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Vanished: 12 Days; Flight 370 Families Demand Answers

Aired March 19, 2014 - 06:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: They happened before the news conference. But they are hysterical. They are crying. They are screams of anguish, nonetheless, heartbreaking.

They are looking for answers, of course. Some still clinging to hope that their loved ones are still alive but the wait has become agonizing. People are beginning to believe that we may never know what really happened to Flight 370 and that uncertainty has family members resorting to desperate measures.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): As each day passes, the search widens and the clock ticks, but conflicting information remains, while frustrations are boiling over.

In Kuala Lumpur, hundreds gathered to show support for all of the families of the missing, each with their own story, but all stuck somewhere between anger and grief, grasping to a faint possibility their loved ones are still alive.

Sarah Bajc, partner of missing American Philip Wood, told CNN's Anderson Cooper she will never lose faith they'll one day be reunited.

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD: Miracles to do happen. They happen every day. I have intuition and I have a feeling that they are still alive.

BOLDUAN: She, like many others, believe the plane may have been hijacked and offers this emotional plea.

BAJC: I'm hoping and I'm asking, please, to not -- not hurt the people on the plane. You know, find some other way to accomplish what you're trying to accomplish but don't hurt the people. Let Philip come back to me, please.

BOLDUAN: A prayer echoed by Maira Elizabeth Nari, the daughter of the chief steward on the flight, Andrew Nari, begging for her father's return on Twitter.

"Come home so you can watch the game," she writes, "you never miss watching the game. It's your very first time."

This man also waits for news about his brother but says the delay is torture and he fears hope is slipping away.


BOLDUAN: And maybe in response to the anguish of these families and their demands for more information at the press conference this morning, officials announced that they are assembling a high-level team involving folks from the prime minister's office, the foreign minister's office and beyond, to travel to Beijing immediately to give -- to give updates, more updates, I guess we should expect, to the families of those missing.

We'll continue to follow this, of course, throughout the show. But now, let's back to New York with John Berman for some of today's other top stories -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Kate.

This morning, we have new revelations about the size and scope of the NSA's surveillance operations. Documents given to "The Washington Post" by leaker Edward Snowden say the agency has engineered a system capable of recording every single phone call made in a foreign country and can then rewind and review individual conversations up to a month later. "The Post" confirms it is withholding details that could identify targeting countries at the request of administration officials.

After suffering a big setback, the defense is expected to rest today in the terror trial today of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. The judge in the case angrily denying their request to put 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on the witness stand. Mohammed could have testified from prison in Guantanamo Bay. He claims gave had no military role in al Qaeda. Ghaith is accused of conspiring to kill Americans.

This morning, NTSB investigators are trying to piece together clues in that deadly crash of a news helicopter in Seattle. Two people on board died. Another on the ground seriously hurt when the chopper slammed into a street, burst into flames. Witnesses say they heard strange noises when the helicopter first took off after refueling.

BERMAN: Look at this -- a mother in Massachusetts put her life on the lane to save her twin toddlers from a rolling car. Twenty-two-year- old Mindy Tran had her two children buckled in the back seat of her car when she got out to lock the front door of her house. Just as she got out of the car, it started moving down her driveway and that's when Tran's instinct kicked in. She used her body as a speed bump to slow down the car enough for a neighbor to get in and bring the car to a stop.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughters are my everything. They're my everything. And I don't want to see my daughters in the hospital and I knew at that time, it was either mine or theirs.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Super human adrenaline kicking in. Tran crushed her left knee, dislocated her hip and although she says she has a long road to recovery, she vows she will walk again. And I promise you, she thinks every bit of it is worth it.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Super human. That's exactly what it is.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Also known as the love of a mother.


CUOMO: You know?

PEREIRA: Can't fight with that.

CUOMO: See it time and again. Any pain she is experiencing I'm sure she feel is he is worth it because she feels she did what she had to do to save her kids.

PEREIRA: Great story, J.B. Thanks for that.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's switch to something that's little bit more of benign pre-occupation. It is getting time for March Madness. We had the play-in games last night.

But don't worry, still plenty of time to fill out your brackets.

PEREIRA: Mine is done under lock and key in my office.

BERMAN: Really?

PEREIRA: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: Didn't hear about that getting a little competitive, see how she turned away?


CUOMO: All right. Let's bring Andy Scholes with this morning's "Bleacher Report."

I'm sure you have your bracket done there, too, Mr. Perfect Smile.



SCHOLES: Working on it for hours, guys. You know, the teams, they got to take part in what they are calling First Four last night. Now, technically, it's part of the tournament but a whip gets them into the field of 64, which is where you really want to be. Now, 12 seed on the line between NC State and Xavier. It was the Wolfpack coming out on top in this one, many have them as a sleeper I can to upset St. Louis in the next round. Now, the other game last night, Albany, they beat Mount St. Mary's. They were led by 5'9" guard DJ Evan, the little guy. He had 22 points and 9 rebounds. Albany will play top seed Florida tomorrow.

Now, two more teams will advance to the field of 64 tonight, Iowa and Tennessee will battle for an 11 seed. And going to be an emotional day for Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffery. He's Iowa City this morning where his son, Patrick, is scheduled to have surgery to remove a thyroid tumor. McCaffery will then fly to Dayton to coach Iowa in their first tournament game in eight years.

All right. Number one in the lineup section on, President Obama has revealed his final four. He is going with Florida, Arizona, Michigan State and Louisville. And I really hope he does well, guys, because I have the exact same Final Four.

And, of course, you can compete with me, Chris, Michaela, John, Kate, and all the -- us fellow anchors here at CNN at

Michaela, you said you got yours on lock and key.

PEREIRA: A lot of research.

SCHOLES: Got mine right here. I'm letting everyone know. My final four is the same as President Obama's.

PEREIRA: I like that.

BERMAN: And you're just as powerful.

PEREIRA: Clearly.


SCHOLES: I wish.

CUOMO: Do you have a very electable face, for what's worth.

SCHOLES: Maybe I should run for office someday, Chris.

CUOMO: Maybe. We will consult. We will consult.

All right. We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY, see if we can find Michaela's brackets and check in with the coverage of the disappear perhaps of Flight 370. We have learned that data was deleted from the flight simulator belonging to one of the pilots, how relevant is that? What kind of data would you store on it? Why would you delete it?

Turns out we have someone that can answer those questions. We have a flight simulator right here in the NEW DAY studio. We're going to take you through it with some experts who are going to let us figure out what is fact and what is fiction.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: There is breaking news this morning. Malaysian authorities said data was deleted from the pilot of Flight 370's in-home flight simulator. They haven't identified what was deleted and they haven't even confirmed that it matters that it was deleted, but it is something they are chasing down.

So, we're going to test it as well. We are told that forensic experts are working to retrieve the information and figure it out.

So, how difficult will the process be? What kind of data will you put on a flight simulate and what a can it show us about what might have been practiced there. We have with us former FAA inspector and CNN safety analyst, Mr. David Soucie.

And also here is Jay LeBoff. He's flying a virtual Boeing 777 right here in our own flight simulator in the NEW DAY studio.

Jay, how are we doing so far?

JAY LABOFF, PILOT: We're at 35,000 and we're just cruising along.

CUOMO: What are we recreating right now? What kind are you flying?

LEBOFF: We're flying a 777. We've got the complete cockpit up. We've got GPS up, all the flight information, air speed, horizon, altitude.

And we have here the center console, carrying the flight management computer and this is where the pilots would enter all of the waypoints for the trip that they would be flying.

CUOMO: David, this is the obvious -- this is something that would be very similar to what you would have had, what this pilot would have had in his home. So, the big question is, the idea of deleting data -- what data do you store on this? Why would you delete it? What are the typical parameters here?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, what we are doing right now is flying the aircraft and it's recording what it is that you're doing right now, so that later, you can go back and retrieve this flight and see how it flew, what flew, and look at it without your hands on the wheel and see what it is that you did before. That does get stored.

CUOMO: So, and obviously, it's stores like any other data would on a hard drive.

Now, Jay, in terms of using a simulator, how often do people delete, why do they delete? Is there a need a delete?

LEBOFF: The file, there is no need to delete it. The files are saved when you intentionally save them. So, if they had files that they wanted to delete, they would have saved those files first. If they were just in a casual flight, just for entertainment or for practice, that flight would never be saved and there would be no need to delete it because it would not exist. CUOMO: So, what you're saying is, when you're using a simulator, usually, there is no saving of flights. You just do different routes and practice how you want to practice, play with it anywhere you want.

So, you would have to intentionally save something in the first place and then it's about how much storage space you have before you would delete anything?

LEBOFF: Yes. The storage space is tiny. These are tiny little files that exist in the Windows operating world.

CUOMO: So, you're saying it takes only a little bit of space?

LEBOFF: Tiny. Tiny.

CUOMO: So, what does that mean to you that somebody is deleting things?

LEBOFF: They were trying to remove information that somebody might want to look at.

CUOMO: So it's suspicious to you is what I'm saying?

LEBOFF: Yes, it would be suspicious to me, because we don't need to do it.

CUOMO: Do you echo that?

SOUCIE: I do. Yes. If you save it in the first place, why would you need to delete it? Just small files. It's just a small file. It's not like you'd have to do an optimization of the hard drive or anything like, unless it was some kind of failure in the computer.

CUOMO: And the day bothers you also, right? You mentioned that earlier in the show.

SOUCIE: It does.

CUOMO: It was February 3rd, right?

SOUCIE: It's February 3rd. So, it depends. It can be bother some in two ways. One is that if it was February 3rd, if this was well, planned, you would think he's still would have been practicing after February 3rd, which gives me hope that maybe there's information about where the aircraft may be headed what his intent was.

CUOMO: Any information would help.

Last thing that's important to do here -- now, the big disclosure from officials in Malaysia, not necessarily new information but new information they figured out, is that 12 minutes before the co-pilot said "all right, good night", they inputted data for this additional waypoint. Is that something that would be done and not communicated ordinarily, Jay?

LEBOFF: Well, typically, the flight management computer would be loaded with the complete trip from start to finish. And so for them to interfere with that, they would have to go in and interrupt the program that had been loaded and then insert into that program new lines of code which would change altitude, heading and air speed.

CUOMO: So already not routine?

LEBOFF: Not routine.

CUOMO: It's not like you could say oh, we're seeing a little weather here. Maybe we will put in an additional waypoint just in case something happens. No need to tell anybody about it? That's not how it works?

LEBOFF: Not typical. Because typically if is a regular route flight, that trip would be saved in the flight management computer as a code, and then they fly that trip every time they fly that flight.

CUOMO: And same reckoning of this? Because I'm trying to give every benefit of the doubt to the pilots that we can until the facts dictate otherwise. This does line up like a bad fact. This isn't something that you would do routinely and just not tell people?

LEBOFF: If it's a true fact, yes. You're right. It does. I just don't see any reason why they would do that unless they had - perhaps if they had a specific reason, they had to have an alternate, they were running low on fuel, then they might say, look, I want to have this alternate, I want to be prepared to go there.

CUOMO: Important to note, they're not saying that they altered course 12 minutes before saying good night, just that they inputted the additional waypoint?

LEBOFF: Exactly.

CUOMO: All right. Look, that's the best we can do with it now. Thank you very much for letting us understand exactly how this works. And, Jay, plug the company -- why is it that you know so much about this?

LEBOFF:, we build flight simulators and training simulators for aviators, educators and now we are writing a STEM program to teach math and science using flying as a visual learning tool.

CUOMO: Beautiful. Kids love to learn through these types of devices. This is a good one? Jay's pretty impressive.

SOUCIE: Yes, he is.

CUOMO: And thank you for giving us an understanding of how the data retrieval works, when would you delete and otherwise because that's very important today based on what investigators doing. Thanks. David, you will stay with us of course. Mick?

PEREIRA: All right, thanks so much, Chris. We're going to take a short break. Professional pilots can't even seem to come to a consensus about what might have happened aboard Flight 370. Was it mechanical error or did it involve human interference? We have two veteran aviators joining us this morning. They are gonna break down the evidence ahead.


PEREIRA: All right. Welcome back to NEW DAY. We're following our breaking news in the ongoing search, now Day 12 in the search for Flight 370. Malaysian official says data was deleted from the personal flight simulator belonging to the plane's pilot.

So what happened on board? Well, it would appear that even professional pilots can't come to consensus. Was it mechanical error or human interference? Joining me now, former U.S. Marine Colonel Pete Field, who has more than 40 years of experience as a pilot, and 777 pilot and CNN aviation analyst, Les Abend. Good to have you with us, gentlemen.

And we wanted to bring the both of you because you both are professional pilots. You both are experienced. You both have been at the helm of these types of jet liners. We wanted to find out where you sit on some of these things. So Colonel Field, let's start with you. What is your take, that it was someone or something that doomed this flight?

COL. PETE FIELD, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.): Well, I haven't ruled out mechanical failure of some sort entirely but that's only about 10 percent. I think most of the evidence that we can -- we can believe right now, and there's a plethora of speculation out everywhere -- is that this airplane was commandeered by the -- by the pilots and taken to some other destination, we don't know where, but some other destination.

PEREIRA: And you've said that your opinion is sort of altering every hour with new bits of information. I think all of us can join you with that sentiment. Captain Abend, let's talk to you. Les, how do you respond to that and do you think it was someone or some thing?

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I have been contending all along that it's still a mechanical issue that we haven't determined what it is. And it just -- I won't rule anything out either, but at this point, it just seems almost impossible, not impossible, but it seems more -- very diabolical for the knowledge that was required, even for us as pilots, to do what we've apparently seen with regards to disarming the transponder, the ACARS. It just seems just implausible to me.

PEREIRA: All right. So let's go to these 12 minutes, this new data, this information that 12 minutes before the signoff of "All right, good night," those communication systems were shut down.

ABEND: Well, that was confusing yesterday but according the release that I'm seeing today, there's no indication that this waypoint was put in there prior to reaching a boundary between Vietnam. They were actually in Singapore control's airspace and then they went into Vietnam's airspace, Ho Chi Minh Center, I believe it is. It makes perfect sense. That point is right at the boundary of the air space, and that's approximately where a co-pilot would have said, "All right, good night," and indicated a normal operation.

Where -- where is the waypoint that was entered after that? We don't have that information -- why? We have this but we don't have -- we don't have the diversionary -- my contention is that was a diversionary airport that they were putting in.

PEREIRA: Colonel Field, what's your contention?

FIELD: Well, I agree the waypoint probably was a diversionary airfield, but I just have a real difficult time with the transponder being turned. If you're an airline pilot and for some reason you don't want to be seen, which is really an antithesis for any airline pilot. You want to be in radar contact, you want to know where other aircraft are. And so if the transponder's off, the search radars on the ground can't tell much about you. They can see your location but they can't tell your height or your speed or identify you positively.

So, the transponder going off smells to me of nefarious act on the part of the pilots or it might be somebody that breached the cockpit door and is holding those pilots at gunpoint.

PEREIRA: So you say no conscious aircraft captain would have turned that transponder off of his own volition?

FIELD: I think not. I think that -- I mean there's no real reason for that. You would want Ho Chi Minh Center to pick you up. You would leave the transponder on. There are two of them on the airplane so if had you a transponder failure, you would certainly -- you would certainly say something about that. You're required to.

The other part of that is that if -- if you are -- if you're a -- if you're being held at gunpoint, you might be able to tell from the pilot's voice inflections what was going on. It doesn't sound like the co-pilot, if that's who it was, was under any duress.


FIELD: This sounds like -- like a plan. The reason that I have a hard time with mechanical failure is that there are two guys flying the airplane. Certainly one of them would have had an opportunity to turn and say to any controller that they're in contact with, "We've got a problem, we are coming back towards Malaysia."

PEREIRA: Les, quick final point to that. Aviate, navigate, communicate -- we know the order that you're to do things in.

ABEND: And I appreciate that. The fact that the traps ponder came up, I agree that that's not something we would do under normal operation. However, it's in conjunction with the ACARS turning off also, which indicates to me something was happening in that E&E compartment, albeit a fire, a smoldering fire. Something was -- might have been systematically shutting it down near that -- those components. So, that's -- that's my contention, and then they slowly started to see that they were having an issue by messages on their icast (ph) screen and they were dealing with that.

PEREIRA: Captain Abend and retired Colonel Pete Field, two very smart men, experienced in the field, pun intended. We appreciate you both joining us and lending us your expertise on this matter in the ongoing search for Flight 370. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, Mick, thanks very much. We're following big stories this morning. There's some big concerns coming out of Crimea. It's just one more day till to spring and, of course, there is new information into this search for missing Flight 370. It's time to give the top news.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Some data has been deleted from the pilot's flight simulator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This thing was already heading in a different direction when they are saying good night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They didn't indicate any of the hijack codes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a serious problem, like a fire. One thing you're gonna want to do is get on the ground as soon as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How difficult is it to take this particular 777 off course?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Find some other way to accomplish what you're trying to accomplish but don't hurt the people. Let Philip come back to me, please.


CUOMO: Good morning, welcome to NEW DAY. I'm Chris Cuomo. We have breaking developments in this morning's search for Malaysia Flight 370. The big question is why was data testimony deleted from the pilot's home flight simulator? We have lots to bring you to get you up to date on this story.

So let's get to Kate Bolduan. She's live in Malaysia. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Chris. Thanks so much. We're coming to you live, of course, from Kuala Lumpur where there is a renewed focus on the pilot this morning. Malaysia officials confirming that some data had been deleted from his flight simulator. This is the simulator that they found in his home. What the data was, we don't know. And we're not even sure if it was the pilot who deleted it. Forensic experts are investigating, Malaysian official do tell us, but an important and really perplexing new detail coming out.

Meantime, a U.S. government source tells CNN it's likely the plane flew south after losing contact. Australian officials have narrowed their focus there. But Indonesia, which is supposed to be helping lead the southern search, that southern arc that we have been calling that corridor, Indonesia is facing criticism for slowing that down. The U.S. has a plane there built to locate large objects underwater but the Navy hasn't received clearance to fly over Indonesia yet.

Now, a law enforcement official has confirmed to CNN the plane likely changed directions when commands were made in the cockpit about 12 minutes before the final words were heard from the plane. And with all passengers and crew under review, Malaysian official says they have heard back from all countries except, maybe not surprisingly, Ukraine and Russia.

Now, this morning's press conference -- in this morning's press conference, some very dramatic moments as family members of missing passengers put their anguish on full display, demanding answers. Our Kyung Lah was there as this all unfolded, and she's joining us now.

Kyung, I want to obviously get your take how this played out but I think, first and foremost, we should just let the video speak for itself. Take a listen to what Kyung experienced and our cameras caught today.