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Piers Morgan Live

Malaysia Airlines Plane Bound for Beijing Missing

Aired March 07, 2014 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is Piers Morgan Live.

Breaking news tonight, a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 people bound for Beijing is missing.

According to a statement from the airline, air traffic control lost contact with Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur at 2:40 a.m. about two hours after the takeoff. We're waiting a press briefing from the airline which of course we'll bring you live when it happens.

I want to go straight to CNN's David McKenzie from Beijing. David, what do we know about this missing plane?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BEIJING: Well, what we know is this plane went missing according to state media in Vietnamese airspace, Piers.

It was due to land here at 6:30 in the morning local time in Beijing, this Boeing 777 from Malaysian Airlines. A packed (ph) plane with 239 people on board including 12 crew members and two infants. They are searching frantically for where the plane went down if it did go down.

At this stage, a very sketchy detail of 13 different nationalities on board. The majority on that plane were Chinese nationals around 160 according to Chinese state TV, so a desperate search. Malaysia Airlines has notified or is in the process of notifying the next-o- kin and this Boeing 777 seems to have vanished at this point.

MORGAN: So there's no confirmation that the plane has crashed. What are the other possibilities if it hasn't crashed?

MCKENZIE: Well, if it hasn't crashed then it would have presumably land (inaudible) and they would -- there are no indications of this of any concerned reports of the plane landing anywhere either in an emergency situation or not.

Of course it didn't arrive at its destination here in Beijing. I'm sure there are worried families at Beijing's airport wondering what happened. And so the Malaysian Airlines expected to give more details soon.

At this stage though, they say they don't know what happened. The plane and thus the Malaysian airspace lost contact at around 2:40 local Malaysia time with the Malaysian authorities and basically vanished into thin air. At this point, they're obviously expecting the worse but hoping for some positive situation. But with those 239 people on board, so it would be worrying times for this flight.

MORGAN: David McKenzie, thank you very much.

I want to go now to James Kallstrom, the Former FBI Assistant Director who investigated TWA's flight 800. Welcome to you, James Kallstrom.


MORGAN: What is the meaning at the situation there? What does it mean when an airline says a plane is missing? Does that mean they believe it has crashed?

KALLSTROM: Well, apparently they're not getting any transponder or, you know, no response from the transponder on the plane and the air traffic control has not seen the aircraft on the radar. Of course, it's lucky -- it's a good thing that that path is over land, it's not over water. I'm familiar with that Vietnam area, but that's rough terrain so, you know, if it lost its transponder in other words that's the plane giving out a signal as to where I am, this is my altitude, this is my heading.

Obviously that's been lost somehow. The communications with the company itself that owns the aircraft is apparently been lost and I'm sure this radar is there over Vietnam that would have seen it drop off the radar and that's going to give them a pretty good idea of where the plane is.

MORGAN: The Malaysia Airlines VP of Operations Control Fuad Sharuji told Anderson Cooper show a little a while ago, "At the moment, we have no idea where this aircraft is right now." There are incident rumors that was completely unconfirmed, some suggesting it may have landed somewhere in Vietnamese land and has suffered an electric fault.

Now, that maybe completely bogus, but is it possible that a plane could lose all contact with its airline and yet still be able to land without electrical power at all?

KALLSTROM: Well, I think so. I mean, you know, you're coming into some airline unannounced, you know.

MORGAN: Right.

KALLSTROM: But it could happen sure if they've got five or 6,000 feet of runaway and they don't, you know, they don't get into the flight bat (ph) of other airplanes who don't crash. They could certainly do that.

You know, that area over Vietnam at least when I was there many years ago would -- depending on where they actually were. You know, that's not very highly populated except in the, you know, the couple of major cities. So there's rice paddies and this -- as you get over towards Cambodia, you know, it's very, very tropical and wooded and, you know, so if it did crash, I mean they're going to have an idea of where it is but it would take a long time to find it though in that type of environment.

MORGAN: James Kallstrom, stay with us. I'm going to turn now to Matthew Wald, he's a New York Times aviation correspondent.

Matthew Wald, from what Malaysian Airline statement says I'll read it in full. "We deeply regret. We have lost all contacts with Flight MH370. The passengers were of 13 different nationalities. Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft. Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew."

You've covered many similar incidents over the years, what is your ...


MORGAN: ... reading of the specific wording of that statement?

WALD: If the airplane isn't showing up on radar, it does have a beckon, a radio beckon, which is supposed to go off if it crashes so you can find it. If it's landed in an airport, we'd know it and probably it does not have enough fuel to be still in the air so this sure doesn't look good.

MORGAN: We believe it had seven and a half hours of fuel. It had been in the air for two hours but obviously that was a number of hours ago so you have to assume that it has landed in some capacity either crash landed or landed because of some other fault.

Is it plausible as some are suggesting in unconfirmed reports that it suffered a major electrical fault, but would still be able to land without crash landing?

WALD: I don't know how anybody would have an idea what had hit it. Usually, in a crash, you don't know what happened until -- either you can examine the wreckage or you get a hold of the black box. This airplane has very advanced black boxes and they are likely to end up back in Washington D.C. because the planes of American manufacturer at the United States by treaty has a role in evaluating and in most of the third world if a plane crashes and it's a Boeing, they ask the Americans to figure it out.

MORGAN: The Boeing 777-200 stat is a long range wide-bodied twin- engine jet airliner, commonly referred to as a Triple Seven. It's capable of 18 hours flying time but we know it only had enough fuel for less than half of that. It incorporates more technologies than any other previous Boeing airliner and has only suffered we believe one other crash which was the Asiana Airline crash in San Francisco last summer since its construction in 1995.

WALD: And with, Piers, there was also one at Heathrow. The plane came in after a long descent and it turned out to be ice in the fuel lines and it came in short. No one was killed in that one. The one in San Francisco on July 6th, it does not appear to have anything -- done anything wrong with the plane. There's a generic concern about this airplane that they're very highly automated and then deeply more automated than some pilots could handle. And that despite some of few basic flying skills deteriorate or maybe it didn't have the basic flying skills to begin with.

But again, it's a little blurry to say what happened here. There's about 70 -- there's about 1,200 of these airplanes in service that didn't service since 1995 and they have a very good safety record. This plane can go 5,000 to 9,000 nautical miles. This trip was a lot shorter than that and it was likely loaded. So it would be normal not to carry more fuel than you need to safety complete the flight and it's necessary to fly to an alternate airport.

MORGAN: Mr. Wald, standby. We're just going to go to Richard Quest now, CNN Correspondent just to update viewers who are tuning in.

A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 people en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has gone missing. Richard Quest, what are you hearing about anything that may explain why this plane has gone missing?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION EXPERT: There's absolutely no way that anybody can have any idea of what has happened. We're talking just two or three hours into the event.

The plane was two hours into its flight from KL up to Beijing. Now, traditionally, that is the safest part of the flight. The two most riskiest parts are takeoff obviously and landing. This plane would have been in altitude, it was have been on autopilot at the time obviously and it would have been making sort of good progression.

Malaysian Airlines has 15 Triple Sevens in the fleet. The average age is about 13, 14 years. This particular aircraft that we're talking about tonight, if it's the one that everybody online is talking about was delivered to Malaysia in 2002. It's just other what, just a shy of 12 years old.

Now, none of those facts should in any shape or form the basis for speculation because Malaysia is an extremely experienced operator of the Triple Seven 200 series, one of them the experienced operators and one of the first airlines to get that particular plane.

And so from that point of view, you know, we are grappling in the dark if you like for reasons and possibilities and prospects. But all we can say at the moment is that the aircraft itself has had an enviable safety record.

The two incidents that you were talking about with Matt Wald a moment ago, the Asiana where frankly we seem to know exactly what happened or at least we know it wasn't the aircraft. And the British Airways one a few years ago which crash landed at Heathrow where we know that was the ice in the fuel lines.

So, Piers, if this is the conundrum, anytime a plane looses or they lose contact with the plane that is at altitude in the cruise this causes great consternation because this is the safest part of the flight.

MORGAN: Obviously, very concerning to everybody who has somebody on that plane, the Malaysian Airlines say they have no idea where this plane has gone.

Would an airline say simply it is missing if they already knew it had crashed or would they just come out from your experience and say the plane has crashed. Do you think that is genuine that they literally have no idea where it is?

QUEST: They will not. They will not say that the plane has come out of the sky and crashed until they are absolutely certain that that is what has happened.

The normal form for these sort of things and life matters they were saying anyone that (inaudible) others covered these for some years. There is a form that this takes, let tall about what the airline will be doing.

The moment that there is an incident of this nature, the very senior management of the airline the CEO, the Chief Engineer, the Chief PR people, everybody in the -- at the very, very most senior people in the airline will have gone to a special room, in some cases known as the Epic Room and to some guys the Emergency Room. And this is being designed and constructed so that information flows into the director and out again. It's a sterile room so information is very carefully controlled and they would have decided in that room or at least in that process what statement to make.

And I got the statement here, Piers. "We deeply regret ..." you know, the interesting use of language "... to have lost all contacts with this flight." Now we know, we know by the amount of fuel that was loaded, the length of the flight that the amount of time that's transport that it probably would've run out of fuel by now. Or at least it would not have had fuel to continue this journey.

To answer your question could it have landed? You're not talking about -- I mean it could but you're not talking about assister (ph) or a little type of complain here. You're talking about a long haul wide bodied aircraft and that puts it into a completely different lead, Piers.

MORGAN: Richard, stay with me. We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back with more on the breaking news of this missing Malaysian Airlines plane.

Stay with us.


MORGAN: I'm back with the Breaking News. A Malaysia Airlines plane has gone missing. It has 239 passengers including two infants.

I want to turn now to Greg Feith, he's a Former Senior NTSB Investigator and Aviation Security Consultant. Welcome to you Greg Feith.

From what you've seen from the statement from Malaysian Airlines where they say we have lost all contacts with flight MH370. Should we assume the worst that it has crashed or could there be any other explanation for it simply disappearing off radar?

GREG FEITH, FORMER SENIOR NTSB INVESTIGATOR: Well, we always want to assume of the best but when Malaysia knows that they have lost all communication. Typically, you have two forms of communication with the aircraft. You have the air traffic control, the two-way communication between aircraft control and the pilot. And then the pilot can also communicate under the discreet (ph) frequency with their company.

And if Malaysia -- they say they lost communication with the airplane and the ATC is saying that they have no two-way communication then we have to assume that the airplane or whatever reason has gone out to communicate.

Now, I heard James Kallstrom and Matt talk about contact. In order to track, there's a lot of stuff on the internet about these airplane being over the top of Vietnam that may not be necessarily true. And a lot of those tracks will take the airplane over the South China Sea those over water.

And so they may not be able to make a landing on land if they have control of the airplane and if the airplane did (inaudible) there then of course we don't have any kind of emergency locator transmitter that would assist in the search and rescue effort. It will probably be finding stuff debris floating on the ocean.

MORGAN: From CNN Weather Center, the weather at Kuala Lumpur Airport at the time of take off which was about 10 hours ago showed partly cloudy skies, light winds estimated 10 miles an hour, estimated the plane would have been over Cambodia or Vietnam at the time it lost contact. There's no significant weather issues in that area, no big storms or anything.

If there's been no weather element to all this, obviously we have no idea, could you just simply be engine failure? Would that be enough to bring a plane like this down?

FEITH: Well, there's a number of things, Piers, you know, one of the big things of course if you had an engine failure. The airplane is certified to fly on one of the two engines. And they have what's called E top or Extended Range, if you will, you have to do within a certain time period of land fall if in fact you loose an engine for whatever reason.

If they lost both engines then of course that changes the scenario and now the crew is in an emergency situation and they're going to have to try and find the best place to land. One of the inhibiting factors of course is that it's night time. So the crew doesn't have the benefit of time to fix it. That's our best part if in fact they to make some sort of emergency type of landing. So there are a lot of factors that we don't know. The other things is, is that there isn't radar coverage in all of that area. There are what they call Mandatory Reporting Point, because there is no radar coverage. Crew has to check in with ATC at certain points along their track so that they can report to ATC that they're at a certain place, at a certain altitude and that their expected arrival time at the next reporting is at a certain time based on (inaudible).

So there's a lot of still missing information about whether or not they we're making their mandatory reports or not.

MORGAN: If the plane itself in some kind of catastrophic electrical failure, would it have anyway, had it landed without disintegrating, would any of the crew have anyway of contacting the airline in another way that didn't involve electronics or they set out these planes for that eventuality?

FEITH: The airplane if you were to lose all ship's power. The airplane by certification has to have battery backup power. So they still have to be able to utilize flight instruments and communication tools to complete the flight safely.

So you could lose all the generators, you know, you can have a total engine -- two engine out where you have no (inaudible) or power but battery backup as it only will operate for a certain period of time. And it's intent for an emergency situation.

One of the other things of course is pressurization issues. If you have a high altitude pressurization problem, a catastrophic decompression, the time of useful consciousness up in the 30,000 to 40, 000 foot range is a matter of second. And while crews are trained to deal with these emergency situations, this rapid decompressions, or explosive decompression situation, again it's a matter of timing and similar to a Payne Stewart where -- when he was flying, the crew passed out because of oxygen deprivation.

So there's a lot of possible scenarios but to speculate as to which one is the likely with this amount of information is definitely not useful. And it will be up to the investigators once they do find the wreckage and try to figure out what happened.

MORGAN: Greg Feith, stay with us. Thank you very much indeed.

We go back now to James Kallstrom, the Former FBI Assistant Director investigating TWA's doomed Flight 800. Welcome back to you, James Kallstrom.

We don't really know anymore than the last time I spoke to you.

KALLSTROM: I think, I think ...

MORGAN: Sorry.

KALLSTROM: I think Greg really laid it out well and he really knows what he's talking about. He's one of the best in the business and I hope for the sake of the investigation and the families that -- and the passengers that this is not a water incident because that's going to make it tremendously more difficult to recover the problem.

MORGAN: Right, that was -- that was the point I was going to make to you was I thought the most interesting aspect of the interview with Greg Feith was he said that he knows the tracking of that route.


MORGAN: And a quite a lot of time the plane would have veered over the China Sea. Now that changes the dynamic of what we thought was the case here which is mainly overlapped.

KALLSTROM: It also explained this -- he knows that probably the lack of radars, the interest and of course we don't know what was said on the company channel before they lost contact. You know, we -- contact, we don't know if there's was some kind of mayday call to anybody.

MORGAN: And, James Kallstrom, you have investigated major plane crashes before. If it has crashed into the sea and we have not idea yet what has happened in this plane but if it has, how much more difficult is that from an investigative point of view to try and get to the bottom of what happened?

KALLSTROM: It's -- I think it's, you know, I'm not a -- I'm not really crash investigator, I'm a criminal investigator but in order to do that, you better, you know, take advantage of the people that know the plane. But my comments from that standpoint would be it's geometrically more difficult. You know, depending on the depth of the water it might be almost impossible but ...

MORGAN: James Kallstrom ...

KALLSTROM: ... (inaudible) was in about a 120 feet of water and it was hard enough.

MORGAN: James Kallstrom, stay with us.

We'll go back to Richard Quest. Richard, I think you've got some information on that very point for me.

QUEST: I just want -- yeah, I just want to take that -- take that point. We've got some experience of this, Air France 447 from Brazil up to Paris. Now, that plane went down over the South Atlantic and the wreckage was found within days or at least the jets and some influx was found within days. But it took them many, many months and years before -- and they have to go back two or three times before they were able to get the cockpit voice recorder and the data recorder which finally unlocked the mystery of what happened to that A330.

So, to answer your question, I'm not, you know, the fight radar path that I've seen on fight radar did sort of have this going over the South China Sea and does have it sort of in that vicinity of its last point of contact.

So if this did have an incident and did end up in the South China Sea depending on the depth, depending on the circumstances and I won't speculate on any of that but I will say it will make the recovery and investigation immeasurably more difficult if it is over the water.

MORGAN: I may have to stress once again that nobody knows what's happened to this plane and the Malaysia Airline statement says that it simply gone missing and they have lost all contact with it. The plane has 239 passengers on board of 13 different nationalities we believe, 160 of the passengers are believed to be Chinese, two infants were believe are on board. So just a desperate search, now they're trying to find out what has happened to this plane.

We'll take a short break and when we come back we'll have more on the developing breaking story of this Malaysia Airlines plane has gone missing.

Stay with us.


MORGAN: And back with the breaking news. A Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 people on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing is missing. The airlines said in a testament that they lost contact with the flight MH370 2:40 a.m. local time. It's more than 10 hours ago. The Boeing 777-200 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. At 2,300 mile trip, it is believed it disappeared from all contact and radar contact of about two and a half hours. 227 passengers, two of them infants, 12 crew members, it said.

Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities with activated search and rescue team to locate the aircraft. Let me get back to Matthew Wald, the New York Times Aviation Correspondent. And Matt, well, since our last report (ph), we now know that weather is unlikely to play the factor here. CNN weather center reported that the weather at Kuala Lumpur Airport at the time of take off showed partly cloudy skies and light winds less than 10 miles an hour. They estimated the plane would have been over Cambodia or Vietnam at the time it lost contact, but it has no significant weather issues in that area, no storm and so on.

WALD: Right. Piers...

MORGAN: What would you read into that?

WALD: Piers, it's very seldom weather issues when you're in cruise flights. The weather at the departing airport is irrelevant because we are said out that this weather is usually not the case. It's also -- if this plane is in the water, I would not say that it's going to be particularly difficult to find because -- it was difficult in the case of TWA 800 because the plane had an intro (ph) black box recorded very few parameters and didn't really shed light on what happened.

If you look at other crashes to see, I'm thinking of Birgenair 301 which crashed in July of '95 in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. They never recovered the airplane, they recovered the box is and about three hours after that, they knew what had happened. It's difficult to see but it's by no means impossible and there's some directions (ph) on land where the terrain is so rugged. So it becomes very difficult. I would suspect that finding out what happened to this plane is going to be arguing (ph) but it will be thorough and will be accomplished but it won't be quick.

MORGAN: And important to know that all we know at the moment is this plane has gone missing. They've lost all contact with the plane. That doesn't necessarily mean...

WALD: But we know more than that.

MORGAN: ... that this -- it doesn't necessarily mean has crashed though, does it?

WALD: You know, we know more than that. We know that it's sure isn't in the air because it doesn't have fuel to keep flying for this long, also lost of contact has a different meaning in aviation. Did not only have oral communication really with the pilot would accompany the pilot aircraft. So, you have an automatic system that's broadcasting its position back in response to radar. You have radio radar energy bouncing with the metal skin of the airplane and producing an image. You probably have satellite communication between the engines and other mechanical systems going up to its satellite bouncing back down to the airlines somewhere.

So there are many, many channels of communications, those are all gone. This plane is not in the air. If were on the ground, some place that's populated, we'd know it.

MORGAN: But, having said that, there are a number of parts of that region which are pretty unpopulated and it could possibly have landed in one of those areas. That a possibility, isn't it?

WALD: This airplane needs many, many feet runway to land. It's -- you don't have big flight open spaces in the populated or unpopulated areas.

MORGAN: The plane itself, the Boeing 777-200 is a very sophisticated modern plane known as the Triple 7. Does this surprise you if all of the circumstances we have in front of this right now that this plane could simply just fall out of the sky and crash?

WALD: Well, I don't think we can say it fell out of the sky, what you can say is, it went down in some place which was unobserved. A lot of this -- lot of the terrain is empty. It's also true that while flying in Europe and United States has become incredibly safe and we'll have to -- Piers, is not the case in the third world. The ground support is weaker, the maintenance is weaker, the cruise are weaker, and Boeing and others has tried to build hideous (ph) proof airplanes but their crash rates does not decline like the ones and the rest of the world has and this should lose all kinds of modern airplane.

MORGAN: Matthew Wald, thank you very. Stay with us. I just want to go back to Richard Quest now. Richard, do we know anymore this stage, anymore from the airline? We know that expected out some kind of press conference but we're not quite sure when. QUEST: Now, we're waiting for the press conference and we wouldn't really expect to hear anymore until there's a certain element of certainty about what they can tell us. They told us that the plane is missing. They've lost all contact. I completely agree with Matt and with your other guests on this point.

This is aviation code speak. This is the way they telegraph without actually saying if the plane has crashed, but, because the 777-200, you know, they have to ignore the fact that this ones a dozen years old. This is -- it would still have modern communications, ultra modern communications, it will have had satellite, it would have had high frequency. It will have data links. What we will be waiting to see of course is did the airline received automatic data from the plane when the incident happened.

Now, we know from 447from Air France, the first indication of what happened was because Air France said this plane was telegraphing that it was in trouble. And so, quite soon, we're going to want to know about EICAS messages from this -- what they call the EICAS system from the Triple 7.

MORGAN: Richard...

QUEST: Yeah.

MORGAN: ... let me ask you this. Someone just twitted this to me.

QUEST: Yeah.

MORGAN: Does the plane not have WiFi to passengers. It could have been a slowish (ph) to send could any of them have e-mailed their family. What, A, do we know to have WiFi on it that was working, and B, is it possible that as a plane crashes, one of those passengers, if they ran WiFi, could they communicate to that, and if so, would we know that by now?

QUEST: Well, the answer to the second is, you know, I supposed in theory yes, but, in extremist, the sorts of incidents -- because the sort of incident that you're talking about that there, Piers, a slow descent would give plenty of time for the pilots to get off a mayday message or to at least put out a distress call. So at least do something. So, that is nonstarter from that point of view.

I'm, you know, I've covered more than the facts unfortunately of this and what is quite clear is you look at what happened at the incident. Was there a mayday? Did they get a distress signal off? What signals was sent from the aircraft, now, the EICAS system to the ground. And in the fullest of time, you know, I'm trying to remember. I was on Malaysian Airlines two weeks ago. I can't remember their WiFi system. It's not (inaudible) to look at that as being whether that's relevant.

What you have here is one of the most modern jetliners in the air at the safest point of flight in the cruise. And clearly, as we now know for the air crashes like 447 which is probably the most recent one of similar type, something dramatic happens. We won't know what that is until they get the voice recorders, until they get the data recorders, and they analyze it. And that will be a combination of the Malaysian authorities which will take the lead. The NTSB are recognizing as the country of origin of the manufacturer. The British authorities because Rolls-Royce manufactured the engines. The BEA from France because -- you know, everybody will be involved in this. But, we are so far off that procedure and that process at the moment.

MORGAN: From more of your experience Richard, is it possible that this plane, although it's lost all contact and has gone missing, is it still possible that it could have suffered a major electrical faults and the cockpit (ph) that made -- mentioned they lost all communication and it could still turn out perfectly OK? Is that a possibility or is the language they've used to you pretty fatalistic about what may have happened there.

QUEST: It's pretty fatalistic. There's possibilities, there's probabilities, there's likelihood in this reality. I'll leave you to be the judge of where are we are standing tonight.

MORGAN: Richard Quest, stay with me. Let's take a short break again. We'll be back with the Breaking News on this missing Malaysian Airlines plane that's gone missing with 239 passengers on board.


MORGAN: Back with the breaking news with a Malaysia Airlines plane has gone missing. It has 239 people on board of which 227 are passengers and with two infants. The other 12 are crew members. I will go now to Fuad Sharuji. He's the VP of Operation Control for Malaysian Airlines. Mr. Sharuji, thank you very much indeed for joining me. Well, can you tell me about this missing plane?

FUAD SHARUJI, VICE PRESIDENT, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: OK. This aircraft departed K.L. this morning at 00:41 with Malaysian time and it's supposed to land at Beijing at 6:15 in the morning. At about 12:30, we were notified by the ATC that they effectively lost contact with the aircraft. And we tried to (inaudible) to communicate with the aircraft to know (inaudible). We -- at this stage now, we have received quite number of unconfirmed news that aircraft has allegedly landed in -- landing on (inaudible), but later, we confirmed that it's not true.

But at this stage now, even until -- as of -- as I'm talking right now, we still haven't got any clue or information where the aircraft is right now.

MORGAN: So just to confirm, the report which I've seen all over the internet, that the plane may have landed safely, as far you're concerned, Malaysia Airlines, that is not true?

SHARUJI: That's not true. We've got in touched with the stations that has claimed that the airplane has landed there and confirmed it's not true. So really, we don't know where the aircraft is right now.

MORGAN: And let me ask you, if you lose all contact with a plane in this circumstance, do you assume that the plane has crash-landed somewhere? SHARUJI: Well, we will be at -- initiatively, we'll be at the uncertainty phase. During uncertainty phase, we need to confirm by establishing consent with the plane. But if we still failed to contact the plane within 60 minutes, then we have to activate the local authority to launch a search and rescue.

MORGAN: And tell me, was there any sign in the last moments of contact with the plane whenever that was during the flight. Was there any sign of the plane being in any distress? Could there be pilot report of any problems?

SHARUJI: Not at all. The last reported contact with the aircraft was the aircraft was flying at freight level of 350 which is about 35,000 feet. And it's about 2 hours from K.L., and there was no call from the crew on Northeast Asia from the tower that the aircraft is having any kind of difficulty.

MORGAN: What are the theories that you are working on as an airline as to what may have caused this plane to go out of contact?

SHARUJI: Our department is too early for us to speculate right now. Anyway, we are having -- we get to have a press conference at about 11:00 Malaysian time. So, while doing that press conference, you can ask questions. But, at this moment right now, our focus is actually to handle to what work with the authorities as well as the next of keen and to see their families then.

MORGAN: Of course. And just to clarify, Mr. Sharuji, when you said a press conference...


MORGAN: ... I think you said is 11:00 local time, is it...

SHARUJI: I have to leave right now.

MORGAN: OK, can you just confirm one thing. Is the press conference in 15 minutes? Is that what you said?

SHARUJI: Yeah. The press conference will be at 11:00 Malaysian time. It's about 15 minutes from now.

MORGAN: Thank you very much indeed for your time sir. I appreciate it.

SHARUJI: OK. Thank you. Bye.

MORGAN: A confirmation there from Malaysia Airlines. There will be a press conference. We think in about 15 minutes, 1100 a.m. local time which will be nearly 11 hours after this airplane went missing.

We'll go back to Greg Feith, the former Senior NTSB Investigator and an Aviation Security Consultant. Greg, you heard there what the VP of operations control said from Malaysia Airlines. They have discounted all these various rumors flying around that the plane has been recovered safety. And they clearly have no idea what has happened to this plane. Did you use (ph) anything from what he said which we could say anymore life (ph) on it?

FEITH: Well, the fact that there was no incidence of a distressed call or any kind of issues that have transpired at least what the representative has given to us that at their last communication with the crew that there was no issue with aircraft but themselves. So, you have to figure that in between those reporting points, something dramatic, something catastrophic must have occurred for this crew not for them been able to at least get off a pan, pan, pan or mayday call.

We're dealing with some sort of situation that consumes them to try and keep the airplane under control, and that the fact that we don't have any additional information after that last reported call. Now, we don't know if the crew actually made any call to ATC. It's the operations guide who said that their airlines communication, their interairline communication with the crew didn't indicate a problem. But he didn't specify whether the crew may have thought the ATC about their problem. So, there's an unanswered question that should be asked in the press conference. The other thing...

MORGAN: And Greg Feith, I've got to jump into that. Let's take a short break. Stay with us please. We come back to you after the break. We're going to ask other guests also for their insight into this dramatic story this evening of the Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 239 people including 227 passengers has gone missing. We'll be back after the break, stay with us.


MORGAN: Back with the breaking news. Malaysia Airlines plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew has gone missing somewhere we believe over Vietnam. We'll get back to Richard Quest, CNN Aviation Expert (inaudible). But that's -- I'm actually going to call you that because you sound like you are. Richard Quest, what do we know about this plane?

QUEST: We know that it was just about a dozen years old, that it's one of 15 in the Malaysian Airline fleet, and that it is taken off from -- let's -- now look, if we look at this particularly, now, it takes off from Malaysia and it starts to head up towards Beijing. Now, that flight should take five hours unchanged.

The incident happens about two hours into the flight which puts it over Vietnam -- just over Vietnam off the coast there, and either Vietnam itself, or into the South China Sea -- somewhere in that particular area. We know that the last radar contact was -- or the last communications was with Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam at a traffic control. But that doesn't mean it was over the city of Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh's air traffic control altitude is a very wide area and would certainly have taken it into the South China Sea. We also now know from your interview just a moment ago with the Malaysian Airlines executive that the flight level was 350. That's 35,000 feet which basically means it's at altitude in the cruise which should have been the safest part of flight.

MORGAN: I thought also what was fascinating from that interview was he confirmed that there was no warning of any issue from the pilots about anything wrong with the plane at all. So, this simply asked to the mystery of what could on earth have happened here. I wish you'd stay with us. I will now go to James Fallows now, national correspondent for "The Atlantic" and also the book "China Airborne".

I believe, Mr. Fallows, you've actually been on this very flight, is that correct?

JAMES FALLOWS, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. A number of times. We lived in Kuala Lumpur and went back and forth to Beijing. And so, I guess the main point I'd make in addition to everything else is that Malaysian Airlines itself is a good airline. When you hear of third-world airlines, you may think of some of these African operations that have a bad safety record. Malaysian has a good safety record. So, it would -- it's unlikely to be some split (ph) sadness with the airline itself whatever happened.

MORGAN: Right. I mean, what the fact say is we know them, either it took off just after midnight local time which is 10 hours now ago. So we know it didn't have enough fuel to still be in the air. So this plain has come down. We just don't know where it's come down or the circumstances which brought it down.

I mean, when you flown this plane, it is I believe extremely modern plane, it's extremely well equipped. Something catastrophic must have happened here, you would assume, right?

FALLOWS: I was just looking at some of the logs from flight and where I'm sure they were reporting its position every 30 seconds or so and then suddenly there are no more reports from 35,000 feet to a position where be some place over the South China Sea or Vietnam and then suddenly it just vanishes. So you could imagine some kind of all encompassing electric failure that caused that more likely do some problem with the airplane, and what that is, no one knows.

MORGAN: And finally, James, if there was any kind of terrorist attack, would that be more obvious to detect?

FALLOWS: Yes. I suppose if it were detonated, in that way, you know, that could explain this. But you would think people would want to take "credit" for it if that were the cause. So, I don't know. I don't want to speculate to that. But for some reason, it just disappeared from all the reporting screens.

MORGAN: OK. James Fallows, thank you very much. And just to confirm, when I spoke to Malaysia Airlines executive a few moments ago, he did confirm the report suggesting this plane has been found are erroneous. They are not true. We'll be right back here with more after this break.


MORGAN: I'll talk to Matthew Wald, the New York Times Aviation Correspondent. Matt, I spoke again to the VP of operations in Malaysia Airlines. I thought two significant things came out of it. One is, they have no idea where this is plane is despite erroneous reports to the country that it is turned up, it hasn't. And secondly, there was no warning whatsoever from anyone involved the plane to the airline before it disappeared from contact. What would you read into that?

WALD: Well, it's not unusual. They keep the cruise to aviate, navigate, communicate -- communication from labs (ph). I would read something else with this which is we've got rising prosperity firstly in Asia, rising air operations, and a relatively high rate of crashes. And we're going to see more and more of these as the years go by unless Asia can achieve the same kind of step change that North America and Europe have had in increasing your safety.

MORGAN: Nothing more. Thank you very much. We'll get back to Richard Quest, CNN Aviation Expert. Richard, we obviously don't know enough. There's about to be a press conference where we might find out a little bit more. But can we rule out a terror attack here or not?

QUEST: Honestly, no. You can't because of the nature of this incident. Let me be absolutely clear. I am not saying yes and I am not saying no. You asked me, Piers, "Can we rule it out?" And I am saying no. You can't rule it out for the simple reason this aircraft came out of the sky would appear at altitude 35,000 feet without the crew managing to get a mayday or pan-pan call out. We have to leave every possibility on the table.

MORGAN: Richard Quest, thank you very much. Stay with CNN to get to know in coverage the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 239 people. Stay with us.