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Joining the Search; Objects Spotted in Indian Ocean; Lessons from Malaysia Airline 370

Aired March 24, 2014 - 08:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm joining you live from Perth, Australia, this morning.

It has been 17 days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished from radar screens with 239 people on board. Overnight, Australian and Chinese pilots separately spotted objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean. The search area is one of the most remote places on the planet and it is vast. To say it's like searching for a needle in a haystack would be kind. I had the chance to fly with a team from the Royal New Zealand Air Force to find out firsthand what it's like to be part of this historic mission.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The job of searching for Flight 370 from the air, such a challenge it requires multiple planes from multiple countries.


BOLDUAN (on camera): Sunday the U.S., Australia, China and New Zealand all joined in the search. We're about to jump on New Zealand's P3 Orion to see the search for ourselves.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): A smooth takeoff and blue skies ahead as the P3 climbs to 23,000 feet and cruises to the search zone some 1,300 miles from Perth. This is one of eight flights heading out Sunday. On board, a 12 person crew and three journalists, including me, with a small hand-held camera.

BOLDUAN (on camera): We've now reached the search area. Four hours in and sitting through the flight you truly begin to understand just how remote this area is.

FLIGHT LT. ERIC KING, ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE: We'll be descending down to ideally around about 500 feet for the visual search. However, if required, we will go down to 200 feet.


BOLDUAN: Weather conditions out here change in a split second. One moment, almost zero visibility. The next, the fog vanishes and it's clear for miles. Either way, ocean as far as the eye can see.

KING: Hopefully today will be the day that we fine something.

BOLDUAN: They use hi-tech radar and special cameras to search the ocean surface, but it comes down to something very low tech, simply looking out the window that New Zealand's Number 5 Squadron relies on most.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We usually do about half an hour to an hour at a time. So it's quite fatiguing on the eyes, quite fatiguing on the body and we change over quite regularly.

BOLDUAN: I even take a turn looking for signs of anything unusual, scanning the water, afraid to blink thinking I might miss that one clue. And then the waves start playing tricks on your eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Estimate area complete (ph).

BOLDUAN: After a four hour search covering nearly 930 square miles, the light begins to fade. And with it, the optimism that this would be the day that Number 5 Squadron would solve the mystery of Flight 370's fate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, we didn't find anything. It is quite disappointing that we didn't. We want to be out there helping.

BOLDUAN: The return flight, three hours to base, making it a ten and a half hour journey. One more expedition ending with no sign of the plane, but that won't stop them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll try again next time. Try again tomorrow.


BOLDUAN: To put this in some more perspective for you, as I mentioned, we covered about 930 square miles during our flight. Sunday's search by eight planes all together covered about 23,000 square miles. And that is just a tiny sliver of the total search area that Malaysian authorities and all of the nations involved now have highlighted in this southern corridor along the southern Indian Ocean. But we will see what these latest reports of objects being cited, what those bring as we continue to follow the search for Flight 370.

Let's turn now to Christine Romans in New York with the five thing to know for your new day.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Kate. Thank you.

Number one, as we've mentioned, Australian and Chinese pilots both spotting floating objects overnight in the south Indian Ocean. We could find out if they're from Flight 370 within hours.

Searchers hoping to find more survivors after a monster mud-slide wiped out a neighborhood in Washington state. At least eight people were killed. The slide blamed on recent heavy rainfall.

President Obama meeting with fellow world leaders at The Hague in the Netherlands, where their summit on nuclear security is getting overshadowed. Leaders of the G-7 nations will hold crisis talks on Ukraine during the summit.

A neighbor was on the stand all morning testifying she heard gun shots and screams the night Reeva Steenkamp was killed. Prosecutors plan to wrap up their case this week.

And we have a sweet 16, but Wichita State not part of it. Kentucky ended the Shockers' perfect season. Three double digit seeds have made it thus far.

We're always updating the five things you know, so -- need - so go to for the latest.

And for the record -

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Tell me, is Iowa State one of those sweet 16 teams.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, it is. It is. It is, Berman. Thank you for asking. Go Cyclones. I was rooting against them just so I wouldn't have to hear about it today, which makes me a bad person.


ROMANS: Well, it looks like you lost.

BERMAN: Yes, indeed, which is why I was rooting against them so we wouldn't have to do that.

All right.

PEREIRA: All right, we're going take a short break here. Next up on NEW DAY, are the floating objects that the Chinese and Australian pilots reported seeing floating in the Indian Ocean clues or are they false leads? We're going to take a look next.


BERMAN: All right, welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone, and CNN's breaking news coverage for the search for Flight 370.

Overnight, Chinese and Australian jet pilots each spotted floating debris in the southern Indian Ocean. Now, it is not clear whether this debris is from the missing jetliner, but we could have confirmation in just a few hours. He'll tell you why in a second. Joining me now is CNN military analyst and former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Major General James "Spider" Marks.

Spider, great to have you here.

MAJOR GENERAL JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you. BERMAN: The reason we might have confirmation about this debris that was just spotted overnight our time is there's an Australian naval vessel, "The Success," which could reach the spots where it was spotted in a few minutes. We're talking about this search area right here off the coast of Perth, Australia. This is where the search planes have been flying for days right now, flying these routes some 1,500 miles out. But now there's a ship that could be there within hours.

MARKS: That's great news. When you have a visual from the air, that's one thing, but you have a limited amount of time that you can stay on top of the target. When you have a ship in the location, now you've got redundancy and you've got what's called a persistent stare over that particular target. So that's great news to really zero in, narrow the search area and get some confirmation as quickly as possible.

BERMAN: Now, we have no sense if the debris that was spotted from this planes -

MARKS: Sure.

BERMAN: And hoped to be reached by this surface vessel soon, we do not know if it's attached to Flight 370, connected to it in any way. But if it is, then the next step will to be piece together mathematically and whatnot where the plane perhaps went down. Debris would mean that the plane did go down somewhere. The next step would be to try to find the black box. The U.S. Navy sending some key search equipment here. The Toping (ph) Locator System. Explain to me what that is and what it can do.

MARKS: That's going to be a system that comes from a ship, it's going to go below the surface and it's going to be able to look very, very deep and ping and talk to, hopefully, pick up whatever is down there to include the black box in particular, because it will respond. It will chirp. It will keep talking and it will be picked up and it will be able to very, very narrowly look at that specific location.

BERMAN: Of course the key is, just if they find the debris within this search area right here doesn't necessarily mean that the black box would be found within that search area because it could it have drifted.

MARKS: Absolutely. You're going to have surface currents and you're going to have subsurface currents. So things are moving asynchronously. Different speeds, different locations, probably.

BERMAN: One of the interesting developments over the last day is also this, the satellite technology. Last week we were getting these images from first the American satellite image that went to the Australians and the Chinese satellite. There was a four day lag time there. Now a French satellite has taken some pictures within this area just yesterday and it spotted debris. What does that mean? Are they improving on how quickly they can get this information processed? Do that indicate anything to you?

MARKS: No. What it is it's a political decision. You hold on to it. You can decimate it within minutes once you - if it's an image or if it's signals intelligence, you can get that information and you can decimate it literally within minutes. The decision to only disseminate it within days is a political decision. They either want to confirm it or they had some other motivations not to release it.

BERMAN: All right, one other thing that I've been surprised about. Once they honed in on this area right here, this little search area represented by these two dots here, I wondered, why was it that we weren't seeing more satellite pictures, more satellite images. It seems to me, if you know the area you want to search, they could devote more assets to it almost immediately. You say, not so fast, largely because of where this is.

MARKS: This is what we call an economy of force. There isn't anything down here that would cause the United States or even commercial satellites to spend time and effort and a lot of money to have a satellite that would have this as a routine area where it would look. There's no national security or commercial value to this part of the world.

BERMAN: There's nothing there.

MARKS: There's -- look where we're standing. We're in the middle of the ocean here.

BERMAN: Now, all those satellites, they are pointed up there, though. The so-called northern corridor.

MARKS: Yes, primarily because of its proximity to China, Russia, areas where we've been fighting. We've had a couple of wars in that part of the world. So it's not unusual at all that we would have very good coverage up here and it has to do with a bunch of -- what I would call the physics of our satellite bases and where they're located. This is a priority. This is not.

BERMAN: So had that plane -- one of the theories was it could have flown south in the southern arc here, but there was also talk of the so-called northern arc, which would have brought the plane all the way up here. You don't think that's possible, largely because of the assets available to see it?

MARKS: Absolutely, John. And there would have been so many indicators if an aircraft had gone in that direction. All these nations have their own radars. We have satellites that would have picked that up. So the lack of information would allow us with greater confidence to focus down here.

BERMAN: All right, Spider Marks, great to have you here.

MARKS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Really important information.

Next up for us on NEW DAY, there are more questions than answers, really, in the disappearance of Flight 370. But there are lessons that we can take away it from. This question, should cameras be installed in the cockpit? What may they have told us? That's up, next.


PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY.

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is literally one of the biggest aviation mysteries in modern history. While search teams check if objects spotted recently in the Indian Ocean could actually be the plane's debris are there any changes that could prevent something like this from ever happening again.

Here to walk us through it is CNN aviation analyst and aviation journalist for, Jeff Wise. Jeff, it's so good to have you here to talk through some of these things because there are things we can learn. So why don't we walk through some of these technological advances that could be "question mark" made.


PEREIRA: Cameras in the cockpit. One of the things that I think that a lot of people find surprising in this age of modern technology is that, you know, there aren't more images and data coming from the cockpit. What about putting a camera in the cockpit?

WISE: Well, it would really technologically be the simplest thing in the world.

PEREIRA: Sure. But --

WISE: The reason it hasn't been done is because pilots don't want intrusion into their privacy. I mean it's a pilots' union issue. And there also is the question of what would we learn? We've already got the cockpit audio. What additional would we know from being able to look at them.

I mean these are people sitting in chairs and they're manipulating controls and stuff. Now there are cases where people have broken into the cockpits and things have happened like that. With all of these things we're going to talk about right now it becomes a question to a certain degree of cost versus benefit. If this is going to cost money what are we going to get? Listen, the thing we have to remember about this incident is that it is unprecedented.

PEREIRA: It's rare.

WISE: We don't know -- we don't even know how rare it is.


WISE: Our information is so sketchy at this point. The little that we do know points at this being a very unprecedented incident.

PEREIRA: Let's look at this next thing. There's so much discussion about the flight data recorder. So let's go through a few points. One of them is the fact that it has a finite amount of battery power inside this black box which is actually orange. It only has 30 days. WISE: Right.

PEREIRA: Obviously question, why not extend the battery life?

WISE: Sure, sure, sure.

Through each generation since people first started putting black boxes on airplanes the capability, the robustness has increased.

You know so you say well Michaela, let's design a system that will go in planes and record data in case they crash. Starting from that, OK how long should we make it go? You know you've got to pick some --

PEREIRA: That is the point. Right, sure.


WISE: -- finite -- so what's a reasonable amount of time? A month is pretty long. I mean in most cases it's been plenty so far.

PEREIRA: Except now we got what just two weeks left on it and I think the people are feeling the sense of --

WISE: Yes. Well, the pressure.

PEREIRA: -- pressure and anxiety.

WISE: Don't forget the case that's most similar to this Air France 447 --


WISE: -- same kind of black box, the pinger didn't even work. So the question of how long is it going to ping didn't really come into play because it didn't work, period.

PEREIRA: Another thing inside here, the voice data recorder only two hours, the last two hours and then it kind of re-records over the top of it.

WISE: Right.

PEREIRA: In any other circumstance that seems normal but in a situation like this that will work against us potentially?

WISE: Usually it's the part just before you hit the ground that's most interesting -- again pilot privacy. That's what cuts it to two hours; the data recorder that's recording parameters -- 36 hours.

PEREIRA: OK. And then another thing is just more information uplink. We talked about the Cloud, the satellite technology. What about the idea of installing a data transmission system maybe that's hardwired into the plane and you cannot manually disable it?

WISE: Well, you know, the fact that you bring up the question of being unable to manually disable it. That's something that's new because of this case. We've never really had to worry about, you know, not trusting the pilots. There's been a couple of rogue cases, suicides, and so forth, but for the most part pilots are the bedrock of the system. Trust in the pilot.

PEREIRA: Yes, a bastion -- true.

WISE: And so this is really answering your question at all but this change of psychology that's really I think the big game-changer about this -- of this story.

This technology exists. In fact, you can go to a trade show, or an aircraft show and buy something for your Cessna -- your little plane, your ultralight -

PEREIRA: So why the reticence within the commercial airline industry?

WISE: It gets back to cost-benefit. If you want to refit all these -- there's tens of thousands of planes flying around. Is it needed? Very few cases like will even be an issue.

PEREIRA: And how about some sort of data live stream?

WISE: Well, that's kind of the same version that's in question.

PEREIRA: Similar, similar -- right. In a way, what you're doing with A-cards in the Air France crash every minute the plane was automatically broadcasting maintenance information. That proved to be key in finding the plane. That was the first hard data we had. And so that kind of served that function. It's technically not too hard at all to do.

PEREIRA: Two questions lastly what are the chances that any of this will be added? You talked about cost benefit -- obviously they are doing that analysis. And then the second question what's in the pipeline that actually will be implemented?

WISE: Great questions. You know, as for the first one no change can really be implemented until we find out really what happened. We don't want to rush and spend gazillion dollars until we really know what's the issue here. Where are we vulnerable. Every plane you've been on is different because of accidents that have happened in the past.

You know, you think of any famous crash in the last 20 years that resulted in changes in procedure, changes in equipment that have made us all safer. We tend not to see a repeat of incidents. We don't even know what this incident is about.

PEREIRA: Yes. It's almost too early for us to be having this discussion about specifics but these are things that people -- investigators, airlines, et cetera, FAA will be looking at to see what can be implemented. Always, Jeff Wise, really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

WISE: OK. Thank you so much. PEREIRA: We'll take a short break here on NEW DAY and change directions entirely. How about a little good stuff? Don't we all need it today? A Georgia teen's quick thinking saves a life during a baseball game. Wait until you hear who he rescued, you certainly don't want to miss today's good stuff.


PEREIRA: We need some good stuff for Monday.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: We need some great stuff, let's do it.

PEREIRA: All right. let's do some great stuff. In today's edition a Georgia' teen's selflessness and quick thinking in the face of an emergency helped to save a man's life. It happened suddenly between second and third innings on Friday -- a baseball game between Newton and Rockdale High Schools. Suddenly the umpire collapsed. That's when the 16-year-old Alex Norwood says his instincts kicked in.


ALEX NORWOOD, PERFORMED CPR ON UMPIRE: He had gone, told me to call 911 and he said does anybody knew CPR. And I got certified a little while so I went out there and I started doing-- I checked for a pulse and started to do compressions.


PEREIRA: Certified a little time ago. It's actually taking many on the field including his baseball coach by surprise.


JARRED HARRIS, BASEBALL COACH: I thought I was going to turn around and see a professional, I mean, I thought I was going to see EMT worker that's how confident the voice behind me was and when I turn around and saw Alex.


PEREIRA: And Alex went to work; he performed CPR on the umpire until the EMT team arrived. The umpire was taken to an Atlanta area hospital. He's in intensive care. But he is alive undoubtedly due in no small part to a high school senior or high school junior and, obviously, even Alex said, this is really an important reminder of the importance of CPR training.


BERMAN: So important. I hope that umpire gets back on the field and gives that kid the biggest strike zone ever -- right. I mean it's going to be the best call he's ever going to get.

That's fantastic.

PEREIRA: I know. I know. ROMANS: Most valuable player for sure, no matter how --

BERMAN: A little bit of home grown great stuff now to talk about. We have a new addition to the NEW DAY family. Our audio designer James Pertz (ph) just had a baby girl named Liberty.

PEREIRA: She's perfection.

ROMANS: Beautiful.

BERMAN: She is perfect. She was born Saturday 6 pounds 10 ounces, mom Sharon and Liberty are doing great. I just find a little bit of irony in the name Liberty. While a beautiful name -- let's see how James and Sharon enjoy their freedom now that they have Liberty with them.

ROMANS: Says the father of twins.

BERMAN: Free, free as a bird

PEREIRA: Congratulation, James. That's wonderful. Can't wait to squeeze her.

BERMAN: All right. Kate is continuing her reporting in Perth, Australia tomorrow. There's a lot of news on Flight 370. That's why we go the "NEWSROOM" right now with Carol Costello -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks guys. Have a great day. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM" breaking overnight, dramatic new leads emerge in the search for Flight 370.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two orange objects approximately one meter in length and one white-colored trunk were sighted (inaudible).