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Regulators Declines GM Probe In 2007, 2010; Will We Ever Find The Black Box?; Orange Objects Not From Flight 370

Aired March 31, 2014 - 06:30   ET




In the headlines this morning, North and South Korea exchanging fire at sea. The North was conducting live fire military drills near the maritime border, when some of its shells landed in the South territorial waters. The South responded with artillery fire. This all a day after the North warned it might conduct a new nuclear test. South Korean officials say there's no sign of that happening yet.

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf indicted on treason charges. He's accused of illegally suspending Pakistan's constitution and unlawfully imposing military rule in 2007. Musharraf pleaded not guilty this morning. If he is convicted, he could get the death penalty.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been convicted of bribery in one of the largest corruption scandals ever exposed in Israel. Olmert was convicted of accepting bribes, but he served as mayor of Jerusalem in exchange for helping the developers of a residential project in the city. Olmert for his part has denied any wrongdoing. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Tear gas and riot gear in Albuquerque has protesters clash with police. Hundreds of demonstrators marching across the city to protest a number of shootings, where police are pulling the trigger. There have been 37 shootings since 2010, 23 of them fatal. Several protesters were arrested and the mayor said one officer was injured. The hacker group Anonymous helped launch a cyber attack on the police department's Web site. It was down most of Sunday.

Those are your headlines, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Michaela, thanks so much.

Let's get you an update on Flight 370.

The search for Flight 370 is now entering its fourth week. That means there are just days remaining before the 30-day battery life of the black box expires, if it hasn't already. The Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion has departed for yet another long and grueling flight to the newly defined search in the Indian Ocean.

Earlier this morning, I spoke with Royal New Zealand Air Force squadron leader Leon Fox.


BOLDUAN: Since moving into the search zone, your crew as well as other nations, they've started to really see a pickup in spotting items. What types of item has the New Zealand air force spotted since you guys have been in the new search zone?

LEON FOX, FLIGHT LIEUTENANT, ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE: Mainly we've been seeing lots of rubbish, dispersed with a lot of fishing gear as well. So, we're seeing lots of (INAUDIBLE) in size, and quite a lot of it. But we're also seeing fishing gear in the water that need some buoys (ph).

BOLDUAN: So at this point none of it has any promise it could lead to any debris field from Flight 370?

FOX: That's very hard for to us determine from the air. That requires the ships to get into the area, which they are now, and start getting the stuff out of the water and investigating fully.

BOLDUAN: So, how does this search area compare to the old search area? When I went up with your crew, we were in the old search area. How does this new search area compare?

FOX: Well, it's quite a lot for the north and closer to Perth, so we're able to spend longer in the search area. When you came flying, we were getting about two hours in the area and now we're getting about four. Apart from that it's a little smaller, a little more refined but it's just another search area at the moment.

BOLDUAN: Right. For you guys, it's really all the same.

Weather was a big factor in the old search area. Generally speaking, have the conditions been better here? Can you describe the conditions?

FOX: Generally speaking, the conditions have been better in the last week. A little further north have been a little further out of the storm fronts so the weather has been a lot better. That was causing issues the other day when it was so calm that we were seeing everything in the water, so every little object spent out quite clearly so we spent a lot of time investigating small bits of probably rubbish. But, yes, in general, much better than earlier in the week.

BOLDUAN: And how is the number five squadron doing? That might seem like a silly question to you but from watching from the outside, and going out in the air with you guys, every day, every search flight brings optimism that you might spot something. And we're now into day 24 of missing Flight 370.

How is morale? FOX: Morale is always high. We're always hopeful we're going to see something on every flight. And this is just the way we have to approach. As professional aviators, we do this every day back in New Zealand. The crew has rotated out, so the crew you flew with the other week has gone home and replaced it with another crew. And they're just as well.

BOLDUAN: Good luck. We'll look forward to seeing what comes from this latest flight to the search area.

Leon Fox, squadron leader for the Royal New Zealand Air Force -- always great to see you, Leon. Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Always good to see him.

Also, coming up next on NEW DAY: searchers using high-tech gadgets to help track down any signs of the plane. But conditions on the ocean will determine if any of it will be useful. CNN is on one of the ships. We're going to take you onboard and a live report, coming up next.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

The search for Flight 370 has never been more intense than it is right now. Well over 1,000 men and women on planes and on ships trying to get answers for relatives and friends for the 239 people on board the missing jet airliner.

Now, an Australian ship that will help search for the black box is heading into the search zone.

Let go live to Will Ripley. He's alongside the Thunder, a mile off the coast of Garden Island, Australia -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, the countdown is on, less than one hour until the scheduled department of the Ocean Shield, which is outfitted with a very latest technology supply by the U.S., that black box locator, a giant underwater microphone, towed behind the ship, dragged along the ocean floor that's listening for the ping from the in-flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.

But the problem is, that microphone, as great as it is, it can only detect the sound within a one-mile radius. Right now, the search zone, the size of Poland, is just too large for this technology to work effectively. But the plan here is to get the ship in place. If and when debris is found, they can move into the area and try to zero in on the black box before the batteries run out just over a week from now -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you very much for the reporting. You know, there's so much frustration from families and others to why no discovery yet. But some of that is due to not understanding just how daunting this search is.

CNN military analyst, former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Major General James "Spider" Marks is here.

Spider, it's great to have you.


CUOMO: You know, people look at it. We have this great map here, it shows what's going on. It's helpful to have the visual, but the scale and how difficult this is, it's still something that's tough to grasp for us. For instance, put the triangle up. This is the search area.

And we know it's shifted, it's smaller, it look doable, even when you look at it on the map, but what's the reality?

MARKS: This is a huge part of the world. This is a vast part of the world. We are in an area that often is not looked at. It's not part of our national security. We don't have satellites that routinely dwell over this part of the world.

This is as massive as you can get. So, when you try to refine it and bring it in, you're still in a huge area, and you may not even have that area right yet.

CUOMO: Now, I got the chance to watch the show when I was at home last week and there's certain things, when I was looking at the map, I go, well, how big is that? Show the overlay of how big this search area relative to the United States. That's the state of New Mexico that we've outlined the area.

MARKS: Right.

CUOMO: That's how big that they're looking for the wreckage of one airplane.

MARKS: Chris, if, the size of New Mexico, if, in fact, they're in the right area to begin with. That's the point. I mean, they're focusing in on this and we should. That's where the evidence leads you.

If that's not right, you've got the rest of the United States, as can you see, where there are options to search.

CUOMO: And the second assumption is you're assuming they're all in that area and of course they aren't. They have to come from Perth, even though we have ships in the area, 10 now. So the flight, it's closer now. That's good.

When you look at it relative to the United States, from New York to Key West, every day they have to fly just to start the search. What does that mean? MARKS: Nobody can complain about driving along I-95. This is a commute from New York to Key West. That's just gets you to the business end. So, you're burning all the fuel to get out there. You're limited in terms of what you can do because you've got to be able to make it back.

And it's exhausting, and those aircraft is extremely tough. And this is moving into the winter in this part of the world so sea states are rough. The weather is getting worse. So, it's a difficult mission --

CUOMO: Now, something else that winds up being a mixed blessing. They wound up moving the search areas because of those satellite images that refined it a little bit, with a little bit more likely, moved it a few hundred nautical miles closer, but also moved it closer to the Diamantina Trench.

MARKS: Right.

CUOMO: One of the deepest parts of the ocean, right?

MARKES: It is. It's absolutely -- the good news is closer in terms of the stress that that's going to put on the kit, the equipment, and the individuals that are doing this search. But this trench is as deep as you can get.

CUOMO: Nineteen thousand feet, we put it up there. That's a Grand Canyon next to it, which is basically a mile deep. Now, this is several miles deep it.

Now, why is that relevant? One, it's just one more space. But also, you're dealing with this pinging device, and you have to be several miles within its reach to hear it, no matter how sophisticated the equipment is, if we believe what we're being told. You may know a little better than I, from the civilian perspective.

So, 19,000 feet, if it is in that area of the trench and it's even 10,000 feet down, logistically it's a nightmare.

MARKS: Chris, the difficult with this, is even if we're good enough to be on top of where that box is or where there might be some debris that's dropped to the bottom, you still have to be able to get that pinging up to the surface, which is a distance of about three miles.

CUOMO: Now some of the brothers from the military cautioned me while I was on vacation. They said, you know, the media's doing its job, you are reporting this out. You should test everything. We like what you guys are doing. However, you're not giving enough due to how difficult that is. This is about as difficult the design search as we could think of be, unless you took away this initial data. That's the only part that could make it worst. Fair assessment that we shouldn't be pushing for answers? This will take a long time?

MARKS: This will take a long time, but you should push for answers. These nations, these families are legitimate in terms of their grief and they need to get these answers. The problem is when you try to understand a situation like that it's a combination of intentions and capabilities.

We can run all through and we can start to dissect all the capabilities, which everyone is because that's available. We still don't understand the intentions. What don't we know about this? What took place in the cockpit? What do we know in real detail about those 239 souls that were on board and everybody that touched aircraft about a month before it took off?

We don't know that yet. I would hope that information is making itself available. It will reveal itself. This is very delicate. There's a lot of hubris involved. We can't point fingers, but you have to be able to work very, very diligently on the intentions side to add to the capabilities so you can refine the search and get a little better.

CUOMO: And certainly everybody is volunteering what they can, but you know, no one knows better than you. The idea of why this happened. That maybe found if they find things with the recording devices, but it may not. It may be the parallel investigation into the souls on board, into the minds that were on that plane.

MARKS: Exactly, Chris. Exactly that will take time.

CUOMO: General, thank you. Always a pleasure -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: We're going to have much more on the search coming up. But first General Motors' CEO is in the hot seat as she readies to face Congress over an ignition defect linked to deadly crashes. We are going to have the very latest on that important story coming up.


BOLDUAN: Auto giant General Motors is about to face Congress and the newly minted CEO, Mary Barra, will be front and center in all this. She is about to face a grilling tomorrow on Capitol Hill from House and Senate Committees over vehicles with an ignition flaw linked to the death of 13 people.

Chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is here with the very latest. It seems to get worse as we hear more about it.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And they've expanded the recall, that's the news this morning, 2.2 million vehicles now. You're right, new questions for Mary Barra as she goes to Capitol Hill. But also sitting next to her runs NHTSA, the government agency in charge of this. Look, he's going to be asked too, why didn't you order an investigation sooner?

The news this morning that in 2007 somebody at NHTSA actually flagged it, look at this interesting pattern happening with some of these cars. And then in 2010, again failing to have -- absolutely and you look at the cars, the Chevy Cobalt and the AJ Jar, the Pontiac G-5 and that 2.2 million of these being recalled, the Saturn Ion and the Sky. Those are the cars that are affected here.

BOLDUAN: These are not just the recalls where there is something with your car and you need to go need get it fixed. These have led to deaths.

ROMANS: At least 13 deaths.

BOLDUAN: So if you have one of these cars still, what do folks need to know?

ROMANS: So the original part of the recall before it was expanded to 2.2 million, you've already received a letter in the mail that's told you from GM when you're supposed to go and get your car fixed. April 7th is when we're told they're going to be fixing these cars because they had to make the new ignition switch.

Now the problem remember is the ignition switch could be jostled or it could be bumped in an accident or even by the driver and it would switch from the run to accessory position and that was incredibly dangerous power braking and power steering was off. The air bags would go off and that's how you had those fatalities.

BOLDUAN: The simple fix that they're suggesting kind of blows my mind. Take your key off the key ring.

ROMANS: In the meantime take your key off the key ring, don't have a heavy key that can jostle, turn the key very simply like, keep your knees away from the steering column. They're safe to drive we are told, but they need to change those ignition switches as long as you don't have a heavy keychain that could jostle it then you are safe.

BOLDUAN: But first and foremost, we need to make sure folks are safe in their cars and then the timeline of who knew what and when will be the big focus now.

ROMANS: Watch for the letter that will come. They will eventually get you a letter to tell when you to make an appointment to fix it. Again, we're talking about 2.2 million cars now. That's a lot of folks.

BOLDUAN: Sure is. Christine, thank you very much. We'll continue to follow this. Let's go over to Michaela now -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, so that is the flight recorder, a.k.a., the black box. We're going to talk about the frustration and disappointment over the weekend. There was hope that some of the possible objects found in the ocean would be leading to the missing flight. However, those were false leads. Searchers are frantically trying to find any sign that could indicate where that black box may be.

Bring back in our friend, Jeff Wise, is a CNN aviation analyst and a contributor to Slate. It seems like the elusive Holy Grail. It feels like the thing that will answer all of our questions.

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Right. We're just looking for anything at this point. We've talked about the needle in the haystack, we can't even find the haystack. We're not 100 percent sure that the haystack even exists. But all we can do is keep looking, keep hoping. Interesting news from the press conference in Malaysia that just happened. They're now involving the Indonesian government, which means they're now looking up the northern end of the route as well.

PEREIRA: Which is something that you've been a big proponent of. Not a sort of -- not including the northern. We have to include that northern arc still.

WISE: Well, we have to be aware that we've got -- the reason we've been excluding parts of a potential search area is that we've been working on these assumptions that most likely they're heading at a certain velocity. But that's just an assumption.

PEREIRA: All right, well, we want to talk about the fact that they're bringing in the pinger locators. This is a big deal. This is fantastic technology. It has it's limitations, but we'll get to that in a minute. I know that you have strong opinions about their pinger locator device being brought it at this point. Explain why you're reluctant to believe that it's a tool that's necessary now.

WISE: Well, listen, when you're looking out from an airplane, you can look for miles and miles and miles. When you're looking for something with a sonar gear, you can only detect something that's 2 miles away. So much you go from being able to look over a huge area to only being able to look at a tiny area very slowly. The pinger detector will be very, very useful once we have a more precise idea of where it's located.

PEREIRA: Well, we heard one of the commanders saying the fact that he needs a search area that's one thousandth of the size that it is. It's a gigantic area to search. Give me your idea of what is our best guesstimate at this point. We have heard a lot about the 30-day battery life on the pinger, the beacon inside the black box detector. What's your estimate right now? Do you feel confident that we that full 30 days? Are you feeling like we can't hold out hope on that?

WISE: Look, I don't think the pinger is really going to be in play anymore. I think our chances of finding it based on that data is close to zero right now.

PEREIRA: You really do?

WISE: Yes. I mean, if it's even working. These have proven so unreliable in the past and our chances of getting close enough to really even start a real earnest back and forth search pattern is small.

PEREIRA: But the fact is we know and it was, again, a different situation, the Air France, they found that two years later. So the pinger would not have been in play, but they also knew where the black box roughly could be.

WISE: Well, they had a much, much better idea than we do now and they had a terrible condition. It was the most difficult search to date. So we're in a much worse position than that. Well, I should add that the pinger wasn't even working in the case of Air France 447. We're talking about the lawn mower going back and forth.

PEREIRA: Jeff Wise, it's always a pleasure. Thanks so much -- Chris. CUOMO: All right, Mich, new questions and new information. The cycle continues in the search for the Malaysian plane and other breaking news overnight as well so let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very low probability of detection if that is our search area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will keep searching for quite some time to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The effort is ramping up, not winding down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want evidence, we want truth. We want our family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 5.1 magnitude quake that struck in Orange County followed by more than 100 aftershocks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was way beyond anything I had ever experienced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Ukrainian army is really getting ready for war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These forces are creating a climate of fear and intimidation.


CUOMO: The clock is ticking and we are told the search is intensifying for Flight 370. Here is the latest. A U.S. Navy ping locator, supposedly a very sophisticated surveillance asset is headed to the search zone right now in the Indian Ocean on board an Australian war ship, a little sign of the cooperation going on in this search.

Now the four objects, the orange ones that were spotted by aircraft, they turned out to be discarded fishing equipment not related to the flight. There are more assets involved, ten planes, ten ships desperately looking for any debris that could be connected to the missing jetliner.

Let's get right to Perth, Australia and CNN's Paula Newton for the latest -- Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, what's going on here as you say, this search is being intensified. It's not just the ten ships and ten aircraft, it's also helicopters. Why is that crucial at this point? As I'm speaking to the crews, they're telling me that when they do spot that debris in the water, they within just a few hours will be able to take a look at it themselves and see if it something.

I have to tell you that obviously with those objects, those four orange objects turning out to be fishing equipment, it is continually demoralizing. At the same time, the crews say look, we're trained at this and we're giving it our best shot. In the next few days this really will be our best opportunity to find the wreckage of Flight 370 if there's anything to find in the Southern Indian Ocean -- Chris.

BOLDUAN: All right, Paula, thanks. I'll take it. Let's break this down. Let's talk more about the new information that seems to be new leads, but they don't always work out. David Soucie, he is a CNN safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash." He is a former FAA inspector, and Mary Schiavo, she is a CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the Department of Transportation.

Good morning again to both of you. David, one thing that came out new in the press conference with Malaysian officials this morning. I want to get your take and I also want to get Mary's take on this as well.

They have set up a new Australian Joint Agency Coordination Center to take the lead in synchronizing the search efforts in Perth. From your perspective was that lacking at this point? Are is this just another agency as things enter its fourth week?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: In this phase of the investigation, you have to assure that all the evidence goes to one place. I think that's what this about. It's not uncommon in an accident investigation to have sub-teams and subgroups to do specific task and although they didn't say that. I would suspect that's what this is about, making sure that all these different governments when they find this material that they have a standard way of processing it.