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Did Pilot's Politics Play Role In Missing Plane?; Concerns About Pilot's Mental State?; U.S. Readies Further Sanctions Against Russia

Aired March 17, 2014 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, new details on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, could the pilots' political ties be a factor in why the plane is gone. What we are learning from him tonight.

Plus one of the craziest theories yet on how this plane stayed hidden from radar and we hear from the partner of an American on board the missing jets. Why she believes her soul mate might still be alive. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, new information on the pilot of missing Flight 370 and some major questions about his political ties. Malaysia's opposition leader tells CNN that the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah is a member of his organization, which has been fighting Malaysia's ruling party for decades.

Now this has raised new questions about whether the incident is political. We are going to bring you the late breaking details in a moment. Our Kyung Lah is on the ground in Malaysia now. She spoke with the Malaysian opposition leader about the pilot and you're going to hear that directly from her in a moment.

First though, I wanted to go through the other big developments today on this story. We have a new video posted to YouTube purportedly showing the plane's pilot and co-pilot going through security at the Kuala Lumpur airport. Now obviously this video looks completely real, but I must emphasize that we at CNN have not confirmed independently on the authenticity or date most importantly of the video.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has scaled back his role in the search effort. Today, the "USS Kidd," we've been reporting on that destroyer, which is out in the southern Indian Ocean was up at the Andaman Sea. It is now actually leaving the search all together.

Kyung Lah is in Kuala Lumpur. And Kyung what more can you tell us, I know you had a chance to speak to this opposition leader.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you is that there is a lot of scrutiny happening both here inside Malaysia and outside the country about the pilot and his political beliefs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LAH (voice-over): Some 2 million square miles, 26 countries searching, still no sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. Slow drip of information continued. They did reverse a timeline before the plane vanished. Malaysia Airlines says it is now not sure if the transponder and tracking system called ACARS was shut off before or after the final voice transmission from the plane. The voice said, "All right, good night."

AHMAD JAUHARI YAHYA, CEO, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: The initial investigation indicates that it was the co-pilot who basically spoke the last time it was recorded on tape.

LAH: The co-pilot and not the pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah. As investigators focus on what happened in the cockpit more scrutiny on the captain's background and political ties. Friends say he is a loving father of three, but also a public supporter of opposition party leader, Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar is a thorn in the ruling party's side, a political party he controlled for more than 50 years.

Zaharie attended Anwar's pro-democracy rallies and meetings. Even more "Democracy is dead" t-shirt denouncing the ruling party. Just hours before Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off a court of appeals ordered Anwar to prison on charges of sodomy reversing the not guilty decision of a lower court. Anwar says the sentence is a political vendetta.

The local press are now asking did Zaharie purposely down the plane to make a political statement. Anwar accuses his political opponents of feeding that story to reporters.

LAH (on camera): What does this say that the government in your opinion is throwing out this narrative?

ANWAR IBRAHIM, OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER: I think it is to deflect. The whole focus is on them. They feel every count. Here is the first time you have a leader of a country not willing to answer questions. I think because of that they are now desperate to cast suspicions against me as leader of the opposition.

LAH (voice-over): But so far there is no evidence to tie the plane's disappearance to the pilot or his politics. We could not reach the Malaysian government for comment on this.


LAH: We have been trying to reach the Malaysian government, Erin, but again, we have not been able to have the respond directly to what Anwar is saying -- Erin.

BURNETT: And Kyung, obviously you had a chance to talk to Anwar, which very few have at this point. Have any of his supporters in the past been involved in terror?

LAH: Not that we are aware of. It is something that has been floating out there. This is really about local politics. That is what it comes down to according to what Anwar is saying, that the government is fleeing these accusations out because they botched the investigation so poorly. This group is a political party here in Malaysia. He says what it has come down to like you see in Washington, the fight between Democrats and Republicans and they are trying to get one leg on top of the other.

BURNETT: All right, Kyung Lah, thank you very much, reporting as you could see live from this morning in Kuala Lumpur.

I want to bring in Seth Jones now, associate regional director of International Security and Defense Center. Seth, you know a lot about this part of the world. You've been talking to your sources and intelligence. You just heard reporting that the opposition party leader saying to blame this incident on that is just pure politics, the ruling party of Malaysia trying to fling mud and that's not at all what happened here. What do you hear when you hear that?

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: I think right now there is very little evidence right now that the pilot would have been or even was motivated to down an airline because of that. He likely was upset at the verdict that had just been announced several hours before he boarded the aircraft, but to down an airline because of that I think at this point is pure conjecture. So again, I would take any of these accusations with a huge grain of salt that we have no evidence right now to support that.

BURNETT: And Seth, you know, I know you have been talking to your sources in the region. One thing I was really curious about the other day was what it is like in terms of security on a Malaysia Airline, right. So we looked at the civil aviation regulations for Malaysia that was issued in 1986. That's the last time we define any update. It may imply that the carrier may, but doesn't have to bolt the cockpit door. That is just one example, right. What does this say to you when you are looking at pilots being involved or a passenger being involved?

JONES: Well, I think the biggest issue here and one of the issues that is most concerning to me is somebody who looks at terrorism in militant groups is how poor the Malaysian security effort has been. I would just note a couple of things. One is very few items that are going on cargo of aircraft are security. That included this particular aircraft in Malaysia from special branch.

Second, the passport scanning system in general we found it with individuals both those individuals used Italian and Austrian passports, they were able to get access to that airline with fake passports because of holes in the biometric security. So one major issue that the U.S. needs to be very concerned about is huge loopholes in the security apparatus of countries like Malaysia.

BURNETT: It's pretty incredible. You are saying your sources are saying the cargo was not screened on this particular flight. Are there terror groups though, Seth, in that region, in Malaysia, that would have had motive? Because it does come down to motive, right, motive to do anything with this airliner.

JONES: Well, there are organizations that operate out of this region. The Islamic movement that has conducted attacks against the Chinese. That is where this airline was headed. There are groups that have conducted attacks like Jama Islamiah in areas like Indonesia and the Philippines. Those are groups that have indicated in the past the willingness to either hijack airlines.

But I'll tell you one issues that is troubling here is there has been almost no indication from any group that they are responsible for this. Groups generally take responsibility for this. No one has done this yet.

BURNETT: All right, Seth Jones, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.

OUTFRONT next the question about pilots. Are they properly screened? One 777 pilot tells us it is up to pilots to talk about what could be going wrong. And the plane remained in the air for hours after disappearing from radar. How did it go undetected? There is the most bizarre theory you have heard so far coming up.

Plus if someone tried to take over your flight, would you know about it and would you act? We are going to hear from the man who took down shoe bomber, Richard Reid.


BURNETT: American and Malaysian officials say Flight 370 veered offcourse after a deliberate action by somebody in the cockpit. I use that word on purpose, somebody. That could have been a pilot inside the cockpit. It could have been a pilot on the plane who had training or somebody else. Investigators though are increasingly focused on the actual pilots of Flight 370. So what do we really know about them? There is a screening process sufficient to keep passengers safe. Brian Todd is OUTFRONT.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are a focus of the investigation, their homes have been searched, but so far there is no evidence in the backgrounds of the pilots to suggest any wrong doing. Still Malaysia Airlines CEO says everyone in the cockpit undergoes routine psychological tests.

YAHYA: We will see whether we can strengthen, tighten the entry.

TODD: Current and former pilots tell us the level of psychological screening for pilots depends on their airline and its governing body. The 777 pilot, Les Abend, says his airline asks questions about his personality.

LES ABEND, 777 PILOT: Do you like your mother? Do you hate your father? Things of that nature. Have you harmed a small animal?

TODD: Abend says some airlines interview the pilot's friends to see if they've got psychological or emotional issues. He says many U.S. based airlines go above and beyond what is required by the government. The FAA has strict rules saying pilots have to get psychological screening as part of the medical exam. They can't fly if they have bipolar disorder or similar problems. Some pilots say medical screeners don't always ask about psychological issues and it's often up to pilots to report those and report any medications they are taking.

(on camera): If he or she doesn't self-report what happens?

MARX WEISS, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: If you don't self report, it is going unnoticed. Typically what happens is if you have an issue, one of your crew members might recognize something like that.

TODD: Do the airlines check on pilots to see if anything has come up that might cause concern, financial problems, maybe worrisome illness?

LES ABEND, 777 PILOT: The short answer is no. Not until it affects your job performance or miss a trip for a particular reason.


TODD: Les Abend says that if airlines started to check on pilots like that then privacy concerns would be raised -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUTFRONT: All right, Brian, thank you very much.

I want to bring in Jeff Wise private pilot, aviation journalist.

All right, great to have you here. And I mean, just maybe when you watch this and you think about as you were saying the sheer number of pilots that out there. But here is the thing. You get on a plane and we all put an inherent basic trust in the pilot, trusting them literally with our lives in what is, frankly, one of the most terrifying experiences for a lot of people. If one of the Malaysian pilots turns out to be is responsible, how terrifying, and I used that word on purpose, is that?

JEFF WISE, AVIATION JOURNALIST: Well, it is terrifying. I mean, if we are worried about terrorism, what is terrorism? Terrorism isn't really about destroying planes or buildings. It is about destroying trust. And the captain of an airliner embodies the trust. It is the bed rock of the entire system. He is the authority.

You know, if you look back at sea captains in the 19th century, they were the law aboard the ship. And the airline pilot inherits that mantle. And so, if you start to distrust the captain of an airplane, you are distrusting the entire system. And so, in a way this could be a game changing on par with 9/11 in terms of casting doubt, creating uncertainty, forcing us to re-assess and to --

BURNETT: I mean, question. Because we have been talking about the whole cockpit door situation in which, again, according to the strict regulations act, if I can find, right, is 1996 was the last time those were revised for Malaysia Airlines which is shocking, part of 9/11 and they don't have to lock their cockpit doors. But that would mean anybody could have gotten in. But it is, to your point, much scarier if the reality is it was on the other side of the door with the problem one.

WISE: Well, exactly. I mean, I talked to a 777 pilot who flies for American. And he was saying, you know, there is a key code you can use to get in. But there is also just a dead bolt, a piece of metal that the pilot can use the exclude the rest of the world from the cockpit. And after this, we don't know what is going to happen, but nothing else happened, the part from what's has already happened, enough has occurred to make us doubt that we can trust all airline pilots the way we did before. And that maybe we have to take away the dead bolt from the inside of the door.

BURNETT: That's amazing. It is pretty shocking. Although, I want to emphasize in your view as an aviation journalist and a pilot, you don't actually think it was these pilots?

WISE: I don't -- the story is still unfolding. We don't have the data. I personally look, as a gut level feeling, I think that whoever did what they did based on these radar tracks had to know a lot about aviation. They were clever about the way they slipped out of radar and that little gap. Nobody had talked about this scenario before. They invented it. They took us through their own creativity, dark though it may be. It a new place.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much Jeff. We appreciate it.

And of course, the big question is whether the pilot of this plane's flight simulator at home was a part of the story. He had a very sophisticated one. He was very proud of it, showed this to his friends. So, how central to the story is that?

And we are going to hear from the partner of Philip Wood, one of the American on flight 370. His partner still believes he is alive.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not ready to give up hope. I genuinely feel his presence. I don't believe he has left us left.



BURNETT: For the families of flight 370 the wait for news about their loved ones is agonizing. They have been clinging to every twist, every development, so many of them contradictory, hoping that a miracle is possible. This is what a long time partner of Philip Wood, one of three Americans aboard the missing jet believes. Sarah Bajc spoke to our David McKenzie about the man she calls her soul mate and the painful moment she realized that he was actually on board flight 370.


SARAH BAJC, PHILIP WOOD'S PARTNER: My stomach just crashes. And then immediate disbelief like can't be. It's got to be some practical joke. And then it stayed missing and it stayed missing. And no sign of crash. And no evidence of anything going on. And within -- you know, by the night, by 12 hours disbelief started to set in like this can't be happening, it's surreal.


BURNETT: David McKenzie is OUTFRONT live in Beijing this morning.

And David, you spoke to Sarah about why she still believes there is a chance that her partner is still alive. And her words to you were so poignant What did she say?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she said that she feels his physical presence, Erin. And then, also, she feels that logically looking at the evidence as she sees it he has to be out there somewhere still alive even as the days stretch on.

You know, Philip and Sarah were due to move together to Kuala Lumpur. You see, even the packing boxes behind her there in the interview, they were going to start a new life together and start a fresh start in another country. They were so excited about it. The movers were even coming on the day that that plane went missing. And she says she believes he is alive no matter what people say to her.


BAJC: The impossible already happened once. The impossible can happen again. I have had several people try to council me to say, you know Sarah, you are being maybe a little unrealistic, you know. The odds are not in your favor.

I know that. I'm not an unrealistic person. I'm pretty grounded in reality. I'm not ready to give up hope. Until there is conclusive proof to tell me there is no hope, I will continue to move forward even if there is 0.1 percent chance, it is worth clinging to that. And that is not being unrealistic. It is being -- it is looking forward. I genuinely feel his presence. I don't believe he has left us yet.


MCKENZIE: Well, you know, one very poignant detail she told me and she showed it to me, in fact, is she has a bag packed with some items of hers and some clothing for Philip and says, you know, wherever he is out there he will want fresh clothes and he will want, you know, to look good when he comes back and we start our life together in Malaysia. And she honestly believes it. She says she was a fan of Sherlock Homes as a younger woman and she now is trying to solve her way out of this problem -- Erin.

BURNETT: And David, just you talking about, it sort of there are people watching, I'm sure it gives them chills. And you know, people would -- anyone would have that hope against hope that there is still a miracle here that could happen. She was so poised in talking to you. But I know you had a chance also to talk to a lot of families because so many of the passengers there were coming back to Beijing, many of them, of course, were Chinese. Are there a lot of them that share this belief and this hope?

MCKENZIE: Yes, I would have to say that everyone that I have spoken to a person believes there is a chance that their loved one is alive. Of course, it is human nature. You are not going to give up hope unless it is absolutely being extinguished for you, you know. Otherwise, it would not be human. And many people I have spoken and say they believe this plane is being hijacked, that is sitting on a runway or in a desert somewhere and they are just waiting for the call on their cell phone. Of course, you know, as time ticks by and no one claims responsibility and all of the things we have all been talking about it seems less and less likely from a logical standpoint.

But, you know, we are not logical. We want to believe there is hope out there and that, you know, that person is going to walk through the door one day. And until that 100 percent as Sarah mentioned, that 0.001 percent chance that is not going to happen, you are going to believe that because that is the only option to keep going.

BURNETT: All right, David McKenzie, thank you very much. Appreciate your time. And that was a great interview, obviously, with Sarah.

Still to come, what would you do if someone tried to take over your flight? The man who took down shoe bomber Richard Weed is OUTFRONT.

And we are going to Martin Savidge. He is live in a 777 flight simulator. And here is the question. What was flight 370 like for those on board with the pieces of information we have now about altitude shifts and plunging and surging? What was it like for the passengers? We are going to show you.


BURNETT: Tonight, a potential lead in the mystery of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Authorities scouring the pilot's personal flight simulator, which he kept in his home, for clues. Malaysian police seized the home made device from the captain's home over the weekend. They waited over a week to do so.

With officials zeroing in on pilots, a similar data could be essential to the investigation.

Martin Savidge is live in a 777 simulator.

Marty, what -- and I heard it going off, so you must be doing something you are not supposed to do, which obviously --


BURNETT: You know, here's a question, though -- what could we potentially learn from the flight simulator? I mean, he had a very high end sophisticated one. He likes to talk about it with his friends. But if he was testing it, for example, would sudden altitude shifts and moves, which show up on a software and you'll be able to tell afterwards?

SAVIDGE: I mean, you know, let's face it -- the computer, which is the simulator, is the memory. And the memory may contain everything that could have been a plan. Now, we have to point out there is no proof that the pilot was implicated in this.

BURNETT: That's right. But if he were he could look at something like this, the route. And that's what authorities would want to know.

Was there a specific route that he was planning or using over and over again? Was it something that took him across the northern Pakistan region? Or was it something that flew to the Indian Ocean? That's all in there.

Something else that would be in there is -- well, the ability to take a sudden descent. Maybe he was practicing something like that. So, if we try to put the plane down, get it low to the ground, even drop the landing gear, all of this would be somehow monitored by the flight simulator. It's all going to be in there.

Whatever happened to the aircraft, this could be the only surviving memory. And you could play it back. You could begin to see what was the intent of the flight plan.

Now, again, there's no way to measure exactly whether this was really what was going to happen to Flight 370, but it could be the first real clues and it's the only living memory that may exist at this particular time. It is all locked inside the aircraft.

Everything from the sharp turns that may have been made or the sharp descents that may have been made, or the plans to go to 35,000 feet or the plans to plummet down to 22,000 feet, all of which has been reported, all of which may be contained inside of the brain of the simulator.

BURNETT: And it's interesting, you use the words brain of the simulator --


BURNETT: That's OK. By the way, I think it's amazing how you have the mountains you get a feeling that you are in a plane. Sometimes when you are in the dark night over the ocean, it's hard to just simulate the windows to get that feeling that you must be experiencing.

But, Martin, can you, from a simulator, at all ascertained what would have happened to the passengers? How they would have experienced that reporting that we have so far, which again to emphasize, we're not sure exactly on these altitudes, but as high as 45,000 feet down to 32,000 feet, the sharp turns, what would passengers have experienced?

SAVIDGE: Yes. There's no way that the simulator would record that kind of information. It's just that that kind of data is not something that is necessary for a pilot routinely to practice any kind of flight.

There are some instruments that might tell you the temperature in the back of the cabin. There might be things that show you the aircraft wing surfaces itself. But as far as, you know, what would be the impact on the passengers themselves, the physical impact on a person, none of that is really reflected inside of the simulator. It was never meant to show that.

BURNETT: And, Martin, you know, you are obviously sitting there with someone who is very experienced. And let me give you a chance. I mean, let's just say that things happen the way we understand they happen now, right? There are sharp turns, some of them pre- programmed, at least one reportedly.

And then there's the dramatic changes in altitude that this experienced. And then there is the sort of perfect flying from radar point to radar point. How much training would a pilot need to be able to execute all of that?

SAVIDGE: Well, one of the things that they will point out to you is that the 777 is a highly sophisticated aircraft. And a lot of the flying the airplane can do on its own. It does want input from the pilot from time to time. But this plane can land on its own completely from altitude. It can navigate for hours on end on its own.

However, when you get down, let's say, flying deep in mountains like this, auto pilot will is not going to be able to win your way through those mountain passe in the dark. That's going to c come down to a human being. That requires certain and specific skills.

So, if that is indeed the path they took, it's somebody with a lot of flying experience.

BURNETT: All right. Martin Savidge, thank you very much, reporting up, again, from inside that 777 flight simulator there, which is going to the theoretical mountains that would separate Southeast Asia from the stand.

Joining me now is General Spider Marks, Mark Weiss, former airline captain of the 777, and Kwame James, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 63, which was the plane on which Richard Reid tried to bomb the plane out of the sky with a shoe bomb three months after 9/11.

Mark, let me start with you. As a pilot, what's your reaction to what we just saw from Martin Savidge? You thought this was a hijacking from the start. What do you make of this crucial detail that I want to emphasize we now have, which is that the pilot home-built this flight simulator. He has this home-built flight simulator in his home.

Does this make you less likely to think it was a hijacking, more likely to think it was the pilot or not?

MARK WEISS, RETIRED AMERICAN AIRLINES PILOT: Well, you know, again, from the very beginning, I thought it was a hostile take over of the airplane. Whether it was a hijacking or terrorist activity, it was a hostile takeover of the aircraft. The fact that the pilot had the flight simulator in his own home, it is important to go back and take a look and see if you can recover some of the data to see if input programs about where you might want to land or, of course, how it would effect the airplane flying at 45,000 feet down to 25,000 feet, perhaps they practiced it perhaps they didn't.

But I don't want to overemphasize the fact that this pilot had a simulator. I've said in the past and it's -- I'll say it again, a number of my friends have flight simulators at home perhaps not as extensive or as an elaborate as what we found this pilot's home.

BURNETT: But they have them just because they love to fly that much or they're always practicing or whatever it might be, but you're saying it's not out of the ordinary.

WEISS: Absolutely. They love flying and want to hone their skills.

BURNETT: So, Kwame, you've been on a plane when it almost went down. You know, I was asking Martin, was there any way on a flight simulator that you would be able to, you know, figure out in any way what it was like for passengers and, you know, he was saying no, it doesn't really give you that ability.

But in your case, you know, everyone keeps talking about there's this red eye and people about hour and a half into flight, and all these things start happening. And do they feel it turn and know what happens.

You've been on a plane when somebody tried to bring it down. In your case, it clearly was terrorism, American Airlines Flight 63 from Miami to Paris. You were one of the ones who helped subdue the shoe bomber Richard Reid.

When did you know something was wrong on your flight?

KWAME JAMES, HELPED SUBDUE SHOE BOMBER RICHARD REID: I was traveling back from Paris to Miami. There was actually an exchange student next to me who started screaming like we were on a roller coaster. I realized something was dramatically wrong when she was screaming. So, that was an insight to what was going on.

BURNETT: And how much time did you have to react?

JAMES: Well, our flight attendant initially came. Once we heard screams the flight attendant said, can you help me? I didn't know what kind of help I could give her. She seems so panicked and dramatic I realized it was serious and volunteered my help.

BURNETT: And, Spider, when you think about what Kwame is saying and what happened on this plane and we don't exactly obviously what happened, but obviously something went horribly wrong. Are you surprised at all that the passengers, if it wasn't something that initiated inside the cockpit that the passengers didn't somehow get more involved in a way that we are not yet aware of?

GEN. SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You know, I'm not. Kwame's experience is somewhat unusual in that he was able to get involved, that he was asked to be involved. Most folks on flights like this completely demure. They're differential to the crew, they're differential to what's happening in the cockpit and they will sit back and they will allow this aircraft to kind of do its thing.

So, it's not usual and get bless the fact that Kwame was able to get involved and was able to make a difference in this case, because in a case like this, clearly, you would love to see folks raise a hand and get involved very, very quickly. It's the rare occasion that that happens.

JAMES: I would like to say something.

BURNETT: Yes, go ahead, Kwame.

JAMES: I really like to give credit to Christina and Hermes (ph), the flight attendants for their bravery and quick acting, because I would not have had a chance to act if the flight crew and the right makeup of passengers of that flight. So, I like to highlight, it was a group of passengers and I called the flight attendants. They were the quarterbacks. We were the line men or the wide receivers essentially. So, we had the right people at the right time.

BURNETT: And, Mark, what about the point Kwame is making?

MARKS: Plenty of credit to go around in a case like this.

BURNETT: Right. But what about the point that Kwame is making, which is -- because he mentions that not just other passengers but also flight attendants, you know? And in this case, again, we don't know because of the sudden and ominous silence of the plane, something could have happened when the plane went dark.

But is it safe to say the passengers and crew that were not in the cockpit would have known that something was wrong? I mean, not only did it turn directions, which I'm sure a lot of people would have noticed. But you have the sudden altitude shifts.

WEISS: There's no question about that. I tend to disagree and I guess there is a bit of a question mark. On a few flights here in the United States, we've had a Southwest Airlines plane, we've had a United Airlines plane a few years ago, where somebody tried to breach the cockpit. And passengers really did come forth to try and subdue that with the aid of the crew.

Now, crew members are given instructions in security courses from their airlines in some self defense and how to protect the aircraft from threat situations on board an airplane.

BURNETT: And, Spider, are there terror groups that would want to take down this plane? I mean, I know we're talking about sort of crew and cockpit? But are there terror groups -- this was your area of expertise -- that would want to take down this jet?

MARKS: Well, let's be frank with everybody. There are over 230 Muslims that are in this part of the world, radical Islam recruits where there are opportunities to recruit. This is a recruiting hot bed. We have certainly seen terrorism come out of this part of the world.

We haven't spoken about that yet. But I guarantee you, as get into this more and more, we may be able to uncover that. I'm not suggesting that is the situation. But to answer the question very bluntly, yes, there are groups in that part world that would love this opportunity and might have taken advantage of it. It remains to be seen.

BURNETT: All right. Kwame, is it safe to say when you fly you are always looking?

JAMES: I fly quite a bit so I put everything on faith. I'm really faithful and I'm here because of God. I have a second chance. So, I'm definitely a more diligent as everyone should be. Anyone who flies a lot now should definitely pay attention to their surroundings.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all of you. We appreciate it.

And OUTFRONT next, how did Flight 370 fly for hours without being detected by radar? You know, that's the crucial question here over so many different airspaces and military zones. Well, there is a new and this might be actually probably is the strangest theory yet and it involves another plane. We're going to explain.

Plus, the last words heard from the cockpit of the missing jet were "all right. Good night". Those are the words heard around the world, special report.


BURNETT: And let's check in with Anderson on what's coming up on "A.C. 360".

Hey, Anderson.


We are spending an hour on the newest and latest developments on what happened to Malaysia Flight 370. What one of the keys, who turned off the plane's electronic data reporting system called ACARS? "360" has uncovered a panoramic view of just how sophisticated it is and how complicated it would be to access and disable that system. We're going to show that.

Also, we have the latest on where the newest information is leading the hunt for the plane. We'll talk to Commander William Marks, who is part of the search of U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet, and changes in the search parameters. Also, experts in every aspect of this, involving David Gallo, who co-lead the search for Air France Flight 447 and 777 captain Les Abend.

Erin, a lot more at the top of the hour.

BURNETT: All right. Looking forward to that. Appreciate that, Anderson. Well, as we speak, search crews from 26 countries are still scouring the ocean and land for any trace of the plane because there is still the possibility that the plane landed. That is the possibility as David McKenzie was reporting that the families are clinging to. One of the places could be an island in the Indian Ocean.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.

Tom, you know, people still keep talking about this. Obviously, it's incredibly unlikely but it is still possible because there are still so many questions here. If the plane took the southern path, which is what intelligence officials are telling CNN it likely did, where could it have land practically and undetected?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boy, those are really tough parameters, Erin. We know again, point of reference here, where the plane took off, flew for a little less than an hour and disappeared off the coast here.

Since then we have watched all of the search areas show up. And most of them, Erin, have involved a lot more places where the plane can't land than where it can. And when you talk about the northern route and southern route as defined by these satellite images, the southern route is very problematic.

Are there places it could land that is somewhere between striking range of this route?

Yes, for example, if you were to go to the northern tip of Sumatra and go to Banda Aceh, for example. We know that there is an airport there that could handle it.

Take a look at this. We go to Google Earth image and we fly in. You can see that this airport was refurbished after the tsunami there. And it's got the kind of facilities, the kind of runway that could support a plane like this.

However, any place that can support a place with a run way like that also has a lot of witnesses, a lot of people who have something to say, because you know what is beyond places like Banda Aceh and maybe far western coast of Australia parts? This, an awful lot of water. There are very small islands but almost nothing that would have the minimum requirements for a plane like this, a 4,000-foot runway to land and 6,000-foot runway to take off and some kind of support service, because if you don't have those, you have a problem with a plane like this. It can't really get in and safely, Erin.

So, is there some kind of chance it could touch down somewhere out there on some kind of bald island. Maybe, but it's such a long shot, Erin.

BURNETT: Now, it is a long shot. There is, though, a theory out there about how this plane could have gone to the north where I know that some say there are some slightly more possibilities, but not many. But this is, and I have to emphasize this, the craziest theory out there. It involves another plane. What is it?

FOREMAN: I don't know if it's the craziest one but it's a wild possibility that people have talked about. Here's the theory behind it.

Let's say that the plane comes along here, the Malaysian Air comes along, and it gets rid of all of its signals. It's not transmitting any data about itself. And then it slips in behind another plane that is flying perfectly legitimately. The second plane is sending out all of its signals like it should to tell all the towers what it is.

Meanwhile this plane is flying along in its radar shadow, as they call it. The radar shadow, it doesn't show up as a separate thing. Together, they show up as one dot on the radar. U.S. officials were asked about this. They basically say they think the dot would be a little bit too big and would attract the attention of controllers and that this wouldn't be done or couldn't be done.

Other pilots have said it would be very difficult to do, but under the circumstances they say, you have to look at all possibilities and maybe in all that traffic in the Asian skies, nobody would notice -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Tom, thank you very much. I guess the big question is since nobody can understand a motive here, it's almost impossible to understand what happened.

Well, "All right. Good night" -- those are the final words Malaysian officials now say were said. And they say they believe those were said by the co-pilot, the 27-year-old man who was heard saying those words from the cockpit on Flight 370. It was a casual farewell to air control. Didn't keep in the normal words you might have used in that to hand it off, but it was late at night, early in the morning. They said perhaps, you would be that casual, it might suggest everything was normal on that jet before it vanished.

Jeanne Moos is OUTFRONT with more on that final message that is now forever going to be tied to the disappearance of Flight 370.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are famous good- byes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Godspeed, John Glenn.

MOOS: And famous sign-offs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good night and good luck.

MOOS: But when luck turned bad on Malaysia Flight 370, you got --

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Those four words: all right. Good night.

MOOS: A phrase that's been echoing around the globe.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Good night.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: There would be an "all right. Good night."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "All right. Good night" is a game changer.

MOOS: Will "All right. Good night" one day end up in a recreation as Amelia Earhart's last radio message did, her fuel almost gone. Earhart was trying to tell rescuers exactly where she was in her last transmission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are on the 157 --

MOOS: Not hide it, the Malaysian flight seemed to be doing. Earhart's plane still hasn't been recovered.

Back when the Titanic sank, the final messages were sent by Morse code. The operator refused to leave his post, shown in this scene left out of the movie "Titanic."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, let's clear out. We've done our duty.


MOOS: He went down with the ship after sending out a distress message, "come quick. Engine room nearly full."

The most famous last transmissions came when cameras trained on re- entry and lift-off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Challenger go with throttle up.

MOOS: NASA's transcript attributed an uh-oh to the challenger's pilot that we weren't able to hear.

And then there was the Columbia space shuttle burning up during re- entry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bright orange yellow.

MOOS: This interchange with mission control was their last.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Columbia, Houston, we see your tire pressure messages and we did not copy your last.


MOOS: Then static.

(on camera): Sometimes it's not the last words that are so eerie, it's the silence after them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Columbia, Houston, UHF com check. Columbia, Houston, UHF com check.

MOOS (voice-over): And now silence from Malaysian Flight 370 has left us in limbo, after --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An informal "All right. Good night."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Good night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Good night.

MOOS: Sometime during that not so good night, all right went all wrong.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: She's right, something about the silence after leaves all your hair standing on end.

Our breaking news coverage continues after this break.


BURNETT: And we have breaking news.

Senior officials tell CNN that the White House is preparing sanctions against additional Russian officials and their allies due to the crisis in Ukraine. It comes after this morning's announcement from the president, about two dozen officials in the region being sanctioned.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world.


BURNETT: In Moscow, Putin was -- well, he had no problem with what was going on, signing a decree recognizing Crimea's independence. On Sunday, 90 percent of the voters backed leaving Ukraine to join Russia, a vote the United States calls a sham and illegal.

Jim Acosta is at the White House,

Jim, a Putin aide on today's sanction was quoted as telling a Russian newspaper, "It's a big honor for me. I don't have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Alan Ginsburg and Jackson Pollock. I don't need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing."

Are they taking this seriously or mocking it?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, it does seem like they're scoffing at these sanctions so far, Erin. There's a deputy prime minister who tweeted this evening or earlier today, I should say, calling President Obama "comrade Barack Obama." What should those do have no accounts or property abroad?

You know, this deputy prime minister obviously referring to himself saying he doesn't have any assets in the United States to freeze so that does appear to be the Russian response so far.

But what the White House is saying, what administration officials have been saying all day long, Erin, is that these sanctions were just the first step announced today. That as you mentioned just a few moments ago, they do expect these sanctions to ratchet up in the coming days and that that ratcheting up is going to depend on Russia's actions.

So, you talked about President Putin issuing that decree. Well, he's going to be talking to the Russian parliament tomorrow. We should hear more about his plans.

But senior administration officials are expecting that President Putin will seek to annex Crimea, make it part of Russia. So, then we'll see the next steps from the administration.

One thing we did hear at the White House is they weren't rule out sanctions against Vladimir Putin. They weren't ruling out military aid to Ukraine. So, we're going to be watching all of these steps as they develop over the coming days, a lot of it depending on what Putin does next, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jim Acosta.

Of course, as Jim said, not only was Vladimir Putin not subjected to the sanctions but some of the wealthy socialites and oligarchs that have houses in the U.S. not subjective to them yet either.

Anderson Cooper starts now.