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Plane Carrying 54 People Missing; Computer Glitch Caused Major Delays on D.C. Airports; Donald Trump Flies into Iowa State Fair Via Helicopter. Aired 6:30-7p ET

Aired August 16, 2015 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:11] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news I want to share with you if you're just joining us. We are getting word that a plane has disappeared in Papua, carrying 44 adults, five crew members, three infants and two children.

This is a picture of a similar plane. It's an ATR-42 Turbo Prop with Trigana Air Service, which is a very small airline, we understand. It's a regional jet here. And I think one of the things that's most disturbing to us as we sit and listen to this is, first of all, it's getting dark in that area now.


PAUL: It's a mountainous region. It has been missing for about four and a half hours now at this point? They were 33 minutes into the flight when they lost contact with this plane. And as we understand they are not going to start a search or resume a search until tomorrow morning because it's dark there.

BLACKWELL: Yes -- let's get the latest here from Kathy Novak, who is there in Seoul and then we'll go to our analyst.

Kathy, what do we know about this search and when it will resume?

KATHY NOVAK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, we're hearing via our affiliate CNN Indonesia that the Transportation Ministry spokesman there in Indonesia has confirmed that the search has been suspended until morning, as you say, because it's dark. The plane -- they lost contact with the plane at 2:55 p.m. local time. It's about half an hour before that and was due at its destination in Oksibil at 3:05 p.m. local. But as you say that makes it about four and a half hours that it has been missing.

And now they're saying they're not going to be able to start searching again until the morning. They're saying there were no reports or indication that there was a distress call from the plane. And the ministry is in contact with the airline and a team of investigators is also on its way to the region.

BLACKWELL: OK. So let's take that now to our David Soucie, who is our safety analyst standing by.

David, these are critical hours in a search soon after a plane disappears. Is it likely that they are working on the assumption that there are no survivors? Or why would they not try to search throughout the night if possible?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, Victor, that's a great question. It's profoundly difficult to make these kinds of decisions because what you have to weigh is that the -- putting other lives at risk for the rescue. So at what point do you say that it's just too much risk? You know, there's risk associated with everything we do every day. But when you talk about then going out at night with helicopters in an area that could be very hazardous for helicopters, for search and rescue, if you have winds in this type of -- of terrain, the winds go in and out throughout these peaks and valleys, causing extreme small winds in certain areas.

You could have 10 knot winds in one area and as it goes through a canyon could create 30 or 40 knot winds as you come around a corner. Especially at night, trying to react to that. The visibility is horrible. They're probably not equipped with night goggles and night vision there. That's something that only perhaps U.S. search and rescue teams would have. So it's a difficult thing to weigh.

It's, as I say, a profoundly difficult decision, especially for those loved ones waiting to hear what happened. And no, I would not give up on -- this does not give any indication that they're looking at this as just a search and recovery now. It's still a search and rescue. And there's every evidence that there could be survivors at this point, still.

PAUL: OK. Mary Schiavo, so we have this new timeline here that it took off about 1:22 Eastern Time. And they lost contact at 1:55 Eastern Time. So when you have a timeline like that, you would have some indication, obviously, of where that plane might be.

David Soucie, let me send that to you.

SOUCIE: Yes, definitely you do. There's a flight plan that's filed. And that flight plan is followed so they have flight following in which the aircraft is monitored as to where it is. There's check-in points. There's discussions and tactic that goes on along the way. There's ground flight following which would report back to the ground flight following to say here's where we are. It goes through a ground base system.

It's not a satellite system like we've talked about before with MH-370 and other lost aircraft. This is the same sort of system because they're triangulating where it is exactly most of the time likely. So they have a very good -- they should have a very good idea where this aircraft is. It should be along a very specific line and not have gone off to the left or right too far unless they reported that they were doing so.

BLACKWELL: So one element that we just heard from our Kathy Novak there in Seoul is that there were no reports or indications there was a distress call from the plane.

[06:35:08] And, David, I'm going to ask you to walk a very difficult line here because we don't want to get into the world of speculation. But knowing what you know about why planes crash, you wrote a book on 370, in what types of incidents would there be this disappearance of a plane in which a crew would not send a distress call? That something would happen so immediately that they either did not have the opportunity or were possibly distracted?

SOUCIE: Well, first of all, Victor, it's not terribly uncommon for this to be the case, because of the fact that the first thing the pilot is going to do is try to address the emergency that's underway, if there is one. And then once that's addressed, they'll fly the aircraft and navigate and decide where they need to go, what the reaction needs to be, what kind of mitigating things they need to do. For example, react to an engine out, or react to a fire on board. Any of those types of things.

The emergency is addressed first before trying to communicate to the outside world so in an accident, it's not terribly uncommon that this happens. So there's no real -- nothing that can be derived at this point as to whether it was accident or radio loss or any other thing at this point.

PAUL: All right. Kathy Novak, we understand you've got some more information for us? She is in Seoul, South Korea now. What have you heard, Kathy?

NOVAK: Well, the information that we're getting is coming, as I say, from the people we're speaking to our affiliates there in CNN Indonesia. And our focus has been on whether or not they have been able to search for these people. And as we've been discussing it seems that any search that's going to be happening is going to have to wait until tomorrow because where I am in this region it is getting dark. It's nighttime. And they're not able to send out search teams until the morning.

What we've been talking about also is the topography of this area. It's a mountainous region. So you would imagine and as we said we don't want to get into too much speculation, but it would be difficult to access a lot of these areas by land. But what we are being told is that there will be land teams sent in as well, that a team of investigators is on the way. So the big concerns would be about access on how they're going to be able to search this region.

And I've actually spent some time in neighboring Papua New Guinea, which is part of the same land mass. And it has that same kind of mountainous topography and what you have there at least is that a lot of these small local flights because of that mountainous topography, because there aren't roads that connect cities to cities, the way we might be used to in other places, so you have a lot of people taking these small carriers from city to city. So you wonder if that might be a similar case here and that's the kind of land that we're talking about.

BLACKWELL: All right. Kathy Novak staying on top of the latest here, this breaking news. A plane carrying 54 people, 49 passengers, five crew members, disappears on its route from Jayapura to Oksibil early this morning, Eastern Time, is the afternoon there locally. We will continue to follow the latest here as we've learned. The search has been suspended because of bad weather and it's getting dark there. It will resume in the morning.

Keep it here, the latest when we return.


[06:40:35] PAUL: Rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages inched up this week. Here's your look.


PAUL: Want to share with you some breaking news that we're watching this morning. A plane has disappeared in Papua province. It was about 34, 33 minutes into the flight with 44 adults, five crew members, two children and three infants on board.

This is a very mountainous region, we understand. It is now dark in that region as well. There was, according to the spokesperson for the Transportation Ministry, a search which that was launched earlier today. It has now been called off because of bad weather and the fact that it is almost dark there now so they're trying to make sure that everybody is safe.

They will apparently -- possibly be sending helicopters up in the morning. But as of right now the search for any survivors or for that plane, we should say, in general, because the spokesperson also said we have not said that it has crashed. It is just missing. And that search will resume in the morning.

BLACKWELL: Well, a bad day for air travelers yesterday, but when you put into context to the breaking news this morning, not nearly as dramatic as the pictures. For many of the people here it's not over. This photo tells the story. Thousands of passengers stranded because of a computer glitch in an FAA facility in Virginia. More than 3400 flights delayed. 640 cancellations.

A lot of frustrated passengers tweeted about this under #flypocalypse. One wrote, "Air traffic control glitch, three rescheduled flights, over fuelled plane, de-board, re-board, throw up in aisle, pilot out of time."

CNN's Ryan Nobles is at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Ryan, give us an idea what the situation is like there now.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, today, Victor, things are a lot easier for people who are trying to travel by air. In fact here at LaGuardia Airport, New York, there are no major delays to report. And there are also no major delays to report in any of the D.C. airports in Washington is where this problem originated yesterday.

Ad you mentioned it was at the Air Route Control Center in Leesburg, Virginia. There was a computer malfunction there and that actually forced a ground stop at the three major airports in Washington, D.C. And that problem rippled up and down the East Coast.

As you mentioned, many frustrated passengers, thousands of people left to wait in terminals, some to wait actually in airplanes on tarmacs for airplanes that couldn't take off. It was a very frustrating day indeed. In fact Jean Cowan was at Reagan National Airport in Washington yesterday and she was among the many people whose flight was delayed.


[06:45:08] JEAN COWAN, STRANDED PASSENGER: I was supposed to go home Friday night, got delayed because of the crew wasn't available. Then we're supposed to fly out this morning and the pilot wasn't available. And then we got on the plane and we're told that the radar wasn't available. So here I am.


NOBLES: So her story was like many passengers who had a very difficult day yesterday. Now if you're flying today there's a good chance that your flight is not going to be impacted by what happened yesterday. Many of those flights that were cancelled, 640 flights total, many of those passengers were rebooked on flights that won't take off until Monday. So that's the frustration for many of those passengers. In fact many on social media saying that they just abandoned their plans to fly and they just rented cars to get to their destination.

But, Victor and Christi, it's probably a good idea that if you're flying today to check the status of your flight before you head to the airport and then also leave a little bit of extra time just to make sure that any residual effects from yesterday's major delays don't impact your flights today.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ryan Nobles, there at LaGuardia. Ryan, thank you so much.

And of course we will continue to get you more on the breaking news, this passenger plane carrying 49 passengers, five crew members, has disappeared in a remote area of Papua province. The search suspended for the night. It will resume tomorrow.

We'll be right back.


PAUL: The latest breaking news that we're watching. A plane has disappeared in the skies of Papua. This is actually one that took off from Jayapura Airport and it flew to Oksibil. That was supposed to be where it was flown to.

[06:50:11] It was 33 minutes into its flight with 44 adults, five crew members, two children and three infants on board.

Now I want to point out that the spokesman at the Transportation Ministry says we have not said it has crashed. However, it is indeed missing and it's missing in a very treacherous mountainous region as we understand. They did apparently launched a search at some point. This is a picture of the plane or a plane that's like it. It's an ATR-42 Turbo Prop. A regional jet.

But the Transportation Ministry spokesman also said that a search was launched earlier today. It has been called off right now because of bad weather and the fact that it is now dark in that region. They will resume the search in the morning we assume by air but you can only imagine how devastating this is for families who were waiting for people to get off that plane. Again, 54 people total on board including two children and three infants. And that plane is still missing this morning.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll talk politics for just a moment.

Donald Trump heads back to New York City where he will report for jury duty tomorrow. It comes after a quick trip to the Iowa State Fair where he arrived in dramatic fashion. That's the way Donald Trump arrives. Skipped out on the soapbox, though. Huge crowds scrambled to see the GOP frontrunner who went through the fair, trying fried foods, allowing kids to ride the chopper.

Trump also spoke with media. A few reporters there. A few is, you know, being sarcastic. One of the major topics he addressed was Hillary Clinton's e-mail server controversy. Take a listen to what he told CNN's Jeff Zeleny.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a criminal problem. I mean, it's going to be a very serious problem for her, Jeff. It's going to be about as serious as it gets. You look at General Petraeus and he was destroyed over a much lesser event so I think she's got a very good --

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: But his e-mails were marked classified. Hers were not.

TRUMP: Well, I think some of hers were. And it seemed like they took a lot of markings off. I mean, somebody has got a big problem and it looks like it's Hillary.

ZELENY: Any worry Republicans could overplay their hand on this e- mail controversy?

TRUMP: Look. It is what it is. It was a terrible thing she did. It was actually a very foolish thing. There was no reason to do it. And she's got a big problem.


BLACKWELL: So let's talk more about this. We've got political analyst Jason Johnson and CNN's Eric Bradner who is on the ground there in Iowa.

Eric, I want to start with -- OK. We don't have Eric. We'll get to Eric in a moment. Let me start with you, though, on this 100-minute visual to Iowa. He's in and out. JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, this is the kind of thing

that Trump is going to do. He's going to be a huge story, he's going to jump, he's going to -- literally helicopter in. People will pay attention to him. It's exciting. But here's what matters to me and here's what matters to the Republican Party. Does he have a group on the ground? Does he have people who are actually working for these caucuses?

Because you can be as high as you want to be in the polls in Iowa, but if you don't have people on the ground organizing for the Iowa caucuses, you'll still lose. So right now this is all just a dog and pony show.

PAUL: You know, let me ask you about the polls because you mentioned it. How representative are the polls this early on of the masses? Because they're small polls.

JOHNSON: Right. Right. They really aren't very representative. I mean, first off, you're only polling that particular state. Right? We don't have a lot of polls right now of Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton. So we don't really know how he stands up against most of the other candidates and even these primary polls it's just comparing him at other Republicans. We don't know what a presidential by Donald Trump really looks like yet.

BLACKWELL: So I understand that he actually has on his team the -- his name escapes me but the person who --

PAUL: Sessions? Senator Sessions?

BLACKWELL: No, not Senator Sessions on immigration. But the person who led Santorum's effort back in 2012. So it seems that he has someone who is organizing. But there's a piece in Politico that actually addressed if people were willing to sit through the caucus in the process, it's easy to tell a person over the phone, yes, I support Trump.


BLACKWELL: But to go hours and hours. Let's talk about this billion- dollar commitment, that he would spend a billion dollars on the process to, you know, become elected on the campaign.


BLACKWELL: He said yes. But what was he going to say, no, I'll cap it at $200 million?

JOHNSON: Yes, I mean, first off, remember you've got the Koch brothers who said they're going to spend $900 million on different cases. So everyone is throwing out a bigger number, right? I'm going to pay Alex Rodriguez, I'm going to spend this much on my campaign. So yes, he's going to spend a lot of money, but also it's a shot across the bow for the Republican Party because if you said I've got a billion dollars to spend out of my own pocket, that means he'll spend it whether he's the candidate or he's the nominee for the Republican Party.

So it's more of a warning to the GOP, leave me alone. Let me keep running because I have enough money on my pocket, I could do this on my own.

PAUL: All right. Eric Bradner, we understand, is with us now there in Iowa.

So, Eric, give us a sense of what the buzz is there this morning, the aftermath, so to speak.


[06:55:01] ERIC BRADNER, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Right. Yes, from the moment Donald Trump's helicopter flew overhead yesterday, the buzz was all about him. We're talking about the people who are not normally interested in politics, who were sort of ignoring the other candidates' visits. They were running up to Trump. It was almost like a mosh pit at a concert, right? Just moving throughout the fair with hundreds and hundreds of people around him.

I talked to a lot of people who were following him and a lot of them made the same comment, and it was that, like him or hate him, at least he doesn't have to, you know, rely on corporate interests, rely on lobbyist's money, rely on the people who donate to candidates that don't have $10 billion at their disposal. So there was a ton of interest in Trump that's really unlike anything I've ever seen.

BLACKWELL: What are you seeing as it related to some of the Democrats because I understand that Bernie Sanders had a huge crowd yesterday?

BRADNER: He did. So Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the two Democratic frontrunners, were both on hand yesterday. Hillary Clinton did a lower key visit. She's sort of moved throughout the fair, greeting a lot of fans along the way, shaking hands, she signed one woman's book. That sort of thing. And there was certainly a crush around her. But Bernie Sanders drew a huge crowd when he did the "Des Moines Register's" soapbox. It's a 20-minute opportunity for a candidate to take the stage with, you know, cheering and jeering Iowans around. And he drew -- I mean, a crowd that was spilling across the street.


BRADNER: Hundreds and hundreds of people.

BLACKWELL: Wow. All right. Eric Bradner there for us in Iowa, Jason Johnson in studio for us, thank you both.

We'll take a quick break and we'll be right back.