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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Fate of Flight MH370; Technology That Confirmed Flight's Fate; Unanswered Questions; Searching With Satellites; Leaders Suspend G8

Aired March 24, 2014 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE CLOSING BELL)

RICHARD QUEST, HOST: The start of a new week on Wall Street. It turned into a down day for the market. It was a very busy day when the bell rang and the gavel was hit. It is Monday, it's the 24th of March.

The message is quite clear: "All lives lost." Malaysia concludes that Flight 370 went down in a remote part of the Indian Ocean. We'll be covering this in detail tonight.

There's still no wreckage or physical proof. I speak to the company that provided the conclusive data to the authorities. You'll hear them tonight.

And one other story we'll be telling you: Russia is expelled -- or at least has left or certainly won't take part in the G8.

I'm Richard Quest. I mean business.

Good evening. It took two weeks, but now beyond any reasonable doubt, the missing Malaysian Airlines flight has ended in disaster. Malaysia's prime minister and the airline itself say there is no other conclusion that is possible. "All lives lost."

Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia, said the evidence indicates that Flight 370 was lost in the Indian Ocean, and new analysis of satellite readings pinpointed more precisely where the last contact was made, far to the southwest of Australia, where sightings of possible objects and debris have been made over the past few days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAJIB RAZAK, PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA: Malaysia Airlines have already spoken to the families of the passengers and crew to inform them of this development. For them, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. I know this news must be harder still. I urge the media to respect their privacy and allow them the space they need at this very difficult time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: There's been grief, disbelief, and outright fury from the families of those onboard. At a briefing in Beijing, some people had to be taken away on stretchers. They were obviously overcome by emotion. Some had received the news by text message from Malaysia Airlines. Not surprisingly at one point, feelings boiled over and one man and one woman lashed out at the press.

Chinese media have relayed a statement from some of the families in China, who are making now furious accusations of a cover-up by Malaysian authorities. The statement says that it wasted -- precious time was wasted in the search when lives could possibly have been saved.

The translation reads as follows: "If our 154 relatives aboard lost their lives due to such reasons, then Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government, and the Malaysian military are the real murderers that killed them."

In the Indian Ocean, searchers are still trying to locate even a single piece of wreckage from the flight. China's stepping up its search efforts overnight, sending more ships to the target area.

So, let me show you, as we have on previous occasions, exactly how this all actually plays out. If we come over and you can see.

The plane takes off from Kuala Lumpur. This is the last known -- this is when the "All right, good night." We now know from this data, we now know definitively there was a turn that took place, and this was the last known position at about 2:20, 2:40.

The plane then -- at this point, we ended up with two corridors, the north corridor going that way, the south corridor coming down this way. And the information we've now received makes it quite clear that it is only the southern corridor that bears the actual evidence to support it.

How far south does it go? It comes all the way south to the southwest of Perth, some 2,300, 2,400 kilometers from Perth. And that is exactly the position where we have been hearing reports of objects not confirmed as debris.

So, let's talk about this to Kyung Lah, who is in Perth in western Australia, where the searchers have been going from.

Kyung, help me understand. From what we've learned today in terms of the position of the -- from Inmarsat, how does that relate to where the objects are being found -- or seen in the water?

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard from the experts at Inmarsat is that they are searching in the right area. The people who are leaving from this military base are heading to the right spot.

So, we know now, based on the satellite information, that the search is being conducted in the right place. What we don't have so far is the actual evidence. We know the answer, what is the answer for the families, but the pieces of the puzzle, the actual answer that these families are so craving, they don't have it yet.

And so, that's what's going to be driving the search today, a renewed effort to try to bring those pieces back here to Perth to give the families, the airlines, the governments the answers that they're looking for.

The search conducting again, beginning again in just about one hour. That's been the general plan throughout all of this, that the flights take off at daybreak, they do that very long flight down, four hours. They only spend about two hours searching because of fuel, and then fly all the way back.

One thing we should point out, Richard: this search today is going to be difficult because of the weather. The weather expected to take a turn for the worse. Richard?

QUEST: Why, Kyung, do they not leave earlier and stagger so that they would be over the search area the moment daybreak arrives, and you can stagger them so you get searching throughout the daybreak or the daylight hours?

LAH: They are, actually, staggering them. Daylight difference -- there is actually a daylight difference between where I'm standing and where the search area is, so the planes take off here at our daybreak. By the time they get down there, it's daybreak there.

Then, a few hours later, another set of search planes. And then, a few hours later after that, search planes. So, it is staggered throughout the day. And given the difference in when daybreak happens in the search area is how they're coordinating the search here.

What we did notice, too, Richard, is that they're trying to divide the search. As more planes and more governments become involved in this actual search --

QUEST: Right.

LAH: -- for the debris, they're staggering the search as well, hoping to cover more ground.

QUEST: Kyung Lah in Perth. It is five past 5:00 in the morning for you. Kyung, as soon as there's more to report, come back to us, please, and we'll take you live immediately.

Just one other point I want to make about this map that we've seen so far. The plane -- from what we now know, from what they've told us, the debris or the objects, whatever it might be, which would be here, but of course, they will have moved over the last 14 or 15 days.

So, they're really looking back up here. And this now tells them in terms of where the plane would have originally gone down. And this, of course, tells them quite an enormous amount about how the plane will have flown down here.

Because the plane will have had to have been fueled, and it would have had to have flied for six hours or so. And we can also say from that that it was flying at altitude, because the fuel burn would have been too great anywhere else. So, we actually know quite a lot more about all of this as a result of the events of today.

On the defense and on the equipment, CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr now takes a look at the technology that showed investigators the Indian Ocean was the only place where the flight could have ended.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CROWDS SHOUTING)

(WOMAN CRYING)

BARBARA STARR, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For grief-stricken families, unbearable news from the prime minister of Malaysia.

RAZAK: It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that according to this new data, Flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

STARR: Based on data analysis from the British company Inmarsat, the potential that the plane is anywhere but here in the southern Indian Ocean seems to have been ruled out.

CHRIS MCLAUGHLIN, INMARSAT: Our engineers and scientists have continued working on the data and comparing it with other similar flights from Malaysian has led us to conclude that it is the southern route.

STARR: Even after the aircraft disappeared from radar, Inmarsat satellites continued to receive several pings from the aircraft, including the final ping from somewhere over the Indian Ocean, according to a US official.

Based on the assumption the plane was maintaining a steady altitude at 350 knots, Inmarsat determined the most likely place the plane crashed was in this area 1500 miles off Australia. By this point, the plane would have been out of fuel with nowhere to land.

The US and Malaysia knew for over a week that the southern Indian Ocean was the most likely place the plane went down.

BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We have teams on the ground that are working with them on a daily basis. The prime minister's announcement today tracks with, frankly, where we've dedicated our assets, which is in the Indian Ocean.

STARR: Several satellite images showed suspected objects in the water, but none have yet been retrieved and shown to be from the plane. For the brother of one passenger, the hope is that the search continues.

BIMAL SHARMA, BROTHER OF MH370 PASSENGER: I just want to see some debris off the aircraft and the black box to know what exactly happened. Because there are too many unanswered questions.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUEST: Barbara Starr reporting. And we'll hear more from Inmarsat's Chris McLaughlin in about 20 minutes, when we'll get some more details on the technology involved.

Well, even is we had a better idea of where the plane crashed, we still don't know why. Steve Wallace is our CNN aviation analyst. He's also the former director of the FAA's Office of Accident Investigation. Steve, we're glad to have your insight and expertise with us.

Let's not go into the realms of fantasy about what might have happened. Let's stick at this point as an investigator, Steve, what is it you want to see? What pieces -- obviously, you want as much of the plane as possible, but whatever you get, what can you do with?

STEVE WALLACE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, Richard, good to be with you, and I appreciate the analysis I heard from you earlier in the day, particularly where you expressed skepticism about the reported altitude drop. I share that. I actually am not even convinced of the turn as reported, because the information I get from radar experts is that this primary military radar is of questionable accuracy.

Now, to your question, this is -- I'd never seen an accident investigation -- we always start on day one, every possibility is on the table. Here we are on day 17 or 18, every possibility is still on the table.

So, we have been kind of plagued with this investigation by questionable and changing evidence. I share your belief that this Inmarsat data from day one, or as soon as we saw it, was certainly among the more compelling.

QUEST: Right.

WALLACE: And now that it has been reviewed by the AAIB -- I worked with those people for years, they are one of the of the world's absolute most highly-regarded accident investigation agencies. So, this is quite compelling as far as the location. Obviously, we're certainly hoping to get the recorders.

QUEST: Right. Let me jump in here, because I -- now talk to me about the significance of finding objects, finding objects which you can then analyze and determine they're from the plane, and what you can learn just from flotsam and debris from the aircraft. Before you even find the plane itself.

WALLACE: So -- right. Well, there's an element of luck in that. You could certainly find pieces that would exhibit charring, that might have exhibited a failure from an internal explosion. These are just things we have seen in past accidents.

You could -- may find debris from which you could calculate impact angle and speed. So, all of those variables. But mostly what you find is lightweight materials from the interior of the aircraft that tend to float.

So, if they don't find the recorders, what has already started out to be the most difficult transport airplane accident investigation we have ever seen is likely to remain that way.

QUEST: They don't give up, though, do they? I say "they" -- you when you were doing these investigations. Assuming the winter arrives. The investigators, the Malaysians, the US, are going to have to keep going back until there is something to report and something to investigate.

WALLACE: Well, you're right. I was extremely confident on day one that this accident would be solved to a virtual certainty because that's what normally happens with transport airplane accidents. We really don't have any major unsolved large airplane accidents.

This one is looking to be particularly difficult. But the nation -- the huge amount of international cooperation and the compelling need to figure this mystery out leads me to exactly what you just said, nobody's going to give up on this.

QUEST: Chris (sic), thank you for joining us. Sorry, I beg your pardon, forgive me. Steve. Steve Wallace, our CNN aviation analyst.

WALLACE: Thank you.

QUEST: Good to see you, sir. Thank you, I appreciate it.

The use of satellites in the search for the plane has been described as groundbreaking. We'll take a look at the technology and the science behind it in a moment. It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, good evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: It was Malaysia's prime minister who publicly announced there was no hope left for those onboard. Najib Razak said it was "beyond reasonable doubt" that the 239 passengers and crew had perished. He said the plane must have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean, based on new and innovative analysis of satellite data.

Don Thoma is the chief executive of Aireon. His firm is building a network of satellites to monitor commercial aircraft anywhere in the world. He joins me now from Washington.

The network exists at the moment. The problem is either some airlines don't subscribe to it, sir, or they switch -- or in this case, the equipment was switched off. How can we avoid that in future?

DON THOMA, CEO AIREON: Well, Richard, as you know, there's a system that's being deployed globally for an upgrade to the air traffic control system. In the US, the FAA calls it next gen. And it's to move technology away from this -- the issues that we've heard about with regarding the accuracy of radar to a system based on GPS location.

As you know, in this day and age, we track everything. We track our cell phones, our iPads, our cars, our kids, our dogs, all because GPS is enabled and there's a communications network, like a cell network, that can communicate that information back. What the world's air traffic control authorities are doing is upgrading --

QUEST: Right --

THOMA: -- their air traffic control systems to a similar case. What we're doing at Aireon is implementing a space-based way to collect those signals that every aircraft will be equipped to transmit, showing precise GPS information on the location of that aircraft while that transponder is communicating.

QUEST: Would you be in favor, and would your system still find planes even if transponders, if ACARS, would it still locate -- were switched off or disabled, would it have found this plane?

THOMA: Well, Aireon will be able to do a lot of things, including track aircraft anywhere around the world. But as you know, if someone switches off a transponder, there's nothing that you can do about that.

But what we can do with a space-based ADSP system like Aireon is be able to provide the precise location on a very frequent basis of an aircraft anywhere in the world, as long as that transponder is turned on.

QUEST: Right. But well frankly, if the transponder had been switched on, this may never have happened. We're still in the situation, though, aren't we, where we need a solution in extremis? Because I think you would agree, it's almost absurd that we've spent 15 days looking for $100 million, $200 million aircraft in this day and age.

THOMA: That's right. And that was one of the big realizations that we had back in 2009 when we came up with the concept of Aireon and space- based tracking of aircraft. It turns out, Richard, that actually, for aircraft flying over the oceans --

QUEST: Right.

THOMA: -- the position of that information, whether it's via satellite or via a pilot reporting, via a voice radio back to a controller, they only do that every 10 to 15 minutes. So, as you know, an aircraft flying at 500, 600 miles an hour, there's a lot of distance a plane will cover in that period of time, so --

QUEST: But -- shouldn't -- look. It's a simplistic way of putting it, but it's a way that will explain it best. Shouldn't a plane have built within it some form of device that come hell or high water will continue? An RFID-type tag that will always let a satellite know what -- when it's flying, where it is.

THOMA: You would think. That seems like the natural progression of technology, as I said, just in our personal lives, never mind with a asset like an aircraft with 250, 230 passengers onboard.

And as you know, as I was saying before, the upgrade to the system using ADSB or this GPS-based broadcast of the location, will in fact do that. It'll send on a very frequent basis several times a second, the location transmitted out from that aircraft. As long as there's a network in place in receive that data, you will have that precise tracking of the aircraft.

Now, to answer your question as to whether or not the system should be configured such that it can't be turned off, that's going to be an ongoing debate that occurs and is brought to light by this tragedy.

And really, that's a question for the airlines, the pilots, the air traffic control of authorities on how best to accomplish that. But --

QUEST: In a word -- in a word, are you in favor of that or not?

THOMA: So, our view is that the network in place should be able to track an aircraft anywhere in the world. It's a capability that enables a series of operations that weren't enabled before via global tracking capability.

It seems like a natural progression to us, but again, it's really a much-more involved discussion between the air traffic control and safety authorities as well as the airlines and pilots.

QUEST: We must leave it there, sir. Thank you, I appreciate it. Thank you. Still to come --

THOMA: You're welcome. Thank you.

QUEST: -- on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, the G8 has been suspended, maybe even abandoned over Russia's action in Crimea. How the G8 lost a member, became G7, and then we will say whether it's G for "gone."

(RINGS BELL)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Seven of the eight countries in the Group of 8, the G8, say they're freezing Russia out of the club, refusing to go to a planned G8 summit in Sochi in protest that Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The agreement was reached at the Hague in the Netherlands where world leaders are discussing nuclear security. The declaration, released by the White House in Washington, it basically said the G8 would not meet again until Russia changes course. It leaves us with the G7, that's Canada, the US, Italy, France, Britain, Germany, and Japan, the traditional G7.

They say they'll meet in Brussels in June instead of going to Sochi. And their energy ministers will meet to discuss ways to strengthen energy security. Senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins us now from the Hague.

So, it took them -- Boris Yeltsin, I think it was, who was the first one invited to the G8 as a way of cementing, and now the --

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

QUEST: And now the G8 is no more, and Sergey Lavrov says well, maybe, we didn't need it anyway. Who's winning and losing here?

ACOSTA: You know, Richard, it seemed for a while there that Vladimir Putin was moving all the chess pieces in the right direction, but he may have seen a move here that perhaps he did not fully anticipate.

And as you said, Richard, earlier this evening, those G7 leaders, led by President Obama, he wanted this emergency meeting at the Hague during this nuclear security summit. They announced that they are effectively kicking Russia out of the G8.

They are -- there will be no Sochi summit, as you said, later this June. That was going to be another party for Vladimir Putin held in the city where he hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Instead, they will be in Brussels, as you said.

And earlier today, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, he was in town for this summit. He was sent here instead of Vladimir Putin, and he sort of brushed off the announcement that he knew was coming. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Thus, if our Western partners believe that this organizational format has outlived its usefulness, so be it. At least we are not attached to this format, and we don't see a great misfortune if it will not gather. Maybe for a year or two, it will be an experiment for us to see how we live without it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So, an experiment to see how they live without it. That was the word from Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

The very interesting development to watch, Richard, those 20,000 troops gathered on the Ukrainian border, those Russian troops, the G7 basically saying today that if Russia moves into eastern and southern Ukraine, the G7 leaders would agree to further sanctions against Russia.

The United States has said and the deputy national security advisor to the president said at a briefing earlier this evening that if Russia moves into eastern and southern Ukraine, you can expect sanctions on the energy sector, the finance and banking sector in Russia. They feel like that will exert a lot of pressure on Vladimir Putin to reverse course in Crimea.

Of course, they've had these diplomatic discussions before. Putin still annexed Crimea anyway, so we're going to have to wait and see, Richard.

QUEST: Jim Acosta, who is in the Hague -- I nearly said in Washington, but you're not. You're in the Hague for us tonight, Jim. Good to see you, thank you, sir.

ACOSTA: For once I'm out of there, yes.

QUEST: Don't worry, he'll be back. Back in the Hague, that is. Now, when we come back, we are -- let me give you a bit of an idea. It's 25 past 5:00 in Perth, Australia, and similar time in Malaysia.

In about six hours from now, the Malaysian authorities will give a press conference to update the search on the missing Malaysian Airlines jet. There's going to be a news conference that will take on further details and questions from what the Malaysian prime minister said this morning in KL.

Well, we'll hear from the company who may have uncovered the plane's fate. That's after the break. This is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL - INSIDER'S VIEW)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR AND REPORTER HOST OF "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" SHOW: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. There is more "Quest Means Business" in just a moment. This is CNN, and on this network the news always comes first. Malaysia's prime minister and its national airline now say it is beyond reasonable doubt that MH370's been lost with no survivors. The conclusion's based on satellite data which pinpoints the last electronic trace of the jet over the southern Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia. There've been several possible sightings of debris in the area in the past few days. Families of some Chinese victims said the search operation has been too slow and could've cost the lives of those onboard.

Russia has been effectively expelled from the G8 in response to its annexation of Crimea. Leaders of the seven other G8 nations voted on Monday not to take part until Russia changes its course. The Russian prime minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow wasn't attached to G8 and didn't see suspension as a great misfortune. Ukraine's president has ordered the countries armed forces to pull out of Crimea. Oleksandr Turchynov says Russian troops pose a threat to the lives of members of the Ukrainian military and their families. Earlier curve (ph) said Russian forces stormed and took control of a naval base in Ukraine.

A court in Egypt sentenced at least 528 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death for their parts in the riots in the city of Minya last year. A police officer was killed during the troubles in August which came after protests in support of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

The prime minister of Malaysia says it was a groundbreaking analysis of satellite data that led to the conclusion that flight 370 crashed in the Indian Ocean. The data in question came from a British satellite firm, Inmarsat. Before we can on the air, I asked Chris McLaughlin from Inmarsat how his experts got more data from those electronic pings.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

CHRIS MCLAUGHLIN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, INMARSAT: Well, Richard, good question. What we did the first time was just to see whether or not the network actually had any clues, and the clues that it had were these one off (ph) pings that you've identified. We didn't put that across any other data. What we've been doing over the intervening days is revisiting our network and its network records and comparing this particular flight with other Malaysian Air triple 7 flights so that we could begin to build up a picture to see which of the routes - either the north that we'd identified or the south that we'd identified - was more likely. And it was because of that testing and retesting, revisiting our network information, that we gradually formed the view which we then peer-reviewed with others in the U.K. space industry. We formed the view that it was the southern route -

QUEST: But -

MCLAUGHLIN: -- but it's been a steady process that required the network.

QUEST: The original two corridors - the north and the south - what was it about the south or the information or the data that basically led you to say we don't believe it can be the north? Because they had equal weight under the original data.

MCLAUGHLIN: You're completely right. What we drew originally and what we submitted to the investigation on the 11th of March was suggested track line based on the spot-beam of the I3 satellite over the Indian Ocean and also a series of pings that were known to be getting further away from the satellite. But after the submission at the beginning of the - on the 11th - after that submission it was then for the Malaysian authorities to compare notes with their neighbors and their neighbors' radar and the ships in the area, other aircraft in the air to see if anything had been seen. So there was a process of going through and eliminating data. What we did separately was while that was going on, continued to look at our network and see whether that could provide any further clues. And that was the model of looking at other previous flights and realizing that the plan just simply didn't -

QUEST: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: -- fit the data to the north, and we only finalized that yesterday.

QUEST: And it is extraordinary, you would agree, that for 15-odd days we lose a triple 7 plane. Whatever the reasons for how it became distressed, that the aviation industry could not locate it. What can we do to put that right in the future?

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's incomprehensible that you can lose a triple 7 in flight. But in reality, the truth is that there is no globally-mandated requirement for position reporting off of aircraft. If that was done we would've known within minutes and certainly within an hour the new location of the aircraft, long before it exhausted the period of time-

QUEST: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: -- that it was fueled up for and traveling for. It seems common sense - commercial ships at sea have long-range identification and tracking requirements on them which are done through our satellite network. It seems impossible that aircraft should not have the same requirement -

QUEST: Right.

MCLAUGHLIN: -- upon them.

QUEST: But would you be in favor of a tracking or a form of information that cannot be switched off, that cannot - an extremist is still going to transmit come what may?

MCLAUGHLIN: Completely in favor of that, Richard. As far as the system, the Aero Classic that is on over 10,000 wide-body jets you could do that now. And as far as the swift broadband, our subsequent product, is being checked at the moment for compliance for safety. That's on another 5,000 aircraft already. It's not a case of needing to put kit onto aircraft, the kit's there. The job can be done and it can be done for a dollar an hour.

QUEST: McLaughlin of Inmarsat. Take a close look at this which of course you're well aware is now the search area that they've been looking at. And if we run the animation, you can see the magnitude of that which now has to happen. You've got the plane which came from the north down into the Indian Ocean, off the southwest coast of Perth by 2,350 kilometers. All those various sightings of individual objects which now have to be searched or at least that area. Going back to the full map you can see the size and scale of what we're talking about. Andy Sherrell was involved in the search and discovery of the wreckage of Air France 447. He's an ocean engineering consultant and has worked on deep sea search and salvage operations. Joins me now from Orlando in Florida. OK, sir, what did we learn from 447 that will be of direct benefit and assistance to those involved in this operation?

ANDY SHERRELL, OCEAN ENGINEERING CONSULTANT: Well I think we learned even though we have - we even have a last-known position - even with five days where we couldn't find debris in that plane crash, the search area was still only - was still 40 nautical miles in radius and over 5,000 square miles. And that still took us over two years to find it. So it just shows how difficult these plane crashes can be to find when they're in such remote areas of the world.

QUEST: It was five days after the accident in 447 and much of the debris which was there, the searchers you did go actually over where the plane was at one point I believe during (ph) the search. Why was there no pings? Why was it proved so difficult?

SHERRELL: Yes, the a - actually the pinger locator system was towed over the area of the airplane. The water is very deep there - 4,000 meters, and the range of the pingers is, you know, one to two miles and that's if they're working in optimum conditions. And by that I mean they could be covered up by debris, they could've been damaged during the aircraft collision with the -

QUEST: Right.

SHERRELL: -- ocean surface and so in this case we don't know if the pingers actually work. We did actually recover one of the pingers after we found the black boxes two years later, and it looked to be intact but it did have a small amount of damage to it and the second pinger - we found the black box but it was not on the black box. The pinger was unknown whereabouts. So, --

QUEST: Right, that -

SHERRELL: -- it's hard to know -

QUEST: -- let me just jump in there if I may, sir because with that in mind, would you have advice for them? I mean the distances are huge, the terrain and the weather will be dreadful, so what would your advice be to those people - and let's face it - you may very well be helping them out with your expertise before long anyway. So, what will your advice be to those who are there?

SHERRELL: I think my advice is it - advice would be that it's just going to take a lot of effort. The expectation has to be that - it's going to have to be a lot of analysis done on the reverse drift calculations once we do find surface debris and that's going to have to - hone us in on at least somewhat of a smaller area because the area that we're talking about now is so massive and so large that it would take months and months if not years to find the area if we don't - if we can't squeeze that down and make it a smaller search grid.

QUEST: The last question is probably the most difficult. Is it a case of if we find debris and if we find evidence or is it a case of when we find?

SHERRELL: My hope and my thinking is that it's when. You know there's - we have a lot of assets we can send to this problem, there's a lot of great technology that can be used and it's just a matter of finding that debris, doing the reverse drift calculations and trying to get that area -

QUEST: Right.

SHERRELL: -- focused in on and it's just more time and more effort and unfortunately that's what it's going to take is time and effort and as painful as that is for the families and the searchers, you know, that's what's going to bring closure to the situation is just to keep looking and perseverance.

QUEST: Very good of you, sir, to remind us that this is basically the yeoman work of time, effort and energy. Thank you, sir, for joining us this evening. Still to come on "Quest Means Business," the chief executive of Etihad Airways gives his reaction as a CEO of an airline to what happened with 370 and had some thoughts about what might need to change in aviation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Chief executive of Etihad Airways says the facts must be first heard and established before the industry can learn lessons from flight 370. I spoke to James Hogan. He began by offering his condolences to the families of the passengers on flight 370.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

JAMES HOGAN, CEO, ETIHAD AIRWAYS: Well first thing, Richard, my condolences to the passengers and to the staff of Malaysian Airlines - it's a very tough time. It still early days to understand what has happened. We have to wait until the investigation continues, and then we can take a view.

QUEST: Except this -- one thing we can take a view on now - is this question of the inability of - to - find a plane in this day and age. And the question being whether more needs to be done to ensure that planes can always be found, whatever systems are switched off or whatever happens?

HOGAN: Well, today planes can be tracked if ACAS is switched on. In our case, every 15 minutes there is a positioning signal, other wave (ph) stations, there's also a communication. In this case we still need to understand the facts. If ACAS has been turned off in remote areas, you only have - you know - settle that link with VHF. So, in most cases, ACAS working, you can track the aircraft.

QUEST: But in this case you can't and of course you have to plan for this particular sort of event.

HOGAN: We have to understand the facts.

QUEST: Right.

HOGAN: It's still premature.

QUEST: I understand. We do know the facts on the two passports that two passengers managed to board this plane with stolen passports. Now, I know you can't comment on Malaysian, but when Interpol says this shouldn't happen, when IATA says this shouldn't happen, what do you as an airline CEO say?

HOGAN: Well, I can only talk about Etihad Airways. We do -

QUEST: What do you do?

HOGAN: -- we do cross-check the databases. This is obviously a very strong focus on security and we also have our own forward detection officers at airports checking passports manually. As I said, see a (ph) focus on safety and security and in our case we are very vigilant.

QUEST: I know lessons are always learned from any incident, but this one is - you have to agree - is quite extraordinary.

HOGAN: Any incident is a tragic event. We've been watching it carefully as all airlines have, as you have as commentators. But we have to really understand what happened. If the aircraft has been located, the recorders are located, we'll start to understand in the coming months what occurred with this aircraft.

QUEST: James Hogan of Etihad, and tomorrow night you'll hear Mr. Hogan's views on the controversial preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi, and he also answers whether or not he's going to invest money in the Italian airline Alitalia. We'll talk about that tomorrow. The weather conditions are going to play a key role in the search area. Ivan Cabrera is at the World Weather Center. Ivan, a very straightforward question, please. What will they be facing? The planes are taking off now heading west, southwest of Perth. What will they find when the get to the zone?

IVAN CABRERA, METEOROLOGIST AND WEATHER ANCHOR FOR CNN INTERNATIONAL: They are going to have a thick cloud to contend with here, and in fact, I think visibility is going to be terrible over the next couple of days. We have a frontal boundary that's going to be moving in, Richard, we're dealing with low clouds there, showers are going to be rolling through and then right at the surface of the ocean we're going to be talking about some significant wave action as well. Along with, of course, what we have typically in this part of the world which are these eddies that you see across the Indian Ocean. Any debris that gets stuck in one of those is just going to continue to spin. Then on top of that, we get big waves that are going to be forming. That's going to be an issue as well. This is the search area here. There you see the box - Indian Ocean. There's Australia and Perth and where the airplanes are coming out of here. By the time we get into the middle part of the week, I think conditions will begin to improve, but the next 24 to 36 hours not looking good.

Cyclone to the north, don't worry about that. That's going to dissipate before it ever makes it anywhere near the search area here. But will make it through here will be this front, again as I mentioned, with thick clouds. Remember we need visibility, we need good visibility because they are looking for the wreckage visually here, so if you have low cloud bank and showers moving through, that is not going to bode well for that open window - that very short one - that they have throughout the day. Two to four-meter waves as well not going to be helpful whatsoever. And then the winds are really going to be gusting. I'm thinking anywhere from 60 to 70 kilometer per hour winds are going to be kicking up those waves in the next few days. We're going to watch this closely. No major storms coming through here, but I think this is going to be enough to impede that visual search that is going to be, well, the first step in many here before we find out what happened to MH370.

QUEST: And that doesn't bode well of course if they can't actually see. Ivan, thank you very much for that. We have more on "Quest Means Business" in just a moment. For the families on the plane, today was the day they have dreaded - being told to abandon hope.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Relatives of flight 370 - the passengers - turned their fury on the Malaysian government, the military and Malaysia Airlines. In a joint statement they said that they had been misled and precious time had been wasted - time which lives could've been saved. It was at a briefing in Beijing, and frankly you're not surprised to hear there was crying and screaming as airline officials said there was no longer any hope that their loved ones could be alive.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

(SCREAMING, CRYING)

(END VIDEOCLIP)

QUEST: Some had to be carried out on stretchers, and the emotion was so great. Now, CNN has spoken to a number of family members in the last two weeks. They were of course holding onto any hope that everyone on board would turn out to be safe. Atika Shubert now explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT BASED IN LONDON: (LISTING SOME OF THE VICTIMS IN FOREIGN DIALECT): Juhoon (ph) Zaharie Bin (ph) Amad Shah, Mohammed Khairul Amri Selamat, Muktesh Mukherjee and Xiaomo Bai, (Zamani Resam Muhamed) (ph) and (Noli Achmohamed) (ph), (Hydrean Washolos) (ph), and (Yun Zhou) (ph), (Urishang and Balian Whah), Pouria Nourmohammadi. These are just a fraction of the names of the 239 passengers and crew onboard from 14 nations. For hundreds of family and friends, it's been an agonizing wait. Wife and mother Chandrika Sharma of India is the executive secretary of the International Collective in Support of Fish Workers. She was on her way to a conference in Mongolia. Her husband wrote a note to friends and family thanking them for their support. It says, "I remain focused on what we have at hand by way of information and stay with the knowledge that Chandrika is strong and courageous. Her goodness must count for something somewhere." Phil Wood, a 51-year old IBM executive was one of three Americans onboard.

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD: My bag is packed and ready to go. It has been since Saturday morning.

Male: Ready to go where?

BAJC: Wherever he is.

SHUBERT: His partner, Sarah Bajc, is on a desperate search to find the man she calls her soul mate. Maira Elizabeth Nari, daughter of chief steward Andrew Nari from Malaysia has taken to Twitter to post a series of heart- wrenching messages. "Daddy, Liverpool is winning the game. Come home so you can watch the game. You never miss it, this would be your first time." New Zealander Paul Weeks left his wedding ring and watch at home when he took a mining job in Mongolia. He asked his wife Danica to pass them on to his two sons should anything happen. His brother describes him as his best friend.

PETER WEEKS, BROTHER OF PAUL WEEKS: People loved Paul and in general he's just a wonderful man, and we're all hoping that he comes back. Zaharie Amad Shah was the airline captain piloting the plane. Despite being under scrutiny in the investigation, many have stepped forward to vouch for his credibility.

PETER CHONG, FRIEND OF If something had happened to this flight, I would think - in fact I would believe - that he would have made sure of safety and welfare of everyone else before he even thinks about himself. That's the kind of person that he is.

SHUBERT: From artists to engineers, grandparents to a toddler, the passengers of flight 370 are more than just numbers. Atika Shubert, CNN Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

(END VIDEOCLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Finally tonight, the awful certainty that came with the news from Malaysia's prime minister the flight 370 ended in the South Indian Ocean. And even so in that moment of awfulness and tragedy, there was still something to be looked at - the ingenuity, the hard work, the inventiveness of those at Inmarsat in going back to find the data that would enable this distressing conclusion to be reached. Whichever way this finally ends up, whatever the final cause - and frankly, I stand on the fence between the nefarious option and the mechanical option. But whichever it is, the one thing that cannot be ignored is the fact that a modern jetliner was able to fly for so long and no one knew where it was. You heard on this program tonight several views about how unacceptable that is. It will require commitment from the industry, it will require money from the airlines and the determination even at greater cost that they will put on board the plane. Because whatever the cause of this crisis, whatever the cause of this accident, there is one simple conclusion that we can reach without even finding the wreckage - it must never happen again that a modern jetliner can be lost for so many days with no trace. And that is "Quest Means Business" for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York. I'll see you tomorrow.

END