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Transcript of Flight 370 Released; Malaysia Airlines Revised Flight's Final Mock; Black Box Batteries Could Turn Off in Five Days; Agony, But No Answers for Flight 370 Families; GM Chief to Testify on Fatal Ignition Flaw

Aired April 01, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Thanks so much. Have a great day all of you.

NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. We begin with new developments in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

A source telling CNN the plane's sudden turn off course is now treated as a criminal act. And for the first time we're learning what the cockpit said to air traffic control before the plane vanished. Malaysia Airlines has now released a transcript, the full transcript of the plane's final communication.

Here's what we know. The jet's sign off was not "all right, good night," but instead "good night Malaysian 370." At 12:26 a.m., air traffic control, MAS 370 welcome over -- welcome over to ground. Cockpit AMS 370, good day. Then at 12:40 a.m. the plane gets the go ahead for takeoff. Air traffic control, 370, 32R, cleared for takeoff. Good night.

The cockpit, 32R, cleared for takeoff. AMS, 370, thank you. Bye. 1:19 a.m. would be the last time anyone would hear from the plane. Air traffic control, Malaysia 370 contact, Ho Chi Minh 120.9. Good night. Cockpit, good night Malaysian 370.

Now it's unclear if the pilot, the co-pilot or someone else said those last words.

CNN's Jim Clancy is live in Kuala Lumpur.

You've seen the full transcript. Tell us more.

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Carol, you look at this and it really stands out. What this transcript shows us is that the conversation between the control tower and that cockpit of Flight 370 was entirely routine. But this transcript while it doesn't really break new grounds may actually add to the mystery. It does clear up some inconsistencies. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CLANCY (voice-over): Breaking in morning, a copy of the transcript from Flight 370 confirms no one in the cockpit ever said, "All right, good night." Instead the final voice transmission sent at 1:19 a.m. actually was "Good night, Malaysian 370."

For weeks, Malaysian authorities said, "all right, good night," were the final words the co-pilots said before they lost communication.

AZHARUDDIN ABDUL RAHMAN, MALAYSIA'S CIVIL AVIATION CHIEF: I can confirm it's 1:19 when we got, you know, the last transmission from the cockpit that says, "all right, good night."

CLANCY: The rest reads like a normal cockpit transcript. Someone saying, "Good day" and "Good morning," while the plane was taxiing. Then during the flight's takeoff at 12:42 a.m., someone said, "Departure, Malaysian 370." About 15 minutes into its flight, another voice transmission, "Malaysian 370 maintaining flight level 350." And then the final words were recorded, "Good night Malaysian 370."

This as Malaysian government sources tell CNN they're treating the plane's sharp left turn as a, quote, "criminal act", carried out by one of the pilots or someone else on board.


CLANCY: Now they're not using the transcript to come to the conclusion there was a criminal act, that someone was deliberately maneuvering the plane. What they're using for that are the radar records, the military or primary radar that tracked the plane after the transponder was turned off. And it showed the plane leaving the South China Sea heading in the direction of the Indian Ocean just 90 minutes after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur.

Flight 370 we learned a few details today. We have some actual facts that we can read that we can touch, but the mystery of what happened to that air ship is still very much unsolved -- Carol.

COSTELLO: That much is clear.

Jim Clancy reporting live from Kuala Lumpur.

All of this is happening as the Australian ship, the Ocean Shield, is chugging toward the search area with that ping detector. But we're less than five days until the batteries on Flight 370's locator begins to die. Meaning search teams have until this weekend to detect its underwater pings in an area the size of New Mexico.

CNN's Will Ripley has more on what it will be like for crews searching for that missing airliner in the middle of the Indian Ocean.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have moved about 12 miles off of shore here in the Indian Ocean to give you a sense of what the weather conditions can be like. And believe it or not, this is considered a clear day. We have swells. We have waves. You have to hold on to something on the boat just to stay standing.

Captain Ray Ruby, I can't believe that this is a clear day.

CAPT. RAY RUBY, CHARTER BOAT PILOT: Yes, what you saw last time was like glasses. This is just a normal day. I feel sorry for the guys on the Shield heading out to the search zone because we're idle, we're running along about five knots. Those guys (INAUDIBLE), so every wave is straight over the top.

RIPLEY: Even for a large ship like the Ocean Shield

RUBY: Large ship. It will just be over the top at three times the speed we are doing.

RIPLEY: How large are these waves?

RUBY: These are only about 8 and 1/2 with the wind chop on top. They are not bad. You know, when the guys get out further, they will be up to five, six feet of waves plus swells.

RIPLEY: Wow. So literally the waves that are the size of many buildings here. You certainly have to hold on. You deal with windy conditions as well. Just imagine if there were a storm moving in and all of the sudden, your visibility drops down to zero. You could have a ship very close to you that you can't even see in just a matter of seconds.

It's really incredible the conditions out here. The conditions that the Ocean Shield is facing right now as they move towards the search zone.

Will Ripley, CNN, off the coast of Western Australia.


COSTELLO: Wow. As the Ocean Shield continues its journey, a new report is raising question about whether search crews wasted crucial time because of poor coordination.

According to the "Wall Street Journal," search teams were looking in the wrong place in the Southern Indian Ocean for up to 72 hours.

CNN's Paula Newton live in Perth, Australia, with more.

Good morning.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And good morning, Carol. Yes, you wonder how that happened. It was lack of coordination. I know it sounds pretty simple. In the end it turns out to be very complicated to get two teams that were working frantically to try and narrow the area where that flight may have gone down. You know, they just didn't talk to each other.

That was the crux of the report from the "Wall Street Journal." Carol, speaking to Australian authorities today, they didn't deny any of these facts just saying, Carol, that they want to turn the page now. I mean, I spoke with Angus Houston, he's a former chief of defense staff here in Australia. Now the chief coordinator for everything here on the ground and in the sky in Australia. He says look, he's never seen a search this challenging. And at the same time he had a sobering thought about what happens now.


ANGUS HOUSTON, FORMER AUSTRALIAN CHIEF OF DEFENSE: We need to pursue the search with vigor and we should continue to do that for some time to come. But inevitably I think if we don't find wreckage on the surface, we're eventually going to have to in consultation with everybody who has a stake in this, review what we do next.


NEWTON: You know, you're going to be on this search week after week after week. But when we start settling into months, and make no mistake, Carol, no matter what happens this will go for months more. He's saying can this effort be sustained if they can't pinpoint more of an accurate picture of what happened to that flight?

Again, most people telling me that for there to be a realistic search for something like a black box, the search zone has to be a thousand times smaller than now -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Paula Newton reporting live form Perth, Australia.

Malaysian authorities still insist Flight 370's movements were consistent with a deliberate act. Someone with experience turned that plane around.

As for who uttered those last words to air traffic controllers, Malaysian investigators now say they don't know.

David Soucie is a CNN aviation analyst and a former FAA inspector and Tom Fuentes is a CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director.

Welcome, gentlemen.


COSTELLO: Good morning. So, Tom, forensic investigation will determine whether the pilot or the co-pilot or someone else said "Good night, 370."

How exactly do you do that? How do you determine that?

FUENTES: Carol, they should be able to figure out -- because they're actually hearing the recording of what was said. So they should be able to have people there that can tell you which of the two was on the radio, although regardless of who it was, it may not make that big of a difference. It's a pilot's choice to decide to let the co-pilot handle the radio while he flies the plane or maybe take the radio for that last good night. So -- I mean, we don't know that but they certainly should it now.

COSTELLO: Well, I'm asking you that question because initially they said it was the co-pilot's voice. And you know other aviation experts told me it doesn't make any difference whether the co-pilot or the pilot signs off, right? But now Malaysian investigators say they're not sure if it was the co-pilot. So what changed?

FUENTES: Well, what changed is their interpretation and their message of what exactly they heard. And I think that they just continue to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to discussing any aspect of this investigation.

There's no excuse for this. They knew day one or they should have known day one who made the broadcast, what was said, what was the exact transcript. And, you know, in this country, in the U.S., we release that transcript, you know, almost instantly. And then later the actual recordings, you know, will get released in time.

But you know, by withholding it and creating this confusion and misinterpretation and misstating what actually was said at the end, you know, they've helped add to an already confusing situation that didn't need to be further screwed up.

COSTELLO: OK. So in light of all of that, how can they be sure that the deliberate turn of the plane was a criminal act?

FUENTES: I don't know how they can be sure. But they've been saying that from the beginning. Because when that first came out four, five days into this investigation, that's when they said, all right, we now believe human hands turned the plane. And that's when they had what they felt was sufficient cause to go into the pilot's homes, remove their computers for the analysis that's been ongoing since.

So they have said from the beginning, and I know from the beginning of the investigation, they treated it as a criminal investigation regardless of what label they gave it publicly. But that's been ongoing since the first night the plane disappeared until today. Now they haven't previously discovered anything credible that's derogatory about either pilot, but the fact that they've been conducting it as a criminal investigation on the police side, that's been ongoing and that's continuing after 25 days.

COSTELLO: All right. So question for you, David. The Malaysians say a deliberate act caused the plane to turn sharply left and disappear from the radar. We'll just -- you know, settle on that. But could a problem in the plane's software be to blame? And I want you to consider this. A different Boeing 770 or 777 crash landed in San Francisco. Pilot error came into play in this case but so did inconsistencies in the aircraft's automation logic.

According to the "New York Times," the carrier, Asiana, said Monday in a filing with the National Transportation Safety Board that bad software design led to the unexpected disabling of airspeed protection without adequate warning to the flight crew. And that a system to warn the crew of low airspeed did not sound soon enough. So in other words the pilots couldn't react because there was this problem in the plane's software.

So if that Boeing 777 had a software problem, isn't it possible that Flight 370 could have a software problem, too?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, I think there's a deeper issue with the software problem. You mentioned, did they have enough time to react to the warning. There was a warning. But do they have enough time? And that's where we -- that's where I focus a lot on my investigations is this atrophy of vigilance.

Pilots don't get that much flight time anymore. They're pretty much on auto pilot most of the time. So they become unaware of anomalies, of different events, of possibility of things that can occur. So it's like a checklist mentality. If it's not on the checklist, it's not something I have to follow. So it's a very big concern within the FAA. I'm on a safety management system focus group. And we have a lot of discussions about this very issue with this very issue with the new auto flight systems. Where's the pilot's head during this flight?

COSTELLO: So that could come into play in Flight 370 too right?

SOUCIE: Well, absolutely, it could. I mean if you have emergencies, if you have things that you're not expecting and your mind is in this kind of checklist state, it's easy to not see something. And you're blind spots occur, things that are right in front of your face. You may not recognize until it's too late. Just as in Asiana they didn't recognize that that was a warning that the autopilot has disengaged that they were not proper flight path.

They didn't recognize that as a warning until after it had been given, after they had time to acknowledge it and respond to it. It's that time that I'm concerned about, the response time, the recognition and then the mitigation time frame.

COSTELLO: Well, I -- you know, I guess my follow up question would be, why aren't they really focusing on these kinds of problems other than maybe, you know, the deliberate turn was a criminal act when there's just no evidence to prove it was a criminal act at this point?

SOUCIE: Well, remember if it's a criminal investigation, they're under no obligation, in fact they're obligated not to release any information. So it's a little bit different. When we say we don't have data that proves that it was criminal investigation, but yet they're calling it that. I wouldn't expect that we would. I was under a couple of investigations, a smaller aircraft where there was a murder on board the aircraft, whether the passenger killed the pilot and committed suicide that way.

There was a criminal investigation, a murder investigation so -- I couldn't release as the inspector in charge. I couldn't release any information about that, none. So I wish, though, that the Malaysians would have said that up front. Said this is going to be a criminal investigation. We're not going to release it. Draw the line in the sand. The families would have been I think much more comforted knowing there's a reason for information not being sent out. A legal reason, a very good reason for not lease releasing the information.

COSTELLO: David Soucie, Tom Fuentes, many thanks as always.

FUENTES: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Still to come on the NEWSROOM: for relatives of Flight 370, it's been three weeks of utter agony without any answers. I'll talk to grief counselors about how Malaysian officials should be counseling these victims. We'll also talk about ambiguous loss.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: With no answers of what happened to Flight 370, families of the passengers are still clinging to hope that their loved ones somehow survived, saying they want tangible proof that the plane crashed.

Paula Hancocks is in Kuala Lumpur where she visited a Buddhist temple serving as a refuge for some families.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This woman says I hope my husband and other passengers come home. The monk replies, I hope they'll come back in peace.


COSTELLO: For other family, the grief -- well, it's turned to anger. Their target, the Malaysian government, which is facing sharp criticism for handling of the investigation. In Beijing, Malaysian officials spoke to an empty room last week after some relatives stormed out in protest. The majority of those on board are Chinese. And as Paula discovered, the man who has become a leader of those families is speaking out about their frustrations.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): "Chinese are kind hearted people", this relative says. "We can clearly distinguish between good and evil. We will never forgive those that hid the truth and delayed rescue mission."


COSTELLO: I want to bring in Pauline Boss. She's a psychotherapist who's done research on the subject of something called ambiguous loss. Welcome.


COSTELLO: Thank you for being here, Pauline. Families are looking for hope when things turn for the worst. Tell me about ambiguous loss. BOSS: Well, ambiguous loss is simply an unclear loss. But the problem about the mystery and the lack of clarity is there is no closure so the families are kept in a kind of limbo which is very, very stressful, where they don't know if their loved ones are dead or a live or whether they're ever going to see them again.

It is understandable they need to stay in this very agonizing state because there is no proof yet that can calm them down.

COSTELLO: Even if those searching the Indian ocean find a bit of debris from this plane, will that help them accept things, or will they still suffer?

BOSS: Well, from my 30-plus years of working with families of missing, even that kind of evidence would help, but it will not bring closure either until they have a body to bury. Human beings need some proof their loved one transformed from being a live to no longer being a live. Until they have that, there is always a glimmer of hope that they might be on an island somewhere or that they might see them on a crowded street somewhere. And that can go on for a lifetime.

COSTELLO: Malaysian officials really haven't made it easier on the families because they've sent mixed messages on the disappearance in recent days. Here's an example of that. Listen.


NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIA PRIME MINISTER: It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

HISHAMMUDDIN BIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MALAYSIAN TRANSPORTATION MINSTER: They wanted me to not give up hope no matter how remote for survivors. I said that's always been in my prayers.


COSTELLO: So you have the prime minister on one hand saying that the flight ended over the Indian Ocean. You have other authorities saying, well, we're hopeful too there's something out there. There's hopeful sign. Has that compounded this family's grief?

BOSS: Indeed. My experience in working with families of the missing is if you say to them you need to face the fact that your loved one is dead, you'll have very angry families on your hand. That has been my experience in the past.

I never say to a family of a missing person that you need to face the facts because there aren't any facts in some of these mysterious disappearances. And so as professionals and the general public and policymakers, we need to hold the ambiguous loss, we need to hold the not knowing, just as the families may have to do for the rest of their lives. And it's very hard for us that come from a can-do culture where we are used to finding answers to hold that not knowing, to hold the ambiguity. But that, in fact, is what we might have to do.

COSTELLO: Pauline Boss, thank you so much for your insight. I appreciate it.

BOSS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Still to come on the NEWSROOM, GM CEO is on Capitol Hill today. Lawmakers want to know why General Motors waited so long to recall vehicles that had a deadly design flaw.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Carol, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are getting set to grill GM's new CEO about why the automaker waited a decade to come clean about the safety issue that cost lives. That's coming up right after this.


COSTELLO: We'll have more on Flight 370 in just a minute. First, General Motors chief Mary Barra will face tough questions on Capitol Hill today. Lawmakers want to know why GM waited more than a decade, waited more than a decade to recall millions of vehicles with faulty ignition switches. The flaw disabled airbags and it's now linked to 13 deaths.

CNN's "NEW DAY" spoke to relatives of one of the victims.


TERRY DIBATTISTA, ADOPTIVE MOTHER OF AMBER MARIE ROSA: Amber was 16 years old. She had -- she was very smart. She had taken her GED. She was working full time. She had her whole life ahead of her. She was full of life. Everybody loved her. We bought the car for the safety features.

Yes, the EMT told us had the airbag deployed that she would have been alive. She may have been injured, but she would have been alive today.

: Back in September 2005 I did research that showed these cars had issues. Power steering, fuel pump and something to do with the air bags back then. And when I learned there was an acceptable loss of life basically if the recall cost them so many millions to settle, you know, just a few other death cases cost them so much less that it became a business decision for them.


COSTELLO: Today's hearing on Capitol Hill comes a day after GM recalled 1.3 million vehicles for a different flaw affecting power steering.

CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik is in New York with more on the GM story.

KOSIK: That sounds very bad, Alison. I know, I have to say this. No one can really know for sure at this point in time so early in the investigation if money was a factor in the decision making. I'll tell you what, it would be pretty terrible if GM attempted to save money early on would up costing lives. But GM documents that were submitted to investigators, they show that engineers did have a possible fix as early as March of 2005. But GM didn't have a recall ordered for the fix because of what it calls tooling cost and piece price is just too high.