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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Resumes After Delay; Mystery of Flight 370, The Investigation So Far; Killer Landslide in Washington State
Aired March 25, 2014 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, this is a CNN special report. I'm Don Lemon. And we have breaking news for you tonight. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this. A final partial ping from flight 370 could have several possible explanations.
But human intervention has been ruled out, this on a day when the search is back after a one-day delay due to dangerous weather. Planes are in the air right now, crisscrossing the suspected crash site, looking for any trace of flight 370 in the Southern Indian Ocean. And meantime, the first lawsuit has been filed by families against Boeing and Malaysia Airlines.
I'm going to talk to an aviation -- aviation attorney about that. And you have been tweeting your questions by the thousands. We've got top aviation and security experts standing by to answer them throughout this hour, like this one.
Could these have been a threat? Could there have been a threat, something really dangerous on board and the pilots decided to ditch the airplane in a remote area? Also, does not being able to locate the pingers (ph) that activate when in saltwater mean that they are not in water or are sonars not close enough?
We're going to get right to CNN's correspondents for the very latest. Andrew Stevens is in Perth and Saima Mohsin is in Kuala Lumpur. Also our Richard Quest is right here with me in New York.
Good evening to you, Richard. Good evening, everyone. I'm going to start with Andrew first.
So the latest on the search efforts today, Andrew?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've got the biggest search efforts so far in this search down in the far Southern Corridor dawn (ph). Twelve planes going out today and by my -- 10 (ph) are already in the air. In fact, a couple of the commercial planes are now on their way back from the zone.
Still no information about what they've seen, but conditions so much better today, the search resuming today, Don, after 24 hours because of what was described as horrendous weather over that -- over the scene (ph). So it's high cloud there but obviously good enough for a full search, a 12-aircraft up today. And we'll start getting the first ones back fairly soon. We'll start getting information probably in about four or five hours from now on whether they've actually seen anything or not.
LEMON: That is good news that they're back and a better news would be if they found some part of the plane. So Andrew, the question is are authorities giving any indication (ph) whether they are closer to confirming the location of the plane?
STEVENS: No, they're not. The quote yesterday said it all, Don. This isn't so much looking for a needle in a haystack. We're still looking for the haystack. Nothing has changed in the past 12 hours.
It is a big area. And until they actually find a piece of debris that firmly links the -- that site to the -- to the airliner, they'd continue to look for that haystack. Now, we know there were two areas of special interest found by the Chinese and by the Australians not too far from each other in the surf (ph) zone.
There are ships back there today. There's the Australian naval vessel "Success." There's also that Chinese ice breaker, the Xuelong is in the area as well. They're going to be key in locating -- not only locating but actually getting that debris -- what we know about the debris so far on board and identify. But as far as we know, right now at this hour, no further forward.
LEMON: Andrew Stevens with the search. Let's talk about the investigation right now. And Saima Mohsin is there.
Saima, have the Malaysian -- have the Malaysian officials shed any light on their investigation into why the plane went off-course, what may have happened inside the cockpit?
SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Don, those are all questions, particularly family members want answered. They really need to know what exactly went on onboard flight MH370, that made it this so far off-course into an effective abyss, one of the remotest parts of the world.
Now, in -- in order to do that, what they're saying is we still need to find the flight data recorder. The good news is, is that locator 25, the towed locator that sends out and listens to those signals that was sensed from -- by the U.S. has now arrived in Perth. So they'll try and get that out there into the ocean to try and find the flight data recorder.
But so far, all they're really relying on, which made the prime minister hold that press conference to announce that they believe the plane is lost forever is the fact that they have this satellite data to -- to work with. Now, there is one mystery in all of this, Don.
There was apparently a last attempt at making that ping (ph) go hand- shake with the satellite at around 8:19 a.m. local. Now, that was 8:19 evening in the Eastern Standard Time. So there was a last attempt to (ph) ping. It wasn't a complete hand-shake apparently. Nobody knows what that was about or why that was. But that is way, way past the last known location of flight MH370. So sometime between 8:11 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. local time, they believe, that's when the flight went missing.
They're still trying to piece together all of this information as to find out what went on onboard, what made the plane veer off-course and what made it end up in the -- what they believe is the Indian Ocean. And so they formed a working group to analyze this data further.
Experts from around the world will help Malaysian government to try and get to the bottom of this. Don?
LEMON: All right, Saima and Andrew, thank you very much. Stand by. We're going to talk a little bit more about that ping. I want to bring in our experts and turn to CNN's Richard Quest is here; Jeff Wise, the author of "Extreme Fear: the Science of Your Mind in Danger;" Jim Tillam, retired American Airlines pilot and the President of the Tilmon Group.
Michael Kay is a former Advisor to the U.K. Ministry of Defense and a military pilot and tactical instructor. And then Michael Verna, an aviation trial attorney, Jeffery Thomas, the Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of airlineratings.com
I'm going to turn to you first, Richard. You heard Saima talking about that partial ping. Explain to us what that means and why it matter?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN REPORTER: Until now, we've had the six pings from the -- where the ground station has been sending out to the satellite to try and get in touch with the plane that's in the area. And there's been a handshake. In other words, I am here, I am here.
So two of them basically have acknowledged each other, but no data. Oh that -- and the last one of those is at 11 minutes past the hour. We would have to wait an hour for the next one, by which time, the plane was out of -- would have been out of fuel.
But all of a sudden...
LEMON: Eight minutes, right?
QUEST: ...eight minutes later, there is a partial ping. And this ping comes not from the ground station that way, but it comes from the plane that way.
LEMON: The opposite way, which means something happened inside the plane (ph) that makes that go off.
QUEST: Exactly. And initially, the investigators initially -- and most (ph) have said that they knew nothing -- they couldn't tell us anymore about it. But they were looking further. But what they did say tonight in "Wall Street Journal" article, what they did say is is it does appear that this partial ping does not have any human intervention.
It's not like somebody was trying to switch it on or send some data. In other words, we can now slowly but surely, and the investigators can bring the timeline down -- the amount of fuel, when the plane would have run out, when this final -- partial ping -- I'm not qualified to know when. But the investigators can tell us how closely it becomes.
LEMON: And these are all little pieces of the puzzle that helps to put the entire back...
LEMON: ...put it together.
I want to go to Jeffrey Thomas now.
And Jeffrey, listen, you know, equipments sent out by the U.S. Navy today arrived in Australia. And here is what one of our viewers -- her name is Seneta (ph), she actually said, how can it take so long to get that pinger locator there when you can fly across the world commercially in about a day?
That's a very good question. So while the towed pinger locator did arrive in Australia, it's going to take about, what, four or five days to reach the search area. Why does it take that long?
JEFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look, it takes that long because it's -- the endurance of the aircraft, taking (ph) the speed of the aircraft to get down there. And then they have about two hours over the search area, and then four hours back.
So these aircraft have about a ten-hour endurance. And so as -- as -- as has been mentioned before, it's a very, very remote part of the world.
LEMON: And again, you're joining us from -- in Australia. No one would know better than that. You're actually on the ground. We'll get back to you in a bit. Tons of questions for you. But I want to go to Michael Kay real quick.
MICHAEL KAY, FORMER ADVISOR, U.K. MINISTRY OF DEFENSE: Hi, Don.
LEMON: ...today, the Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said, we're looking for not only a needle in the haystack but, you know, he said, they're looking for the haystack. And that's going to take them longer -- you know, a long time to find the haystack.
One of our viewers said to us. Mike, he says, how long would it take to find a needle in the haystack? Is seems to me that the case here -- the case here is with -- is with the flight. What is one piece of evidence that you'd like to see that will help investigators here?
KAY: Well, look, Don, we're -- we're talking about an investigation that has been over 17 days with no -- no unequivocal evidence, no conclusive leads. And so the analysis that the Inmarsat guys have been doing to try and put -- pull this puzzle together of what the pings actually mean from the classic airway satellite system, that -- that effectively is the interface between the Inmar satellite and the ACARS uses that classic arrow (ph) satellite system to provide position altitude heading and speed when the ACAR system is switched on and it gives back those -- that information back to the airline.
So I think the, you know, there's a -- there's a lot going on just to try and narrow down what effectively would be over 10 million square miles if we looked at the epicenter over the South China Sea through a circle out of 2,200 miles and then sort of did the pi r squared bits. So what -- what they've been doing in terms of trying to narrow it down so the southern sector of the area of Perth is effectively doing that, it's trying to locate that haystack.
And I think, you know, the progress that's been made -- a lot of people are slamming the Malaysians. A lot of people are slamming Inmarsat for not giving that information over quicker, in my experience, you know, this is -- this is critical information the Inmarsat are doing for the first time.
So if they're going through this process of trying to work out through the Doppler shift and correlation mapping of aircrafts to the north from other aircrafts versus correlation mapping to the South and coming out (ph) with the South...
KAY: ...if they're actually doing that, then that's -- that's good news for us. And we've got to give them time. If you're the Malaysian Prime Minister and you want to stand up in front of the world and you want to say something decisive, you want to make sure that you're getting the right information from the Inmarsat.
So you're going to press some hot (ph) race (ph). It's going to take time.
LEMON: I want to get Jim Tilmon in here because Andrea has a very good question for you, Jim. She says, could there have been a threat of something really dangerous onboard the pilot's decided to ditch the plane in a remote area because investigators in Malaysia are still looking into what may have happened on this plane.
Is this a possible explanation for -- is there a possible explanation to how the plane apparently ended up the way it did?
We're having problems with Jim Tilmon. We'll get back to -- to Jim and the rest of our panel.
Coming up, it's not just a huge search area but it's taking place in the air and under the water. More on our hunt for the flight -- for flight 370, that's coming up next.
LEMON: The hunt for flight 370 is under way again tonight. CNN's Tom Foreman and Stephanie Elam have a closer look at the search from the air and under the sea. Let's begin with Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, one key to managing a search area like this, a more than 6,000 square miles, is cutting it down to size. And this is how they accomplished this. Essentially, what searchers will do is impose a grid upon the water.
And in this grid, not every square is of the same value. Some have a higher priority, because they're more likely to produce results. Now, in a perfect world, the center might be the most likely spot to produce results.
But imagine that you have evidence. And for some reason, they plane may have veered to the left or to the right based on its speed. And there is some discussion about this. Well, I could push those most high-priority boxes this way or maybe push them over that way.
And it changes slightly how they go about searching. They don't know exactly when the fuel ran out. So if the fuel ran out early at the earliest possible point, and the plane did not glide at all, well, that could push the primary search zones up toward the northern end.
But as the fuel lasted a little longer than expected and this plane glided more than 200 miles, which it can do, then you could have a primary search zone much further away. That's why the box has to be this big to take in all these possibilities. But day-by-day, hour-by- hour, they're trying to cut that box down to the highest probability sectors in hopes of getting result.
And if you go below the water -- whole different story. Stephanie Elam has that.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Tom. Obviously, the idea of searching the ocean floor is a huge undertaking. So we want to show you some technology that is likely being used in the Southern Indian Ocean starting off with the hydrophone.
With me now is James Coleman. He's the Senior Hydrographer with Teledyne Reson. He's going to show us. Tell us what this does right here.
JAMES COLEMAN, SENIOR HYDROGRAPHER, TELEDYNE RESON: Exactly. So this is -- this is a hydrophone. A hydrophone is really a simplified underwater microphone. This is the type of device -- so you're going to put it together in tails that they throw behind the vessel, we dip it over the side.
They're going to use this (ph) to listen for that pinger locator, just an underwater microphone.
ELAM: And this is just another example of it. How wide -- how far can it hear?
COLEMAN: About five miles.
ELAM: Five miles. So it's a pretty wide space but in the Indian Ocean, not really.
ELAM: So this is what's looking for the ping. Now, that ping were to go away or if they were able to find a general search area, then they would move to sonar, which is a little bit more micro, right?
COLEMAN: Exactly. So this is a sonar. This is what they're going to use to map the sea floor once they have an idea where the debris side is or to search for the debris side if the pinger can't find it. This is going to emit sound.
That's sound's going to reflect off the sea floor. And as it's received, the sonar's going to interpret that sound and build up a 3-D map of what's on the sea floor.
ELAM: And then as that data is coming in, is it in real time or is it delayed a bit?
COLEMAN: No, it is in real time. Depending on the application, it can be delayed. But this information is used to -- to generate that map.
ELAM: All right, let's go take a look at what this data looks like as it comes in, starting off by taking a look at the hydrophone data, which basically is showing what you're hearing.
COLEMAN: Yes, exactly. And you could just put it in your headphones and listen to the hydrophone as well and listen for that once per second click. But this is a spectrum view.
This shows the frequencies in the ocean. If that pinger were nearby, which is sure (ph) to (ph) spike (ph) right at that pinger frequency around 30 to 40 kilohertz.
ELAM: OK, and then over here is sonar. And sonar is just showing us what's at the bottom, right?
COLEMAN: Exactly. And so it's emitting that sound. As the sound comes back up the bottom, it's interpreting it in order to draw a 3-D image of what's on the sea floor. And it also generates an image -- a top-down image of what's on the sea floor.
So this is what they use to build up a map of what's down there.
ELAM: And obviously, as you can see, Don, with this technology -- it's fantastic technology but it's very slow-going. We've got to get the technology way down there deep by the bottom of the floor.
And they have to move very slowly. So you can see why it's been painstakingly slow to look for any of this debris that may be on the ocean floor, Don.
LEMON: Tom and Stephanie, thank you very much. Appreciate it. I want to get reaction now from two people who know quite a bit -- quite a bit about just how difficult underwater search and recovery can be.
Captain Tim Taylor is an underwater vehicle expert and President of the Tiburon Subsea Services. And Christine Dennison is an ocean explorer and Co-Founder and President of Mad Dog Expeditions.
Thank you, guys, especially for joining us here this late in -- in the evening.
Tim, you used rover technology to find a World War II submarine missing some 70 years. Given what you were able to find, do you have faith that this -- this plane can be found especially in that water?
TIM TAYLOR, PRESIDENT, TIBURON SUBSEA SERVICES: You know, all the data that they're -- they're finding and narrowing down the search site, it can be found. It's just a matter of how much time. And the smaller they can get that search area and -- and rule out where, it is not the better chance we do have a -- finding it.
But yes, I -- I believe it can be done. It -- it could take years, though.
LEMON: Even with the weather conditions, I mean, that has a huge impact in the search as you know. It was called off yesterday. They're back on today.
TAYLOR: Yes, that's -- that's why I say it could take years because you're battling elements. And -- and although you can map so many square feet a day, you have mechanical issues.
You've got travel issues. You have weather issues. Putting these vehicles in the water to search the bottom is the easy part. Getting them out of the water is the hard part.
LEMON: Time is of the essence.
I think you probably will agree, Christine, with the depths of the Indian Ocean. How important is it to act sooner rather than later? I mean, the black box batteries are going to run out in less than two weeks, give or take, and -- and can -- can wreckage (ph) at these depths be found without the black box thingy?
CHRISTINE DENNISON, PRESIDENT, MAD DOG EXPEDITIONS: I think it's -- as you said, Don, it's -- it's going to be very difficult to sort of run against the clock as we are right now. But I do think that it's possible to still work with -- well, they have to find the black box because I don't -- I don't think we would get very far without knowing and having a point of reference beneath the surface to be able to work from.
And unfortunately, I think they're out today. But they haven't been very successful in getting there in the past couple of days due to weather. But they're still following the search pattern and -- and the protocol that they will be doing by first identifying the debris, hopefully, mapping and gridding, so (ph) as the thing (ph) go in and put the hydrophone in (ph) and -- and then work from there as quickly as they can.
But as -- as we just heard, keeping, you know, getting this data -- it takes some time. And I think that that's something that we have to make sure that the audience and the families understand is that even though they're out there working 24/7, this takes time.
And -- and it -- it really is sort of a -- a very methodical process. And there a lot of hands on-deck trying to get information as quickly as we can.
LEMON: This is for both of you, Christine and Tim, you know, you, guys, have been keeping the family top of mind. You talked to me about that. And so you (ph) said (ph), are we going to talk about those families? I said, absolutely.
And the reason I want to ask you, guys, is because when you found that submarine wreckage after so many years, what was the reaction of the families? It provided at least some finality and some knowing for them, I would imagine.
TAYLOR: Oh, yes.
DENNISON: I guess I'll take that. It was -- it's sort -- it's bittersweet. It's -- ours (ph) in (ph) particular -- is it 600 feet and it's been down there for 70 years. And we had a much older generation that had lived for all this time without -- without answers and also with the mystery of why it had sunk.
So it was a -- a bittersweet finding but yet, the flood of emotions of the families that -- that we met with that -- that I interviewed, it was as though it had happened yesterday. And I think that's very important that no matter at what point in time, we find this -- this wreckage and we bring some information back. The families need that.
I think it's very important to be sensitive to their needs throughout -- to the time that it may take. And it may not be tomorrow, may not be next year. It may not be for many years. But they will always need to know and be updated on information.
I think it's -- it's a tremendous relief and -- and a duty I think to those that -- that are working on it. They -- they would like to do that.
LEMON: Christine and Tim, thank you, both.
DENNISON: Thank you.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
LEMON: Coming up, time is running out to find the black box. But what if these batteries die? And -- and can we still find the plane? Keep tweeting us year questions using the hashtag #370Q.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. We're going to get back to our panel of experts now for your questions.
First to you, Jim Tilmon, investigators in Malaysia still looking into what could have happened on that plane. And here is what Andrea says. She says, could there have been a threat of something really dangerous on board, and the pilots decided to ditch the plane in some remote area?
Is this a possible explanation to where that plane apparently ended up?
JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It is possible, but I think it's pretty remote. If they were going to do that, they didn't have to fly six or seven hours to get that accomplished. They could have ducked that airplane right into the brink (ph) sometime before that to make sure that they had it done.
LEMON: Jeffrey, is this something the investigators are looking into?
THOMAS: You know, they do seem to...
LEMON: Jeffrey Thomas.
THOMAS: Look, I don't believe so. Look, I don't believe so. I -- I think they're still very much focused on the human elements here. And I don't believe this is cargo-related.
I don't believe it's fire-related because as suggested in those sorts of scenarios, there were many, many options much, much closer to the initial change of course of the airplane. The big question is what caused it to fly so fast out to the end of its range, end of its fuel, on board, and crash into the South Indian Ocean.
Those fire and cargo theories don't stack up in that scenario.
LEMON: And to confuse matters any more, I'm going to ask a question from Jeffrey to Jeff Wise.
Jeff Wise, here is what Jeffrey says. Does -- does not being able to locate the pingers that activate when in saltwater mean they are not in water or are sonars not close enough?
JEFF WISE, AUTHOR, "EXTREME FEAR: THE SCIENCE OF YOUR MIND IN DANGER: The latter. You know, when you're on an airplane, you can fire (ph) on, you can see for hundreds of miles. When you're underwater -- well, these pingers are only designed to be detected for two miles.
So what you really want to do is try to narrow down your search area based on debris and other evidence from above the surface. Then, you search at a very much slower rate when you're under the water.
So the answer is yes, we have to get closer before we have even the remotest chance to finding those pingers.
LEMON: Michael Verna, an aviation trial attorney, what's your opinion of the investigation so far?
MICHAEL VERNA, AVIATION TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, I don't know if I'm qualified to give comments about that.I can say that the announcement by the Malaysian government that the flight has ended, and that in their view, there are no survivors, does have legal implications to it, that being that once there is an accident, then all the provisions of the Montreal convention, which is the international treaty imposing liability on Malaysia Airlines for this, comes into place, as well as the authority under the ICAO Annex 13 International Investigation Treaty to which they are a party. So the investigation itself, you know, obviously there's been an awful lot of people participating in that.
My big concern on behalf of the families is -- if I was -- represent one of the families would be that with this announcement it will take some of the intensity of that search away. And it's hard enough looking for a needle in a haystack when you've got 22, 24 countries. It's going to be exceedingly difficult if in 10 days from now it's down to two or three countries.
LEMON: Do you think there'd be any way to figure out exactly what happened to that flight without finding the debris? We've gotten the information about the new partial handshake, the new ping, and the reason I asked that, and this is again for Michael Verna.
Finding Boeing 777 is important, until the plane is found, it remains unaccounted for and a threat to homeland security some believe and other nations. Some believe that. But most people believe, especially the investigators, is that it's on the bottom of the ocean.
VERNA: Well, you know, the fact of the matter is that we have no evidence. I mean, I live in the world of what is admissible evidence in a courtroom and that you could prove to a judge or a jury. And we thankfully have no admissible evidence as to what happened on this fateful flight. We don't even have direct evidence if there's been a crash. We have indirect evidence based on this analysis of the pure assumption in its last location based on the satellite readings.
But we don't have any wreckage, we don't have any bodies that have been recovered. There's not direct evidence of an even the accident. Now that being said, what the prime minister of Malaysia making the conclusion on behalf of the investigating country, that this is not a survivable flight and it has terminated, that does create legal liabilities for Malaysian Airlines in so far as Boeing is concerned and whether or not there's any involvement of Boeing. We simply don't have any evidence of that right now.
LEMON: Jeffrey Thomas, you know, there's good weather today, and there seems to be the same intensity if not more to locate this plane. Do you -- are you hopeful at this point, especially with this weather, that they will find something soon?
GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MANAGING DIRECTOR, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look, we are very hopeful that they will find something soon. In fact, more airplanes are arriving every day. Korean aircraft arrived yesterday. We understand that Indian aircraft are going to arrive shortly. So there are more assets. There are more commercial aircraft going out.
So we are very hopeful that in the next couple of days they're going to get a positive sighting that will identify the debris fields with 370.
LEMON: Geoffrey Thomas, thank you.
Everyone else, make sure you stay right there with me. When we come right back, the families of Flight 370. How some of them are now taking action.
LEMON: This is a CNN special report, the Mystery of Flight 370. I'm Don Lemon.
I want to update you quickly on another breaking news story. It's here at home, in the United States. This is a massive landside in Washington state. Up to 24 people are dead, 176 currently unaccounted for. It's in the small rural community of Oso in Washington state.
I want you to listen to Chief Travis Hots of Snohomish County Fire Department just a little while ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF TRAVIS HOTS, SNOHOMISH COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Unfortunately we didn't find any signs of life. We didn't locate anybody alive. And so that's the disappointing part. Our condolences go out to those -- to the families that have lost people here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: With men now is CNN's Gary Tuchman live.
Gary, what a sad story. What's the very latest on this?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, it's very sad, it's very dire. But we have to emphasize those same emergency officials are telling us their top priority is still looking for people who might be alive. And those are not empty words. We've covered lots of disasters where days and weeks later, in floods and hurricanes and tornadoes, people are found alive. So they will still be looking for the possibility of survivors.
But the death toll is increasing. It was at 14 confirmed when this day started. They found two more people today to bring it to 16, and they also say something that's very unusual and very sad. They spotted the bodies of eight more people, but could not recover them. And that gives you an idea of the scene back there.
It's so muddy, it's so dangerous, they literally said it's like quicksand. They say when this happened, it looks like a mud tsunami. So they do believe the death toll is at 24. It could climb higher. The missing count right now, Don, is 176 but they do think they're duplicate people's names. They do think many of these people are not missing. They've gone to other places. They think that number will go down. We'll have a new missing total tomorrow. But right now the official death toll is at 16 but it will go, it looks like, to at least 24 -- Don.
LEMON: Just awful.
Gary Tuchman, thank you very much for that.
And speaking of grief, there's overwhelming grief and emotional toll on the families of Flight 370. It's hard to even imagine that.
So how long, how long can these families hold on and how long can they hold out hope?
Joining me now CNN correspondent David McKenzie, he's in Beijing. Also Dr. Judy Ho, she's a clinical and forensic psychologist, and aviation trial attorney, Michael Verna.
Thanks all of you for joining us.
You know, David, I'm going to start with you. Over the last couple of days it seems that these -- the families of these passengers, it seems they have reached a breaking point. What's the very latest there tonight with them?
Apparently, we're not hearing David. So let's -- I'll pose that question to Judy Ho. Same question. These families have reached a breaking point. You saw them in that emotional video, and some of them really lashing out at some of the media and the people in the crowd.
It is a breaking point and it's really -- it's so tough you can't even imagine what they're dealing with.
JUDY HO, CLINICAL AND FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Absolutely, Don. And these families have been put through a lot in this last almost three weeks of time as they were asked to hold out hope and hold out judgment until they got the confirmation. And even as the confirmation came, there is no definitive evidence. And that's even harder for the families to really be able to put an endpoint on this journey for themselves.
Grief is a very hard process even when you have time, like if you have an ailing family member who you know is very sick and is on their death bed. You have a little time to plan for your last days with them. But not in this case. This was a total surprise.
And for these families to now have to put all of their trust in the Malaysian government, when there is so much doubt that they are actually doing everything they can and the fact that they made the announcement the way that they did for some of them through text. And for all of this to be so public. It's just completely tragic for these families.
LEMON: David McKenzie, how are these families holding up? You have been there and you're seeing them every day. DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, they're not holding up well. As you saw those protests that erupted here in Beijing. They stormed out of the hotel. Many of the family members of those on board Flight MH-370 went all the way to the Malaysian embassy by foot. And there they were chanting slogans, saying they don't want this information like it's been given to them. They want proof. They want to actually see the debris for themselves before they can have closure in this matter -- Don.
LEMON: You know, Michael, it was announced today that the first lawsuit was filed by the families of the passengers against Boeing, against Malaysian Airlines as well. What's your thoughts on that?
VERNA: Well, first off, I haven't seen the actual filing but my understanding, it wasn't actually a lawsuit but rather a petition for discovery in Cook County, in Chicago, which is the headquarters for Boeing. And I frankly don't know what evidence the attorneys in that case believe they have against Boeing at this stage but -- in effect what's going to happen for most of these families, if they want to seek legal redress, is they're going to have to do that in Malaysia unfortunately.
Under the international treaties that apply to cases like this, the jurisdiction for where -- you know, which court adjudicates these kinds of things against the airlines, not against Boeing, but against the airline, is either the location of the airline, which is of course Malaysia, where the ticket was purchased, which for most people these are -- either Malaysia or China. The destination which was either Malaysia or China, or the domicile of the passengers, which for most people was Malaysia or China.
So I think the real world is that for people to see legal redress, they're going to have to do that in Malaysian or Chinese courts. And that's going to be very difficult because there's a lot of distrust that a lot of these have of the Malaysian authorities as it is and they're going to probably have to litigate their case against Malaysia in the Malaysia judiciary.
LEMON: David McKenzie, thank you. Dr. Judy Ho and Michael Verna, stay with me. I want to bring in now the rest of our experts.
If they are seeking discovery, that's the first sign of lawsuits to come here.
QUEST: It is the first sign of a lawsuit and if you read the press release from the lawyers involved in Chicago, it is the ultimate in fishing expeditions. They've asked Boeing for details on maintenance, electricity, supply of oxygen, fuselage, they've asked Malaysia Airlines for training. They've asked for -- I mean, it is the -- but the question really is, Don, is it seemly?
I mean, people are talking about Malaysia announcing this. And whether or not we're talking about have they found the wreckage and the bodies and all these things. And a law firm is starting some form of procedure when there's no clock ticking. I mean, there is a two- year period to do this. So you have to ask, and when you ask people on Twitter, when you ask people why, publicity and money.
LEMON: So do you think it's -- if for the families -- the families are seeking discovery from attorneys.
QUEST: The lawyers.
LEMON: The lawyers.
QUEST: The lawyers.
LEMON: But it's the lawyers of the family that --
QUEST: The lawyers of -- the lawyers of the family.
QUEST: But there's no urgency. There's no urgency to issue a discovery notice --
QUEST: To Boeing and to Malaysia Airlines in the middle of the investigation three weeks after the event and before they've even found the debris.
LEMON: Yes. So, Michael Kay, there -- nothing has been found and now they're seeking discovery and possible lawsuits. I wonder if it will make a difference if nothing has been found when they're seeking these lawsuits. What's your reaction to the seeking of discovery?
KAY: Well, Don, I've been on two boards of investigation, crash inquiry investigations. And we really are in unchartered territory on this. It's probably one of the most complex investigations in aviation history. And not only that, it's occurring in a world of globalization in the context of social media, and Twitter and YouTube and Facebook.
And I don't think Malaysia was ready for this. Richard kind of alluded to it in terms of that dissemination of information. And if we go back to the Asiana 214 crash, there was, you know, lots of opinion on the way that the NTSB handled that investigation in terms of the expeditious nature in which they let the investigations go.
Investigations traditionally in my experience a very close thing. You've got be absolutely sure of the facts before you let them go to the public. And I think, you know, when you look at the Malaysian prime minister who stood up yesterday and effectively decided the fate of 239 people was complete, without 100 percent unequivocal evidence, I think that was a brave thing to do.
LEMON: And -- listen, you bring up a very good point. Perception also matters when you're in a courtroom, and especially if you're in the U.S., and you're -- when you're dealing with juries. They got the message via text, right? They still haven't found anything.
Jeff Wise, do you think that -- how do you think that the Malaysian Airlines has handled this investigation?
WISE: Well, the airlines isn't handing the investigation. The investigation is handled by the Malaysian authorities, part of the government as it would be here.
LEMON: But there is -- I mean, they have to cooperate in this investigation.
WISE: Right. Right. Right. Of course. But you know, I think there was very bad optics for them to release this information the way they did. The text, for one thing, that didn't look good. But you know, to -- I wrote about it in Slate tonight about how -- you know, for these family members to be told that their loved ones had departed with no bodies, no wreckage, solely on the basis of a mathematical formula, the details of which were not going to be disclosed, which could not be checked by a third party, just take our word for it.
And I spent the day actually looking into the details of this equation. It does make sense. However it also does explicitly reply on assumptions being made about certain things like the fact that -- it's going to have a constant speed. And it's got to have -- and it's ended -- the speed that you choose for your equation will result in a widely different end point.
So that -- where we spent all this time looking in the ocean is strictly on the basis of an assumption on the speed that the plane was traveling at.
LEMON: But they have -- they've got to do something. They've got to look somewhere.
I want to get to Dr. Judy Ho.
Doctor, how should they have handled it? Should they have done it by text messaging? Should they have brought all the families together? I'm not exactly sure how they should have done it but what would you suggest?
HO: Well, I think the text messaging is really an e-mail, and so of course it's very impersonal. And they should have done something much more personal, not only trying to phone these families, but yes, going to their doors.
You know, in our country, when somebody dies from the military, you know, they go to their door with resources, with the military personnel to deliver the news. And I feel like they should have followed something similar to that protocol before they then unleash the news.
HO: And having done, say, that their defense --
HO: -- was we just wanted you to find out first before the world found out is not an excuse for using the text for something that's tragic.
LEMON: And they did. We know, Richard -- Richard is here, going, they did, they did, we know, but they did it after the text messaging. Maybe they could have brought them all in a room together before they did it.
QUEST: They did. They tried to. No, no --
LEMON: I've got to get to a break. And then we can talk about it again.
QUEST: A few facts please.
LEMON: All right.
QUEST: A few facts.
LEMON: Coming up, we're going to talk about the lessons from Flight 370. Can we be sure nothing like this will ever happens again?
LEMON: People around the world are asking tonight, how do we make sure that we never lose another flight like this one?
I'm back with my panel of experts.
Do make your point when you're talking about --
QUEST: Yes. Do carry on.
LEMON: OK. I just want to make sure.
QUEST: Do carry on. Don't worry.
QUEST: I thought, you know, there's a fact here somewhere. When I find it, I'll let you know.
LEMON: Well, I mean, there's not a lot to work with. Especially coming from the Malaysians. We haven't seen a lot.
OK. So I want to ask this. We can't change the past, only the future. It's clear that the design of the black box must change to make it easier to recover.
Do you agree with that, Mikey Kay?
KAY: I think there are already lots of lessons that we can learn from this. I think technology is already starting to occur. A lot of the pilots are now using what's called a controller pilot data linking communication system. What that allows them to do is through the ACARS, it allows them to talk to air traffic control. Mid-Atlantic in the old day. They have to use a radio called HF.
So that allows them now to talk more freely. I think this technology will migrate east. I think it'll be expedited by what we've seen. I think you'll see expediting technology in terms of the black boxes. There have got to be ways that you can -- you can be able to track the black box longer -- longer than 30 days. You said so yourself there was lots of --
KAY: Lots of technology out there and I think this will expedite the process.
LEMON: I have lots of questions that I want to get in to everybody. If we can just keep it a little bit shorter.
Here's Jim Tilmon, Andy says, "It would seem adding something like a dive package would help in any type of water crash. Sometimes simple is easy."
TILMON: Well, it does make sense. I mean, you know, and these days, with these going like they are, it's good to find something that makes sense. I think it has limited value but it does have some value. It's not a bad idea.
LEMON: Dr. Judy Ho, this question is for you. C Ancell says, "What impact if any does this and like tragedies have on other pilots?"
HO: You know, there is such a thing as PTSD from observation. And so you don't actually have to be part of the tragedy yourself, to actually feel the effect of the trauma. And so I think for other pilots who might be in similar situations, they're going to be very careful when they fly, they're going to be double checking, hypervigilant, and we might see that in some of our pilots today.
LEMON: Richard Quest, what kind of changes should we expect to see in regard to technology and future airplanes. This is from Hannah.
QUEST: You're going to see technology that ensures the plane remains in contact with the ground at all times. And even maybe even to the -- to the extent of things like the transponder can't be switched off. But the crucial issue will be data being sent from the aircraft in real time, so the location can always be found. And the fact that it is not part of the aviation architecture at the moment will change.
LEMON: When we come right back, final thoughts from my experts and your theories. That's next.
LEMON: Back now with our panel of experts. The developing news now four of the China's ships now in the search area. What do you make of it?
QUEST: I make that this is becoming very much the Chinese making it clear they're going to be involved, they've got most of their nationals involved on the aircraft, and they are making sure everybody knows they are at the table.
LEMON: Jeff Wise, I want to ask you this question from Joenita, she says, "I say the plane lost all communication and was flying a crazy pattern and hope that someone would notice."
WISE: You know, we really don't know what it was doing. As I said earlier, you know, we've got this model that Inmarsat developed and it's predicated on a supposition that the plane was flying straight, at a constant speed and at a certain airspeed. And apparently according to some of the sources I've been talking to, if you fly in a circle, that could match the data as well.
We just don't really know at this point. I really am hoping that Inmarsat is going to open its books and let people see the data, really show them the method that they used to come up with this very important clues. I mean, if you're going to go to hundreds of people and say you're your loved ones are dead, I think it's very important that you establish really rock-solid evidence that this is true.
LEMON: Yes. Hey, Jim Tilmon, in the 10 second I have left, could the pilot have crashed at sea to avoid loss of life on land?
TILMON: Yes, they could have. There's lots to be said for ditching over just going into a tree. But I'm sorry, I just really don't buy that. I don't buy any kind of suicide operation.
LEMON: Yes. All right. Thanks to all my guests. Thank you, Richard Quest, we appreciate it.
QUEST: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: People think that Richard and I -- this is how Richard and I communicate every day, even at work and we're off-camera. Enough with you.
Thank you, sir.
Thanks, everyone. That's it for us tonight. Up next is CNN's special report, "OIL AND WATER: THE WRECK OF THE EXXON VALDEZ." And make sure you stay with CNN all night for live coverage of the search for Flight 370.