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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
Unnamed Source in "USA Today" Points Finger at Pilot; Son of Passenger Speaks Out; Ongoing Search for Missing Flight 370; Would Legal Action Bring Families Answers?
Aired March 26, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
PEIRS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Tonight, breaking news focused on the cockpit. Questions about the pilot of Flight 370, his behavior, and what investigators think might have happened. Meanwhile, the FBI working around the clock trying to find clues on the computer hard drives of both the pilot and co-pilot.
And dangerous weather rolling in again to the search area in the Southern Indian Ocean where planes and ships are hunting for any trace of Flight 370. This in a part of the world that's renowned for high winds and rough seas.
Aircraft from Australia, Japan, China and the U.S. are closing in on the site along with ships from Australia and China. All searching for what's being called the best lead yet in the mystery of Flight 370; 122 objects floating in the Southern Indian Ocean ranging in size from three feet to 75 feet. It turned up on satellite images from a French defense firm on Sunday.
We're digging in, of course, to that and every other new detail of the investigation with my experts.
Our big story remains, of course, Flight 370. We're covering every angle. With CNN's reporters all over the globe. Atika Shubert is in Perth, Australia. Sara Sidner is in Kuala Lumpur, and David McKenzie is in Beijing, and Pamela Brown is in Washington.
(INAUDIBLE) It's nine a.m. in Perth. Tell me what the expectation is today. Because we've seen, again, 122 new images potentially of plane wreckage. Do they think they can get anywhere near where they think they were?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly are hoping to. They've got 11 aircraft up in the air today. And just about an hour ago the Chinese jet took off. We're expecting another five civilian aircraft to take off in the next few hours. And then the U.S. military planes will go out.
And it's critical that they try and get to this area. They're going to cover two sectors with about 78,000 square kilometers in all. And it's critical they get low enough to see this debris and actually identify, to eyeball it and see what it is, whether it could be a piece of the plane. Because if they can't see it, then they really -- they'll have to start all over again with a new search area. And that's why it's so important for them to get off to an early start today.
MORGAN: And in terms of the weather, Atika, what are they saying? That they've got how long really before they think it's going to get rough again?
SHUBERT: Yeah, they're saying later today they expect the weather to deteriorate. And unfortunately, this is the way it's going to be for the next few weeks even. We're getting into winter here, of course.
And basically, they've got this month or so where they have these windows if they're going to try to fit as much searching as they can. But as soon as winter hits here, according to an oceanographer I spoke to yesterday, it will be absolutely impossible to go out. There's just going to be too stormy, waves too high to see anything.
MORGAN: Atika Shubert, thank you very much, indeed.
Want to turn now to new developments in the investigation of the pilot and co-pilot of Flight 370. Pamela Brown has this.
Pamela, a new "USA Today" report out today quoting a senior Malaysian investigator as saying that Malaysian police believe that Captain Zaharie Shah quote, "deliberately redirected the aircraft."
Now, your sources, I believe, are hearing something different. Tell me what the latest is.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Piers, the officials I've spoken with knowledge of the investigation are not ready to jump to any conclusions or make any leaps. Because simply, they don't have the concrete evidence to back up that theory. The sources say that investigators haven't found a smoking gun in either of the pilots or co-pilots' backgrounds that would suggest a premeditated act.
And a source in Malaysia tells CNN that a search of the pilot's home didn't turn up any evidence such as a suicide note that would suggest financial, psychological, or marital problems. And also, Piers, a U.S. official close to this investigation tells me that forensics experts have not found anything yet that jumps out at them after a preliminary look at the captain's simulator hard drive and both of the pilots laptops.
But important to keep in mind, this is an ongoing investigation. Investigators continue to dig into the backgrounds of both of those men. But so far again, sources telling CNN there is no concrete evidence at this point implicating the pilots in the plane's disappearance.
However, they are still a top priority in this investigation. And investigators are still focusing on them.
MORGAN: But going back, Pamela, to this "USA Today" report, obviously a prestigious newspaper. They've obviously got what they believe to be a good source on this. Can we rule out the possibility that Captain Zaharie Shah deliberately redirected this plane, or is it something that is even for those who doubt this particular report say is a potential option here?
BROWN: Everything is on the table, Piers. So basically speaking to sources, they say that they're not ruling out anything. But that both of these pilots, both of them are still being looked at. They're still trying to put a profile of these men together, Piers.
But essentially, there's just no concrete evidence. We still don't have the plane. There is, as I said, there is no smoking gun found on their hard drive yet and found in their homes according to sources. So, you know, without that concrete evidence, sources are saying how can you sort of jump to that conclusion that it was a deliberate act?
However, piers, you know, you look at the process of elimination. These were the two men in charge of that plane. They were in the cockpit. So of course they're going to be a focus of this investigation, just not the sole focus according to my sources.
MORGAN: Pamela Brown, thank you very much, indeed.
I'm going to bring in Sara Sidner in Kuala Lumpur. Sara, what are you hearing about the Malaysian end of all this, in particular in relation to ongoing the investigation into the pilot and co-pilot?
SARA SIDNER, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Piers, what you just heard from Pamela was spot on, as you Brits would say. What we are hearing is that, of course, they are looking into the pilots' background. That is a natural thing that you would do in an investigation to see if there were any, for example, emotional problems happening at this point.
But until we have an official who will go on the record at this point, we don't believe anything we're hearing. Until someone will come forward, show their face and say, here is what's happening, this investigation continues. They are still looking into this.
And the reason, by the way, Piers, that officials are saying that this was a deliberate act is because of how the plane acted because of that turn that was made. That turn cannot just happen on its own. And so they believe thought was a deliberate act.
Now, was it because of fire? Was it because of something else in the cockpit? We just don't know. And it is not right to demonize the pilot or co-pilot or anyone on that flight until we have the evidence.
The families of the co-pilot and pilot and of the passengers are terribly distraught. This obviously going to make the pilot and co- pilot's lives, their family's lives, much, much more difficult. They are being scrutinized now.
And they are looking at the pilots' simulator. They are still going through and pouring through and trying to go through all that is in that computer and all that is in that simulator to see if there was anything, that it tells them anything about what happened with missing flight MH 370.
But it is not fair to speculate about who was at fault if they did it deliberately with a sinister -- for a sinister reason or if they did it deliberately because they were trying to save the plane and save themselves and the passengers, Piers.
MORGAN: Thank you very much, indeed. I may say, your own reporting for the last three weeks has also been spot on.
Should this investigation now focus on the pilot and co-pilot? I want to put that question to my experts, Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general of the DOT, (INAUDIBLE) transportation companies. Also Miles O'Brien, CNN aviation analyst, and David Soucie, a former FAA safety inspector and author of "Why Planes Crash."
Let me go straight to you, David Soucie. We've spoken a lot this week. Each day a little tiny nugget of new information comes out. Today we've got the 122 apparent fragments of what could potentially be wreckage. And we also have again a renewed focus now on the pilot and co-pilot. What do you make of these developments?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, I think they're all important developments. But what I always caution in all the accident investigations I've ever done is you don't start with a conclusion in mind and then try to fill the facts in to support that conclusion.
I think that's what we're seeing here. It happens a lot in the investigation. And every day you have a meeting with your team and you make sure and you have cross checks and double checks against each other to say, is this truly a fact? Is it not a fact? Do we know this? Do we not know that?
And then you've got to start weighing the confidence of the things that you do know. You have to question yourself. And I think that's what's happening here.
MORGAN: Let me go to Miles O'Brien. Miles, I suppose the problem is the Malaysian government are trying to, I guess, quell speculation by saying, look, we believe this plane went down in the ocean. We believe everyone's lost.
But of course, all it's done really is increase speculation. Because if that is the case, where are the fragments? Where is this plane? Where are the bodies of the people who died? And what happened? We still don't know really almost anything that explains anything about this plane.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION SPECIALIST: It's like the cops saying nothing to see here, people. Move along.
MORGAN: Right, right.
O'BRIEN: These are conclusions without any evidence to support them, the cart before the horse. And the cart is empty. You can't just come out with these statements, especially for families, especially for the families. And you know these -- flight crew has families, too. Let's not forget that. And they are grieving as well. And what a horrible thing to impugn them without any evidence whatsoever. So, you know, I think there's a sense in the inside this investigation if we just say a few things it will all go away. That's not happening.
MORGAN: Yeah, I completely agree. Let's take a short break. Come back and get Mary Schiavo's reaction to all this after the break and get further into these new developments and the investigation into missing Flight 370.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the beginning, they just hide everything. And I don't think that this kind of government, a liar and even a murderer, can solve anything.
MORGAN: Flight 370 has been missing now for maybe three weeks. And we still have more questions than answers. My experts are standing by tonight digging into all these developments. Meanwhile, family members are clinging to hope and demanding answers.
CNN's David McKenzie is in Beijing with more. David, tell me what is going on there now. Because the anger isn't going away. The questions are not being answered. What is the mood like over there?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mood is frustrating and, of course, angering for these family members. They've wanted answers for all these days, all these weeks now. And they don't believe that the Malaysian Airlines and Malaysian authorities are giving those answers to them.
I was at a meeting for several hours between those authorities and hundreds of family members. They were asking very pointed questions to the Malaysians: where is the evidence? Where's the debris? How can we believe you?
The authorities kept on citing the information from Inmarsat but not really giving their own opinion during that meeting. And that sort of riled the nerves a little bit here in Beijing.
As we saw those protests earlier this week, the family members here, they are expecting potentially the worst, but they don't want to give up hope at this stage. Because for them, they want to see something. Seeing is believing. And all these new leads and speculation is not always helpful for those family members who are just raw with emotion at this time.
David McKenzie, thank you very much. I have got one of those family members now. Steven Wang's mother was on board Flight 370. He's one of the family members demanding answers. He says everything he's heard so far is just theory and analysis. And Steve Wang joins me live from Beijing.
Mr. Wang, thank you very much, indeed, for joining me. And first of all let me extend my very deepest sympathies to you and your family and all the families for what is going on here.
Let me ask you straight away, you were supposed to pick up your mother from the airport. You brought her a coat because it had grown cold in Beijing. You were looking forward to seeing your mom; you're an only child. And you haven't seen your mother. She never came back
STEVE WANG, SON OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: Yes.
MORGAN: Do you feel in your heart that your mother could possibly still be alive?
WANG: Well, I hope so. I know that the possibility is little. But I still have hope.
MORGAN: Do you believe what you're be being told by the Malaysian authorities?
WANG: I think what we are told is just a theory. And they even do not know how to -- it came out as something like that. They just read the reports. And there's no evidence, no pieces from the plane, no any other things that could make us trust the results. So we don't believe it.
MORGAN: There was a lot of concern, Steven, about the fact that many families heard of the news from the Malaysian prime minister that he believed the plane had gone into the ocean and that there were no survivors via text message. How did you hear the news? And what did you think of the methods of communication?
WANG: Well, I think it's irresponsible action. Because they've just received the report in the morning, and they -- they want to give it out in such a hurry. So I think it is irresponsible and once more they sent a message to all of the relatives in English. You know, some of the relatives do not know English. So I think it is not good.
MORGAN: There's a lot of anger from the families. We see these harrowing images every day. The anger I guess is because there's no resolution to this. Tell me how you feel about the investigation itself. Do you believe enough is being done to try and get to the bottom of what happened?
WANG: Well, I think that there must be something that was hidden by the Malaysian government. I think that it will come out some days later.
MORGAN: Steven, tell me about your mother. What kind of woman was your mother?
WANG: Well, she's an optimistic lady. She liked to travel. She is a nice person.
MORGAN: You're an only child. How's your father bearing up with all this?
WANG: Well, he is now also waiting for the truth. He is now coming back home. He feels it is not very comfortable (ph) to be at the hotel. So I'm waiting at the hotel and my father is waiting at home.
MORGAN: Malaysia Airlines, we believe, have offered family members financial support of about $5,000 for each of the passengers. Does that make any difference to you? Is there any kind of comfort? Do you need that money as a family? Do you know about other families' needs?
WANG: Well, to most of the family, OK, some of the family may need some money for emergency use. But most of the family they don't care about how much money you give us. We just want the truth, and we just want our relatives back. That is the most important thing.
MORGAN: It's obviously, Steven, an agonizing time for you and your family and all these families. It's almost a nightmare scenario where people keep trying to say what they believe happened, but nobody really knows. What is the constant speculation doing to you? What kind of effect does it have on you and your family?
WANG: I'm sorry?
MORGAN: I was just asking --
WANG: I can't --
MORGAN: -- how much more -- can you hear me, Steven, now?
WANG: Uh-huh. Yeah, yeah.
MORGAN: I was just asking, obviously because nobody knows enough answers here. Nobody knows really what has happened.
MORGAN: The constant speculation I would imagine is very difficult for you.
MORGAN: But at the same time, do you believe that people should keep asking questions, hopeful that we may get to some truth?
WANG: Yes, we hope that we will get the truth. And I think we may ask for more people to help us. Because we are just, you know, normal people. And we don't know too much about laws. We don't know too much about the aircraft or something like that. But we need more people to help us.
MORGAN: Your T-shirt, Steven, has a slogan in Chinese. Can you tell me what it says?
WANG: Well, it is for pray for MH 370 back safely. MORGAN: Well listen, as I say, my heart goes out to you and your family, to all the families. I hope and pray that you get some good news. Obviously, it looks unlikely, but we can only pray. And I thank you very much indeed for joining me tonight.
WANG: Yes, thanks.
MORGAN: When we come back, more new details on the investigation into the mystery of Flight 370. Get my experts to weigh in on key questions: what have we learned about the cockpit? What have investigators learned about the plot?
MORGAN: All questions about Flight 370 really come down to this, what happened in the cockpit?
Well, joining me now, a man who has lots of experience in that area. Les Abend is a 777 captain with 29 years of flying experience. Also, Mary Schiavo, Miles O'Brien and David Soucie. Welcome to all of you.
Les Abend, I want to get to you. Because you were just talking to David there on the break about quite an interesting new thought process I think about an established thing, which is if the plane flew at 12,000 feet, the presumption has been that they would have burned off too much fuel too quickly to have got to where the site is. But you now believe it would have been possible.
LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Exactly, exactly right, Piers. I looked at the numbers. And just my experience in flying jet airplanes, I said there's just no way. But I looked at the numbers and confirmed it with a really good Boeing source. And this gentleman came back and said, "I see what you see, and it's very possible."
MORGAN: And David, you've had the same conversations with people, which also suggests this could have been possible, this plane could have been flying at 12,000 feet and ended up (INAUDIBLE)
SOUCIE: (INAUDIBLE) the other night. And I also independently confirmed his numbers were correct and that -- it is possible .
MORGAN: OK, Mary Schiavo, taking that into account, and taking into account the renewed focus now on the pilot and co-pilot, obviously we have to make it absolutely clear that they may be completely innocent of any malicious wrongdoing at all. They might, in fact, be heroes trying to save this plane. And we have to make that loud and clear regularly.
But at the same time, the investigation obviously is going to be focused on them until we know more about this. What do you think of these developments in relation to the pilot and co-pilot potentially?
MARY SCHIAVO, FMR INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DOT: Well, I think the investigators are making a big mistake, and they're making a big mistake in police and investigation work. I was a federal prosecutor before I was an inspector general. And among the many things I learned doing that is that you don't announce your conclusion. You don't announce that somebody's guilty, particularly with no evidence as we have here for two reasons among others.
One is that the persons depending on your investigations, the victims of the crime, won't trust the investigation. You've announced your conclusion without any evidence. And so they say, well, what else are you announcing?
And the other problem with that is a phenomenon called belief persistence. And that is that once you announce your conclusion in an investigation, you will try to make all the pieces fit that. And it's a very common thing that happens and it accounts for a lot of wrongful convictions.
So I think they're making a mistake because now people will not assume that they're going to be objective and that they're not going to follow all leads such as the one that Les just mentioned, which sounds pretty plausible.
And Miles O'Brien, I mean, that seems to me a clear potential pitfall of all this, making a narrative fit a potentially small piece of information that could be construed in many different ways.
I mean, talking about the pilot himself, interesting to me is the co- pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid. He was on his first flight as a fully approved pilot for the Boeing 777. We also know from talking to passengers on a few of his earlier flights a few years ago that he had a habit of letting random passengers come into the cockpit. Are either of these things significant at all? Should we give them any credence in casting any aspersions?
O'BRIEN: Well, you know, clearly that's a violation of the rules. You don't want to allow young women into a cockpit. A 27-year-old pilot allowing some women in the cockpit, you know, in the history of aviation, I can tell you that was not unprecedented.
And I can tell you also that has nothing to do with what happened on March 8th at all. And just as the phone call, which supposedly the captain made and now we say maybe he didn't or the simulator that he flew, all these things are completely irrelevant to the investigation. And these dribs and drabs come out and they're said in a fashion that makes it sound like they're incriminating, but they aren't.
Let's not forget that. And really, frankly, nothing can be ruled out now. Most every scenario you come up with you can run it through. Some of them, more plausible than others. And frankly, the crew being responsible for this is a very plausible scenario, but one of many that are still possible.
MORGAN: OK, let me go to Les Abend. You are the pilot here. You fly 777s. Paint for me a picture where if the pilot, as some people suspect, took this plane off for whatever reason, what happened? In other words, is it possible that he could have shut down all communication, turned off the transponders, the ACARS system, et cetera? Could he have done all that on his own if he had knocked out the co-pilot, example and taken this plane off in the way that we now know potentially ended up in this area? Is that feasible?
ABEND: Well, Of course he could have disabled various systems. But to completely shut off the ACARS, he would have had to go back into the electronics in the engineering compartment that's eight feet behind the cockpit and down below the galley and basically vacate the -- the evidence is such that that ACAR system, at least, was being pinged by the satellite. So he would have had to disabled that, too.
It just -- it just seems so implausible to me.
MORGAN: You must be talking to pilots all the time about this. I mean, I'm talking to random people in the street about this. Everyone's obsessed with it for one reason, the mystery remains a mystery. When you talk to pilots, experienced, long service pilots, what is the general feeling you're now getting about what they think is the most likely scenario here?
ABEND: Most of them kind of align with my malfunction theory and with the fuel issue we just brought up where it is plausible that it could have gone a certain distance toward the search area.
MORGAN: What malfunction, Les, would have happened that could have caused all the things we believe happened?
ABEND: The one -- and it's a great question -- the one malfunction that I've been kind of touting, and granted, it's all speculation and anything's open for grabs. I could be totally wrong. I could fall on my sword here. But the one I've been going with is the potential for a smoldering fire that became insidious with smoke. They smelled something at first. When you fly airplanes long enough you know if the gals have burned something in the ovens so you don't really make much of it for awhile. Then when it gets worse and worse, then you realize it's time to put on your oxygen mask and then it's time to divert the airplane because now we have a serious problem.
So things started to shut down in that avionics bay. And as it started to shut down, they were dealing with a confusing situation with putting on oxygen masks, goggles, breathing through a pressurized system, under stress, trying to communicate the best they could with themselves, with air traffic control that may not have been able to answer in that particular area. And they became overcome. And that's my basic premise.
MORGAN: And, David, you've talked before about the lithium battery potential involvement of this. That would also tally with this. I have read a lot of pieces by pilots, theorizing in a similar way that the most likely -- if it's not some form of hijack, the most likely mechanical failure that explains all this would be a fire.
SOUCIE: Absolutely. And when you go back to the lithium, you also have fumes. You have hydrogen sulphite. You have sulphuric acid in the air, both of which would be in the air, being inhaled. That stuff damages lungs and quickly.
MORGAN: Les, we want to (INAUDIBLE) you. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. When we come back, the rest of the panel will stay with me, I want to talk about what's being called the best lead yet in the mystery of this Flight 370. 122 objects floating in the Indian Ocean and the search is going on right now to try and locate them.
MORGAN: Planes from Australia, Japan, China and the U.S. are closing in on the search area in the southern Indian Ocean looking for those mysterious 122 objects that showed up on satellite images on Sunday. Is this the break everyone's been waiting for?
Joining me now captain Tim Taylor, an accomplished ocean explorer, president of the Tiburon Sub Sea Services. Back with me is Mary Schiavo, Miles O'Brien and David Soucie. Captain Taylor, bring you in here. We've had a lot of images in the last week or so. These do seem to be the most significant given the volume, 120 of them, the fact that many were quite shiny and so on. What did you read into the details that you've seen?
CAPT. TIM TAYLOR, PRESIDENT, TIBURON SUB SEA SERVICES: What I read into these is if -- again, this is all if they can find an item that these is a piece out of the plane. So assuming they are wreckage from Flight 370, these satellite images just became our biggest clues, because we have multiple images from multiple days from multiple countries. And if the resolution that they have can be shared, even if it's not public knowledge, and we can identify them as the exact same pieces, we now have data to plug into a drift model to follow it back.
MORGAN: What people say to me is, if there's all these satellite images everywhere -- we've had them from the Chinese, the Australians, the French now -- why can't we just go and get them? What is the explanation for that?
TAYLOR: It's a big ocean and they're moving parts, and there's 30, 40-foot seas and winds. And they get out there and they find them with a plane and they send a boat out and it takes two day to get there. Then they move and it's rough and they have to run and hide from a hurricane. It's an extremely daunting task to find them.
MORGAN: I also in London lived by the River Thames for a few years. And the amount of stuff that used to just wash past every day, and that's not a big busy ocean. It was quite a calm river. That also must be a possibility; this could just be anything drifting around.
TAYLOR: It could be anything. And there are trash piles out there in every ocean since plastic was really introduced as these giant 900- fold increase in trash out there. So this could be a trash pile in the circulating currents of the ocean. But it's the only lead we have and it's a lead that has to be chased. And if it can be IDed as parts of the plane, all these objects are extremely valuable.
MORGAN: Mary Schiavo, you've been involved obviously in investigating stuff like this. Do you see this as potentially the key lead?
SCHIAVO: Well, I see it as one of two key leads. I was most intrigued today about the final additional partial ping. I know that doesn't sound like much but that is also a source of information where, when the sonar scanners and the submersibles and all the equipment to find the pingers finally arrive, that would be a place that you would logically want to send them because the black boxes and the heavier parts of the plane would not have floated away. So the sightings along with this partial ping, and as I say, I'm really intrigued with the partial ping because that's where I would send the black box equipment to find it.
MORGAN: David Soucie, where is it going with this? Are we waiting for these planes, the rescue boats and so on, to find these pieces? Without those could we have a situation where we never discover what has happened here?
SOUCIE: Everybody talks about this deadline on the batteries, that you've got seven more days to find it --
MORGAN: Is that true?
SOUCIE: To me it's not. I spoke with some mechanics today. And this one gentleman had been in an audit situation; he had gone up and audited Malaysia Airlines. What he found was the pinger batteries, which are replaced during in the sea check every 1,000 hours, were stored in a hot closet. It's 120 degrees in there. It's humid. Remember, these are water-sensing devices. They need to be stored in dry, room temperature or refrigerated, so when they're replaced they know that they're functional. They know the batteries have been working all this time.
But we don't know that now because he said that they found them that way. They did take those batteries, retire them. This was a couple of years ago. They retired those batteries, put new batteries into the refrigerator. But since then he's been back and he says that it's a very lax practice. He sees those batteries --
MORGAN: So what does that mean?
SOUCIE: Well, what that means is these could behalf life batteries.
MORGAN: So they could have already expired.
MORGAN: And if that is the case, what does that mean for the investigation?
SOUCIE: Now we're down to just a visual inspection like we did with Flight 447. If you remember with Flight 447, in the first few days, they had the tow fish, the tow machine coming around, what's it called?
TAYLOR: The hydrophone. SOUCIE: Yes. And so it's listening for the ping. They went over this area and they excluded it. They said, well, this area is no longer valid. So then the rest of the year -- they had to wait a whole another year to start it again. Then they finally realized, if they're not on, we need to go back and look where we did before. It wasted a lot of time.
MORGAN: Miles O'Brien, what do you think? I mean, you've covered many of these things over the years. From all that has happened in the last three weeks, do you think we've got much time left to actually find this black box and get to the bottom of this?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's going to take a little bit of luck to say the least. The weather is worsening there and it's difficult, as everybody has said, to find these pieces. You see a satellite image, it looks intriguing. A couple of days pass. You might get an over flight and then a few more days pass before you can get a ship there. And take a look at the seas there. That's a pretty calm day on the Southern Ocean. Maybe not too calm.
But the point is it's going to take a lot of things lining up. That last half handshake from the aircraft is an important thing. That will get you not to the haystack but maybe the farm. Some drift models and some debris, you might be able to reverse engineer and get to the site. But it's still an awfully big ocean, and without that pinging noise, it's all going to rely on visual inspections, which is a very laborious process. All of this is coming up; we're coming up on winter. So this might be a mystery that will endure for quite some time.
MORGAN: Captain Taylor, just in practical terms, we've got these satellite images from Sunday. So we're now Wednesday night, Thursday morning, is that right, in Perth. So four days later. Given the rugged conditions of the ocean in that time, so difficult couldn't even go up on two of the days, how far could this stuff have physically moved?
TAYLOR: That's the big question.
MORGAN: I mean, a mile, ten miles, 100 miles?
TAYLOR: Easily three miles a day. Three knots an hour, OK, so that could be 70 miles a day, 100 miles a day.
MORGAN: In any direction really? Or could they tell the direction it would likely have moved?
TAYLOR: My understanding they're already on-site and they're dropping beacons or buoys that can actually measure the current and the drift. So with that knowledge, they should be able to tell that. They're not sharing that with anybody that I know of or I can find. So their knowledge of how fast the currents go should be in their database right now. If they aren't collecting that, I would find it impossible they're not trying to collect as much in-location data that they can while they're out there so they can plug it into something. MORGAN: Captain Tim Taylor, thank you very much for joining us. We'll let you go now. The rest of my panel will stay with me. When we come back, the families are outraged after almost three weeks of no definitive word on their loved ones. I spoke with a very heartrending young man who lost his mother on this flight, doesn't know what happened. Will legal action, though, help him get answers? We'll get to that after the break.
MORGAN: The families of Flight 370 enduring a horrible ordeal with no definite word on their loved ones after nearly three weeks. Will legal action help them get answers? Joining me Steven Marks, an aviation attorney representing families of Air France Flight 447. And back with me, Mary Schiavo, Miles O'Brien and David Soucie.
Steven Marks, you've been through a very similar disaster, France 447. Took them two years to find the black box in that case. You won lots of money for the families there. Before I get your reaction to this development today, I want to play you a clip from my earlier interview with Steven Wang whose mother was on board when I put to him whether it would be helpful, this $5,000 offer that's been made to families so far. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE WANG, MOTHER WAS ON FLIGHT 370: Most of the families, OK, some of the families may need some money for emergency use. But most of the families, they don't care about how much money you give us. We just want the truth and we just want our relatives back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Steve Wang there, clearly, he cares more about getting his mother back. I'm sure every family would say that right now. But how important, in your experience, is the financial and legal aspect when this kind of tragedy happens?
STEVEN MARKS, AVIATION ATTORNEY, PODHURST ORSECK: Well, the financial aspects of the case come over time. What the families really need at this point are some honest answers and some truth because they want to find out what happened to their loved ones. And, unfortunately, thus far, they have a lot of reasons to have doubts with the information.
Sometimes it takes years. I've heard earlier that there are still people who are insisting that some of these other crashes such as SilkAir was an intentional act, a suicide, when in fact we proved years later that it was a 737 tail rudder. And it takes years to really find the truth. But eventually we are able to find the truth. It does come out. And we'll be able to prove that. Compensation will come in due course.
MORGAN: Let me ask just quickly, if, for example, we take the theory of a pilot or copilot taking this plane off nefariously, who is culpable for that legally? Is it the airline? Is it Boeing? Is it all of them? Who takes responsibility? MARKS: Well, clearly it's the airline, because under the Montreal Treaty, the airline has automatic liability. That doesn't prevent other people from also sharing responsibility. There could be independent crew companies that have provided the crew that didn't do proper background checks. There may have been some other person involved with assisting the crew to do this. So it doesn't end the question of who else might be involved. Whether or not that manufacturer is involved, that's a more difficult question and hopefully we will get some answers from the black boxes as to what exactly transpired.
But I think it's very, very premature, and even somewhat reckless, to say to these families that in fact their loved ones were the result of murder as opposed to an accident. It's a very different type of feeling. It hurts the families tremendously to hear that without any proof.
MORGAN: Having said that, David Soucie, we just don't know either way, do we? Can we rule out a bomb, an explosion on board? I mean, someone tweeted me just now, it's an interesting point, about the fire on board. If there had been a fire, how could a plane that has a fire ripping through it carry on flying for hours on end? It doesn't seem feasible.
SOUCIE: These airplanes are made to withstand a lot. Look at the Aloha accident. When that top of that airplane came off, it flew for plenty of time. It had plenty of time to go land and it landed safely.
MORGAN: So it could have a raging fire on board for six hours?
SOUCIE: Well, in that case, it could. That's why smoke is more likely than fire.
MORGAN: And is a bomb ruled out at this stage, and if so, why?
SOUCIE: It would. A bomb of any kind of size that would take that aircraft down is out of the question in my mind.
MORGAN: Mary Schiavo, you want to jump in here?
SCHIAVO: Yes, sure. Well, the fire, you could have a fire and it would be put out, because in these planes, they're wide bodied aircraft and they have fire detection and suppression systems in the cargo holds. And so depending upon where the fire is, and this was the result of ValuJet Flight 592 -- the families pushed to get fire suppression in cargo holds. So it's possible that the airplane itself can deal with a fire or attempt to put the fire out through the fire suppression system.
MORGAN: Miles O'Brien, from all this you've seen here, can we eliminate a bomb?
O'BRIEN: No, I don't think so. What about a -- I'm talking about maybe a small bomb that was aimed at the front of the airplane, sort of a decapitation type effort, something that was aimed at that E&E clost where the electronics and the avionics are. That would explain an awful lot. What if it maybe exploded and it was either a small hole or didn't even breach the skin of the airplane, but caused massive failures of the electronics system? That's -- if a terrorist wanted to save on the size of the bomb, you could take a plane down and do a lot of harm with a lot smaller bomb than you would if you're trying to blow up the fuel tanks.
MORGAN: Miles, let me ask you, I mean, in all the time you've been covering aviation, have you ever encountered a story quite like this?
O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, somebody was talking in my ear, Piers. Can you repeat the question please?
MORGAN: Just in all your experience, have you ever encountered a story quite like this?
O'BRIEN: No, this one would be hard to make up and turn it into a treatment (INAUDIBLE). People would say it's implausible. You cannot make this stuff up.
MORGAN: David Soucie, clearly huge pressure remains on all the people involved in this investigation. A lot of countries now are putting lots of effort and resources into this. But we know from the Air France 447 it can take years to resolve. This story has a kind of momentum of its own at the moment. But is there going to be a moment when people get on with their lives and leave the investigators to it?
SOUCIE: There's still people looking for planes that went down 100 years ago. So I don't think it will ever go away by itself unless we find something, unless we have something tangible for these families to look at and understand and start to accept what's going on. But no, I don't think it's going to go away for a long time. Even after it's solved, there will still be theories and speculation about other kinds of things that might have been the problem.
MORGAN: Steven Marks, I asked you earlier about if it was a pilot who had taken it off deliberately. If it was a mechanical failure, does the onus move back to Boeing, to people involved in the engineering of the airplane, rather than the airline? What is the normal position of responsibility in that scenario?
MARKS: Well, the airline's liability would still be governed by treaty. If in fact Boeing had some responsibility, that would be a case of manufacturing defect, whether it could be design or manufacturing. That case could proceed most probably in the United States where the jury system would allow, and the discovery process would allow us to get all of the documentation, evidence, and we would be able to reconstruct everything that happened hopefully. That would probably require some of the wreckage to be uncovered as well as the black boxes. But we've reconstructed accidents with very little information. It just takes a lot of hard work.
MORGAN: Steven Marks and Mary Schiavo, we're going to thank you both and let you both go. David Soucie and Miles O'Brien, stay with me. We're going to take a short final summary of where we are with this after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MORGAN: Back with Miles O'Brien and David Soucie. A question lots of people have been asking -- is coverage like CNN's, is it overdoing it in terms of theorizing and speculation? What do you say, David?
SOUCIE: In an accident investigation, it's a critical part to come up with theories. Especially right now when we don't have anything. We don't have anything tangible. We don't have something to say, hey, yes --
MORGAN: Why is it critical?
SOUCIE: Because we don't know where that airplane is and we need to find out why. If you take one theory, the airplane would be where we're looking at right now. If you take another theory, where there was nefarious attempt, they're trying to avoid radars, the airplane could be somewhere else. If you say it was -- whatever it is, you've got to use these theories, weigh them against the facts so you know which one to go to.
MORGAN: Miles O'Brien, do you agree with that, that actually there's no such thing as a bad theory, bad speculation, in this kind of situation?
O'BRIEN: Speculations frame the discussion, ultimately frame the investigation. I hope the investigators are not ruling out any speculation, frankly.
MORGAN: David Soucie and Miles O'Brien, thank you both very much indeed. I think the speculation is extremely helpful to potentially solving some of the issues and questions behind all this. It remains just an extraordinary mystery.
That's all for us tonight. CNN's SPECIAL REPORT, "THE MYSTER OF FLIGHT 370" with Don Lemon starts right now.