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Chinese Plane Spots Possible Plane Wreckage; Friends Defend Captain of Missing Flight; Earthquake Shakes Los Angeles Area; New Search Area for Flight 370; Attorney Floyd Wisner on Lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines; New Version of the Flight 370 Fall Checked on Flight Simulator; Better Weather Conditions in New Search Area Bring More Hope; Russia Concentrating Its Troops at Ukrainian Boarder

Aired March 29, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CO-HOST: Are you even out of bed yet? You don't have to be. Sit back and relax. We've got you covered. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CO-HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Ease into the day. It's now 6 a.m. here, and -- on NEW DAY SATURDAY. Thank you for joining us.

PAUL: Yes, glad to have you with us. And we're going to be beginning with some breaking news overnight in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. A Chinese plane now -- you see it; there it is -- has spotted three suspicious objects today in that new search zone for the missing airliner.

BLACKWELL: Now, this latest sighting comes a day after five other pilots saw a few other objects in the same vast swath of the Indian Ocean, although none of the objects has been confirmed as having come from MH-370.

PAUL: That could be happening, though, later today, if some of the ships can get their hands on it.

The new search area is about the size of New Mexico. It's almost 700 miles northeast of where authorities had last focused the search. Now, the shift was based on some new analyst -- analysis, I should say, of radar data.

BLACKWELL: And the Chinese plane was just one of the eight aircraft dispatched to that area today, along with a Chinese ship. Six other ships are expected to join the effort pretty soon.

PAUL: Listen to this. In the meantime, devastated families of missing passengers protested in Beijing today, demanding proof of the claim by Malaysian officials that all lives were lost.

BLACKWELL: Now, you remember last week, the Malaysian prime minister said that Flight 370 ended in the south Indian Ocean. But within a few hours of the meeting, a top Malaysian official, the acting transportation minister, was offering a glimmer of hope to the families there in Kuala Lumpur. Listen.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN ACTING TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: Miracles do happen, remote or otherwise. That is the hope that the family members want -- need to convey to the -- not only to the Malaysian government, MAS, but to the world at large. And if it means our prayers, that's not a very difficult request either.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN's Paula Newton in Perth, Australia, for the latest on the search today.

PAUL: Yes. Paula, good morning to you. Tell -- can you tell us more at this hour about the suspicious objects that the Chinese aircraft spotted?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we saw the Chinese aircraft come in a few hours ago. They said that they saw three objects: one red, one white, one orange. What are they? That's what everyone wants to know.

Clearly, they were quite intrigued by what they saw. But I caution that they were about 1,000 feet above the water. Now, usually, the other surveillance aircraft is about 500 feet above the water. And still, they've spotted things that have no significance still.

At this point, they are hanging onto whatever they can in terms of trying to find some trace of Flight 370. At this point, it's the next phase that becomes crucial. Ships, six on their way, some already on there. It is approaching darkness here.

But in the same time, in about eight hours, those ships can start to scour that ocean surface again, try and find those objects spotted by the Chinese plane, and actually pick them up. And that is the goal here, especially as this investigation enters that next phase.

LEMON: Paula, as you know, the sun sets, it's dusk there. The first plane, I understand, is back at Perth. Returned a short time ago. Any update? Any response to, of course, the question, "Have you seen anything?"

NEWTON: Well, they all are starting to come in right now. Unfortunately, we had the news from the Chinese that was first to come in. But as you say, just a few moments ago, another airplane coming in. The news was not good. They said unfortunately, they hadn't spotted anything.

And you know, I've had to explained to me. I've been in the cockpit of these plane when they weren't flying, and I've had it explained to me exactly what happens. And the problem is, Victor, that even if they spot something, they then try and mark it and still don't have success in spotting it again. I want you to listen now to the pilot explaining exactly the procedure that they follow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSSELL ADAMS, FLIGHT CAPTAIN, RAAF: The first test we go through is everybody on board the aircraft will hear the "mark, mark, mark" call up in the front. And the flight station will drop a smoke for you, a flare, which will smoke for about 45 minutes.

At the same time, the attach (ph) group coordinator is going to use a button on the aircraft system that will drop a GPS point. We'll then attempt to maintain visually contact -- or visual contact with the object that's been seen and reposition the aircraft to get photographs of it. Once we've got photographs of the object, we'll be able to send them off for analysis.


NEWTON: What's interesting here is the fact that, if they're able to take photographs of it, that's all they're able to do. They send it back for processing.

But at the same time, it is the ships now that need to come in to be able to take a good, hard look at what they're seeing, on the top of the surface, and determine if that has anything to do with the missing flight.

PAUL: All righty. Paula Newton, good to see you this morning. Thank you so very much. We appreciate it.

But you know, the question is what kinds of challenges are search teams up against, specifically in this new area that they're talking about? Let's discuss that and the latest on the investigation with CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general with the U.S. Transportation Department, Mary Schiavo, and CNN safety analyst and author of "Why Planes Crash," David Soucie.

BLACKWELL: So search teams, of course, now focused on this area that's about 600 to 680 miles closer to Perth than where they spent last week. This morning, a Chinese plane was able to spot these suspicious objects. Is this a promising lead? We'll start with you, Mary.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it is a promising lead, but they have to -- they have to close this lead out with the next step, which is getting that on board a ship so it can be analyzed. Until it can be actually looked and determined that it's part of the plane. And then look for clues on the wreckage, and every part of the wreckage has a potential to contain clues such as how it crashed, the ripping or tearing of the parts. If there's any explosive residue; was there any burning? All that will reveal the clues. The sightings are where we start. The examination are what we really want to do on those parts.

PAUL: OK. So David, let me ask you: Are there analysts on these ships who can look at things as they retrieve them? Or do they just collect them and get them back to people who will analyze them on shore in Australia?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: They're doing -- they can transmit the photographs. So what they're expecting is to get the photographs, of course, from the aircraft. Once they've located a piece of debris, they'll take photographs at that point. But that doesn't mean it will be identified there. They would have to bring that back to the Perth, probably, to bring it to the experts there.

BLACKWELL: So Mary, just a couple of days ago, I mean there were first that were the 155 objects that were spotted. Then the 300 objects that were spotted, of course, via satellite.

And now this entirely new position of searching. What happened to the hundreds of items that were apparently enough for the Australian prime minister last week to say very credible leads? What happened to all those?

SCHIAVO: They are no longer considered part of the debris field, or a potential debris field. As I understand it, they have abandoned those items. And they're really, according to the currents, isn't a possibility that the two debris fields can be related. So they have said that those debris fields, they believe, are not from, or potentially from the aircraft. And that the new field is where they are looking. And then by analyzing the currents, they said that the old field could not be part of the new field. It's just two separate areas of debris in the ocean.

BLACKWELL: Now, the Malaysians disagree. They say that it's possible that the current could have pushed those items a few hundred miles. I'd imagine, when you have so many countries involved, that's one of the challenges, is that you have each country speaking for their efforts and their resources.

SCHIAVO: Well, and you can kind of -- and we give the Malaysians the benefit of the doubt. You know, they probably don't want to say all that work was for naught, that that's not where they are. And I don't think all that work was for naught. They had to go look. You cannot have leads and investigation and say, "Aah, we don't want to look there." You have to. That's what you do in an investigation. I mean, you come up with -- you know, with dry holes so many times in an investigation.

Particularly one like this, where it's both a civil investigation, for why did the plane crash and what went on, you know, mechanically and with air traffic control and the altitudes? And then what went on on the criminal side? Is there any criminal activity? A very big investigation. And I think they just aren't willing to say to the people there, the families that those two weeks of searching may have been for naught.

PAUL: OK. David, I wanted to ask you something, because here's what I think doesn't add up for a lot of people. There have been a lot of talk this week that there's a belief this was a mechanical issue or there was some kind of fire. Even though, you know, this plane supposedly was traveling faster than they thought it was initially.

How plausible is it to you that a plane could catch fire or have a mechanical issue and then still fly for another five to six hours without any communication being able to be transmitted? SOUCIE: Well, it's a good question, but in looking at it in the unique compartment, all the communications equipment, the VHF radio, UHF radio, the ACARS, all of that equipment is in one specific rack within there. So if it were something like that, if it was a fire, smoke, anything like that, I would say it would probably be focused in that area where the communications are. Because separate from that are the navigation, the autopilot system. A All that is really kind of in a separate area within that E&E (ph) compartment. So in my mind, it would be exclusively isolated to that part of the aircraft.

BLACKWELL: All right. Mary Schiavo and David Soucie, thank you both.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

PAUL: So even if search crews, you know, recover debris from Flight 370, there's one question that's remaining: Did this crew deliberately divert the plane for some reason? Up next, why friends and family defend the captain, despite a firestorm of media attention.

Plus, another earthquake jolt, the Los Angeles area. This is the second one in just weeks. We have details on this coming up.


BLACKWELL: Well, remember this investigation into what happened to 370 is multi-fronted. I mean, you've got the teams scouring the Indian Ocean for the pieces, hoping to find debris. But also, the FBI is combing through evidence from the captain's personal flight simulator.

PAUL: Since Flight 370 vanished three weeks ago, I mean, experts have speculated about pilot suicide. And they've questioned whether the crew deliberately took down this plane. That's been one of the big questions.

BLACKWELL: Yes, but despite a media storm -- a firestorm, rather, of media attention, friends and family say that Shah, the captain, built the simulator for one reason. Because he loved to fly.

CNN's Pamela Brown has more. Pamela, good morning.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, sources say the FBI is close to wrapping up mining the data from the hard drive to Captain Zaharie Shah's flight simulator. So far, it has offered few clues about whether Shah deliberately diverted the plane, but those who knew him are speaking to CNN and shedding new light on the captain.


BROWN (voice-over): The man who helped Captain Zaharie Shah build his home flight simulator now also offering CNN a glimpse into the mind of a better pilot who sources say remains a mysterious key figure in the investigation of Flight 370.

HADOS CANTAGLIANAS (PH), KNEW SHAH: It's not unusual to have a simulator at home. He's just very passionate for his hobby. He wanted to make it as close to real as it can be.

BROWN: Hados Cantaglianas (ph) sold Shah some of the parts he used to build his simulator. He tells CNN the 53-year-old father was so interested in making the simulator feel real, he wanted a robotic seat like the one seen here that would mimic what it would feel in the cockpit.

ZAHARIE SHAH, CAPTAIN OF FLIGHT 370: It comes in the form of an ejector.

BROWN: Cantaglianas (ph) says he doesn't believe Shah could have been involved.

CANTAGLIANAS (PH): He was very a very serious down-to-earth guy. Even if he was flying, he's a pilot. But I wouldn't think that you would go that far, you know, to turn a plane around and fly for hours just to do something stupid.

BROWN: Overnight, those who knew Shah and his co-pilot, Fariq Hamid, told "The Wall Street Journal" both men lived ordinary lives. One longtime colleague described Shah as, quote, "The ideal pilot, an invisible pilot."

An acquaintance said he was "patient and efficient and far from a political fanatic."

Neighbors of Hamdi said the 27-year-old first officer was friendly and well-mannered and seldom socialized within the community. Still, investigators are focusing on both men, especially Shah, if for no reason than he was in charge in the cockpit.

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: They're interested in his state of his marriage; his views of Malaysian Airlines, which he apparently was unhappy with what he perceived as mismanagement and corruption. They're looking at his views of his son. He was unhappy with his son for his recent unemployment.

BROWN: So far, sources haven't confirmed those concerns to CNN and say interviews with Shah's family, searches of his home and a forensic examination of his hard drive haven't turned up anything that would explain the plane's disappearance.

Though investigators also say a lack of evidence indicating premeditation also doesn't rule out the theory that one of the pilots could have snapped in the cockpit.

PAT MORSEY, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Just because there's no previous history does not mean that the individual couldn't have an episode that led them to do something that they would not normally otherwise do. That happens all the time. Unfortunately.


BROWN: And we want to stress again that there is no evidence on any of the pilots whatsoever, according to the sources, though the investigation is ongoing. The CEO of Malaysia Airlines spoke Friday. He did not speak specifically about the co-pilot and pilot, but did say that all new pilots of the airline go through a thorough psychological examination and have follow-up exams depending on certain conditions, such as their age -- Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Pamela Brown, thank you very much, Pamela.

Still to come on NEW DAY, this is a question that, now that the first lawsuit has been filed, that some will ask.

PAUL: It's an abrupt question.

BLACKWELL: It is. It is. What is your life worth to an airline? Seriously, believe it or not, courts, lawyers, airlines, they put a dollar value on a life after death. And not everyone is equal.

PAUL: And also, for some of you waking up to some shaking this morning, quake in Los Angeles. Look at this. A rock slide flipped over this car in one of the city's famed canyons. We're getting in some new video here of what happened inside a Home Depot store, as well. We're going to show you everything next.


PAUL: We're continuing to follow the missing plane, and we'll have some updates for you in just a second, but the other big story we're watching comes out of California today.

BLACKWELL: Yes, 5.1 magnitude earthquake rattled the Los Angeles area last night. And while, you know, there's no major damage or injuries reported, the quake did manage to start a rock slide that -- look at this -- flipped this car.

PAUL: Nick Valencia joining us now. Nick, in fact, I just got a post on Facebook from somebody named Linda in Riverside County. She said, "It shook us up, and they're we're an hour east of L.A." What do you know?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Far and wide, from Palm Springs, to Riverside, to Orange County. That was the epicenter, about 20 -- I'd say about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

It was an unusual sequence of events for an earthquake. You have this 3.0 foreshock and then you have this 5.1 earthquake that happened on a busy Friday night. There was a Dodger game going on. Get a lot of people out at restaurants.

We've got this new video that we just got in from our local affiliate that shows some broken water mains. And as you mentioned, Christi, there was no major structural damage. But officials are urging people not to use candles. There could be natural gas lines that are broken. You have that water main break there. And certainly a lot of rattled nerves.

This is an area that's pretty used to earthquakes, though. But people are very shaken up, because last week -- a couple weeks ago, guys, you had that earthquake. Now you have another one. So a lot of people on edge a little bit here.

PAUL: Thinking that the big one's coming?


BLACKWELL: But after that first earthquake, everybody is kind of standing and wait for the aftershock?

VALENCIA: That's right. That's right.

And in fact, during a press conference at Cal Tech, there was an aftershock during a press conference. It's pretty amazing. Check this video out.


LUCY JONES, SEISMOLOGIST, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: ... depends on where you're feeling it from. Right, well, it's completely where you are. An earthquake of this size lasts for about one second in terms of how the earth is producing energy. If you felt a long slow roll, you're relatively far away from the event. We're having an aftershock now about 2.7.


VALENCIA: They're just kind of taking it in stride there.

PAUL: Yes. She's so -- 2.7 right there.

VALENCIA: So this is on the Puente Hills Fold. It's not the name recognition of San Andreas Fault. But it is an earthquake area, lots of activity there. Back in the late '80s, there was a heavier earthquake there, in '87. Cost millions of dollars of damage; about eight people were killed. So this is a dangerous -- you know, dangerous situation.

And again, no major structural damage. But in a place in Los Angeles, they haven't had a very strong earthquake since the mid-'90s. So people are waiting and kind of...

PAUL: Wondering.

VALENCIA: ... is this a premonition here? You know, is this a precursor of something stronger?


VALENCIA: Hope not.

BLACKWELL: We'll see in just a couple of weeks. Nick Valencia, thank you.

VALENCIA: You got it, Chris. PAUL: So we are getting more conflicting news. We're wondering is it conflicting news or is it false hope, really, at the end of the day, coming in from Malaysia.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So about a week ago, there was the statement from the Malaysian prime minister that all lives were lost. Well, we're just now being told officials are continuing their search for possible Flight 370 survivors. We'll talk about it.


PAUL: Well, aren't you're up early on a Saturday morning? It's only 6:28, but we're glad that you're with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: It's a pleasure to be with you, as well. I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this half with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Up first, a Chinese plane has spotted three suspicious objects today in this new search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. And five other planes observed some objects in the same vast swath of the Indian Ocean, although none of these objects has been confirmed as being debris from the lost plane. We're going to have much more on the missing plane in about 60 seconds.

No. 2, heavy rain, strong winds, they're hampering rescue work at the site of the Washington state landslide. Look at this. Hundreds of volunteers are there, still looking through the area for any sign of life. But officials are worried the bad weather may cause another landslide. Right now, the official death toll is still at 17 dead and 90 missing.

PAUL: No. 3, the FBI asks a now-dead suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing to be an informant. This is according to court documents found by attorneys representing the sole surviving suspect. The defense says agents approached the accused older brother and asked him to give them information about the Boston Muslim and Chechen communities. The government is denying that, by the way.

No. 4, the security chief for 1 World Trade Center has resigned after an embarrassing string of security breaches. David Velasquez submitted his resignation yesterday. This comes the same week four men were arrested for sliding past security back in September and parachuting from the top of the building. This is allegedly video of that happening.

Two weeks ago, a New Jersey teen snuck past security and climbed to the top of the tower, as well.

BLACKWELL: No. 5, the FBI asking for your help this morning in trying to find whomever points a laser at a Delta flight, temporarily blinding its pilot. The incident happened at New York's LaGuardia Airport back in -- earlier this month. Officials believe the laser beam may have come from a neighborhood in Queens. A $10,000 reward is being offered for tips leading to an arrest. PAUL: OK, so let's talk more about our top story, obviously, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. John Ransom here with us now. He's a retired airline pilot and an aviation safety specialist for safety operating systems. We're so glad to have you with us. But we're talking about a lot of things, including these three suspicious objects.


PAUL: The Chinese..

BLACKWELL: In this new area, too. I mean what do you make of this new area and the shift 700 miles to the northeast and the suspicious objects that apparently Chinese pilots have found?

JOHN RANSOM, CNN AVIATION EXPERT: Well, good morning. The tendency of airplanes when they fly at lower altitudes is to use a higher amount of fuel. And in this particular incident, people are looking at data and re-evaluating. And looking at more data and reevaluating. And in this case, they decided that in all likelihood, the airplane flew fast at a lower altitude, used more fuel and therefore ended up further north than they originally anticipated.

BLACKWELL: OK, so this is - and I'm going to say, this is what doesn't add up for a lot of people as we watch this. Because some people have said, really speculating this week that it was a fire or there was a mechanical failure on board. But if that were the case, how would it continue to fly at all without any communication?

RANSOM: Well, it depends on if there actually were a fire, the failure mode that would have resulted from that fire. For example, if there were a fire in one of the lower cargo pits and it were - it ended up being a very high-energy release rate in a very short period of time. It could have escaped or breached the compartment and there are cables in - what's known as the cheek area, which is between the cargo compartment itself and the auto part of the fuselage. There is a lot of communication cables that are in there. And it could have - it could have affected those cables. Alternatively, there could have been as I heard earlier this morning, the possibility of a fire in the E&E compartment, which is the compartment below the cockpit and that could have messed up a lot of the cable.

PAUL: Could it have continued to fly for a long period of time?

RANSOM: Well, there's a failure mode that would say, yes, you know, if the crew somehow were able to get the airplane stabilized, lower altitude, on course to what they hoped was a diversionary airport and then the crews were overcome, an airplane could just keep flying in that direction.

BLACKWELL: Can we talk about what the acting transportation minister said this morning, that hope against hope. Praying that they are continuing to search possible survivors. A preface to this, we're going to play the sound in just a moment. A few days ago, the Malaysian prime minister said that the flight ended in the South Indian Ocean. This is at least a discrepancy if not a direct contradiction. But let's play what the acting transportation minister said this morning and we'll talk about it on the other side.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN: ACTING TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: More than that, I told the families I cannot, because give them false hope. And the best we can do is pray and that we might be sensitive to them, as long as there is even a remote chance of survival, we will create and do whatever it takes.


BLACKWELL: And I'll put this to you, is there a remove chance of a survivor?

RANSOM: That's very difficult to say. In my opinion, no. I mean based on everything we know. The airplane flew south. It ended up in the South Indian Ocean, and then there was no more record of it. So, in all likelihood, it's down there. In all likelihood, it would be extremely difficult to imagine somebody surviving that. I can see why, because the reaction he got when he said that everybody was gone, that he might have backed off a little bit and still called this a search and recovery.

PAUL: It sounds as though he was saying these families have asked me not to give up hope. And that - he's not saying, he believes people are still alive. However, in respect to these families and to honor their wishes, we as a whole cannot give up hope that perhaps somebody is alive for their sakes?

RANSOM: I agree. I think he probably is decided until they find some evidence that the airplane is down, it's going to remain a search and recovery.


BLACKWELL: Even despite that the words of his boss, the prime minister said, it's over. All lives have been lost. OK. All right.

PAUL: All Right. Retired airline pilot John Ransom, thank you so much for staying with us. I know he's going to be with us a little bit later. If you have any questions specifically that you would like to ask him, just let us know.

BLACKWELL: Via Twitter, yeah, makes for it use #370 cues. And we'll ask those questions, of course.

Also, still to come, on "NEW DAY", you may believe human life is priceless. This is difficult to talk about, but there are many legal questions, the first lawsuit has been filed. There's also the question, is all life equal?

PAUL: Grieving flight - as people are grieving Flight 370, these families are moving forward, with insurance claims as Victor said, with at least one lawsuit now. But the reality is, courts and lawyers and airlines do put a dollar value on lives every day. We're going to talk about this controversial process and what it means coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: It's a difficult question to ask, but it is one that will be asked and already is being asked by some families. What is life, any life, worth to an airline? Well, it may depend on where you're from, really, I mean, the concept of assigning a price tag to a life may make some people squeamish, but as lawyers and the grieving families of those on board Flight 370 move forth with insurance claims and the lawsuits now, there is a possibility that American families will receive more. And not just a few thousand dollars more. Millions more than Malaysian families or Chinese families.

PAUL: Well, we wanted to talk about this. Aviation attorney Floyd Wisner is with us now. He's now currently representing any of the Flight 370 families, but he has led the charge after several other plane crashes including TWA Flight 800. Thank you so much for lending your expertise to us this morning. How much is the airline legally required to offer the families? And why are the disbursements not equal?

FLOYD WISNER: That's an excellent question. The airline under the Montreal Convention, which governs these claims against the airline Malaysia Air, is automatically liable for an initial payment of across 176,000 U.S. dollars. After that, its liability, the amount of its liability is not capped. It's liable for additional damage beyond that. Unless the airlines, not the (INAUDIBLE), but the airline and crew that it took all measures necessary to avoid the loss or another party solely responsible for the loss. In my view, the airlines never are going to be able to meet that strict burden of proof, and so it will be liable for damages, unlimited damages. But it will depend upon the jurisdiction, in which the action is brought. And the Montreal Convention mandates the jurisdiction, which a claim against airline may be brought. So, for many of the passengers, that country will be either China - or I mean, excuse me, will be either Malaysia or the principal place of their domicile and it will not be the United States.

BLACKWELL: So, and I just want to be clear about this, I could be on a plane next to ...


BLACKWELL: You, and somebody on this side. There could be different values, and it sounds callous to discuss, but different values on each life in that row?

WISNER: Yes, that's true. You could be sitting next to a person, say, from China. Let's say you both are married. Both are the same age. Both have the same children - and ages of children, you're both earning approximately the same income. Your claim, Victor, would be worth millions more than the Chinese person.

PAUL: Well, let me ask you this, the Malaysia Air was owned by the Malaysian government. That seems to bring in an entirely new twist to this when it comes to lawsuits. How is that - how might that affect this? WISNER: Well, unfortunately, you would think so, but it does not. It's covered by insurance lawyers your air has, at least a billion dollars in insurance. They anticipate the claims against them or (INAUDIBLE) to $750 million. You would think that because they're government-owned, it would bring in another aspect, but it really will not.

BLACKWELL: Do you expect a class action lawsuit here? Is that even possible, considering that, I mean, the people who were on this flight are from 14 different countries?

WISNER: Yeah, that's another good question. But the term class action is misused in a context like this. Class action is not available. And that is because class actions are for people who all have the same type of injury and there is not in an airline crash. Because of factors of age of the victims, family members, income, all that makes every person's claim different. So, class action, no. A mass action, representing many of the passengers, that's possible. But not a class action.

PAUL: There's so little information about what happened in this case. No hard evidence at this point of anything. How does the lack of evidence affect litigation here?

WISNER: Well, it affects the litigation in part. I would say as against Malaysia Air to airline, it does not. And that is because, in my view, Malaysia air is going to be responsible no matter what the ultimate cause may turn out to be, whether it may be sabotage, hijacking, mass homicide by one of the flight crew. Or a mechanical failure, all of those things will point to the liability of Malaysia Air. So, they'll be liable no matter what. What the difference will be, is, is Boeing or as manufacturer of the aircraft or some component manufacturer also liable? To me, that would depend on recovery of the wreckage and further investigation.

BLACKWELL: Final question here, what's the timeline that these families are looking at?

WISNER: Two years under the Montreal Convention, the pilot claim against Malaysia Air and generally, two years against other priorities, for example, my home state of Illinois where Boeing (ph) is located, that stash limitation is two years from the date of the loss.

PAUL: Already. Aviation attorney Floyd Wisner, so great to have your, you know, perspective on this. Thanks for making time for us this morning.

WISNER: Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: A new search area, we've discussed that this morning, also based on this new theory we'll talk more about, after the break, we'll take you inside this 777 simulator to see what Flight 370's final moments might have been like if the latest fuel burn theory is true.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: A Chinese plane spotted several suspicious objects today in the new search zone for the missing airliner 370.

PAUL: Investigators shifting their focus to that new area after further analyzing some radar data. They say the jet burned more fuel early in the flight, shortening the distance that it could have flown south into the Indian Ocean.

BLACKWELL: Martin Savidge is delving into that theory from inside a Boeing 777 simulator. Martin, good morning.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. As this new effort is focused on the new search site, we've been looking at ways that the 777 might possibly have gone down. That's important to know, because depending on how it went into the water, it could depend on the kind of debris, a wreckage that is found. But this scenario, Mitchell Casado here has said about, so that the engines are shutting down now. This is to simulate running out of fuel. But what we're going to do is we're going to leave the autopilot on. If the autopilot were off, the plane might make a gentle descent towards the ocean, but eventually tumbled when it hit the water. With the autopilot still on, you get a very different effect. And that's what we are going to demonstrate here. So, what are we seeing here?

MITCHELL CASADO: The engines are both shut down here. You can see this is the left engine, this is the right engine, this is engine shutdown, basically, the temperatures are cooling down and they are - the (INAUDIBLE) is decreasing.

SAVIDGE: OK, and we also know that without any engines, we are not really climbing any more.


SAVIDGE: But the aircraft is trying to maintain altitude ...

CASADO: It is. You can see here, we are going to stall in a few seconds. We are trying to maintain 9,000 peaks, that's why we have set in the auto pilot, and the airplane now is going to start stalling because it can't -- it doesn't have any more forward thrust.

SAVIDGE: It is going to turn to hold the nose up even though it cannot.

CASADO: That's right.

SAVIDGE: There's the first signal.


SAVIDGE: And now, that's the stick shaker meaning ...

CASADO: The stick shaker meaning, the stick would start shaking to warn the pilots we are stalling.

SAVIDGE: And that is - the aircraft has lost lift, the nose is coming up dramatically. Now, the synch (ph) alarm is going off, which means we're starting to fall. The aircraft becomes extremely unstable. You can tell that by the horizon. We're literally now falling tail first to the water. And I think we'll stop it before we reach that point, because it's really too severe to show you. So that's one way that this aircraft might have gone down. And it would have struck the ocean with great force. Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Martin Savidge, and Mitchell Casado. 777 simulator. Thank you.

PAUL: And now crews, of course, in the midst of their second day in this new search area. Right now, actually, as we are speaking and this area is a lot closer to the Australian coast than the old one which equates to several benefits here. For one, crews can spend more time out over the water, searching for any sign of that plane. And if I understand it, the water's not quite as deep as either.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, let's check with meteorologist Alexandra Steele. Alexandra, how is the weather here and how does it compare to the old search area?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, on myriad front, this move, 700 miles north, both meteorologically and in terms of oceanography really are beneficial. You know, what they needed are visual confirmations. And the weather has been so poor it's been hard to do that. So, let me show you what we've got. Of course, here's the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean, essentially, is kind of like a "Y." It's divided up into three quadrants. And, of course, because of plate tectonics, the three different plates. So, this is the Indian Ocean gyro - reports from the Southern Hemisphere now, so things rotate counterclockwise.

There's the old search area, it was right along the latitude of the 40s, so we call that the roaring 40s, because at this latitude, you can see, these are the currents. The waves are strong. The waves are high. The currents are voracious, and big storms can develop. But this move, 700 miles north, the currents aren't as strong. Wave heights alone, on average, in this new area, are about 60, compared to the old area, 13 to 19 feet on average. So just kind of the wave heights alone allow for visual observation, certainly to be easier, so you could see any material. Also, of course, the depth of the water, and the weather, along this roaring 40s is much more voracious than where it is farther north. So that is certainly good news.

So, here's this new area, it's about 123,000 square miles, kind of the size of New Mexico, to give you a perspective. How big this area, the search area is, when you see it on a little map, it quite looks small, but of course, it's really massive. Also, this is that search area. And under the water here, we've got this broken ridge in this plateau. And this is the depth of the water. It's almost in some of these areas, farther south where the first search area was, it's almost the depth of Mount Everest. Just think of that going down. Now, this, between about 1.2 miles on the north size of the search area, the depth of the water is going to two miles. It gets to four on the southern area of this search quadrant. So, there really is quite a difference. And this is that area, right? It looks small, but, again, it's the size of New Mexico, more or less. In terms of weather, weather has been rough. It's not as rough farther north at this latitude, but on the whole, we've had about 48 hours of good weather. Next storm, unfortunately, moving in Sunday night and Monday. Here's the radar showing the storms that move in, it's going to bring some rain and some winds and, of course, low visibilities again coming in Sunday night and Monday. So it has kind of a nice rear stretch, but that's going to change weather-wise.

PAUL: All right, Alexandra Steele, thank you so much. Great explanation there.

BLACKWELL: You know, we don't want to lose sight of the families, these 239 families that are waiting for some signs, some news. And Malaysia is trying to give some hope to those families of Flight 370.

PAUL: Top minister, really I think raising eyebrows today saying, miracles do happen. We're going to take you live to Malaysia's capital and talk more about what he's saying on behalf of himself and the families.


BLACKWELL: We'll have more coverage on missing Flight 370 in just a few minutes. But first, another big story we're following, Vladimir Putin has reached out to President Obama to talk about the crisis in Ukraine. And the Russian president called the U.S. president, and they agreed to have their top diplomats meet to discuss proposals to resolve the situation peacefully.

PAUL: Now, according to U.S. officials, there are 40,000 Russian troops along the Ukraine's border right now. Karl Penhaul is live from the Ukraine-Russian border. Karl, I've seen other reports from Ukraine saying there's about 88,000 troops there. What can you assess of the number of troops? And is Moscow's excuse that they're there for military exercises credible?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it should take the differences in the Ukrainian government, as the Pentagon talking about (INAUDIBLE) troops on the Russian side, the Ukrainian government putting a number out there almost twice as high. But really I think what the Ukrainian government is talking about, is both the troops, the Russian troops massed on that border. And also troops a little bit further back from the border who could potentially come into Ukraine in a second wave. What both the Pentagon and the Ukrainian government agree on is that those troop numbers have increased significantly in the last few days.

And also, intelligence reports points to the fact that the Russians are bringing in tanks and also attack helicopters on trains, right up to that border area. Both say that now forces are so close to the border that they could roll into Ukraine without any warning whatsoever. Are these reports credible that the Russians could roll into Ukraine? Well, a lot of politics going on there? We have heard in the last few moments Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Russia saying that he has no intention of coming across into Ukraine. But at the same time, in the last few days we have heard comments from President Putin ratcheting up the propaganda machine saying that he believes that Russians speakers, the ethnic Russians who live in Ukraine are under threat from ultra-nationalists in Ukraine. That's the same argument that he used to roll into Crimea.

BLACKWELL: All right. Karl Penhaul there for us there reporting live this morning. Karl, thank you very much.

PAUL: We're so glad that you're starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Yes, for the next hour of your "NEW DAY" starts right now.

PAUL: Take a nice deep breath, you made it to Saturday. And I know that it feels good for you. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: Always does. I'm Victor Blackwell. 7:00 here now on the East Coast. It's "NEW DAY" Saturday.