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The Mystery of Flight 370

Aired March 21, 2014 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. This is a CNN special report, "The Mystery of Flight 370." I'm Don Lemon.

And we have breaking news for you tonight. Planes are in the air right now, searching the southern Indian Ocean for traces of Flight 370. Meanwhile, Britain's "Telegraph" is reporting it has a transcript of 54 minutes of communication between the cockpit and air traffic control.

And U.S. investigators say, so far, they see absolutely no sign of a terror plot. Their leading theory is that the whole thing was a tragic accident. But they can rule nothing out. There are still more questions than answers.

And you have been tweeting us your questions by the thousands. And we have got top aviation and security experts standing by to answer them throughout this hour, like this one. "If the zombie plane theory is true, what would the condition of passengers be? Would they be eventually overcome by fumes as well?"

"Why is there no satellite footage showing this plane from the time it disappeared just like there is of alleged debris?"

"And what is the next step if no wreckage is found in Indian Ocean? Is it piracy?"

Let's go right to CNN's Kyung Lah, Pamela Brown, and Richard Quest with all of our breaking news tonight.

We're going to start with Kyung Lah to talk about the search.

Kyung, it is morning in the search area. What is the very latest now?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: From what we understand, the planes are in the air. Right about now is when we should be getting the very first planes approaching the critical area.

It's about four hours for the plane for the plane, the very first plane which off at 6:00 a.m. local time to fly down there. It is 10:00 a.m. local and they're just about now starting to scour what they are calling a 37,000-square-foot area that they hope to clear out by today.

It's a very big area. And, today, Don, they're using a combination of military planes, as well as civilian planes. So they're trying to do a two-prong approach, good old-fashioned eyeballs, spotters on those civilian planes, radar on those military ones.

LEMON: All right, Kyung.

Pam, I want to ask you about the significance of two pieces of information today that you have been working on. One is a cockpit cell phone call made by the pilot. And we got a tweet. This one is from Janetta. And she says: "If the pilot made a cell call, why haven't they found out to who because the police can get a record from a cell company within hours?"

What do you know about this call?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can tell you, Don, that Malaysian officials acknowledged in a press conference this morning that they were looking into reports of a call that was made from the cockpit just moments before takeoff. They wouldn't elaborate any more than that.

But what we can tell you, Don, is that investigators have put together a complete profile of both of the pilots. They have been interviewing family members, neighbors, looking at phone records, looking into their hard drive. And at this point, speaking to sources, my colleague Evan Perez has been speaking to his sources, at this point they say there is nothing to indicate or link these pilots to the disappearance of the plane, so important to keep that in mind.

LEMON: Pam, that other piece of information was about the pilot's flight simulator. What do you know?

BROWN: Right now, we know that there were some deleted files, in fact, that there were more deleted files more recently than previously thought.

You may remember Malaysian officials had said that those files were deleted back on February 3. But sources are saying now that simply they were deleted more recently than originally disclosed. So forensics experts, outside consults are working right now to find out not only what is in those deleted files, but, of course, how they were deleted. If those files were strategically deleted or scrubbed clean in a more sophisticated way, that of course could be a red flag.

LEMON: I have to ask you, then, why did the Malaysians tell us nothing had been deleted since February 3?

BROWN: We simply don't know that. Of course, we have been asking our sources that, and we don't have an explanation. We don't know what kind of technology they were using. So, we don't want to jump to any conclusions here.

I want to make it clear that sources are saying that at this point there hasn't been a smoking gun found in the hard drive, that this could have been just very innocent routine deletions that we all do on our computers and our phones -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Pam, stand by.

I'm going to go to Richard Quest now

Transcript of the communication between the pilot has been released from "The Daily Telegraph." I believe it was 54 minutes of this communication. Anything stand out to you?


The bit that everybody is picking up is that there was a repeat of a message that the flight was maintaining altitude at 35,000 feet. That could just be he was requesting or he was annoyed that he wasn't getting a higher altitude. It could be all sorts of things.

And then you have got the final part where he says, "All right, good night," which at best is a -- that's the one that we're looking at now, where he's talking about....

LEMON: And you went over these. CNN hasn't independently went over these, but you did go over them. Right?

QUEST: I have been over them.

LEMON: And they were translated twice.

QUEST: They went from English to Mandarin, from Mandarin back to English.

One of our other guests later this evening will have a different view on this. Of that, I'm pretty certain. But from my look at it so far, there is nothing untoward about that transcript.

LEMON: All right. Kyung and Pamela, thank you very much.

Richard, I want you to stick around with me throughout the hour here.

I want to check in now with CNN's Martin Savidge. At this moment, he is in a 777 flight simulator, along with flight instructor Mitchell Casado. They have been doing this since this whole tragic incident happened.

Martin, every night, we have asked you to take a look at a scenario in this flight simulator and answer a couple of questions for us from a viewer.

Tonight, we would like to take a look at this question, this whole theory about a zombie plane flying on after the crew and passengers were either unconscious or dead.

And this one comes from Xtine. And Xtine says: "If zombie plane theory is true, what would the condition of the passengers be? Would they have eventually be overcome by fumes as well?"

Martin, can you take a look at that for us and then report back a little bit in the show? MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No, we absolutely will. We have been sort of planning it out in the simulator, how we're going to do that. The zombie plane is pretty much an aircraft, yes, where everybody is out, there's no human intervention. It is a plane flying without a brain, a zombie. Yes, we will show you in a bit.

LEMON: Martin Savidge, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Richard Quest is back with me. And Richard keeps looking for updates every single moment.


QUEST: Well, we have got the hashtag, the hashtag #370Qs.

LEMON: #370Qs, #370Qs.


QUEST: Right. So you will forgive me, I hope. I'm looking down because we want to make sure that we bring you the very latest.


LEMON: And the questions are really good, so we want to get all of the good questions and then we will have our lightning round from the newer questions that have come in, in this evening.

QUEST: I'm not being disrespectful. I'm looking at the new questions coming in.

LEMON: I know you're not.

QUEST: And they are coming at a phenomenal rate.

LEMON: But it's good. I'm glad to have you here to help answer.

We also have Jeff Wise, who is the author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger." Arthur Rosenberg is a pilot and an aviation lawyer, and then retired American Airlines pilot Jim Tilmon. Mary Schiavo is a former inspector general of the Department of Transportation. She now represents victims of transportation accidents. And Jeff Beatty is a former CIA and FBI and Delta Force officer.

Starting with you, Arthur, looking again at these transcripts from -- at this transcript from the cockpit, I have a question for you and Richard from Barbara, OK? And here is what Barbara says. Barbara says, "Isn't co-pilot's 'All right, good night' consistent with his lax attitude towards regs such as having ladies in the cockpit?"

Arthur first.

ARTHUR ROSENBERG, AVIATION LAWYER: First off, I guess I'm the guest that's going to disagree with Richard. I think this transcript is very significant, and I'm looking down only because I'm looking at the transcript. The bottom line here is, at the time of the first handoff, when they took off from the tower to the Kuala Lumpur radar ATC, the co-pilot repeated the frequency 132.6.

As you move down the line, we get into what I believe to be the accident sequence. At 1:07, we know ACARS did the last report. We have the navigation change.


LEMON: What are you saying? What are you saying there?

ROSENBERG: I'm saying at the time of the next handoff, it was "All right, good night" without a repeat of the frequency.

In other words, at that moment, this accident sequence was in process. It seems to me that the co-pilot was returned, that he had other things on his mind. He had repeated all the instructions previously, and he did not at the critical moment.


Richard, you don't necessarily agree that there's anything significant in that. But do you think there's credence to anything Arthur just said?


I think one of the important things that Arthur does make is that because the co-pilot or the pilot not flying doesn't say that there's a mechanical or there's a fire, he doesn't give any warning in this crucial 1:07 to 1:19 period, it starts to make it look more difficult that something was happening.

Where I take issue with Arthur is his leap into then assuming that something was going in that -- nefarious at that time.

LEMON: Sticking now with the cockpit, Jim Tilmon, we learned today that the pilot made a call from his cell phone before the plane departed. Is there anything unusual about that? Did you, as a pilot -- I don't know if it was cell phones were prevalent at the time.

Would people call and say, hey, listen, honey, I will see you when I get back? Is there anything unusual about what he was doing?

JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, let's put it this way. I have seen it done. And, I mean, recently, I have seen it done, and no one thought any differently about it. It was a pilot who may be letting his family know something that he felt is important for them to know at that last moment. So, no, I can't attach anything to that.


LEMON: Jim Tilmon, Richard Quest is about to jump out of his seat over here. Why? QUEST: Because, of all the flight attendants and pilot friends that I have own, unlike you and me, who have got a phone that we can use at the drop of a hat, they are trapped in a metal tube for hours. And they always make calls.


LEMON: I was just going to say, I have a friend who is a pilot, a commuter pilot. And he texts me. He is like, hey, I'm about to take off, or whatever, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

He even takes pictures in the sky.


QUEST: They can't make calls all day at work.


Jeff Wise, question. This is from SooMason. It says: "Why is there no satellite footage showing this plane from the time it disappeared, just like there is of alleged debris?"

I don't know. Would the plane itself show up on satellite images during the time it was in the air?

JEFF WISE, "SLATE": Don, that's a great question.

But I wanted to divert the question a little bit, because I feel like we have been reporting some very, very significant news, which is a lot of the people on the panel here with me have been pining all week for some particularly significant piece of data, which we finally got.

And it's got a lot of value. And if you would allow me to explain it a little bit, I think it might be worth your while.

LEMON: Well, OK. You're here.


WISE: I'm hot under the collar.

LEMON: Go ahead, Jeff.

WISE: All right, now, listen, we all remember about last Saturday, a significant development in the story was when the prime minister of Malaysia got in front of a press conference and said they had, with the cooperation and assistance of the United States investigators, decoded the significance of a ping that was sent from the aircraft to Inmarsat satellite, which is in geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean.


LEMON: Layman's terms. Layman's terms. Go ahead, but... WISE: A satellite overhead. OK?


WISE: Distance -- they were able to determine these arcs that you have seen.

This one ping has given us these two big arcs that have really been the underpinning of everything we have been talking about all week, very significant, so significant that many of us said, OK, wait, there were seven pings. What about the other six? What can we learn from them?

Finally today, we got some information straight from the horse's mouth, straight from Inmarsat, which is a company based in Great Britain. What they said was this. Each ping that was received every hour about -- from about 2:10, 3:10, 4:10, 5:10, the last one at 8:10, each one was at a location more remote from the Inmarsat satellite than the previous one.

LEMON: What does that mean, that it was not on its scheduled path? Is that what you're saying?

WISE: Well, we, of course, know that it wasn't on its scheduled path because it didn't wind up in Beijing at 6:00 in the morning.

LEMON: What are you saying? What does this mean about the south Indian -- southern Indian Ocean?

WISE: This greatly narrows down the corridor that this plane must have traveled, either to the north or to the south.

That fact -- this is geometry, OK, and it's symmetrical. So, it doesn't in itself tell us whether the plane when north or south. It vastly reduces the width of the path that it might have taken.

LEMON: Right.

WISE: Now, we can look to some other data.

Why does this path go when you look to the south? It no longer goes over the open ocean or the Indian Ocean where there's no radar. One of the leading theories that people had was that maybe this plane, as it was working its way across the Malay Peninsula and to the northwest on a zigzag course, was heading for the open ocean so it could remove itself from military radar, fly in secret out of sight into the southern ocean and do whatever it wanted to do. That's no longer possible.


WISE: So where did it go? It went over Indonesia. If it went south, it went over Indonesia.

Two days ago, the Indonesian government said that it did not go over our airspace. How do they know that? Because they were looking at their military radar returns. Are their military radar returns absolutely reliable? We don't know.

LEMON: All right, I want to discuss the significance of this when we get back.

But I want to just -- I want you to look at this. This is from my friend who is a pilot.

Start reading right there. What does he say, Richard?

QUEST: He says: "We're always on our phone, crew scheduling, calls last minute to give us schedule changes. Also, lots of planes are equipped with Wi-Fi. We text en route."

The point is, even without being in flight, they are trapped on the plane for hours. And they make calls to friends, loved ones...


LEMON: OK. But I think what he talks about the satellites and the pinging, I think that's very important. We will discuss that when we get back.

For those of the panelists who did not get in, you will get your chance to get in.

And, plus, we will answer more of your questions. Stick with me, everyone.

When we come right back, searching for any trace of Flight 370 in the middle of the most remote region on Earth, as planes and ships crisscross the area. We will bring you the latest on that.

Keep tweeting us your questions tonight using -- make sure to use that hashtag, #370Qs, #370Qs.

We will be right back.


LEMON: Welcome back to CNN's special report, "The Mystery of Flight 370."

Our breaking news tonight, an international force of planes searching the southern Indian Ocean for any trace of Flight 370, but, so far, the world's most advanced technology is no match for the vastness of the ocean.

And here's what Mariam asks: "With so much advanced technology with countries who have been involved in the search for MH370, why can't a 777 be located?"

Well, tonight, we are taking a closer look at one of the most remote locations on Earth. Just how challenging is the search for Flight 370?

Here's CNN's Alexandra Field. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the horizon a small window of opportunity opening in one of the world's most remote and punishing regions.

ARNOLD GORDON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: The weather is clear. They have good visuals from the aircraft. The waves are going to die down a bit.

FIELD: Twenty-foot waves forecast to subside this weekend as searchers scour a daunting swathe of the south Indian Ocean for any kind of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and its 239 passengers.

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: It's about the most inaccessible spot that you can imagine on the face of the Earth.

FIELD: Fourteen miles off the coast of Australia, the aerial search can last just a few hours at a time before pilots have to head back to refuel.

CHRISTINE DENNISON, EXPEDITIONS LOGISTICS EXPERT: That is really in the middle of nowhere, and so they're working with weather patterns that can really hamper any operation, any sea operation.

FIELD: A NASA simulation shows currents and turbulence. If the two floating objects spotted by satellite are part of the missing plane, these water conditions could push them further east and likely further apart.

Some oceanographers estimate those objects, some of the strongest leads in this case, could be anywhere in a 15,000-square-mile area. That's roughly the size of Belgium.

Below the water surface, an even murkier picture. The sea floor sits more than 9,000 feet down, deeper than most submarines can go, the mid-ocean ridge rising from it making the search even more difficult.

(on camera): The depth is a factor here. The terrain is a factor here. Describe what it would look like down there.


GORDON: Like the Rocky Mountains.

DENNISON: It's so challenging, and for so many people, it's so hard to get, sort of wrap your mind around what they're doing and how difficult this is.

FIELD (voice-over): If the objects and the satellite images can be found, if they're from Flight 370, if researchers can use the ocean's currents to zero in on the plane's data recorder, finding it among those peaks and valleys could be even harder still.

GORDON: If it's in one of the deeper channels, that's going to be more of a challenge.


LEMON: Our thanks to Alexandra Field reporting there.

A monumental challenge for searchers back under way tonight. You can see it from Alexandra's report.

Richard Quest is here with me.

Joining me now is Captain Tim Taylor, though. He's an ocean explorer and president of Tiburon Subsea Services. Also, CNN's Chad Myers is in the Weather Center with us for a look at the very latest conditions on this search area.

So, Chad, to you first. You have been monitoring the conditions in the search area.


LEMON: There's a storm forecast there tomorrow. What is the impact on the search as they search for the debris and the debris they're looking for?

MYERS: This is a visual search. I know there are planes with instruments and the kind of things that they can look through the debris and into the water.

But when you have guys with eyes and ladies with eyes looking down for a white airplane and all you see is whitecaps, you have got no visibility whatsoever. You're just seeing too much white stuff. Today was a great day. Today was absolutely flat, in relative terms, five to 10 feet. But another storm comes tomorrow where we have 10-, probably 20-foot waves here, as all of this breaks onshore.

That was the last five days where we had weather here. That was the last five days just have been really brutal before we got there. And so I don't think it gets better from here. It actually gets worse tonight, worse tomorrow. And then we have some -- we have a window tomorrow, but Monday and Tuesday, not so good. We're going to have to work this out, Don.

At least we're not further south. Farther south, we're talking about the roaring 40s here. We're talking the screaming 50s down to the south, winds down there 60 miles per hour.

LEMON: Oh, goodness. Thank you, Chad. Stand by.

I'm going to get Tim in.

Tim, I'm so glad you're here. I wanted to get you on earlier to talk about this, because conditions really are very tough. You are an ocean explorer. And I have a question about what happens to debris in these waters.

And this one, it is from Bradley. And Bradley says: "How could the 79-foot object be a wing? Wouldn't thousands of pounds of solid steel sink? Bring an expert in buoyancy on to discuss."

And here you go. So, is that true? Wouldn't it sink?

TIM TAYLOR, PRESIDENT OF TIBURON SUBSEA SERVICES: Well, there are ships made of concrete. So one would think concrete would sink as well.

But they have buoyancy characteristics. And they're held up. There's Archimedes' principle. It is a formula that basically will tell you, if the object displaces enough water that weighs more than itself, it will float. If it's less than itself, it will sink.

And the best way to explain that is, if you're a scuba diver and you add air to your B.C. and you rise up, it's not the air that makes you rise. You're just displacing the water, more water with something that weighs a lot less, and you rise up.

LEMON: OK, Tim, I have another question to you. And this one is -- it's about searching for possible wreckage.

This one is from Anthony. Here's what Anthony says. He says: "How long will it take to find the actual wreck if these satellite photos check out?"

Listen, from the very beginning when Anderson and I were reporting this breaking news the other night, we were saying this isn't 100 percent. They may never find this.


LEMON: Go ahead.

TAYLOR: That's correct.

And if this is the site, it's still going to take a long time. It's 14 days. Every day that ticks by, the possible location widens out. Just draw an angle that keeps widening out. And it's the same thing going the other way. But, once you find the debris, you have got to track it back.

Unless it's going around in a circle, it could be thousands of miles away, and they have to narrow that down with basically computer programs and as much data as you can, and then getting probabilities of where it would be, and starting a search. And it's going to be a massive search after that.

LEMON: Can you quickly sum it up to our viewers just so they know?

Listen, there are many areas of the ocean. Much of this is unexplored. And so we keep saying needle in a haystack, but you would have better odds with a needle in a haystack. Right?

TAYLOR: Everybody today with the technology thinks that everything is mapped. And that's just not true.


TAYLOR: As an explorer, the oceans are not mapped.

We have pictures of them in the '60s. We never had pictures of them. Now we have pictures. You look on your maps and you see mountain ridges, but that's like taking pictures of the moon. We know they're up there, but you don't have a picture close up.

It takes money, and you have got to send the cameras to the place. So in order to send cameras to the bottom of the ocean, they have to be 90 meters or maybe 30 meters off the bottom to actually get real close-up pictures. And those aren't even close up. You have go 10, 30 meters off the bottom. You have to send the cameras down there.

LEMON: Chad, I want to talk to you about this, and Tim as well.

But I don't know if you guys have ever seen the -- I'm sure, Richrad, you have seen it -- the BBC, "The Blue Planet" that's narrated by David Attenborough. I can watch it for hours over and over and over. And it's just fascinating. They're talking about the abyssal plain and all of that stuff.

But, Chad, I want to get to you because you have been working on something, a tweet that I want to ask you about. The guy's name is Joe Graham. And he said: "Beijing Airport is 40.07, 116.60. Search area is very close to -40.07, 116.60 40.0711."

You took a look at Joe's claim. What did you find?

MYERS: I found that the latitude was good, the longitude just completely off.

We're at 1,300 miles away on the longitude here. And if he's implying that maybe we got something wrong with east and west, and north and south, it would have to be right here just to the south of Perth, literally. And I don't think there are any coincidences in this particular case. But this isn't even close.

I would believe the Singapore Airlines 68 shadow theory before I would think about this.

LEMON: All right, Chad Myers, thank you. Richard Quest, Captain Taylor, stay with me.

When we come right back, we are going to answer more of your questions, including one very popular one. Could submarines -- could submarines find the plane? Keep tweeting us using #370Qs.


LEMON: Back now to the developing news that we have here on CNN. Military and civilian planes closing in on the search area in the southern Indian Ocean, looking for any trace of Flight 370.

And here with me now, aviation experts to analyze all this and ready to answer your questions. Make sure you use the hash tag 370Qs.

Listen, when we last spoke with you, Jeff Wise, you were offering a theory saying the southern arc and the northern arc, it's much narrower, you said, than we previously learned. You thought this was the best information that we got today.

I want to start with Mary Schiavo. You want to respond to that?

SCHIAVO: Yes, they also said that they had provided coordinates, rather more exact coordinates where they believed that something happened the day the plane went missing. And they provided those coordinates two days later to the Malaysian authorities, and it was close to where they were looking, but they knew this back on -- two days after the accident.

LEMON: OK. Arthur Rosenberg.

ROSENBERG: Yes. Well, that would be inconsistent with the theory that Jeff is trying to advance here, which takes you to the northern route. And I think there's a lot of credence to that, that the route over Myanmar and Bangladesh and Nepal, it seems to me that that's an area of substantial interest. Right, Jeff Beatty?

BEATTY: Well, I don't disagree, because early on we were looking at the northern route. And as long as things were as foggy as they are, I think it has to just stay on the table.

LEMON: OK. And you don't necessarily agree? Because you were saying what?

QUEST: I still -- the southern route still seems to be the most preferable one. And I'm still looking to get more information. And I'm still looking for the experts to be drilling down on those pings, to be drilling down even further. They're already at the extremity -- the CEO of Iridium Satellite was telling me they're already at the extremity of what these satellites were ever intended to be able to be able to interpret. So we have a long way to go on that.

LEMON: OK. All right. Speaking of satellites, this one is from Ken Barber. Ken Barber says, "Can't we look at satellite photos from Monday, Tuesday, et cetera, in the same area to see how far the objects have moved?"

No, yes, who can answer that for me? Mary, is that you?

BEATTY: Don, I can take a shot at that.

SCHIAVO: Well, they can look at satellites...

LEMON: Go ahead, Mary, and then we'll go to Jeff Beatty.

SCHIAVO: OK, well, they can look at it, but they have to see the same object in the satellite photos. The problem is they appear in some and not in others, and it's difficult to track them when they don't always appear in the photos. And that's why I think Inmarsat said today that they gave them coordinates back two days after the accident. So the suggestion was, look under those coordinates for the black boxes.

LEMON: All right. Jeff Beatty.

BEATTY: Nothing to add to that. I think that -- that's correct.

LEMON: OK. Here is another one from Betty. Betty says, "Why not make priority searching islands, land, instead of oceans? The ocean would reveal death anyway. Land could prove life."

Richard Quest.

QUEST: Because which land are you going to look for as you go out over the southern option? If you look over the northern option, yes, they have looked over land. Kazakhstan has confirmed that they've got no evidence of any wreckage being found on what would have been the plan.

We know that there was no radar tracks from places like Air Thailand. I know Jeff Wise is going to disagree with me on a variety of these aspects.

LEMON: You can feel it.

QUEST: But I do know that I've heard the theory. If you look on the southern part, once you've gone over Malaysia and Indonesia, you're talking about small atolls. You're talking about small islands. This is a Boeing triple-7. Yes, there are some landing spots that it could happen, but most of them have been checked.

LEMON: All right. Captain Taylor, a lot of people have been asking about submarines. OK. This one is from Upul, and Upul says, "Is it true that the U.S. has deployed submarines in the search for MH-370 in the Indian Ocean?" Are submarines potentially useful here?

TAYLOR: You know, submarines do have acoustic listening and sonar abilities. So, yes, I would imagine that they're useful. I'm not a submarine expert, but they have to have the cutting-edge technology if they're a warship to look out in front of them and look around them.

So -- but they're a very expensive item to run, and you could do the same with autonomous vehicles. And sound is very limited. You can only look -- you know, unclassified, I guess, 1,000 meters on each side, maybe 1,500 meters, 2,000 meters, depending on -- on your strength of your sonar, and you have to be down close to the bottom. And if these are 9,000, 13,000 feet deep, even the best subs don't -- big subs so not go that deep.

LEMON: OK, this one is from Gayle Hackett. She says, "Is there an aircraft carrier heading out to the southern search area?" Do you know if there's an aircraft carrier headed there?

QUEST: Not as far as I'm aware.

LEMON: And Tim, would a floating runway -- do they need a floating runway out there? Is that even possible with the seas? TILMON: Well, sure. You know, an aircraft carrier can operate, and it would be based that would give them an opportunity to spend more time on target, which I think would be very preferable.

I'm excited about what we're hearing, though, tonight about a completely different set of coordinates to take this thing well away from where we're looking right now.

BEATTY: Don, on the -- on the floating runway thing, about the station time, there has been progress made today. I understand "The Independence" reporting that Malaysia is asking for U.S. refueling capability, area refueling capability, so that should help the amount of time these aircraft are able to stay on station.

LEMON: So the aircraft, we said, cannot be refueled in the air?

QUEST: The P-8s can be refueled in flight. The P-3s Orions can't be refueled in flight. Obviously, the commercial equipment that is also joining in can't be refueled.

If you're sending an aircraft carrier, just to be clear on this, you're sending a lot more assets down there, because you're sending a -- you're sending a carrier group.

LEMON: OK. When we come right back, we're going to check in with CNN's Martin Savidge in the flight simulator. And make sure you keep your questions coming, using the hash tag 370Qs.


LEMON: I want to check in now with CNN's Martin Savidge. At this moment he is in a 777 flight simulator, along with instructor Mitchell Casado. He's answering a question about zombie flights from Eckstein (ph), who asks, "If the zombie plane theory is true, what would the condition of the passengers be? Would they eventually be overcome by fumes, as well?"

Martin, what do you have? What have you got for us?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the short answer to that is yes, they would be overcome at that. The zombie theory is everybody is overcome.

Let me show how this could happen. And first, let me explain: this is not necessarily, nor do we say this is what happened to 370. It's what could have happened.

So you would have just got to cruise altitude. Remember, we're on the way to Beijing, and this would have happened.


SAVIDGE: That's the sound everybody knows. You can unfasten your seat belt, get comfortable.

But in the cockpit, maybe this happens. (SFX: ALARM)

SAVIDGE: The first sign that you've got a problem. This is a fire. This is the fire warnings that are going off, and we're being told now that there is a fire burning, say, in the cargo hold, and we can also now maybe start to sense smoke.

Immediately, the pilots could go into action as Mitchell is doing here. We're descending, because that is the protocol to do, and the plane begins a turn off to the left. So sounds familiar. Because maybe we're heading back to where we came from or to an emergency airport nearby.

At the same time, I would be firing off what is the fire system here. That's designed to dump fire extinguishers into the cargo area in the hopes of extinguishing the fire. We would have oxygen masks on, and we would maybe at times be struggling to control the airplane, due to the fire or whatever else is going on. Flight could become somewhat erratic.

But eventually, the theory would be that we do regain control of the aircraft, that we are able to level it off. And then, most important, we are able to engage the automatic pilot again. And then what happens is, either due to a lack of oxygen or maybe due to too much smoke, we're knocked out. And not only are we knocked out, but everybody in the airplane. But because we're left with seven hours of fuel, and this plane is so sophisticated, it flies and flies and flies until it runs out of fuel. That's the zombie theory -- Richard.

QUEST: Got a question for you, Mitchell. And Martin. In that theory, does the fire do serious damage to the structure of the aircraft? Because if the smoke and fumes are so bad, surely there could be structural -- the structural integrity of the plane could be at risk, and also the comms and the A and E box under the cockpit...

LEMON: Would that explain the transponder...

QUEST: ... which we can you earlier in the week, wouldn't they be affected, too?

MITCHELL CASADO, COMMERCIAL PILOT AND INSTRUCTOR: Yes, of course. I mean, if you're talking about a fire like that, structural damage is certainly going to factor into this equation. Absolutely.

SAVIDGE: And that's the problem with this theory, is you know, you want a fire that, I was about to say, knocks out the crew, knocks out apparently the transponder and the ACARS system but, what, stops short of actually destroying the aircraft or the autopilot. So you sort of have to have the perfect fire.

LEMON: Fascinating. Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.

I want to get back now to Richard Quest, Jeff Wise, Arthur Rosenberg, Jim Tilmon, Mary Schiavo, Jeff Beatty and Captain Tim Taylor. OK. This one is for you, Jim Tilmon. This is from Derek. Derek says, "Do pilots know their flight schedule out a month, or is it a routine schedule for the pilots?"

Every airline is a little different, but most airlines do give you a bid sheet a month in advance, and you just use your seniority to achieve a line of flying that you want to fly for that following month. And if you're senior enough, you can get that flying and it's pretty well-scheduled, so you know where you're going to be and when you're going to be there.

LEMON: That's what happens most of the time. But does it happen all the time?

QUEST: That's what happens with U.S. carriers, with the bid schedule. Malaysian Airlines doesn't work on the bid schedule. Malaysia Airlines does it by rotation. So pilots will do a certain number of New Yorks a year -- don't know whether it goes to New York. They will do a certain number of Beijings, a certain number of Londons, et cetera.

LEMON: All right. Jeff Beatty, this one is for you. This is from Lisa Rose. She says, "We are so quick to blame the pilots, but could the plane still have been taken over by a passenger or passengers?"

BEATTY: Yes, it certainly could have, Lisa. But we're looking at so many different theories. We use this theory analysis table, and I'd like to use a point that was made at the beginning of the show about the flight recorder.


BEATTY: The damning thing would have really been had the pilot taken the hard drive with him. Erasing files, suspicious perhaps, but if he took the hard drive with him and the simulator information was only local there, not in the cloud, that would have been really damning, looking at the crew.

LEMON: OK, Mary, this one is from Pam. And she says, "Does Malaysian Airlines have air marshals like we do in the U.S.? And if so, would he or she have had access to the cockpit?"

SCHIAVO: I don't know if Asia has air marshals like we do, but in the United States, no, they don't go into the cockpit.

LEMON: OK. All right. Thank you very much.

Stand by, everyone. Stay with me. Next, our lightning round with as many of your questions as we can answer.


LEMON: All right. Time now for our lightning round with as many of your tweets as possible. So let's go, everybody.

This one I thought was very important. And this is for Captain -- for Captain Taylor. This one says, Don, if there are -- if they have any survivors, or have survivors, what is the average temperature of the water and how far is the site from the Antarctic lands? Thanks."

TAYLOR: Yes, this is cold water. It's high 50s, low -- mid-50s, maybe 40s. Exposure is -- you know, it's hours, not days. So unless there's something floating and they're protected, it's not good.

LEMON: OK. This one is from Clay Ancell, and it's specifically for you, Mary Schiavo. He put you in there. He said, "Did we totally abandon all efforts on the northern route while searching debris?"

SCHIAVO: I didn't hear that all. I think you said should they abandon those northern routes?

LEMON: Did we totally abandon the northern routes while searching debris?

SCHIAVO: I believe that they did. While searching in the south they abandoned the north.

LEMON: OK. This one is from Martha. She says, "Why is no one looking on land? Why not request countries from Malaysia to Mongolia to search their own territories?" Jeff Beatty.

BEATTY: Well, I think -- and Richard talked to this earlier also -- those searches have gone on, and those are populated areas for the most part. The unpopulated areas have been flown over and looked. That -- so that will continue on a low level, but I think for the most part they've been eliminated.

QUEST: Question for Arthur Rosenberg. If the wreckage were found in years to come, would the black box still be readable? In other words, even though the pinging stops after 30 days, what's the life of the data on the solid state inside?

ROSENBERG: The answer is yes, and it really depends on how much damage there was to the black box. But data can be retrieved.

LEMON: Really quickly, 447, those black boxes weren't usable, were they?

QUEST: Yes, absolutely they were usable. Totally.

LEMON: But there was one that there was -- I forget which flight it was, the recorders were unusable.

QUEST: Four forty-seven, they extracted the CVR; they extracted the FDR. They got a full range of information on that.

LEMON: OK. So there was a flight recently that recorders were found, and they were damaged and they weren't usable. But anyway, go ahead.

QUEST: Question for -- hold on one second while we get to -- Question for Jim Tilmon. "So if it takes this long every time to find missing planes, shouldn't black boxes be modernized with better technology, Jim?

TILMON: I don't think there's anything wrong with the technology. It may be something that we want to think about in terms of their accessibility in ditching or a crash, whatever else. Some have suggested maybe we should have something that would eject from the aircraft and give you a better chance.

QUEST: Jeff Wise, this is a toughie. "How much of our minds are conditioned to confusion and seeking blame as the plane rests on the bottom of China Sea where it crashed?"

This is really -- it's how preconditioned are we to what is in our minds of what might have happened?

WISE: Well, you know, it's a stressful time. When we're under stress, when we're in a fearful situation, it can be difficult to think rationally sometimes. We need to try to remember to keep a clear head and not to cast blame when we don't have real firm data.

LEMON: OK. We've got to run. I would love to answer more of these questions, and we will when we get back in just a little bit.

We've got time for more questions from you at home. That's when we come right back.


LEMON: All right. Back now with our experts. And I want to ask you guys this. We've been looking for answers, so many answers, so many theories. It's been officially two weeks. I want to get what we've learned this week and what we've learned over the past two weeks. This is from Pete, he said, "One fundamental question here. Was this incident an accident or something willed by humans? A plane missing either way."

Quickly from each of you, what have we learned over the past two weeks on the working theories tonight? I will start with -- let's do it in order. Let's do it in order. Let's start with Jeff Wise.

WISE: In terms of whether it's an accident or will to action?

LEMON: Yes. And what have you learned? Just garnered from the information, you guys. We have enough time for everyone to go ahead.

WISE: Super short, the route of the plane has been much reduced, and the preponderance of evidence is that it was a willed action, not an accident.

LEMON: OK. Let's go -- we'll go down one. Mary Schiavo.

SCHIAVO: We've learned there's an absolute absence of any evidence of crime, terrorism, pilot suicide and sometimes no evidence is evidence. Looks like an accident.

LEMON: Arthur Rosenberg.

ROSENBERG: Yes, I'm going to have to disagree with Mary. I think that human intervention is very high on the list.

LEMON: Jeff Beatty.

BEATTY: Human intervention, I think, edges out accident at the moment. And we've also learned real-time reporting -- position reporting of aircraft needs to be improved.

LEMON: Jim Tilmon.

TILMON: We need to recognize the fact we must be patient. We should keep an open mind and never stop looking.

LEMON: Captain Tim Taylor.

TAYLOR: More importantly, we enforce that this is a big, big ocean. We cannot map it all in a short period. It's very deep, very expansive and if anything, we've taught the world, are teaching people that it's not as easy as it sounds.

LEMON: Richard Quest.

QUEST: What we've learned this week is just that, no matter how safe we think flying has become, that there are risks involved and that people are working exceptionally hard to try and find out what the -- what the cause was for this and why. And that they will not stop until they have the reason. Because every one of us who gets on a plane needs to know.

LEMON: Yes. And there was one from someone -- I can't find the tweet here, but they said what can they do? What can they do to help, to send money, to send cards or what have you to the families? Let's ask our attorneys there. Is there anything that they can do, Mary?

SCHIAVO: Well, yes, they can. Ordinarily there are funds set up for the families, and that's one thing that we can actually look for and try to find, if there have been funds set up for these families.

LEMON: Yes, yes. And listen, you guys, it's been amazing. We do have to remember every time we cover this, there are still 239 people who are missing and, as we said, possibly alive. The chances are, if it did go over the southern Indian Ocean, we know what the possibilities are.

But the Australian government -- one of the panelists brought this up in the break -- said they are still looking to rescue people. This is still a rescue operation. We must keep that top of mind.

Thank you very much. It's been a very fascinating week having you all here. I'm Don Lemon. Make sure you join our special report Saturday -- Saturday. I will see you then from 8 -- 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Sunday.

That's it for now. "AC 360" starts right now.