what help it can offer to the French and Germans who are leading this investigation. Right now, investigators are interviewing those who knew Lubitz and looking at anything he may had his hands on. They will be scrutinizing his financial records, his relationship, his medical history, and any political views he may have had - Anderson.
COOPER: Pamela, thanks very much.
Airline officials today were speechless. Those words, they used those words repeatedly shock waves from the news rolled. Also across the crash site itself today, where Lufthansa has brought grieving family members flying them in from Barcelona and Dusseldorf.
And as you saw in Pamela's report, that same shock is also being very felt tonight in the co-pilot's hometown of Montabauer, Germany. People there are searching their memories for any possible sign of trouble that perhaps they missed. And investigators are searching for evidence including at his parents' home.
Diana Magnay is in the town. She joins us tonight.
What's the latest there on the investigation?
DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Well, I'm just up the road from the house where Lubitz was brought up. He used to deliver newspapers around this neighborhood as a little boy with his brother, one of the neighbors told me. And his parents left that house down the road this morning to fly to Marce as yet another grieving set of parents. They thought that they would be going to mourn the loss of their son. And now they are hearing from the state prosecutor that their son may have been a monster who caused the loss of these people.
Investigators today were in that house. They brought out boxes including servers, more look like computers. And they were also investigating the flat in Dusseldorf which he had and he split his time really between the two, sifting through for evidence that would in any way indicate his psychological state at the time of the crash and why he did what he did, Anderson.
COOPER: How can you imagine those parents who thought, you know, their child who was a victim of this only to learn on their way there that in fact he's not a victim at all. That he caused this, he's not just a person who committed suicide, he's a person who apparently has committed mass murder.
I know you've been talking to people who knew the co-pilot. What did they say?
MAGNAY: Well, to a certain extent, the city and it's quite a small- knit community is in lockdown. You know, the world's media has descended on them and I've got the impression those people who did really knew him are being very tight lipped about it.
I talked to a few of his peers, people of his age, he was 27, who is saying, I knew him but we're not talking to you. And that is that, you know. We came here very soon after the prosecutor made his accusations and already the word had spread.
The only real information we've got so far was from this gliding flight club where he'd spent much of his teenage years going to learn to glide where they said they couldn't imagine what a change this man. They didn't believe that he could have been the man, a man who would drive a plane into a mountain side, that he'd been a regular guy. That he had enjoyed and felt proud of the fact he was a Germanwings pilot and that he made his passion his hobby into his career. And that was really all that they could say about it. But it certainly doesn't add up to a picture of why he did what he did, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Rarely does, particularly in the early hours and days.
Diana Magnay, I appreciate the reporting. It is worth repeating that searchers have apparently yet to locate the heart of the plane's flight data recorder which means we do not know precisely exactly what the co-pilot did to bring the plane down. We only know what he and the captain said as well as his breathing and a number of alarms picked up on the voice recorder.
So we obviously do not have the complete picture of yet. But Still the sketch that we do have raises to say the least a lot of questions.
CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest joins us and so CNN safety analyst and former FAA investigator Davis Soucie, former NTSB managing director Peter Goelz. With us also is airbus captain Ron Stock.
I appreciate all of you being with us.
Richard, the news today that the auto pilot was reprogrammed from 20, excuse me, 38,000 feet to only a hundred feet, yet another piece of the puzzle coming together. This was a deliberate act.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And it's scotched any ideas that somehow there was a medical emergency, that he had slumped on the controls. Nothing like this.
What we heard from the prosecutor was that he had dialed, to use his words, dialed in the descent. And we wondered how they knew about this because they haven't got the data recorder. Well, it is information that comes from the transponder or one of the transponder frequencies where you can see the, on the list of data, it goes from 38,000 to 96, is what he put it.
And then sits back calmly, also we were told, as we're led to believe and does nothing. This, I was prepared to sort of give the benefit of the doubt in every different direction until we heard the prosecutor, until we heard the airline CEO, Carsten Spohr, saying I'm speechless, that an aircraft has been crashed by the cause of my own co-pilot.
COOPER: And I mean, all day long, you and I were on the air early this morning about this, I just cannot get out of my mind the idea that for those eight minutes, he sat there looking out at the approaching mountain, not saying anything and just the sound of his breath and the gradual sounds of screams of the passengers.
QUEST: He will have had happening around him. Besides the noise of the aircraft, the sound of the banging of the door, the sound of any alarms going off as they get towards the ground, the sound of air traffic control calling out constantly, we now know they were calling out constantly and then the sounds of the screams of passengers, which to have been picked up on the microphones on the other side of a locked door gives you a horrific idea.
COOPER: We know the Egypt air pilot who believed to have brought down that plane I think in 1999, if I'm not wrong. We know he mumbled something close to a prayer before the plane was brought down.
Ron, I'm very glad you're on the program tonight because you have extensive experience with exactly this plane, the A320 and there is so much focus on the door lock switch and why the pilot could not get back in. Can you just explain how that works?
[20:10:15] RON STOCK, AIRBUS A320 CAPTAIN: Yes. Essentially, it's a three-positioned toggle switch, which is spring loaded to the center position. If you move the switch to the forward position, it will unlock the door. If you let go of the switch, it returns to the center position whereby is door is locked again. Then there's the back position or rear wood position which is a locked position. And essentially what that does is disables the whole emergency entrance procedure. It disables the buzzers that rings in the cockpit. Essentially, it locks everybody out of the cockpit. So if a pilot wants to remain locked in to that cockpit there, you hit that lock switch and it's a time switch, but nobody will get into the cockpit.
COOPER: We don't yet know whether the pilot who was locked outside actually tried to enter in the emergency code that would have granted him access, but it almost doesn't matter because the co-pilot who was at the controls could have just toggled it down to the locked position and that would have overridden any attempts from the outside to get in, correct?
STOCK: That is correct. He can override it. Like I said, it's on a timed switch, five to 20 minutes. It locks everybody out. But each time it resets and you reenter that emergency code, all the co-pilot would have had to do would be to take that switch and placed it back into the locked position which would reset the timer again.
COOPER: So every time the pilot, if in fact the pilot was entering the code if he remembered to do that, every time the co-pilot would have had to load it back to the locked position?
STOCK: Exactly. Yes. Exactly. After that time, whether it be a 15- minute lockout, that resets the system and then potentially the captain could reenter the emergency code which sets off a continuous buzzer in the cockpit. And then all the co-pilot would have had to do is to take that switch back to the locked position again.
COOPER: It's interesting, David Soucie. So essentially, the co-pilot would have been getting warning that the pilot was entering the code and was trying to get in and I assume that would already be known to authorities because the sound of that alarm would be picked up by the microphone.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It most certainly would.
COOPER: Voice recorder.
SOUCIE: And yes, so loud that it would actually overcome other sounds in there that have to be distinguished within the analysis later.
COOPER: David, in terms of what we learned today, I'm wondering just as an investigator, what stands out to you?
SOUCIE: I tell you, it all fits. When you find the answer, it all seems to fall in place just like it's supposed to. And in this case, it does, in my mind with one exception. And Richard may have answers for this because we had discussed it earlier, but if he did select the descent and this is something we need to ask Ron, wouldn't that descent be smooth and straight? I would think it would be. But this has some anomalies in it. It has some changes in it. That could been maybe just because he inputted some control and tried to move it, something like that.
COOPER: Ron, what do you make of that?
STOCK: First off, the airplane will not leave on the autopilot. The airplane will not leave altitude without pilot intervention. You have to physically reach up there, reselect a new altitude and then move that selector switch, either push it or pull it depending upon what kind of descent you want to do. You have to physically move that switch to get that aircraft to initiate that descent. And there are different ways that you can make the airplane descend.
COOPER: Peter, they have yet located one of the black boxes, the flight data recorders. What could we learn from that flight data that we don't now know?
PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING EDITOR: Well, I think we've got the major pieces, but you would want to confirm exactly what the pilot was doing during the final moments. It will confirm whether, when he put the new altitude in, it will confirm whether he had done anything prior to that. You know, had he tried this out, you know, during the preflight? Was there any other warning signals prior to this terrible event taking place? But I think the voice recorder has told the tale, and it is a very sad one.
[20:14:49] COOPER: Yes, sickening, indeed.
Everyone stay with us. There's a lot more to talk about. We are on until the 10:00 hour tonight. And we are live for two hours and we'll be taking your questions as well.
You can tweet them using using #Germanwingsqs or go to our facebook page. Our panel will be answering them a little bit later in the program.
Coming up next, more on that cockpit door and how the first officer Lubitz used it to keep anyone who might have stops him on the other side.
And later, hard as it is to believe as we mentioned, this is not the first such incident. We will explore several other crashes that have parallels to this one and what we can perhaps learn from them.
[20:18:38] COOPER: This time last night on this broadcast we began exploring the horrifying scenario that authorities today confirmed. We started focusing on the airbus A320's cockpit door. Now, we began looking at measures put in place after 9/11 for keeping terrorists off the flight deck that in this case sadly locked out the pilot.
Our Gary Tuchman spent the day at airplane bone yard in California's Mojave Desert. Here's what he discovered about cockpit doors and what that captain was up against.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in the California high desert, Stores airplanes that are no longer being used here. But this Boeing 737 was flown in the years after 9/11. So it does have a reinforced cockpit door. And we want to give you a close up look at how it works.
The 737 was moth balled less than a year ago. The locking system on these reinforced doors is very similar to the locking system you would have in an airbus A320 that crashed in France.
With is Don Boutwell. He's the director of southern California aviation. What is this door made of? This reinforcement?
DON BOUTWELL, DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AVIATION: This is about an inch and a half thick of Kevlar with some steel. It's a Kevlar door.
TUCHMAN: OK. Unlike the airbus, this is a key lock?
BOUTWELL: That's correct. This is a key override system.
TUCHMAN: OK. But it has what the airbus has, a numbering system. What is that for?
BOUTWELL: This is the keypad punch to where the punch in the code that will unlock this door.
TUCHMAN: OK. What can destroy this door, anything?
[20:19:57] BOUTWELL: Virtually nothing. They are very indestructible.
TUCHMAN: Can I kick it?
BOUTWELL: You can kick it.
TUCHMAN: Yes. Yes. I mean, you can tell that it's pretty indestructible.
BOUTWELL: That's correct.
TUCHMAN: OK. Let's go inside. Now we're going to show how the pilots lock the door from inside the cockpit. Now, I want you come back in here now and then we'll close the door. This is the switching question. This is the switch on the Boeing 737. There are three settings -- auto, unlock, and deny. You leave out auto, what does that mean?
BOUTWELL: So the normal setting of this which is to stay in the auto position.
TUCHMAN: It says normal on the airbus but this is normal. And this leave the door locked, but if someone knows the number combination, they could press the numbers and the door will open, the pilots want them to come?
BOUTWELL: That's correct. He's got or he can deny the buzzers (ph).
TUCHMAN: OK. And that's what I want to ask you. If he doesn't want them to come in, he or she puts it on deny. And then once it's on deny, no one can get in this cockpit.
BOUTWELL: That's right.
TUCHMAN: And then five minutes later, they can try again with the numbers. But if they leave it on deny, no one is getting in here.
BOUTWELL: That's correct. He has to switch it every time he wants deny. This switch automatically once --
TUCHMAN: But every five minutes to deny, correct.
TUCHMAN: Now, if it puts it on unlock, then it's obvious that will unlock the door and somebody could come?
TUCHMAN: And one very interesting thing is this TV monitor. This is not an all American planes, on some American planes, but what are you seeing on this monitor?
BOUTWELL: So from this monitor, most of the systems have three cameras outside the door. And they can take, look at multiple views of who's outside the door.
TUCHMAN: So you can see who's out the door, it would be a great thing to have on every plane.
BOUTWELL: That's correct. So you'll also have this people right here to where they can physically see through who's out the door.
TUCHMAN: These reinforced cockpit doors keep people safer but as we've seen in this case, it kept people out who needed to get in.
COOPER: And Gary Tuchman joins us now.
Gary, so is there a manual way too lock the door? How does it work?
TUCHMAN: Yes, there's some old fashioned technology on the 737. I'll show you. It's a dead bolt. Like to see in your apartment or house. The way this works right now, it's unlocked in this setting. And then when you take this and move it into a plus, it's locked but then you can use a key on the 737 and it will open the door. And then there's one final setting and that is the locked key inoperable. You will not be able to get in the door. So if I close it right now and put it into the key inoperable, and if you were outside, there's no way you could ever get in here unless I decided to open the door and let you? COOPER: Gary, appreciate that.
Back with our panel, Richard Quest, David Soucie, Ron Stock who flies the A320 and also Peter Goelz.
David, do you think something is going to now change because of this? I mean, we know Lufthansa does not have a regulation and there isn't a legal requirement that they have a second person in the cockpit at all times. Do you think that's likely to change?
SOUCIE: Absolutely. I think it will. It's already started to change. Couple of the European air carriers had stepped forward. And this is something that we've seen. Just in the MH 370, that now, things are moving forward without the airlines waiting through for a regulation to happen. This is reflective of the safety culture that has been developed in the airlines worldwide, really. Because before this, they would wait until that regulation came out. They didn't want to waste money on something that wouldn't satisfy the regulation. Now they just go step forward and they do things right away.
COOPER: But it is interesting, Richard, I mean, the CEO of Lufthansa today said that no, you know, nothing could have prevented a pilot from doing that, if there was a second person in the cockpit. You could argue perhaps they could have at least opened the door, they could have wrestled with the pilot, something.
QUEST: Yes. Carsten Spohr said that the existing system had worked for many decades. And that before they were going to change it, they were going to make sure, you know, that what they were going to do doesn't, a, either create another problem but they've got to look carefully.
But have today, Easy Jet in Europe, Norwegian, Air Canada have all announced they are going to do two people in the cockpit. That door that we've just been looking at, that door was designed for a purpose. And as we've discovered, that purpose had consequences. And the consequences have now suddenly become arguably serious because of this incident as maybe the original purpose. That's the dilemma that the industry always faces when they decide to change something. Are you going to merely create another problem that's going to come back to boomerang?
COOPER: Ron? Yes, go ahead.
[20:24:48] GOELZ: Anderson, this is Peter. Let me add something on the second person in the cockpit because, you know, you were saying, who will that second person be? It will be a flight attendant. It will be a cabin crew member. Are we now asking flight attendants to be trained in assessing the mental health of the pilot or the co-pilot while they're in the front of the plane? I mean, this is an issue that has to be well thought through.
COOPER: Peter, arguably, you could say if, you know, the captain is banging on the door saying let me in, let me in, the flight attendant doesn't have to be all that well trained in what's going on to just realize -- GOELZ: We asked flight attendants to do an awful lot. They're the
last line of defense inside the cabin. And so now we are going to ask them to be the last line of defense inside the cockpit as well? I'm not sure.
COOPER: Ron, what do you make about this? I mean, about the idea of having this kind of rule across the board of having a second person?
STOCK: I think it's smarter to have a second person in the cockpit. That definitely is a deterrent. One thing, there's a procedure established to when that cockpit door can be open and that flight attendant has to looked to the people and make sure that the proper security procedures had been set out and there is not somebody there that you don't want before that door opens. Cameras would essentially do the same thing.
The time the doors opened matters. We don't stand there and carry on conversations with the door open. It's a three second rule. But each airline is probably has their own procedure for that. But I think it's better to have two in there, whether it be a second pilot on a jump seat or a flight attendant.
QUEST: Peter, we've also talked about the potential benefits of live streaming data from the cockpits and how much that could help in the search for down planes. I guess it wouldn't have necessarily helped in this case. I mean, would have anyone been able to do use that to prevent the crash, probably not?
GOELZ: No, I don't think so. I mean, one thing that Richard has raised and that I agree with is it really makes the argument for video in the cockpit. I mean, we want to know what went on during those last ten minutes. And while the voice recorder will give us some piece of it and the data recorder, if its recovered, will give us more fuller picture, having video streaming in the cockpit would really help complete the investigation and I think it's long overdue.
QUEST: It's very interesting to hear what Peter was just saying a moment ago about the second person in the cockpit and comparing it to the pilot, and what David. It's exhibits how this one size fits all. This make a rule and then have to worry about what you've created as a result of that rule.
Yes, the second person is a good idea in some circumstances, but Peter, as rightly says, you going to ask that flight attend to be your last line of defense in the cockpit? It makes sense in some cases. It doesn't in others. But from an industry, they have to try and come up with a solution that doesn't merely make another problem even worse than the first.
COOPER: You know, David, and a lot of the questions I've been getting on twitter so far and I think are very valid, which is why didn't, if the pilot was trying to bring the plane down, why did he have this gradual descent over the course of eight minutes as opposed to just slamming the plane right down?
My take on it is it's difficult, it's impossible to put yourself in the head of somebody who's about to do this and who knows what's going through their mind if they want some time to, you know, think about things or what.
SOUCIE: That's partially it. But remember, you're flying an automated aircraft here that has with a heavy degree of automation. It's not going to let you crash it. It is not going to let you just push it forward and crash it to the ground because it's designed to protect itself from those type of activities. And we may ask Ron again about that again. But in order to crash that airplane, it's had a spotted history of kinds of things coming offline and that sort of thing. But this aircraft is designed and it's been faulted for over automation, but in this case, it may have been the reason.
COOPER: And Ron, do you agree with that, you can't just do that?
STOCK: Ask me that question one more time?
COOPER: A lot of people are asking me why if somebody wanted to bring the plane down, why they would have done it so gradually over the course of eight minutes as opposed to just, you know, in a minute, you know, pointing the plane toward the ground and heading straight down.
STOCK: Well, the automation with this airplane will fight you. If you try to over speed the airplane, pitch down too far, it will fight you with it. The computers know this is not right. We can't go this fast. So, but this airplane will yell at you. It will tell you, terrain, terrain, pull up when you are getting close to the mountain. The only thing that I could see based on his rated descent would be that maybe he did not want anybody to notice that the airplane and that a gradual descent would be better and --
[20:30:05] COOPER: Wow, that's fascinating, also. Terrifying to consider, as well. Listen, we've got to take a quick break. Just ahead, unthinkable as it is for a pilot to crash a plane on purpose, as we noted, it has happened before with equally devastating results. From the crash of Egyptian Air Flight 990. It was even deadlier. Question is, does it and shed light in this new tragedy? We'll take a look back.
COOPER: Well, tonight's breaking news. The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 now considered a culprit. French officials saying the plane's voice recorder reveals say Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the A320, into the French alps killing, everyone on board. That he did so after the captain left the cockpit to use the bathroom. The flight tracking web site, Flight Radar 24, also claiming to have data showing that the co-pilot set the auto pilot to 100 feet, as low as it could go. Now, as inconceivable as it is for a pilot to crash a commercial plane on purpose, it's certainly not unprecedented. Randi Kaye reports.
[20:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): A regularly scheduled flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Cairo, Egypt, with a stop at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. That was the plan for EgyptAir Flight 990. But on October 31st, 1999, the Boeing 767 crashed into the Atlantic ocean about 60 miles off the coast of Massachusetts.
CONTROLLER 1: I lost contact with the Boeing 767 in my air space.
CONTROLLER 2: The, uh, EgyptAir?
CONTROLLER 1: Yea, I mean, we lost radar. We lost everything.
KAYE: Crash investigators say the co-pilot had learned he was being demoted and took control of the plane when the captain stepped out of the cockpit, sending it into a nose-dive toward the ocean. The cockpit voice recorder revealed the co-pilot repeated, "I rely on God", 11 times just before the crash. The captain can be heard on the recorder saying, "What's happening?" Even more chilling, the last words heard are the captain saying, "Pull with me", as he struggled to get his plane to change course. In that instant, the co-pilot turns off the engine, sending that aircraft slamming into the sea. All 217 people on board were killed.
CONTROLLER 1: Any luck with EgyptAir?
CONTROLLER 2: No.
CONTROLLER 1: Nothing?
CONTROLLER 2: No.
KAYE: (in-camera) With EgyptAir, the transponder stopped working and there was no mayday call. The NTSB ruled the co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane, though Egyptian authorities still say it was a mechanical failure.
KIT DARBY, RETIRED COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT: Certainly, pilots are part of the potential for the problem, so they have to be looked at. Basically, it's not guilty until proven innocent, really, I mean, because there's only a few sources that can cause this type of problem. Someone outside the cockpit, certainly the people inside the cockpit.
KAYE: (voice-over) A suicidal pilot was also to blame for this. December 1997, the crash of SilkAir Flight 185. It was heading from Jakarta, Indonesia to Singapore, when it crashed into this river.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (in-camera) It sounded like a bomb. Like a bomb dropping. The first explosion was up in the air, then it exploded again, then crashed into the water.
KAYE: The plane dropped into the river in less than a minute, breaking the speed of sound and killing all 104 passengers and crew. The NTSB concluded that the pilot deliberately directed the pilot to crash. In Indonesia, they claim the findings are inconclusive. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, joining me now on the phone is former NTSA Administrator and former FBI Director John Pistole, who helped lead the investigation of the EgyptAir Flight 990 crash. John, I know you said you see a lot of similarities between Flight 9525 and the EgyptAir crash. I'm wondering what you see.
JOHN PISOTLE, FORMER NTSA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, sure, Anderson. The obvious is that the co-pilots apparently intentionally putting the plane down and there are some distinct differences though, also, because in the EgyptAir crash, the pilots realized what was going on, he was in the laboratory, was able to find his way back into the cockpit and to the flight deck because there was reinforce (INAUDIBLE) , because pre 9/11.
And so he was able to get back in. He was actually able to start pulling on the yolk, of the aircraft, to try to get the plane to go up again. And he was successful in doing that. At least temporarily, but unfortunately, the co-pilot was able to actually turn the engines off., and fell from about 16,000 feet as I recall. There was a drop then and you're on voice cockpit recorder them yelling and the pilot actually yelling at the co-pilot to "Pull with me, pull with me."
And then the co-pilot saying, presumably, some type of prayer and then it was going down. So that's the distinction. And the challenge in becomes is, as you guessed and you have indicated, is so what's the solution to that? If you have an insider threat as opposed to an external threat, it really get back to the vetting and the assessments. Not only the initial assessment for the new hire, but recurrent and perhaps even the unpredictable assessments that have done, for example, the law enforcement, intelligence agencies around the world. We'll do a surprise, for example, drug test or any other things. Or may be that there's the possibility of that type of random, unpredictable streaming by ways of medical, psychological things like that.
[20:39:34] COOPER: It's just terrifying to hear what went on in the EgyptAir cockpit. An interestingly enough, that both in EgyptAir and SilkAir, the governments, where both the planes were from, did not accepted the results of the investigation, that the pilot headed, or the co-pilot, in the case of EgyptAir, had intentionally brought the plane down. John Pistole, I appreciate you being on tonight. Thank you very much.
Just ahead, relative and friends of some of the crash victims arrive in France, near the crash site, trying to absorb, well. all the information that the got today, that it wasn't an accident. How they got through this extraordinary difficult day ahead.
COOPER: Tonight's breaking news, the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 no longer considered an accident. As you know, French officials say the plane's voice recorder shows the co-pilot flew the Airbus A320 into the Alps, on purpose, killing everyone on board, while the cockpit was locked out, banging on the door trying to get back in and passengers were screaming. That revelation came on the same day that relatives and friends of some of the victims arrived in France, at an area near the crash site.
Our Nic Robertson joins us now. Today, I can't imagine what it was like for the victims' families. Bad enough, but to suddenly learn the reason this plane went down.
[20:44:50] NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. It was very somber, and very solemn watching the families. They arrived on seven large buses. There were over 100 family members. There were a lot of support, French support staff there, safety workers, recovery workers. But also, we were told people trained in helping people through grief. What the French authorities did for the families was bring them to an area that they said was the closest that they could get them to the crash site, about 2 to 3 miles away.
That sort of distance, very close. Close enough that they could see the helicopters flying overhead and dropping into the mountains. They could see how steep the mountains were. But at this memorial, the families were gathered around a plaque and on that plaque were the names of all the people who were on board the aircraft. And we could see the families going forward in ones and twos and small groups, perhaps read the names of their loved ones on that plaque.
It was very moving to watch it from a distance, but there was a reason we were at a distance and that was because the French authorities wanted the families to have the dignity and the time to, if you will, absorb this moment and try to get a little better understanding and perhaps a tiny bit of solace, if not any answers to those horrible questions, that have been left by knowing precisely what happened aboard the aircraft. But, really, to help these families begin in a way to grieve, but just to help them as much as they could, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, thank goodness they were allowed privacy today. I mean, I can't imagine any worse day in their lives. It's a difficult question to ask, Nic, but, you know, obviously a lot of family members wish they could take their loved ones home with them. Based on the way this plane went down, based on the difficulty for recovery operations, I mean, they can't even land helicopters at the site of this. That process even finding remains, that's going to take a while, isn't it?
ROBERTSON: It is and the prosecutor laid that out earlier in the day. He said it could be weeks before the bodies could be repatriated to the families. There would be a need for DNA tests, but described what will be for the recovery workers, but ultimately for the families, a very harrowing process of collecting because of the nature of the crash. The plane itself broken into small pieces, and that's what happened to the victims as well. And they will be gathered up, the prosecutor said piece by piece and brought off. And we were able to see the helicopters carrying pieces away, one slung beneath one of the helicopters today. But this is going to be a slow, very, very slow process of recovery and the prosecutor tried to, you know, has tried to make that clear to help the families through the process of waiting, Anderson.
COOPER: That's just Horrific. Nic Robertson, a difficult day. I appreciate you being there. Now while investigators now believe the crash of the flight was deliberate, they say so far they have not found a connection to terrorism. As we said, France has asked the FBI for help with the investigation.
Joining me now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Tom Fuentes, and CNN National Security Analyst, Fran Townsend. CNN Aviation Correspondent, Richard Quest is also back with us. Fran, they say no evidence terrorism, but at this point, they can't rule anything out.
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, and that's why you see activities like, Anderson. They searched the pilot's home, his parent's home. They'll be looking at documents. They'll be looking at computers. Who was he in contact with. Was there a personal reason? Not just terrorism, but was there some obvious, personal reason that they can get from e-mail or documents on his computer.
They're going to look at all that. They'll look at medications he was on. They'll try to figure out who was his doctor. They'll talk to friends. They'll talk to coworkers. They're going to try to take the pieces and make them mosaic, that gives them a better sense of this individual, in his frame of mind, to answer the big unanswered question -
COOPER: They have to also go back all the way to, before he joined, before he started training, because then there's the question, well, did he become a pilot in order to do something like this? And again, there's simply we don't know one way or the other.
TOWNSEND: That's right but there'll be hints. There are tiny threads that they will look for to try to knit together the broader answer to those questions.
COOPER: Tom, we know France requested FBI assistant with the investigation. What does that look like exactly? How might the FBI be able to help in this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, normally that would be checking databases, you know, here in the U.S. He did spend time in the U.S. doing flight training, so they'll want to try to investigate everything about that. Who he was with. Who his classmates, his teachers. Who he socialized with. Who he was in contact with. And also, you know, the FBI has an extensive international group of offices in 80 different countries, so, you know, if they need additional investigation through by lateral agreements with other host countries, they could use the FBI's (INAUDIBLE) system for assistance in that.
[20:49:48]COOPER: Richard, it was interesting to hear the CEO of Lufthansa today, because he did not seem to indicate that he believed that the airliner had dropped the ball at all. And I don't know if that was simply he stunned at what went on, if it's a question of liability. But, you know, he said that this person was absolutely ready to fly, able to fly. Clearly, this person was not.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: And he divided it into various categories. First of all, the selection process, which Carsten Spohr said, they were proud of the way that they selected the training process, both in Bremen and Phoenix, Arizona. Again, this is -- you have to bear in mind with this CEO. He is a man who has worked his entire life at Lufthansa. He's a captain an airline captain, in his own right. He has lived with the aura that this is the finest airline in the world, when it comes to training, to technology, to maintenance. And this is just shattered in a moment by this unthinkable --
COOPER: I mean he said this guy was 100 percent fit to fly. Clearly, that is not the case.
QUEST: And also, he doesn't want to see their decades of procedures going out the window, which have circled Lufthansa so well, in terms of training. In terms of not having two people in the cockpit. Things they know other airlines do. But for them, it's has not been necessary. It's as if - the analogy for everybody at Lufthansa, it's as if, in the industry, it's as if they the have been suddenly told the world is flat.
COOPER: Tom, in terms of jurisdiction, is it France who has jurisdiction on all of this?
FUENTES: Yes. Yes, the French at this point are in charge., but obviously, working closely with the prosecutor in Germany. But appears that the magistrate or prosecutor in Marseille, France has taken the lead in this case and basically declared himself in charge of it.
COOPER: A long investigation, no doubt. Fran, I mean, it's going to be a long time before they can definitively say, one way or the other, terrorism was not a part of this.
TOWNSEND: That's right and one of the things, I think that, you know, we're focused because the French asked the FBI formally to commend, what would be required of the lead investigative agency, but what's going on behind the scenes, Anderson, is the intelligence agencies are all looking at their databases, their intelligence intercepts, all of it. Every form of intelligence to see does anybody has in their holding something they didn't realize is related to this guy, that will help stitch the picture together.
COOPER: Fran, thanks for being with us. Tom Fuentes as well. Richard Quest. Just ahead, on a day that left so many speechless, we remember the people who lost their lives on Flight 9525.
[20:55:01] COOPER: A mother and daughter, from Virginia. A mother and son on vacation from Australia. Two Iranian sports reporters covering on a soccer match. 144 passengers and six crew members, of Flight 9525, where from, excuse me, from 18 countries. Worldwide tragedy. We want to take time to remember those people, including the two opera singers, who were on the plane. There lives cut short. There voices live on.
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COOPER: They will be missed and are remembered. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)