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EARLY START

Final Words of Flight 370 Crew; Search for Flight 370; Flight 370 Families Suffering; Congress to Pass Ukraine Aid Bill; Mystery of Flight 370

Aired April 1, 2014 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight. CNN obtaining a transcript of the final cockpit conversations between Flight 370's crew and air traffic control. Malaysian investigators now admitting they were wrong about the last words that came from the cockpit of the flight before it went silent.

CNN has gotten a hold of the official transcript. What it really said and why officials are saying they're not sure if it was the captain or the co-pilot who uttered those last words.

Also right now, boats and aircraft are searching for the wreckage, but how do they know they're even in the right place?

Many, many questions continue this morning. We have live coverage on all the angles and everything that happened overnight.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Breaking news, CNN has just obtained the transcript of the final conversation between the Flight 370 crew and air traffic controllers. Details on that in just a moment.

Also new this morning, a Malaysian government source telling CNN investigators are now convinced someone in the cockpit on board that plane is responsible for that final turn off course. They consider the disappearance of Flight 370 a criminal act.

And with that explanation, they are altering the official version of the final sign-off from the jetliner's cockpit.

Jim Clancy joins us on the phone this morning from Kuala Lumpur.

Jim, you got your hands on this transcript just within the last hour and a half or so. What can you tell us about it and the final communication made?

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Poppy, if anything, what stands out about this is how normal the conversation is. While I'm no flight expert or pilot, I can tell you that this looks exactly like what you would expect in an exchange between the control tower and any airline flight. The pilot requesting permission, they're setting the runways for takeoff, the tower talking to them, the thank yous, the good mornings, the good days, all going on, you know, just as normally as you would expect them to.

It comes to an end at 1:19 and 24 seconds. Air traffic control radios "Malaysian 370 contact Ho Chi Minh, 1:20 decibel nine, goodnight." Now that's telling him to contact the Ho Chi Minh control tower at 1:20.9. Malaysian 370 replies, "Goodnight, Malaysian 370," and that is the last that we heard from that flight. It was bound from Beijing.

Today the search, of course, taking place in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean. Really, literally, half a world away. And families and everyone here, of course, want to know answers.

We've had so few facts, Poppy. This is one of them that we can hold in our hands and look at the transcript. I think the next step would be to hear the actual recording of what the pilot said to determine if there's any stress in their voices or anything like that. I think there are all kinds of answers that still need to be forthcoming.

Back to you.

HARLOW: So many more answers, especially that the families want. They're waiting and waiting with very few answers.

Appreciate it this morning, Jim. Thank you.

BERMAN: As for the search itself, it's really been one maddening dead end after another. Here's the latest. Three days wasted. That is according to a new report. The "Wall Street Journal" says search teams were looking in the wrong place in the Southern Indian Ocean for 72 hours because of poor coordination, saying that two separate teams analyzing -- were analyzing different data to calculate the plane's trajectory, one looking at the radar data, the other looking at satellite data. That's why they moved the search zone some 700 miles just a few days ago.

It's now been 25 days since Flight 370 vanished. The search at sea is turning up a lot of debris, but nothing so far connected to the missing jetliner.

Let's get the latest on the search and the conditions they are facing today from Atika Shubert, live in Perth, Australia.

Good morning, Atika.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Weather conditions were pretty bad in the search area. Visibility was low, but the search planes still went out, about a dozen of them in the air. We are expecting the first flights to come back any time now here at Pearce Airbase. But it is very frustrating for them. They're -- day after day, they're going out for the search, and they're saying they're doing the best they can with the information they've been given.

But as you point out, there might have been a few days lost because there simply wasn't enough coordination. And at this point, we're not 100 percent sure, even, that they're looking in the right place.

BERMAN: No, the right place, exactly. That search zone has changed and they've been there since, at this point, Friday, with, I hesitate to say, nothing to show for it.

Meanwhile, Atika, these underwater search vessels and underwater equipment are steaming out to that area, but that's only because it's there and they want to get it on site, not because they have any reasonable expectation that it could locate the black box at this point, correct?

SHUBERT: Absolutely. The first thing they have to do is find some debris from the plane. If they can just find even one piece, then they'll be able to trace it back, figure out approximately where the plane went down, and then they can bring out that TPL-25, that towed pinger locator, but until they have that debris, they really can't deploy it.

And so, the Ocean Shield is out there, and it will join the search, but it really can't use its specialist equipment until they find something.

BERMAN: And again, we are awaiting the first of the planes from the search area to return back to that base near Perth, where Atika is right now. Conditions not great today, but we will report back to you what they say when that happens.

Thanks, Atika.

HARLOW: Well, for the families of the 239 people on board Flight 370, nothing but more heartache and frustration. Debris sightings in the Indian Ocean raising hopes and then dashing them. Their distrust of the Malaysian government growing by the day and now they are preparing to take legal action.

David McKenzie joins us this morning from Beijing, where many of the families are.

You have been with these families really through and through. And when it comes to legal action that they may take, I know there's been a pretty significant development overnight. What can you tell us?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Poppy. Certainly, legal action could be on the cards between these families and the manufacturer of the plane, which is Boeing, and the airline itself, though some analysts saying it's way too early to, obviously, suggest blame. Some legal teams are already doing that. Apparently, or in fact, according to a senior lawyer on the scene, all the major players in airline litigation are there at that hotel in the midst of these grieving families, trying to represent them.

I spoke to one head of litigation from Ribbeck Law. Here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONICA KELLY, HEAD OF AVIATION LITIGATION, RIBBECK LAW: If we find the debris, then we will have our experts analyze the evidence that has been provided so far, and then we will continue with our theory of the case, that the plane crashed because equipment failure or mechanical failure, and we will have to prove this case in a court of law against the manufacturer of the plane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: That initial petition from Ribbeck Law was, in fact, thrown out of court, of the federal court in Chicago, but they say that they will pursue litigation, most likely against Boeing, and possibly against Malaysian Airlines. If the search continues without finding any debris which can be linked to the plane, then it becomes a very difficult scenario from a legal standpoint, because they have to prove, obviously, some sort of negligence or mechanical failure in those courts, in those civil courts, but certainly, the families predominantly have told me that their main concern is some kind of closure about their loved ones, and many very far from their mind.

But obviously, as time stretches on, that will be a factor for people whose, you know, particularly breadwinners who were on that flight.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

David McKenzie for us this morning in Beijing, thank you.

BERMAN: And of course, the search for Flight 370 depends so much on the weather conditions.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: In that really unpredictable part of the Southern Indian Ocean.

Our Indra Petersons has a look at what they're up against today and going forward.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and the weather just keeps fluctuating here. You can see one system kind of moved out of the region, but you can tell even more clouds now moving into the region. That's the reason they're concerned going forward, at least at this point in time. We're looking at more clouds. That visibility now decreasing and even some rain entering the region.

Very easy to see in the next 48 hours. Unfortunately, this will be the situation as the system does kind of make its way through the area. As far as the rain projected, yes, we're going to be hit-and- miss some light rain, but at periods of time, they are going to start to see some of that heavy rain, which of course only hinders that visibility even more. So we are looking for some little bit of good news in that region, and the one I can give you is the fact that the winds, generally speaking, kind of on the mild side, about 10, 20 miles per hour.

Yes, there's period where they're going to see 30, 40-mile-per-hour winds, but it looks like they are going to be decreasing as they go forward in time. So there's that one little hint we're looking for.

HARLOW: Any break? Any break yet.

PETERSONS: Yes, they need the wave heights to go down.

HARLOW: Absolutely. Thanks, Indra. Appreciate it.

All right. We're going to of course keep following the latest developments in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, including details of the transcript, all of the conversation between the cockpit and the tower. We have it in our hands, they have just released.

First, though, the U.S. government getting more involved in the Ukraine crisis today. Congress voting on an aid package and also how Russia should be punished for trying to take over -- no, not trying to -- taking over part of the country. We're live with the very latest straight after the break.

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HARLOW: Welcome back. More of our coverage on the search for missing Flight 370 in just a moment. First, though, new developments from the crisis in Ukraine.

In Washington, the House is finally expected to pass a measure today providing aid to Ukraine and imposing tighter sanctions on Russia, and there are now reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered some of his troops along the Ukrainian board to withdraw, at least that is what he reportedly told German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Let's go to Karl Penhaul, he is live for us this morning on the Russia/Ukraine border.

What can you tell us? What is the latest between this conversation with Putin and Merkel? What do we know?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the Russian border is just a few miles that way, and that really puts a different aspect on all of these conversations, whether between Russia and Germany or in Paris between John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov, because the people here in this border region really don't trust the Russians where they say, OK, Putin says he may be moving one battalion of 800 men back from the border, but they still believe that there are many thousands more Russian troops massing just over there.

And so people like this, people like these men have formed self- defense militias. Normally, these are civilians, but they have had some military experience in the distant past. So now they're forming self-defense militias because they say that if the Russians do invade, they will help the military.

These may also start up some sort of guerrilla war, breaking down into small units. And that's why these men have been setting up some kind of camp here.

Let me just quickly show you around. You've got sandbags here. We've got sandbags here, and I'll get (INAUDIBLE) to show you, they've been sandbagging here. They're starting to make up Molotov cocktails as well, because they say if the Russians do advance along this main highway, they will have to stage these kind of guerrilla strikes to try and hold the Russians up, to give the Ukrainian military time to respond.

Again, with trenching tools as well, they've been digging in and building little trenches around their outposts, saying this can be a fallback position, firing position, or even if the Ukrainian military want to use this as a fallback position and fight. I show you all this, because really, what it does show is, regardless of any talks and any promises of a troop pullback, there is a palpable fear here that the Russians could roll in at any time.

Back to you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, absolutely. That really puts it in perspective for us, visualizing that no matter what we are told and what they are told, possibly, from the Russian government or what German Chancellor Angela Merkel is told, they do not believe that there is going to be that significant withdrawal, clearly.

Thank you for the reporting, Karl. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: Really a physical example.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: A picture of the distrust between those two nations right now.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right. About a quarter to the hour right now and there's a new wrinkle in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Families revealing what they think could be the flight path that the jetliner may have taken before the flight ended in the Indian Ocean.

So how can their view of the flight impact the investigation? We're going to discuss that right after the break.

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BERMAN: All right, breaking news this morning. CNN has obtained the official transcript of the final conversation between the crew of Flight 370 and air traffic controllers. We'll have more on that in just a bit.

Also, I want to show you a picture that's caused a little bit of controversy here. This is a composite put together by grieving families from Flight 370 in China from what they say is public available information. In their view, it shows a different route from the left-hand turn depicted until now by radar, from the radar being released by the Malaysian government. They say it raises even more questions about exactly what happened to flight 370. CNN and other organizations asked Malaysian officials about this picture Monday, getting only a cannot confirm or deny response from them.

Joining us from London is former pilot and aviation consultant Alastair Rosenschein.

Alastair, I want to start with the transcript now because the Malaysian government just released it in full about an hour ago. With it, they put out a statement saying it is -- there is no indication of anything abnormal in the transcript.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: We've gone over it. It seems like very routine, mundane language to us.

ALASTAIR ROSENSCHEIN, FORMER BRITISH AIRWAYS PILOT: Yes, it's perfectly routine to me. An earlier transcript was released to the relatives. It was translated from the English into Mandarin and back into English, and it provided a language that was not that of the pilot's. But this transcript is perfectly normal. There's nothing there at all that's untoward.

HARLOW: Let's talk more about that because perhaps something actually lost in translation here when we're talking about the final words. Because we were told by Malaysian officials weeks ago that the final sign-off from the cockpit to the tower was "all right, goodnight." Now they're saying, and we see in the transcripts, that it was quote, "Goodnight, Malaysian 370."

As a pilot who's very informed, and you know all about these sign- offs, does that matter? Is there a material difference here at all?

ROSENSCHEIN: Only that one version is obviously wrong, but I would say the second version, which is, "Goodnight, Malaysian 370," is the normal sort of call you would make. I mean, they left out the frequency they're supposed to call for Ho Chi Minh City.

HARLOW: Right.

ROSENSCHEIN: 1:20.9, but I think that's irrelevant. One often forgets to say that.

BERMAN: Alastair, so the families have put together this map of what they believe to be, you know, the flight route of Flight 370. They say they put it together from the available public information out there, and it differs from the official version, from the Malaysian government right now.

You know, is it possible for people who aren't aviation experts to just gather public information that's out there and put together a route that would be so different, seemingly, with that loopdy-loop there than what is being released by officials?

ROSENSCHEIN: Well, I think it's partly based on a complete breakdown in trust between the relatives, as we now know, and the Malaysian authorities. I, you know, whilst an aircraft could have followed that route, I have no idea how they came about it. It still puts the aircraft in the same final location, over the Andaman Sea. And from there, when it was lost on primary radar, we don't know where it went.

I cannot comment more than that. I just think it's more than likely incorrect. I mean, for a start, it shows a right-hand turn, whereas all along, the official story was that it was a left-hand turn. So the two things -- one of them is clearly wrong.

BERMAN: All right, Alastair Rosenschein, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

HARLOW: Yes. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: And again, the headline here, you know, as a flight expert, Alastair tells us nothing out of the ordinary.

HARLOW: Nothing.

BERMAN: And that transcript that has now been released just hours ago, the conversation between air traffic control and the cockpit seems mundane, seems routine to him.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: And extremely routine, he says.

HARLOW: But Malaysian authorities still saying they think that someone deliberately did this. The question is what else do they know and when are we going to find out what that is? We're going to have more news, all the top headlines, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: The new CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, testifies before the house today on why it took the automaker a decade to recall some 2.2 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches. Thirteen deaths and 31 crashes have been linked to the defect. Meanwhile, GM is recalling 1.3 million more vehicles, this just happened yesterday, for sudden loss of power steering. That brings the total in terms of GM recalls this year to over six million.

BERMAN: Poppy Harlow minutes away from catching a plane to go to Washington and cover that in hearing in D.C. today.

HARLOW: Right, I'll be covering that.

BERMAN: Also in Washington today, a closed-door meeting between lawmakers and Secret Service Director Julia Pierson. Last week, three agents were sent home from the president's overseas trip after one of these agents was found passed out drunk. This follows a car crash during a detail last month, and of course, the 2012 scandal involving agents and sex workers in Colombia. This meeting today will reassess reforms put in place after that incident. HARLOW: Global markets kicking off the second quarter on a higher note today, after a slew of global economic data came in, stocks pointing to a higher open. Here in the United States as well, we told you yesterday about best-selling author Michael Lewis's comments that the stock market is rigged.

Now everyone from law enforcement to Wall Street is weighing in. The FBI pointing to a year-long investigation into those high-speed trading firms that Lewis says rig the market. New York's attorney general also says he's been looking into the matter, as are the SEC and the CFTC. Two of the agencies that regulate Wall Street and traitors.

"Wall Street" itself, many people saying look, the market isn't rigged. One "Wall Street" executive telling CNN that the rise of electronic trading actually allows regular Americans to buy stocks with less hassle and lower fees, but I have to say can't wait to read the book. It was a fascinating report.

BERMAN: I read the long, extended version in the "New York Times" magazine overnight.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: I couldn't go to sleep because I was reading it.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: Does not inspire confidence, folks.

HARLOW: It affects so many people.

BERMAN: No, it affects you and it will make you very, very nervous. Poppy Harlow on her way to D.C. to cover the GM hearings.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: Everyone watch that. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, we have the transcript. The final words between the cockpit and air traffic control are not what we were previously told. Our experts weigh in and take a hard look at the investigation. Is it fatally flawed?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Under Fire. GM recalling a million more vehicles as its CEO heads to Capitol Hill to face some very tough question -- why weren't the cars recalled sooner? More than a dozen lives may have been lost because of it.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight. The Obamacare enrollment deadline passed at midnight. Now the big question, did the administration hit its target of seven million sign-up? The new numbers this morning.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It is April 1st, but this is not on April Fools' joke. Malaysian officials are now saying they got the communication from the cockpit of Flight 370 wrong. They are now not even sure who was talking.

Let's start this morning in Kuala Lumpur with Jim Clancy who first obtained the mew transcript of the communication.