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Search for Malaysian Flight 370

Aired March 28, 2014 - 05:30   ET


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: Ongoing, we continue to focus our efforts on caring for the families. In Cabinet this morning, we discussed the importance of continuing to support the relatives of the passengers and the crew.

On Monday, the prime minister announced that based on new data analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH-370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth. On Tuesday, I confirmed that further study of this data will be undertaken to attempt to determine the final position of the aircraft.

The Malaysian investigation team set up an international working group, comprising of agencies with expertise in satellite communications and aircraft performance to take this work forward. The international working group included representatives from the UK, Inmarsat, AAIB and Rolls Royce. From China, namely CCAC and AAID, and from the U.S., namely NTSB, FAA and Boeing, as well as the relevant Malaysian authorities.

The group has been working to refine the Inmarsat data and to analyze it. Together with other information, including radar data and aircraft performance assumptions to narrow further the search area. Information which had already been examined by the investigation was re-examined in light of new evidence drawn from the Inmarsat data analysis.

In addition, international partners who continue to process data in their home countries as well -- as well as in the international working group, have further refined existing data. They have also come up with new technical information, for example, on aircraft performance. Yesterday, this processed in new results, which indicated that MH-370 flew at a higher speed than previously thought, which in turn means it used more fuel and could not travel as far.

This information was passed to RCC Australia by the NTSB to help further refine and narrow the search area. The Australian authorities have indicated that they have shifted the search area approximately 1,100 kilometers to the northeast. Because of ocean drift, this new search area could still be consistent with the potential objects identified by various satellite images over the past week.

This work is ongoing and we can expect further refinements. As the -- as the Australian authorities indicated this morning, this is standard practice in a search operation. It is a process of continually refining data, which, in turn, further narrows the search area. With each step, we get closer to understanding MH-370's flight path.

Searches must be conducted on the best information available at the time. And in the search for MH-370, we have consistently followed the evidence and acted on credible leads. Our search-and-rescue efforts have been directed by very refined and corroborated information and this is no different.

Last night, Japanese authorities announced they had satellite images which showed a number of floating objects approximately 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth. Early this morning, we received separate satellite imagery from the Thai authorities, which also showed potential objects.

These new satellite images joined those released by Australia, by China, by France and Malaysia, all of which are with RCC Australia. The range of potential objects and the difficulty in re-identifying them shows just how complex this investigation is. We remain grateful to all our partners for continuing to assist in the search operations.

Ladies and gentlemen, the new search area, approximately 1,680 kilometers west of Perth, remains in the Australian area of responsibility. Australia continues to lead the search efforts in this new area, and Australian Maritime Safety Authority gave a comprehensive operational update earlier today. As more information emerges, they will be issuing frequent operational updates, including on assets deployment.

I would like to echo the statements that the new search area, although more focused than before, remains considerable, and that the search conditions, although easier than before, remain challenging.

For the families of those on board, we pray that further processing of data and further progress in the search itself brings us closer to finding MH-370. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, ladies and gentlemen, for Q&A session, we will start from this side, please. Front. Yes, please. Thank you. Please, could you stand up?


HARLOW: We are going to monitor this press conference. The Q&A, as you can hear, not in English there, but we'll monitor it and bring you any more significant developments. But just to recap here --

ROMANS: The headline, I think, is that -- you know, he says the new search area is more focused, but it's still considerable. He says conditions --

HARLOW: And still challenging.

ROMANS: Condition are better, but it's still challenging, and that's the key here. They've been processing the data. They've been refining the data. He's trying to explain why it's a new search and why things have been changing.


ROMANS: Processing and refining the data, but new technical information on the aircraft performance.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: How fast it was flying, how much fuel it was using, has caused them to change the search area.

HARLOW: And what they said is they have further refined technical data, so this is data that they have ostensibly had for weeks, but they are looking closer and closer and closer at it, as only they can with time, saying they reassessed the information, the Inmarsat, that satellite data showing them that this plane actually traveled faster than originally thought, therefore, did not go as far south into the Indian Ocean as they thought.

And therefore, they believe it is in an area 680 miles away from the originally thought area, so in that red box you're seeing on your screen, which is a little bit closer to land, to Australia, which is the only silver lining here, because it gives those search planes less travel time to the significant area and more time to look in it for any signs of possible debris.

ROMANS: Let's -- before we go to Andrew Stevens in Perth, I just want to listen real quickly here.


ROMANS: And see what they're saying in this press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the Boeing team in Seattle, Washington state. And they have looked at the records of the aircraft since the aircraft took off. And from that particular record, they have come up with the speed of the aircraft higher than what we -- they have done before, we have done before. Therefore, the aircraft would not be as far as what we (INAUDIBLE) to be and is only about the northern side of the areas of the satellite sightings of the objects.

And these are very, very -- a lot of work done by Boeing, together with NTSB and our working team in Malaysia, and that's the reason why they point out to the areas they are setting today. And the complexity of the objects, if we find it, if the aircraft are able to see the objects and able to be picked up by the ships, then it is easier for all of us. But unfortunately, the objects sighted by the satellite are unable to be verified by the aircraft and also by the ships that are searching for them in those areas that are identified by the satellites.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Second. First one, yes. Thank you.

ROMANS: OK, so, we've been listening to this press conference, this has been part of the routine of the past three weeks at -- most days at 5:30 Eastern Time, in the evening there. They have this press conference with -- Boeing, Malaysia Airlines and others.

Now one thing that Poppy and I were noting about that he said that was so interesting to us.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: The ocean drift indicates that previous satellite images that we've been telling you about over the past few days may still be consistent with this new search area, this new search area 700 miles to the north and slightly west than it was before.

HARLOW: Meaning they may be something, that they may have -- when they took those images, they were in a different location, and possibly, right, those images are now there in the red box area. But remember, we do not have any satellite images of this new search area, which is in that red box, which is -- just checking the numbers here -- 319,000 square kilometers big.

To give you a sense still of what we're talking about, I want to bring in Andrew Stevens, live for us in Perth, Australia.

Talking about the magnitude of this, first your assessment of what you heard in that press conference, if you could hear it. And then also, the fact that as you've said throughout the morning, we're still dealing with a search area still the size of Poland.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It is still an enormous -- it's 120,000 square miles, Poppy. And you two were right, I think, to pick up on the fact that what the minister was saying is that these earlier satellite images that we have been talking about from the southern zone may actually still be these same objects, which may have drifted into this new area.

So they're looking at ocean drifts. I think that's critical because that keeps some dots, what few dots we have, joined together, that what was identified before as potential objects, suspicious objects, as I've been calling them, are actually still in the frame here. They may have drifted. That's why they haven't been picked up since they were spotted by the satellites. They may have drifted into or towards, at least, this new search zone.

The other point about this is that the minister reaffirming that what this new zone is -- why it was set up, it's nothing to do really with new information, it's all about drilling down, mining the existing information they have, talking to Boeing, getting more specifics on the -- on the performance of that plane and also talking about what else could be used to help that plane.

Now, if you look at the area, it's huge. There are planes now over that zone, Poppy. There are 10 aircraft there. There's one search ship also. It's actually a smaller craft. It's a Chinese craft, which is actually on site now. The bulk of the vessels which are going to that area, which are being redeployed from the southern end are expected to start arriving by tomorrow.

So there's going to be a bit of a gap there. Satellites are also being now re-tasked to look at that area, as yet at this hour, it's now 5:45 p.m. here. Planes are now returning. We haven't heard anything of interest as far as objects are being spotted.

ROMANS: You know, it's so interesting, too, you know, Boeing, a big part of this, obviously, because Boeing made this aircraft, right? So it wants to find out exactly what happened, and it has all of this technical ability to be able to do analysis of the performance of aircraft under different situations.

You have Malaysian airlines, you have the Malaysian government, you have the Chinese government, the American government, the Australian government.

HARLOW: So many.

ROMANS: It's remarkable to me how much different information is coming from so many different places, and to try to distill it so that they can be coordinated in this effort, it really is remarkable, isn't it?

STEVENS: It is. It's extraordinary, if you think about that list. The NTSB's involved. So many government agencies from so many countries are now involved, dealing with so much sensitive information as well. A lot of these images coming to them from radar, from military radar, and countries don't likely give up their radar images, which could suggest what their radar capabilities are very likely. So this is an international cooperation.

Think about it. There is a Chinese search aircraft and Japanese search aircraft being coordinated by the Australians, working together, effectively, to find a Malaysian plane. There are many, many tensions, regional tensions, in this -- in the Asian part of the world. The Japanese and the Chinese obviously taking the headlines at the moment. But the whole South China Sea, there are a lot of tensions about ownership, territorial rights there, which involve Malaysia, which involve many other countries.

So to have this sort of cooperation is probably unprecedented, to be honest, to say that. To see the operations going the way they are.

ROMANS: Putting the territorial disputes to rest for the near term --


ROMANS: Finish your thought.

STEVENS: Sorry, go on.

ROMANS: I was going to say, putting the territorial disputes to rest is something that even a few months ago you couldn't have sort of imagined.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: But in tragedy and trying to solve it, certainly putting -- certainly putting the right priorities, the priorities of the family first and foremost.


ROMANS: Thank you so much, Andrew.

HARLOW: Yes, Andrew, thank you.

And you know, just the headline again here. They said that some of that debris that was spotted in satellites over the last, say, seven days or so, could have drifted because of the ocean drifts to that new search area, as Andrew said, possibly, possibly connecting the few dots we have here.

We'll be right back.


ROMANS: Breaking news of a dramatic shift in the search for Flight 370. A new patch of the Indian Ocean, it is 680 miles away from where they had been searching just a couple of days ago. And now officials say this is based on new credible lead.

HARLOW: All right, joining us from London now, former pilot and aviation consultant Alastair Rosenschein.

You've been with us for the past few days, sir, giving us really good insight. I just wanted -- and let me know if you didn't hear this, the news that we just got in from the press conference here, but they are -- they are talking about that new search area, the red zone, if we can, show it on the screen of what we're talking about.

ROMANS: A new target area, really.

HARLOW: And a new target area here, but they're also saying that that search area could be consistent with the debris spotted elsewhere, about 680 miles away from the satellite images. What do you make of this new news, now that we know, according to radar information, that this plane was traveling faster than originally thought, and therefore, would have run out of fuel more quickly?

ALASTAIR ROSENSCHEIN, FORMER BRITISH AIRWAYS PILOT: Well, you're quite right. If an aircraft departs from its optimum speed and altitude, it will, indeed, burn more fuel, and therefore fly a shorter distance. But look, I don't want to throw span in the works here, but there should be -- all along there must be two search areas, one for floating debris, which is proof that the aircraft -- that this is actually the aircraft, and the other one, of course, is for the flight director and cockpit voice recorder, which are the real -- the real discovery here because that will give a very, very good clue, if not a perfect explanation as to what happened here.

The floating debris can give -- if they find bits of the aircraft floating, they'll be able to discover whether there's any smoke damage, an explosive damage, or you know, other breakup of the aircraft, other than when it hit the water. But the real clues will always remain with those black boxes. ROMANS: Right.

ROSENSCHEIN: And so there must be two search areas.

ROMANS: So if you find debris, you can work backwards as well. You look at the currents, the eddies, the speed, the time that's passed. You look at -- you try to figure out where then you can pinpoint where that plane may have gone down. The search area that they're now looking for, that target area, still, as Andrew Stevens has reported, the size of Poland.

If you're talking about, you know, hydrophones trying to pick up sounds, you know, still, that is a very large search area, very difficult as time runs out to try to find that data that's so critical.

ROSENSCHEIN: Well, the radio beacon from the flight director has about a range of 10 kilometers, but without that beacon, you're looking for something the size of a shoe box on the ocean floor. So, quite frankly, it's much better to go and look for it now and not waste time. And I'm sure they are looking for it now, than to wait until the transmitter has ceased to function.

Once that happens, it's going to be really, really difficult to find, and they may never find these flight recorders. There is also, the Malaysian authorities have been saying that this may have been a deliberate act, in which case, even when they find them, it's possible, just possible, they might have been disabled.

ROMANS: Do you still think this is a -- this is a deliberate act? That you personally have said you think it's human activity here.

ROSENSCHEIN: Look, to be frank, you know, one cannot know. I originally suspected that it was a double pilot incapacitation. In other words, there's no one controlling the aircraft because they passed out, presumably because of hypoxia or something similar, but it could equally be a hijacking, or, you know, perhaps a suicide. I mean, you know, one cannot know, and you know, it is a crystal ball.

But, you know, the more data you get, the more you can refine, you know, rule out certain things and then leave in what it may be. But you know, speculation is essential in order to try to find the aircraft in the first place.

ROMANS: Good point.

ROSENSCHEIN: Without that, where does one start?

ROMANS: Alastair Rosenschein, thank you so much.

HARLOW: We appreciate it.

Let's go to -- let's go to Jennifer Gray now, because she's in for Indra Petersons. She's been looking at the weather over the search area.

Tell us -- you heard that -- heard the headlines from that press conference.


HARLOW: Talking about the fact that the debris that was -- possible debris that was sighted spotted over the last weeks or so in the satellite images could be consistent still with this new search area? What do you make of that, given what you know about the currents there and the weather patterns?

GRAY: Well, the currents where they're talking about the new search area being definitely far less fierce than what we were talking about with the ACC, that very strong current we've been talking about going west-to-east. It's a long way to drift, but that is a very wild ocean, and so, it is possible.

I think it's much better if the plane did go down in the new search area box. I think it will be much easier for folks to get out there and to search not only above the ocean but under the ocean. So it is going to be definitely positive.

HARLOW: And debris could have floated -- so we're clear here, and maybe we can -- so what people are looking at, that red box, if they're saying that in that 390,000 kilometer area --

ROMANS: If the plane went down there --

HARLOW: If it went down there, would it be consistent with the currents that the debris would have -- could have drifted to the green area where those satellite images were taken?

GRAY: It could have. There's really not a dominating current right there. So you're basically just relying on winds, relying on storms, relying small eddies. It's more of a drifting than something actually shoving it in that direction. So it is possible. It is a long way.

ROMANS: Right.

GRAY: But definitely it's not impossible.

ROMANS: And they haven't found anything.

Thank you, Jennifer Gray.

HARLOW: Yes, thanks, Jennifer.

ROMANS: And they haven't found anything. The other thing is that overnight, officials from Australia were saying, look, we've gone and we've searched those other two green zones on the map.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: And we have not found anything. Our planes and our ships have not found anything. So that's another part of this story, too.

HARLOW: And now they are focused on that red area, again, the size of Poland. This is challenging, this is extensive, but as the Malaysian Transportation minister said, this is, quote, "more focused" than before.

ROMANS: More news and top headlines right after the break.


HARLOW: Quick check of the markets on the final trading day of the week. As you're saying, March, OK month. Happy to put it to bed.

ROMANS: It was OK. I'm happy to put it to bed. Global stocks right now are up around the world. Asian stocks seeing their best week in nearly a year. Dow futures right this second they're pointing to a slightly higher open for stocks. Tech stocks, tech stocks have been the big story this month. It was a strong year so far, then a rough March.

Look at the chart of the tech-heavy Nasdaq. One tech stock to watch today, I want you to watch Amazon. "Wall Street Journal's" reporting the company may come out with a video streaming service to compete with companies like Netflix and Hulu.

Amazon, it's not -- well, let's just say it's not jumping up and down and saying yes, yes, yes. It says it has no plans for a free streaming media service, but the company is planning to announce a new video streaming device that would be similar to Apple TV next week, so watch Amazon.

HARLOW: Yes, but it's interesting story. Always interesting to follow what that company does.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

HARLOW: That will do it for us here on EARLY START. Have a great weekend, everyone. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: MH-370 flew at a higher speed than previously thought, which in turn means it used more fuel and could not travel as far.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, a dramatic shift. The search for Flight 370 now moved. The Australians saying the plane flew faster than previously thought and didn't make it as far.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The new analysis changing everything. So why did it take so long to figure this out? And are all those satellite images of the debris now worthless? We examine all the new evidence this morning,.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, President Obama on his way to Saudi Arabia amid strained relations between the two nations. Critical issues involving Syria, Egypt and the price of oil at stake. We're live with the latest.

BOLDUAN: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY, with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome to NEW DAY, everyone. It is Friday, March 28th. 6:00 in the East. I'm Kate Bolduan. Glad to be back after --

PEREIRA: Good to have you back.

BOLDUAN: Very long trip back. Thanks, guys. John Berman is here in for Chris Cuomo who will be back with us Monday as well.

A press conference just wrapping up in Malaysia after a very big shift in the search for Flight 370. This is breaking news just this morning. The search area has now moved almost 700 miles northeast of where that old search area was after new analysis of radar data that alters how much fuel would burn and how fast the plane was going.

BERMAN: Now this news conference has been going on.