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The Mystery of Flight 370

Aired March 24, 2014 - 22:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN special report, "The Mystery of Flight 370."

Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

And we do have breaking news tonight. The search for Flight 370 has been suspended, at least for now, gale-force winds, large waves and heavy rain making it too dangerous for searchers, this on a day when Malaysia Airlines notified some families of Flight 370 via text message, letting know they now believe nobody survived the flight.

Yet there is still not one piece of solid evidence that the plane even crashed. There are still more questions than answers tonight. And you have been tweeting us your questions by the thousands. We have top aviation experts standing by to answer them throughout this hour.

Like this one: "How can the Malaysian government declare Flight 370 went down in the Indian Ocean without solid evidence?"

And also this one: "Could be anything, hijacking gone bad, mechanical, pilots, pirating, sabotage. Need to find plane first, if it did crash."

And straight off the top, I want to go right to CNN correspondents for the very latest. Kyung Lah is in Perth, Australia. Sara Sidner is in Kuala Lumpur. Richard Quest here with me in New York in studio. And we're going to talk to all of them.

First, Kyung, the search operations suspended for today. How bad is it out there?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The weather is simply too dangerous for anyone to fly in that area. It is simply the waves too high for any vessels to get out there by sea. That's basically the word from the Australian military is that we cannot risk lives of the military in order to try to find this debris, as desperate as they are to try to bring that debris back, because the families so desperately need that evidence, they need proof that this plane did go down.

That is really driving the men and women who are getting into these planes and are at sea. But unfortunately today, the waves are six-and-a-half feet tall, the swells 13 feet. But it is generally the cloud cover, visibility at 200, 500 feet. Simply too dangerous for those planes to go at that level, Don.

LEMON: Kyung, another question. Why would Malaysia Airlines tell the families of Flight 370 that their loved ones are dead when they don't really have physical evidence at this point?

LAH: Yes. From looking at the satellite data, from what the Malaysian prime minister was saying, is that it does certainly appear that this is the only answer and that the satellite data is showing that the plane must have gone down in this region.

And then we're certainly seeing all the activity here over the last week or so, that it certainly does appear all the governments are agreed that this is the area that the plane must have gone down. There is nowhere to land. If the satellite tracks this plane into this region, it is incredibly desolate. There is no other option and that's what they are operating on, the governments here looking for debris.

LEMON: Stand by, Kyung.

We want to Sara Sidner now.

Sara, how did the families respond to receiving news from Malaysia Airlines that none of those on board survived and that got that by text message?

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, some of the families got those texts, but they were all being told there was going to be a briefing.

It was an emergency briefing. It's sort of the first time they have had something happen like that, because these briefings have been quite regular. And so when they got that information and when we heard the information was coming through, everybody knew that something big had happened.

When the families heard the news, one of them burst out of the room and was crying why, why, why over and over again. Another of the family members came out asking, where is my son? Where is my son?

So these families have been through so much. One was so overcome with grief, she had to be in a wheelchair and wheeled out of the briefing. There were beds being even brought into the briefing, because families just -- they could not get up. They could not walk. It was just too much for them to take.

It has been a real emotional time for these families, especially because, for 17 days, I think many of them -- and when we asked them, they would say that they still had hope. They still believed that it was possible that their loved ones were alive on that plane somewhere because there was no evidence to the contrary.

But to hear from the government that they believe that this plane did end in the Indian Ocean and that no one survived, that was too much for many of the families to bear, and they just broke down -- Don. LEMON: I can't even imagine. It's too much to watch. I prefer we not show that video, but it does show just exactly what these families are going through.

I also have another question for you, Sara. The Malaysian inspector general said that the police investigation continues to focus on four possibilities, potential hijacking, sabotage, psychological issues or personal problems of passengers and/or crew. The question is, why not catastrophic mechanical failure? How can they have ruled this out, Sara?

SIDNER: Well, I talked to a source who is close to the investigation.

And the source says the thing that has really captured their attention is this turn that was made. The source said basically when the turn was made, it takes about two minutes for an aircraft of that size, a 777-200, to make the kind of turn, the angle of turn that this particular MH370 made.

When that happened, there is two minutes' time and there is an emergency button that can be pressed if something had gone wrong in the cockpit. If they didn't have time to communicate and get on the communications with the air traffic controllers, they certainly had time to quickly push a button since it took two minutes to do this deliberate turn.

They just can't understand how it is possible that they didn't have time to simply press a button and at least send an emergency signal, send an emergency beacon out to the air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh city or back here in Malaysia.

That's one of the reasons why I think there is a general sense in the investigators' mind that this was a deliberate act. Who did it? No one knows. Why? No one knows that either. And where, oh, where are these pieces of the plane if they are indeed in the Indian Ocean, Don?

LEMON: Yes. And where are these people who are on board? Thank you very much for that, Kyung and Sara. Please stand by.

Richard Quest, stick with me. I will have some questions for you in just a little bit.

But I want to check now with my colleague CNN's Martin Savidge. At this moment, he is in a 777 flight simulator, along with flight instructor Mitchell Casado.

Martin, we have a Twitter question and this one is from Kyle and it's about the 370's flying altitude. He asks: "Why did it drop below 12,000 feet and fly for seven hours? I feel like he would have downed the plane as close to land as soon as possible."

Martin, can you look into that, and then we will check back with you in a bit?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We will. We have got two scenarios for that one for you.

One of them is, the plane descends and the plane turns. We will show you. In one way, it looks like an emergency. In another way, it looks like maybe something else.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Martin. See you in a bit.

Listen, we still don't know what happened to Flight 370. And we have not found any part of that plane.

I'm back now with CNN's Richard Quest, and also joining me is CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien, Jeff Wise, the author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger," Arthur Rosenberg, who is a pilot and an aviation lawyer, an aviation engineer, also Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation and an attorney for victims of transportation accidents. Captain Bobbie Scholley is a former supervisor of diving for the U.S. Navy.

Richard, despite what Malaysian authorities are saying, are we any closer to finding this plane?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are a lot closer to knowing the whereabouts of the aircraft, yes.

What the Inmarsat evidence today, along with the AAIB and what we learned from the Malaysian government is that we can now rule out the northern corridor. This plane went down in the southern corridor and by the words of the Inmarsat in the South Indian Ocean.


Mary, I have to ask you this. Can you remember a time when a conclusion was made about a plane crash without a known crash site or any debris found at all?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: No, I really can't. And also I can't remember a time when the conclusion was drawn this early.

In fact, the NTSB is usually criticized for dragging things out much, much longer and then having a series of hearings. This is rather -- the primary rather early and then also to narrow it down to those four potential causes with absolutely -- or potential causes -- with absolutely no evidence is quite irregular, I link.

LEMON: A similar question to Miles O'Brien.

Miles, it is unusual to say something happened and to say the plane is missing and they -- it's in the ocean, and still no physical evidence of this.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Everything about this investigation has been unusual by comparison to what we're used to here in the U.S.

Just the fact that the chief spokesman for the investigation is the prime minister of the country. What is his expertise in conducting investigations involving plane crashes? It has been a completely opaque investigation all along. There is a tremendous amount of information that routinely would be released in the course of an NTSB-style investigation. This is just another part of a pattern, really.

LEMON: Richard Quest, do you disagree with him?

I'm sure you're not surprised, Miles.

QUEST: I would venture not to disagree too far away from Miles. I have nothing but the highest respect.

Except on this point, Miles, the prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, made an announcement to the House, House of Representatives, originally. So are you saying that that is another example?


O'BRIEN: That's a bad idea. It's a bad idea to have politicians running to cameras trying to explain airplane crashes, period.

LEMON: Yes. I do -- I agreed with that, because had he not said we have this credible evidence which we have not found yet, raising the hopes of not only the families, but people around the world, I'm sure -- Miles, you disagree with that?

O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

I just think it's a question of expertise. And, you know, here's an important question we should all be asking here. If a country like Malaysia wants to fly something as complicated as the 777, shouldn't it demonstrate to the world that it has the capability of investigating an accident, should, God forbid, it happen?

And if not, maybe there is a memorandum of understanding with another country, in this case nearby Australia, maybe New Zealand, that has a tremendous amount of capability in this regard, to take over these investigations and run them in a systematic way.

This is something that really is a response -- the whole world is interested in this. It's important that we collectively help the Malaysians out.

LEMON: We have to remember there are other people on the panel whose voices need to be heard, like Jim Tilmon.

I neglected to introduce you, Jim. I'm sorry about this.

I want to ask you this from Joy. Joys says: "I completely don't understand how if a catastrophic mechanical event the flight flew on for hours. How could it fly?"

The flight flew for seven hours. That doesn't mean it flew in a direct pattern. It just means that it flew for seven hours, but we don't know in which direction. But that's a great question, Jim Tilmon.

JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Is it a great question and there are lots of little bits of this information that have been left by the wayside.

All this business about changing altitudes from whatever altitude up to 45,000 back down to 23,000 and then settling on 12000, all of these things, you know, we need a definite timeline that we can just slice out just this much time and that much time, this happened there and this happened there, so that things begin to make some sense.

We are running a very, very highly technical situation with reduced common sense. That's a mistake.

LEMON: Captain Scholley, you investigated the crash of TWA Flight 800. As you look at this, what do you believe happened?

CAPT. BOBBIE SCHOLLEY (RET.), U.S. NAVY: Well, it was a completely different scenario with TWA Flight 800.

And I look at this and this investigation and I see so many differences, like they were saying before. We had NTSB as the lead agency in that investigation. We had many organizations cooperating. The U.S. Navy was cooperating with NTSB, and we meticulously set out, and did the search.

And it started out as a rescue mission and turned into a recovery mission, and brought back as many -- as much of the aircraft as we possibly can working with the FAA and with TWA, and ultimately put together the full investigation before there were any -- before they came up with any estimates of what happened to the aircraft.

LEMON: But that is here in the United States, Captain, that this happened. And, as Miles said, if you are going to fly airplanes like the 777, you should have some accountability and at least know how to investigate if the worst of it happened.


LEMON: We will get back to it after the break.

With the search for Flight 370 suspended for today, we are not any closer, not much closer to answers, exactly where the plane is. And the search is on for 176 people after a devastating mudslide in Washington State. That's next.


LEMON: More breaking news for you now.

Rescuers are frantically searching for victims of a deadly landslide in Washington State this weekend; 14 were killed and over 176 are unaccounted for. That number has gotten much higher just within the past few minutes.

I want to go to CNN's George Howell with the very latest. George, what do you have for us?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, that 176, I want to qualify that, first of all.

We're talking about 176 reports. That means anything from social media reports, people that might have put out Web sites looking for family members, even vague reports, for instance, a neighbor who says, hey, I know that Neil lived at that home and he's not there. Those are the type of reports they are looking into, including names.

They want to narrow that number down. Now, keep in mind, that number has grown steadily. Initially, we talked about a dozen. It went up to 108 and now it's at 176. It is not going down. We are watching it go up. But investigators say they are trying to be very deliberate in getting as many of those reports as possible and basically having people account for themselves or families account for people who are missing so that number can go down.

LEMON: My goodness. How is the rescue effort going, George? Do they expect this number to continue to rise?

HOWELL: Don, we got some insight into the rescue operation. I have to tell you, we understand that one of the firefighters out there, it took him forever, it took him five minutes to go 50 to 60 feet just because of the mud.

And we also know earlier they had a really robust plan, Don. They wanted to go in with heavy equipment. They wanted to put people on the ground searching the ground with electronic equipment to look for people. They had to stop that search around midday simply because the land was unstable and geologists could sense movement.

But we understand now just from a recent news conference that they did resume the search, Don. We also know that the search will continue tonight. They are looking to see if there are any complications like they ran into the other night. But presuming there are no complications, no problems with the land, if it is stable enough, they will continue to search tonight.

LEMON: George Howell with the breaking news for us, thank you, George.

Now back to the search for Flight 370. Now that it is suspended today because of dangerous weather, the clock is ticking. It's time searchers can ill-afford to lose. Will crucial clues be found before that time runs out?

CNN's Ed Lavandera has more now.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the secrets of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 believed to be hidden in a remote section of the Indian Ocean, the race is intensifying to recover the clues before it's too late. MATTHEW ROBINSON, AVIATION INVESTIGATOR: Things are getting compromised as the clocks ticks. There are components that can corrode. So, the evidence could be disappearing. So, the clock is, again, running against them.

LAVANDERA: Aviation expert Matthew Robinson spent nearly 20 years investigating accidents for the U.S. Marine Corps. He says the top priority must be finding the flight data reporter.

A torpedo-like sonar device will be deployed into the waters. The same kind of technology found wreckage of the Air France flight that crashed in 2009 off the coast of Brazil into the Atlantic Ocean. The data recorder holds vital clues investigators need to determine what caused the catastrophe. But finding it is just the beginning.

ROBINSON: Grab every single piece of this aircraft. Every piece of this aircraft is going to tell its own little tale. And once you can put those little tales together, that will give you the big picture and help draw a conclusion as to what happened.

LAVANDERA: If and when pieces of the plane are recovered, investigators will start piecing it all together. This was done to the remnants of TWA Flight 800 in the late '90s.

Analyzing the fuselage, flight controls and wings would help investigators pinpoint a cause.

(on camera): Many crucial parts of an aircraft, like engine components, are made of magnesium. And one expert told us that in saltwater, magnesium can dissolve like an Alka-Seltzer tablet. And if that happens, important clues could be lost forever.

(voice-over): There is also the grim task of recovering the bodies of passengers. Those autopsies can also provide clues. The bodies could show signs of smoke inhalation, for example.

Experts say all of this work could take months, if not years. Family members of the passengers continue to push for answers.

BIMAL SHARMA, BROTHER OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: I want for see something from the seas. I don't know why. 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.

LAVANDERA: For now, the waiting continues for the families desperate for clues to emerge from the depths of these ocean waters.

Ed Lavandera, CNN.


LEMON: And as Ed mentioned there, the depths of the ocean waters.

My next guest is a deepwater search and rescue expert. He searched for a wreckage around the world and -- all around the world, and he knows just how challenging it is to find any sign of Flight 370 in the most remote part of the Indian Ocean.

Joining me now, with Richard Quest, is David Mearns,

marine scientist from Blue Water Recoveries.

Thank you, sir. Good evening.

You know how big a task this is. And assuming the Malaysian prime minister is correct on the plane and it went down in the Indian Ocean 18 days ago, how challenging is this underwater search going to be, David?

DAVID MEARNS, BLUE WATER RECOVERIES: It's going to be a monumental challenge, unprecedented, really, in its scale.

And comparing it directly to the Air France 447, which everybody has been talking about, previously, that was the biggest, most complex and most challenging aircraft investigation in deepwater in the middle of an ocean.

The scale of this is many times greater. Just to put it into perspective, on the AF-447, the period of uncertainty when that last contact with the plane was taken, if you take the time that elapsed before that plane actually crashed into the ocean, the period of uncertainty was only 280 seconds.

And, in that time, the plane could only travel 40 nautical miles. And that basically defined a radius around which the entire search plan was based. Compare that with the Malaysian plane here. This plane was aloft for six, seven hours, and we didn't even know where it was. The starting search was in the Southeast China Sea. It ended in the Southern Indian Ocean, completely different part of the world.

LEMON: Even if they do find a piece of this debris, with the currents in that area and after so many days, how hard will it be to find the actual point of impact, David?

MEARNS: It's going to be incredibly hard.

And I think it will be -- you know, we haven't really pushed it out that far. The first piece is that satellite image on day eight after the -- when the crash would have occurred. And in that time, the wreckage could have been moving at anywhere between 25 to 40 nautical miles a day. You are talking several hundred nautical miles of potential drift in a direction that we won't be able to estimate accurately, because the ocean down there is not well-understood.

Is it a complex area, which is characterized by eddies and meandering currents. And it is just a very, very long period of time to be able to pinpoint a search box. I think I have used that technique in about four or five examples looking for ships and aircraft, and the longest that we ever really had -- well, with Air France, it was five days, but that is a completely different scenario to this one.

The longest that I have ever done it is over a three-day period. LEMON: Richard Quest is here. He has got a question for you, David.

QUEST: David, in this extraordinarily different and difficult environment, where would you then begin? If they have not found debris, what do you do next?

MEARNS: Well, you have got nothing left, frankly. They will find debris, I'm sure of it. They will have enough ships down there.

Unfortunately, the weather is the main complicating factor. It almost seems like one day is a decent day to work. Yesterday was good. That's why they had sightings. Today has been called off. And that is, unfortunately, going to be the biggest complication . But I believe they will find some wreckage.

LEMON: Yes. I want to ask you, considering the monumental task that we all know that it is, why are you so certain that they are actually going to find something?

MEARNS: I'm talking about drifting wreckage.

They will have a lot of ships down there. There will be wreckage that floated away, that drifted away. Now, with time, some of that wreckage will get waterlogged or water will penetrate into spaces and some of it will actually sink to the bottom. But some of it will continue to float.

And we saw this largest piece on the satellite at day eight. I believe that was the same piece on day 10. If that piece was going to sink, I believe it probably would have before then. So with the number of ships that are on their way to that location with the international effort that's going on in the right area, I believe they will get some wreckage.

How many pieces? I don't know. Nobody can predict that. On Air France, it was well over 100, starting on day five. All the way up through day 18, wreckage was being recovered. But, again, as I said, that was a completely different scenario to this one.

LEMON: David Mearns, thank you.

And, of course, how long can they continue to put out the resources to do this?

QUEST: They will have to.


QUEST: They did it with 447. They went back four or five times, each season having refined what they needed to find before they did -- they located the wreckage underground.

LEMON: All right, David, thank you very much. Stick around, both of you. Coming up, my experts are here answering you questions. Are there more resources that could be using -- they could be using in this search?

And, later, we try to get an answer to a key question. Why would the crew of Flight 370 make a sharp turn and descend to 12,000 feet? Martin Savidge in a flight simulator working on that for us.

Keep tweeting us your questions using #370Qs, #370Qs.


LEMON: Breaking news: the search for Flight 370 has been called off for the day due to weather. Now I'm back now with an expert, and we're answering your questions. Make sure you tweet us using hashtag 370Qs.

When last we all spoke, Richard Quest and Miles O'Brien was bringing up the fact that he believes that if the Malaysians are going to fly planes like this the government should be -- should know how to investigate it. You disagree with that. You think it's being handled correctly?

QUEST: I'm not saying -- no, I'm not saying that mistakes haven't been made or that this has been a perfectly-run, gold-standard investigation that you would get in the U.K. or France or in the United States by the NTSB or the BEA (ph).

By everybody's definition, this is unprecedented. Unprecedented. The plane is two and a half thousand miles in the opposite direction that it was flying, and we've only really learned these facts.

Now, they're damned if they do, and they're damned if they don't. Again, I'm not an apologist here for the Malaysians. But they're damned if they do, and they're damned if they don't. I'm they don't tell us anything because they don't know it, we criticize them. If they say, "This is what we now believe," and have to correct it, we criticize them.

LEMON: Listen, Richard, it sounds to me that you're making the point that Miles O'Brien is make. That -- that's the whole point. If you're going to -- if you're going to have this kind of plane in the air, then you should be able to investigate it. It doesn't matter how far it goes or where it goes. You should not -- you should not lose an airplane.

QUEST: Because you cannot say in these circumstances that any other country flying a triple-7 that might not be the gold standard of the NTSB, the BEA (ph) and the AAIB couldn't do this.

LEMON: Let's get the other guys in on this. Arthur Rosenberg.

ROSENBERG: Wait for the Malaysian government to ameliorate the situation is to provide proof. These families want proof. In the absence of wreckage, the proof is the Inmarsat report; the proof is the military radar data. Produce it. Expose it to the world. Let the experts take a look at it. Let an independent body of people speak to these family members and reassure them the information is accurate. And then, if we find the wreckage to substantiate this, they've rehabilitated their credibility, and these families are placated. That's what they should do.

LEMON: Jeff, we still don't know why the Malaysian inspector general said today that the police investigation continues to focus on these four possibilities: it's a hijacking, sabotage, psychological issues or personal problems of passengers and crew. What's your take on that?

WISE: We don't know. We all -- throughout this whole process, we've been getting this information, sometimes the information sticks and sometimes the information gets replaced with similar information. Sometimes the information just seems to vanish. They're telling us now that there's these four, you know, things they're investigating.

And we don't know -- we don't know what's behind it. And now the families are being asked to get on with their lives, to accept the loss of their loved ones based on a mathematical formula that they probably will never understand the math. I haven't seen the detailed explanation of this math yet.

It's a lot -- it's a lot for everyone to accept. And I think we need -- I think we need to look at everything a little bit harder, a little bit more carefully.

LEMON: Jeff, you know, just looking at what you told our producers here, you said you feel baffled and depressed. You've been knocked back on your heels. You said the rug has been pulled out from under everyone; we're back at square one.

WISE: I just -- yes, I mean, that's it in a nutshell. It's been kind of an emotionally tough day, frankly. I mean, listen, I was coming in to the studio today. I had heard that the prime minister of Malaysia was going to give a talk at 10 p.m. at night Malaysia time. It was obviously going to be a big piece of news, and I was thinking it was probably going to be something along these lines.

And I passed a woman crying on the shoulder of another woman, and it just -- it really hit me. Because you know, we sit in the studio and we talk about the facts, and we talk about our theories and we intellectualize it.

LEMON: Right.

WISE: And you see a scene like that, and I -- probably she wasn't a family member of this aircraft, but you know, it just really brought it home to me.

LEMON: But this story has gripped -- I mean, it has gripped the entire country, and we have seen so many people have been tuning in. And they stop me and stop you on the street. And they're stopping you. They're asking you questions. But everyone is just sort of pulled into this story. Mary Schiavo, are you surprised by the announcement? You're free to comment on anything, even what Richard said about the Malaysian government. Were you surprised by this announcement this morning?

SCHIAVO: Well, I was, because of what I would have thought is that they would present the facts and give the Inmarsat data and that, you know, they were certain that it went there, and they wouldn't speak that very next line, which is so very difficult for families to hear about their loved ones.

But I do want to add something that Richard said just to, you know, put things in perspective. We, the United States of America, also lost not one but four planes on September 11, 2001, similar in that, you know, transponders were turned off, et cetera, and that was after the Federal Aviation Administration, who sometimes doesn't get a lot of stuff right, but in that case they had actually warned the airlines, you know, and warned them, that you know, we were at a fever pitch on intelligence that we were picking up. And still, we lost four airplanes and truly lost them in the air space in our own country for a while.

So I can understand Malaysia is having a very tough time. You know, I was kind of hoping that the world had learned from our lesson and knew that we had to have transponders and data that can't be shut off. But I just wanted to add that to what Richard said. I can commiserate with the Malaysians.

LEMON: Yes, that's a very good point. I think many people also talking about the investigation agree, that we had four planes that went missing. But the investigation steps that happen, you know, what are the rules once you do have an air disaster? What do you put in place? And I think that is a criticism, more so than an actual plane was lost.

So thank you, everyone. Miles, thank you very much. I understand that Miles has to go to be up early. He's going to be on our morning show tomorrow morning. So Miles, thank you very much. Have a "NEW DAY."

Everyone else stay with us.

Coming up, an aviation -- an innovation that could have given us the answers to the mysterious -- the mystery of Flight 370. And you won't believe how simple the technology actually is. That's next.


LEMON: What are the lessons here? What lessons have been learned from the mystery of Flight 370? There is a technology in existence today that might help.

I'm here now with Richard Quest, along with Clive Irving, contributor to "The Daily Beast" and senior consulting editor at "Conde Nast Traveler." Thank you for joining us, Clive.

You know, you've made a really compelling point in your piece that you wrote today. I was riveted by it. You said that the plane didn't disappear. We just can't find it. Why, in this day and age with such large amounts of information and it can be streamed wirelessly, do airplanes still carry precious information about what happened on boxes that sink to the bottom of the ocean?

CLIVE IRVING, CONTRIBUTOR, "DAILY BEAST": Well, I think that public amazement becomes a political force. Because the huge public reaction you've been recording shows how amazed people are there's a very primitive machine at work here. We are actually using VCR technology -- VCR technology in the age of Netflix.

And I was glad to see one of the spokesman for Inmarsat today made this point, that he was amazed -- they were amazed -- that was the last line, Inmarsat was the last line of connection we had with that plane. If it had not been for those pings, we would be clueless. As is it the clues are not very strong.

But the point is, the technology not only exists to send that -- transmit the same information in the flight data recorder, send it live in real time, stream it to receiving centers on land.

And in fact, one year after Air France 447 disappeared, the French ran some very interesting tests. They simulated 600 crashes, using data from previous crashes.

LEMON: And Clive, and the vast majority of those they were able to find the information fairly quickly, right?

IRVING: Yes, 85 percent of those cases the information would have been equal to the quality of the information on the flight data recorder. And even more important, in terms of this search, is that in 82 percent of the cases they were able to locate where the plane went down within an accuracy of four miles.

LEMON: Go ahead, Richard.

QUEST: Clive, you make a superb point in this. So the question becomes why don't they do it? Is it the capital cost? Or is it the data cost?

LEMON: Clive says it's about $1,500 a month. Right?

IRVING: That's right. It is cents per passenger. There are several people to blame. Political paralysis and a lack of will in the aviation industry itself. By that I mean the airlines and airplane manufacturers. The airlines are busy stuffing the cabins with entertainment equipment which is up to speed. That is part of the profit center of running an airline. When it comes to a crucial safety measure it's unexcusable.

LEMON: And of course, we're kind of armchair quarterbacking this, but the question is could the technology potentially have saved lives? And here's what someone writes on Twitter. "I believe if they had the data on the plane going down in the Indian Ocean, they could have maybe saved lives if they acted a lot faster." Clive, do you agree with that? IRVING: No, it doesn't work that way. What we need is the picture of what happened to the plane.

And by the way, I like the fact that the Malaysians are not including mechanical failure in their so-called investigation I'd like to know what the investigation actually is and who's conducting it and what resources they have asked for from other people. And I find the exclusion of mechanical failure to be astonishing.

LEMON: Five seconds, Richard.

QUEST: I think the list of four relates to the police investigation, not the wider investigation.


QUEST: That's just the police are looking at those possibilities.


QUEST: The criminal side. Thought certainly, mechanical is well and truly on the table for the main investigation.

IRVING: I see.

LEMON: Coming up, I want to get back to Martin Savidge. He's in a flight simulator, tracking the plane's path over the Indian Ocean.


LEMON: Want to bring in now CNN's Martin Savidge in a flight simulator along with flight instructor Mitchell Casada.

Martin, we asked about what Kyle said. He said, "Why did it drop down below 12,000 feet and fly for seven hours? I feel like he would have downed the plane as close to land as soon as possible." What do you have for us, Martin?

SAVIDGE: Well, obviously, going from cruise altitude down to 12,000 feet is one of the most perplexing questions of this entire investigation. So let's demonstrate for you two examples of the reason why.

The first reason could be some kind of an emergency, fire or explosive decompression. Mitchell, if you would, just take us into an emergency descent, which is different than, say, an emergency dive. The emergency descent is you want to get this aircraft down from 35,000 feet to a level where people can breathe. That's an altitude of 12,000, 10,000 feet.

In order to do that, it is controlled in the sense of that this airplane is diving but you've now got the alarms going. You have the screaming of the airplane, because you're worried about the integrity of the aircraft. If it's been explosive decompression, you worry about, if you've done damage, you don't want more damage by simply descending. And you're turning. You're turning because remember, we were over the South China Sea. Now you're trying to get back towards land, either to Kuala Lumpur or to the nearest emergency landing. That's that.

Level us off. The information, though, that we received at CNN was that, actually, the turn took two minutes to commence and to finish. And then the descent. A two-minute turn is not a hard bank. It does not sound like an emergency maneuver. But instead, it's this very gentle, gradual turn to a passenger almost indistinguishable in the middle of the night.

And the descent, the radar tracked it for an hour and 20 minutes. We don't know how deeply it descended. If you have a gradual descent and gradual turn, that could suggest a whole different scenario, rather than an emergency -- Don.

LEMON: Martin Savidge, Mitchell Casada, thank you very much.

I have some news that's just in to CNN. Family members in Beijing have told us that over 200 relatives of MH-370 victims are now getting onto buses to head from their hotel to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing to express their anger.

My experts are back with me now. My first question is to Mary Schiavo.

Mary, you had that and also this statement, released from some of the family members today that was very strongly worded. And it says, "Eighteen days after -- since Malaysia Airlines announced MH-370 went down," it says that the military and government "keeps putting us off. If our" -- goes on to say -- "if our relatives on board lost their lives due to such reasons, the Malaysia Airlines, Malaysian government and military are the real murderers that killed them." That's very strong.

What's your reaction to this and now going to the embassy?

SCHIAVO: Well, I think -- my reaction is I can certainly understand their pain and their frustration. But part of this has to be that they have felt they have not been told the kind of information and given the kinds of briefings that should be standard, that the government should provide, as the NTSB does in the United States: daily briefings, twice daily briefings, if necessary. And these people are entitled to have this information. And you know, I think this is to be expected when they feel like they haven't been provided the truth or any information to even let them know what's going on.

LEMON: Jim Tilmon, Skylar says, and brings up a very good point, Skylar Dixon says, "Do you think that it was a little premature to squash all the hopes of the families of those passengers?"

TILMON: Yes, I do. I think it was premature to give them that kind of definition for whatever it was that you had evidence for. Let's wait and give this thing time to run its course. Find part of the airplane; give them something physical that they can hold on. Remember, early on in this investigation, Mary Schiavo made the comment -- I don't know if she remembers it -- that she'd like to have something physical, something tangible to hold onto to base a lot of her opinions.

LEMON: So I want to ask Mary Scholley this -- Captain Scholley -- excuse me, Captain Bobbie Scholley this. We're talking about the family members here and the search for the family members, the possibility of finding wreckage, you said verily slim but in the conditions of those waters, family members are wanting something, hopefully the bodies of their families. What are the odds of that, sadly?

CAPTAIN BOBBIE SCHOLLEY: You know, in my experience and mine is based on TWA-800, but? My experience that is one of the main priorities is to bring back the loved ones. We looked for the black box and the next is to bring back the loved ones.

LEMON: Now they are saying this is not a rescue effort. It's a recovery effort. That causes a lot of hope for that happening.

SCHOLLEY: Yes. When I say their loved ones, I meant to bring the loved ones back to bury. And so it's a recovery operation. And even with this aircraft, if even in this depth of water we bring a ROV in there, a remote operated vehicle. I believe they did the same thing on the Air France operation, and they recovered the bodies, as well, to bring back to these families to help them recover from this. And they would have the same capability with the remote operated vehicles at this depth of water also. And I would think the same would happen.

LEMON: Arthur, real quickly before I go to break. I want to ask you -- this is Rachel, saying, "If I had a family member on board I would demand they find something concrete of the plane in the ocean." Hashtag skeptical about it. But I wonder what difference that makes, especially in any legal action, because that's what you do in these cases. That's your forte.

ROSENBERG: These people want some concrete evidence. They want a piece of the wreckage, something they can hang their hat on.

But I have to go back, you know, either if the Malaysian government would release the radar data on the calculation from the descent from 35,000 feet down to 12,000 feet was made, we'd have a sense of whether this was a dive, whether it was an easy, controlled turn, something these people can hang their hat on, which has not been produced thus far.

LEMON: OK. Hold that thought. Thank you. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Back now with our final thoughts on this, especially what happened today. Clive Irving, it's interesting that the Malaysian airline made this announcement today, but I wonder if it really offers any resolution to those families.

IRVING: We need to find, and I think we will find wreckage. But the key thing we have to find is the black box. And that's going to be incredibly difficult and maybe impossible.

LEMON: Jeff Wise?

WISE: You know, we've been waiting for the shoe to drop for more than two weeks now. And what we got was the most tantalizingly unsatisfying thread of a resolution, and I wonder why the Malaysians timed it the way they did. It's almost as if, after days and days of searching, it seemed like it was on the verge of turning something up, and then it was called off. And it's as if they give us this just to end, just to resolve the matter, but it doesn't feel like a resolution.

LEMON: Thanks to all of my panel. I appreciate you being here. I'm Don Lemon. That's it for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.