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NEW DAY SATURDAY

Thirteen Planes, 11 Ships Searching for Flight 370; Argument May Have Lead to Fort Hood Spree; China State News: Patrol Ship Detects Pulse Signal

Aired April 5, 2014 - 07:00   ET

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


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Within hours, the pinger that could lead searchers to that plane's black box could go silent. So, once that signal ends the best chance of finding the plane could be gone as well.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And this will be an entirely different search. So, let's talk about the search today, though, at least 11 ships and 13 planes are looking on the surface of the Indian Ocean. Now, under water, two ships the HMS Echo and the Ocean Field, they're trying to hear those pings -- the sonar that were placed under water now.

PAUL: Yes, the pings you're hearing right now.

BLACKWELL: And a submarine is below the surface, the HMS Tireless is also helping in this hunt.

PAUL: Now, on shore, back on shore we should point out, there's a closer look at the pilot's simulator going on right now that's turned up some, quote, "curious findings". That's how it was characterizes. No smoking gun, though, that could lead to answers, we're told. But experts say the simulator is what you might expect a professional pilot to use.

So, we don't know how unusual it is.

BLACKWELL: How curious is it really.

Now, all of this comes four weeks to the day after the plane vanished and it only adds to the mystery.

PAUL: This morning, search crews are focused specifically on this 150-mile underwater tract of the search zone. And officials are hoping that high-tech equipment, we were talking about, with a little bit luck hopefully is going to help them find debris.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Jim Clancy is live there in Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia.

Jim, I think what stood out to me was, today, no announcement of any major credible, no major satellite images, just kind of, you know, new committees, ministerial committees. What stands out to you?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What stands out to me is we're going through bureaucracy of this investigation. We're paying a lot of attention to how the investigation looks to the outside world. We're talking about an independent panel which would still be controlled by Malaysia but would include countries like Australia, China, the U.S., U.K., and France as well as others. Looks very international, looks very independent.

But the object of an investigation has to be to be to find some results. And so far, we're not getting any results. We tried to go through with Hishammuddin Hussein, the acting transport minister, give us a better idea, draw us a picture, precisely what the Chinese families asked. Draw us a picture where this plane went and how they did it. Instead, we're learning different things, we're learning, for instance that -- yes, some people have listened to the audiotapes of the cockpits that knew both pilots, colleagues, friends but still no definitive answer there who said, "good night, Malaysia 370."

We heard that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was ready to cooperate. Everybody is ready to cooperate. Asean praising Malaysia, doing its level best. But still, we can't draw that map, say and what happened with this plane. What would give information of what the intent was at the time that it diverted from its normal course to Beijing, turn right around and made a beeline to Antarctica.

And, you know, I think it's more than a little bit of luck that's going to be needed with those pinger detectors, those pinger finders down there, because it's vast.

Let me just play out one little part here of what was said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: Malaysia has already asked Australia to be accredited to the investigation team, and they have accepted. We will also include China, the United States, the United Kingdom and France as accredited representatives to the investigation team. Along with other countries that we feel are in a position to help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: Now, already Victor, Christi, we have almost all those countries directly involved, Australia to be sure. The FAA, the NTSB, people, the FBI, here in Kuala Lumpur all involved but we're not hearing back just what they're getting out of their investigation, nothing solid in terms of evidence.

That's not encouraging. Back to you.

BLACKWELL: No, not at all, especially for those families still waiting.

Jim Clancy there in Kuala Lumpur for us this morning -- Jim, thank you.

PAUL: And investigators who really hope the pilot's flight simulator, remember, might turn up some useful information. They focused on this thing. And now, they say that hard drive did lead to some, quote, "curious findings but no definitive answers."

Pamela Brown is joining us by phone right now.

Pamela, I know you talked to some folks there. What did they mean by curious, did they elaborate?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, one of my sources who has first hand knowledge of the investigation said after combing through the five hard drives from the co-pilot and pilot, that there were some curious findings but nothing that jumped out from investigators that we got information that would indicate a clear motive.

According to my source, there were searches, web searches, from the captain about flight emergencies. What to do during flight emergencies. These are just examples. But what would you do if there was a fire in the back of plane? What would you do if there was decompression? Those aren't specific examples that were searched necessarily. But it was those kind of searches.

So, of course, given the context of the missing plane, that might have raised eyebrows initially but my source is that these are also searches that any experienced professional pilot would likely do. And also, investigators found alternate routes that were programmed into the captain's simulator. Routes that he would not normally fly, as well as emergency routes from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Again, in an event of emergency, where with the nearest airport be.

But in the context this is a pilot who what more than 18,000 hours of experience, it's not abnormal that those -- you know, that those be programs into the simulator.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Pamela Brown, thank you so much for reporting what you learned. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: So, we've learned some elements about the hard drive. But as discussed in the news conference, Malaysian officials have denied a request from the families to release the audio recordings from at least the air traffic control side of the conversations with the cockpit.

Let's bring in Steve Wallace. He's the former director of the FAA's office of accident investigation.

PAUL: Authorities say and welcome, Steve. We appreciate you be here.

Good morning, Christi and Victor.

STEVE WALLACE, FORMER FAA DIRECTOR: Authorities say that because the investigation is still active, that's why they're not going to release the recordings, not even to the pilot's family. In your opinion, do you think they should do so?

PAUL: Yes. Well, you know, Jim Clancy made a very good point. This investigation, it has lacked transparency from day one. And to hear the defense minister this morning, four weeks after this airplane disappeared announced that we have accredited representatives of these various countries.

In a modern, western day investigation this would happen on day one. You might add some parties later, but the country of manufacturer, country of operator, countries that bring expertise, they're accredited on day one and it's a transparent investigation.

As far as air traffic control tapes, in the United States, the FAA has the tapes, they run the air traffic control system. They will withhold the public release of those tapes until the NTSB says we don't need to keep them secret any longer for the investigation. This typically is just a few days. And so, we would release them not just to the families, but even to the public, hold an event where you could listen to the air traffic control tapes.

This is not the cockpit voice tape on the recorder. That's an entirely different matter.

BLACKWELL: I'm sure, Steve, you heard the acting transportation minister, Hishammuddin Hussein this morning say I convinced them to release at least the transcript, I guess taking some credit there.

You told our producer, and I've got the quote here, that there's this endless pattern of sketchy evidence from the Malaysians that damages the credibility of the investigation. Do you believe that this endless pattern has created damage that is irreparable?

WALLACE: Well, I would say it's irreparable in terms of the suffering of these families which we have seen so graphically. And because that's -- you can't recover that. Is it -- it's probably not irreparable in terms of ultimately finding out the cause of this accident.

But the lack of transparency with these families and the whole handling, you know, there should have been -- privacy should have been protected. They should have been given kind of advanced briefings on things, that's -- that, I think is not ever going to be fully recoverable.

PAUL: You know, a lot has been made, too, of the signoff, that it was different than we actually thought that they actually said "good night Malaysia 37."

Why would there be a discrepancy this many weeks later and why is it important?

WALLACE: Well, it's just another example of what we've been talking about that there is a transparency. This is not rocket science. You get -- you release the tape. Sometimes, air traffic communications garbled, so they you get a bunch of experts to listen to it and give their best opinion of what that says.

Early on in the investigation, I was handed a transcript. I'm a pilot. It's it was preposterous on its face. I think it had been translated into different languages. And it was completely -- which isn't simply the way pilots talk. Now, we probably got that straighten out. And let me add one quick little point on Pam Brown talked about the simulator, and I have to say, and I haven't really found anything definitive as they said. But to divert this airplane to some remote location is extremely easy for a pilot trained in that flight management system. So, it wouldn't really take any practice. I wouldn't expect to find, you know, a diversion in the middle of the Indian Ocean in this pilot's simulator.

BLACKWELL: All right. Steve Wallace, former director of the FAA's office of accident investigation. Thanks for joining us this morning, Steve.

WALLACE: Thank you, Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Thank you, sir. Much more on the search ahead.

But we do want to talk about the fact that investigators say it's an argument that may have led to the Fort Hood shooting. Something else you may have been watching so closely this week. The big question, what is that argument about?

BLACKWELL: Plus, a lot of kids will go out and have these -- chicken nuggets. Hey, maybe the parents enjoy, maybe you like them yourself. But there's a major recall you need to know about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: All right. Fourteen minutes past the hour.

We're going to get back to the coverage of the missing Malaysia Flight 370 in just a minute because it's a crucial day that the pinger from that black box could go silent within hours.

But there are other things you need to know about. Primarily for all you chicken nugget eaters, and we know there are a lot of you out there. Tyson is recalling more than 75,000 pounds of popular chicken nuggets.

BLACKWELL: Yes, customers complained of finding bits of plastic in the food. The recall is for only five-pound bags sold at Sam's Club stores. If have one of the bags, contact Tyson and toss it out.

PAUL: Meanwhile, a memorial service is going to be held next week, we've learned, for those three soldiers at Fort Hood. Wednesday, specialist Ivan Lopez (AUDIO GAP) fire killing Sergeant Danny Ferguson, Timothy Owens and Carlos Lazaney-Rodriguez before he took his own life and 16 others were wounded in the process as well.

BLACKWELL: And now, investigators say an argument preceded the shooting.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live there at Fort Hood.

Nick, Christie just said, three killed. Sixteen others wounded. What was this argument about? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's really indicative what we're hearing now, this argument is what led to the dispute. That's what is in this morning's paper, "Dispute led to attack."

Up until this point, Victor and Christi, we have been told that perhaps mental instability, Lopez's long history of instability could have played a role in the shooting. But yesterday, General Milley, the general here at Ft. Hood, he had a different point. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GEN. MARK MILLEY, FORT HOOD COMMANDER: His underlying medical conditions are not a direct precipitating factor. We believe that the immediate precipitating factor was more likely of an escalating argument in this unit area, but we're still conducting that detailed investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: What we do know about the details about this verbal at indication, that Ivan Lopez came to this base sometime on Wednesday afternoon asking for a leave request form. When he was told to come back a day later, that's when things unraveled. There's still no clear motive here, Army officials are telling us that, emphasizing that to us. But they do say that this verbal altercation is really germane to their investigation -- Victor, Christie.

PAUL: Nick, I know that you talked to some of the soldiers there at Fort Hood, what are they saying?

VALENCIA: Well, you know, some have come to the defense of this place, this army base being a great place they call it. In fact, behind me, that's one of the slogans here, the great place, Fort Hood. There are others, they tell a much darker story of the military base. They speak of low morale. One soldier called this the black hole and she said she wasn't surprised that a shooting happened here.

Senator Ted Cruz was here yesterday to give a press conference to the media. And I asked him about that. I stopped to talk to him. Well, he did stop to answer a question. He really didn't answer the question. I sort of pressed him on that, at which point, his handlers just whisked him away.

But, you know, there are people in this community Victor and Christi, that aren't really surprised that a shooting happened here. You know, this community is haunted by that 2005 shooting of Major Nidal Hasan. And when you speak to people in the community, there are some that say, you know, it's not shocking what happened here on Wednesday afternoon -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Nick Valencia, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Going from Nick to Jennifer Gray right now to find out what's going on with the weather. BLACKWELL: Hey, Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, guys. Yes, coming up in just a little bit, we're going to talk about the area in the search zone and we're lucky in one regard that the search zone has actually moved because there's some nasty weather just outside of that that we're going to talk about and let you know if it's going to affect the searchers. Coming up in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: You know, we're in some pivotal hours of the search for Flight 370 right now because there say chance that the pinger in that black box is going to stop pinging within hours at this point, as far as we know. And to make it worse, there's a tropical storm brewing.

BLACKWELL: Weather could be a big problem. Let's get more from CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

Jennifer, I mean, there aren't many factors that are helping these searchers, but now, rough weather could help?

GRAY: Yes. Well, luckily, the tropical cyclone is outside of this search area. But if this search area moves in a little bit more to the West -- yes, it could be trouble. Tropical cyclone is brewing. It is heading to the south, but a lot of time when you say get the tropical systems, it kind of sucks all the energy towards its center and so, there's actually better weather away from it. And so that's what we're seeing, actually clear skies in the area and not much in the form of rain.

So, this tropical cyclone is going to slide down to the south and east for the next couple of days. We'll see cloud cover across the area but we're really not going to see much rain there, so visibility might be limited from the air, but as far as the seas are concerned, the roughest weather will be outside to the west.

This thing is only packing 50-mile-per-hour winds, and that's right at the center. And we've seen winds greater than that just on a normal stormy day. So, forecast winds over the next 24 hours look to be in the 20 to 30-mile-per-hour range. A lot of the search areas, though, winds will be less than 20. And so, that's very good news as far as the search area goes, guys.

So the tropical cyclone, yes, it is to the west. But right now, not directly affecting that search area, may get a couple of swells, but as far as that's concerned, that's pretty much it.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jennifer Gray, even those as well as don't help. Thank you.

PAUL: Yes. You know, right now, a big part of the effort to find the missing Malaysia airliner lies on -- I'm hearing those pings as we were talking about, and the batteries as we said could die within hours at this point if they're not dead already even.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I mean, it's possible that die 10 days ago.

CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh has more for us.

Rene, good morning.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, as the ship moves under water, two ships, the Australian Ocean Shield and the British HMS Echo are scanning a 150-mile track of deep blue sea around the clock. They're inching along at about two to three miles per hour. The Ocean Shield is equipped with a pinger locator which is towed behind the vessel. It detects pings from the plane's black box's in water in as deep as 20,000 feet.

But this specific mission could be futile, the manufacturers of the pingers attacked to Flight 370's data recorders tells CNN they were due for a maintenance overhaul and new batteries in 2012 but they were never returned for the fix.

Now, that could mean three things: Malaysia Airlines replaced the old pingers, had the maintenance done some place else or had outdated pingers. If they were outdated, they'd have a shorter battery life and wouldn't last 30 days as required.

BLACKWELL: All right. Rene Marsh there for us. Rene, thank you so much.

PAUL: And searchers, as you know, are hoping to find Flight 370 deep under the Indian ocean and using different perspectives to do so today.

BLACKWELL: If they do, how hard will it be to bring the wreckage to the surface. More than 10,000 feet deep this water is. We'll have more, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: An update on mortgages right now -- 30-year fixed mortgages rose slightly this week. Other rates slightly down. Take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: How's breakfast? Victor's ready for some right now.

BLACKWELL: I am, there's a protein shake on its way to this desk soon.

PAUL: Oh, it is the bottom of the hour right now. You just have whatever you want. I'm Christi Paul. Glad to have you with us.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. A hungry Victor Blackwell. We'll take care of that in a moment.

Let's start with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

Up first, the locator beacons that could lead search teams to the Flight 370 black boxes, they could stop within hours. Two ships, the HMS Echo and Australia's Ocean Shield, they're trying to detect those pings. But the batteries may only last 30 days. And this afternoon will be 30 days since Flight 370 vanished.

BLACKWELL: Number two, turn out is heavy for Afghanistan's presidential election today. The voting has been extended by an hour. The winner will succeed Hamid Karzai. Now, Taliban militants had vowed to disrupt the vote. They carried out a number of attacks in the days leading up to today's election.

BLACKWELL: Number three, officials now say an escalating argument may have led to this week's shooting at Fort Hood. Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three soldiers before shooting himself and killing himself, in fact. Sixteen others were wounded. Now, a memorial service will be held next week for the victims killed in this attack.

PAUL: Number four, a major milestone for the U.S. labor market Friday. The private sector finally added back all the jobs lost in the financial crisis, as 192,000 jobs were added to payroll last month. But economists caution that recovery is still slow and it's still fragile.

BLACKWELL: Five now, former President George W. Bush, he's sharing his passion with painting with the word today. Starting today, rather, a collection of portraits painted by Bush will go on display at the presidential library in Dallas. The never-before-seen portraits include paintings of world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. You see Karzai there. Also, the Dalai Lama. The exhibit is called the Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy.

PAUL: Well, this morning, 11 ships, 13 planes, all frantically searching for Flight 370. And Australia's prime minister says the search is, quote, "the most difficult in human history." Even if the wreckage is found, you wonder how much of this plane could be salvaged.

Well, Randi Kaye looks at the technology and the challenges involved in that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what it looks like trying to recover an airplane in the ocean. You're watching a U.S. Navy salvage team gather pieces of TWA Flight 800 which went down off New York in 1996. Here divers are maneuvering among pieces of the twisted wreckage.

RET. CAPT. CHIP MCCORD, FORMER U.S. NAVY SUPERVISOR OF SALVAGE: The U.S. Navy actually has recovered an intact helicopter from about 17,000 feet. So they have the capability. They've done this before.

KAYE: Retired Navy Captain Chip McCord has been involved in at least 50 ocean salvage operations, including TWA 800 and Swiss Air Flight 111, which crashed in 1998 off the coast of Nova Scotia. Those were both in water much shallower than the Indian Ocean. But the Navy has remote underwater vehicles designed for deepwater salvage operations. They can go as deep as 20,000 feet, but the deeper the recovery the slower the process.

MCCORD: It takes about a thousand -- an hour for every 1,000 feet that you need to descend. So if you're going to 11,000 feet, you can count on 11 hours to get down.

KAYE: At those depths, it's pitch black. So the underwater vehicles are equipped with lights and cameras. They're also outfitted with sonar to scout for debris. They are steered by two operators on board the ship above who use instant feedback from the salvage vehicle's cameras to direct the robotic arms.

MCCORD: They can hover, they can move left, right, forward and aft and go to where they need very carefully hover over a piece and pick it up if they need to.

KAYE: Remember Air France Flight 447 which crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009? Two years later an unmanned underwater vehicle found the debris field for that flight 13,000 feet beneath the ocean's surface. The engines were pulled from the ocean floor. If Flight 370 is found, search teams are prepared to do the same.

MCCORD: If it's small like the black boxes you can put a little basket on the ROV and the arms from the ROV can pick it up and put it in the basket.

KAYE: But the remote underwater vehicles can only carry about 4,000 pounds. So anything heavier like a large piece of the fuselage will have to be attached to a cable and pulled to the surface by a crane on the ship.

(on camera): Keep in mind, this could be happening miles below the surface, an incredibly difficult task. Still, no doubt salvage teams will keep their eyes peeled for the black box, hoping to get some much-needed answers first.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLACKWELL: All right. We're going to continue the conversation now. But we've got breaking news in from the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, that Chinese patrol ship searching the area of the Indian Ocean has detected a pulse signal.

PAUL: A pulse signal.

BLACKWELL: A pulse signal. That's as much as we know about this.

So let's bring in an expert who can tell us more, Simon Boxall, oceanographer with the National Oceanography Center.

PAUL: So, let me ask you, Simon, we're hearing this is a pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5 kilohertz per second in the Indian Ocean, does that mean anything to you? Did that tell you anything?

SIMON BOXALL, OCEANOGRAPHER: Without hearing any more detail, obviously, this just came through, I've just heard it, I'll be astounded if they come across the pinger, it really is looking for a needle in a field of haystacks. Problem is, of course, there's so much equipment down there, they could just be picking up signal pings from other ships in the area.

I mean, if they have located the pinger, it would be fantastic, but of course, being here before with satellite images, they're in an entirely different part of the ocean, let alone the sort of the wrong region. So let's hope this is a sign, if this is the pinger, then as we've heard the recovery is doable, it's a feasible recovery in the 21st century.

The biggest problem is actually locating any seabed wreckage in the first place. This region is like ruckus. It's huge. It's bigger than the Great Lakes of North America, in terms of its coverage. And the chance of finding is about same as winning the national lottery.

I mean, it's fantastic if they've located it, but I have to see more data.

PAUL: We welcome our viewers who are joining us from around the world as we now simulcast on CNN's International Network.

We're talking with Simon Boxall, who is an oceanographer with the National Oceanography Center. The question is, if not a pinger from a black box, Simon, what else could send up this pulse signal, that according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, a Chinese patrol ship has detected in the South Indian Ocean?

BOXALL: Well, a lot of equipment we deploy in the oceans, scientists will often send a ping for location, when we want to get back the equipment. We know one uses pingers to transmit sound data, so we can focus in on our equipment. There are, as we heard, a lot of ships all using acoustic systems.

So, while I'm not dismissing this as a positive, this needs a lot more information in obviously homing in on where that signal is found.

PAUL: You know, if you do find something with this locator that they've been talk about, again, this is a ship, this is not the pinger locator necessarily, will they divert where that pinger locater is to be closer to this Chinese ship?

BOXALL: That would be the thing to do, you know, if they get more information from them. The advantage of the two ships out there, HMS Echo and Ocean Shield, Ocean Shield is using a U.S. Navy, red box U.S. Navy pinger, HMS Echo is using a U.K.-based system. It would be essential to get them onsite because they have the ability to look at the data it.

If it's still sending out a signal that the Chinese ship can detect, as long as they can get there quickly, we don't know how far apart the Chinese ships from the other two ships. So, there is hope to see whether this new information and new ping is the aircraft, this is the black box. But we need to wait and see.

PAUL: You know, Simon, I think you used the word a moment ago that you would be astounded if indeed this ping is from one of the black boxes because the odds are stacked against all of these crews that are searching having no sight of debris, because the depth of the water, the terrain there below the water, and all of that can get in the way of sending out a signal that's only detectable at what, one or two nautical miles?

BOXALL: Yes, at most. I mean, bear in mind, that the terrain is between 10,000 and 15,000 feet deep. So it's different than the terrain they were looking at, say, 10 days ago. It's a much more complex terrain, much deeper in parts.

So they've got to be right on top of it. The Chinese ship is likely to have the sort of equipments available on HMS Echo and Ocean Shield, but if they can get closer, they can towing their detector, their transponder at the a much deeper depth, which is away from the noise at the surface and they can also distinguish it from other equipment, other ocean noises and the noise from the actual transponder on the black box.

So my guess is, if this information is as it says it is when if they can get one of those two ships much closer to the location of the Chinese ship, they may have stumbled across the black box.

But as you said, they've got to be pretty much on top of it. And the chances of that are phenomenally slim but they do happen.

PAUL: You know, so I have a tweet here from John. And I thought about it when you said they haven't even found any debris. They haven't definitively found any debris. And he had tweeted is it possible that the flight landed perfectly on top of the water, "Sully" style, as it's now being called, then saying, thus, you have no debris? How plausible is that?

BOXALL: No. Given the sea conditions in this area, you know, whether that plane landed safely on the water, it was flat calm. We know when the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean, it wasn't flat calm. It's likely to be an uncontrolled landing.

The probability is it would have broken up on landing. Now, why isn't there debris in the area? That debris can move quite a distance and we know that debris can disperse through many different directions. And, of course, along of it, with time, saturated and sink away with air pockets trapping the air, making, say, wing sections or whatever floats. With the storms they've had over the last few weeks, that would tend to knock the air out of it. So any surface debris will reduce and disperse fairly quickly.

BLACKWELL: For the people who are just joining us here in the U.S. and around the world, the breaking news at this moment, Chinese state news agency Xinhua is reporting that a Chinese patrol ship searching an area of the south Indian Ocean has detected a pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5 kilohertz per second. So we are, of course, trying to determine, working to determine, as they are, if that pulse is from the pinger of the black box. And we happen to have one here courtesy of G.A. Telesis, a company in south Florida.

Guys, if you can take this on camera two. I want to show exactly what the pinger -- where the pinger is. We've got a camera coming here. The pinger is in the front of the black box. It's the cylinder.

PAUL: The white cylinder.

BLACKWELL: The white cylinder up front here. That is what is emitting the ping, the Bluefin-21, this TPL, the pinger locator 25, both U.S. resources, are searching for, that battery expected to day, if it held for 30 days, within a few hours of now. Although some analysts say it could have died several days ago or could last a few more days.

You see in the center, this little silver dot here, that is the sensor. Once this is submerged in the water, that is the sensor for the pinger to send off a ping. And it pings once per second for 30 days if the battery life holds. We know as the battery starts to die, that ping, according to the manufacturer of the beacon will start to get weak and less frequent.

So right now, this is the very crucial period, if it had 30 days that 30 days is up this afternoon.

PAUL: This afternoon. So, that is, again, if this pulse turns out to be anything, absolutely extraordinary. Somebody who has been passionate about this is Richard Quest. He has followed this. He has done his research. He's on the phone with us right now.

Richard, what do you make of latest information that the Chinese patrol ship has discovered a pulse signal in the southern Indian Ocean?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I think first of all, you have to note the 37.5 hertz signal that they're being specific about saying because that is the frequency upon which this pinger is supposed to be transmitting.

So, from that point of view, you know, they haven't just heard something. They've heard what they believe to be the right frequency of 37.5 kilohertz per second in the south Indian Ocean. And also, it's widely understand that can the Chinese ship involved has been very much intensified in the efforts to detect the signal from the black box. It arrived Friday, to north of the area where everybody has been searching.

If they have found it, if they believe they found it, and bearing in mind, we're not entirely sure what equipment anyone has on board, this would be a remarkable finding, indeed. And this would be quite extraordinary.

We don't, for example, what pinger location equipment it's got on board. We know the Ocean Shield, but we've never been told anything about what it has on board.

Now, ne other point, and I'm going to be a little skeptical on this, of course. You'll remember, it was the Chinese that brought out the satellite photographs very early on in the investigation. Very early on in the investigation which turned out to be in the wrong part of the -- in the northern part of the South China Sea, exactly the location from where the search is taking place.

BLACKWELL: Richard, the Bluefin-21, the towed pinger locator, TPL 25, we know are also in the region, one of the resources at least in the water, what speed, and how long will it take to get the sources below water to the site to see if they can zero in on where this can be?

QUEST: Well, first of all, I'm not sure the distance where between the one is claiming to be and where the Ocean Shield is located. We know that the actual searching operation, we know that that searching operation is very slow, a mere couple miles per hour. And that's because of the nature of the waves, the way the search has to be done. All sorts of reasons that are, frankly, way beyond me.

But the experts have said, it has to be done at a very slow speed.

Now, if -- I keep coming back to this, because it is the most remarkable announcement this morning. The fact that, you know, the Chinese patrol ship is saying it's discovered a pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5 per second is quite remarkable. If it proves to be valid and then you can guarantee every resource, every ship, every plane will be heading in that direction ASAP.

PAUL: All right. Hey, listen, we've got Mary Schiavo on the phone right now.

Mary, again -- I'm sorry, she's live with us, I believe.

Mary, thank you for being with us so quickly, as we get to this new news that we're getting in. And again, I just want to reiterate to the news we got in, Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 discovered a pulse signal with a frequency 37.5 kilohertz per second in the South Indian Ocean just a short time ago and we're just getting word of it. Again, this does not mean what they have found what we've been looking for here, the black box. However --

BLACKWELL: We should also say this is according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua. So, that's their reporting that this ship is found.

PAUL: Right. So, Mary, what do you make of the news this morning?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it's highly significant because it's the right kilohertz, it's the right pulse frequency. You can pick up various pulses. You can pick them from, you know, engines and machineries and ships. Various things have pulses.

But in the pulse and frequency was picked because it's not just something that appears in different things. So, finding a 37.5 kilohertz pulse is significant because that is the black box pulse. That's the pulse they're looking for. So, it may or may not be it. But it's the right frequency. So, it's something they have to put their assets there right now and go find whatever that is because it's the right frequency.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to Jim Clancy joining us live from Kuala Lumpur.

Jim, after this morning's news conference, it seems as you called it, I think, more about bureaucracy about the search. But now this source, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua, a Chinese patrol ship is finding this pulse signal developments on the search front?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you have to look at it with caution. This has been reported by Xinhua, it has not been confirmed by the Australian Joint Center that's working on all of this, trying to coordinate everything. We have to wait and see what comes out of it.

It would indeed be extraordinary if they are able to have located from the pinger from the aircraft itself. Hopeful -- certainly. It's going to raise a lot of people's hopes but I really need to see it confirmed by someone else. I need to see confirmed again by the Chinese, in order to determine how much credibility we should put into it -- Victor.

PAUL: Simon Boxall, I want to go back to you, oceanographer there. We know, you know, when we talk about even these pingers that are below the surface, we don't know how deep it was when the news is coming out, you had said yes, it makes sense to divert where are they are now to be closer to the ship. How long do you think that might take?

BOXALL: It depends entirely on how further away. I mean, you know, if the ships were in the southern section of the search area, it could take them 12 to 24 hours to get there. And in that time, the data could have stopped transmitting.

You got to bear in mind, 37.5 kilohertz, it's a fairly common frequency used by pingers and equipment in the ocean. So, it's not unique necessarily. So, this -- you know, this could be a variety of things with the signal, I'd really like to see, based on what's being said already, as I said earlier, we've had a lot of red herrings, hyperbole on this whole search, I would really like to see this information confirmed.

It doesn't mean to say it's not true. And, you know, it probably would say it was possible that pinger could be located. And it would be fantastic if this is it.

But there are lots of other things that could be giving a false signal. And it will take -- it could take some hours, or even a day, for one or two of those ships to get onsite with the right equipment, to focus in on what the signal --

BLACKWELL: For those who are joining us here in the U.S. and around the world, we have with us our Jim Clancy in Kuala Lumpur. We also have CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general Mary Schiavo here with us as well, and Simon Boxall, who is an oceanographer, as we report the breaking news initially reported by Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, that a Chinese patrol ship has detected and I'm reading here because I want to be clear about what they are reporting here, a pulse detected. A pulse signal there in the south Indian Ocean at 37.5 kilohertz.

And we learned from our Richard Quest, that is the frequency in which the pinger, we have one here on the flight data recorder out of a jet, that is the frequency at which the ping is emitted.

But we want to be very careful here. It has not yet been confirmed that ping at 37.5 kilohertz is from a flight data recorder. But we know there will be, of course, an effort now to confirm that as more resources are flooded into that area.

PAUL: As long as that continues to go forward. Are we taking a break, guys? Do we want to take a break, or we want to keep talking this?

OK. We're going to take a quick break real quick as we continue to get some information. And we're going to bring you full coverage of this with our team all over the world.

Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

PAUL: Well, according to state news agency Xinhua in China, something has been detected. It is specifically a pulse signal. This was detected by a Chinese patrol ship. This could change things, if it turns out to be anything.

And we need to clarify, we do not know if this is even a flight data recorder from any sort of plane. But this is what is very interesting about the information coming in this morning.

According to the state news agency Xinhua, the Chinese patrol ship in the Indian Ocean, detected a pulse signal of 37.5 kilohertz. And we have confirmed from the president of the pinger manufacturer that this is the standard beacon frequency.

We do not know if it is from any black box of any sort. That still has to be determined. However, the fact it is the same frequency is significant in this particular situation. We have all kinds of resources with us here this morning to walk us through what's happening.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we have Jim Clancy there in Kuala Lumpur, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general with the U.S. Transportation Department, Mary Schiavo, and Simon Boxall, an oceanographer with the National Oceanography Center.

And on that point that Christie just brought up, Simon, is that there are so many objects that emit signals, all of the resources used by scientists and military that would emit signals. But that it is 37.5 is significant in this conversation.

BOXALL: We need to confirm they have measured it correctly and there are other standard pingers. Pingers are tuned to this frequency. This is a compromise between maximum distance and frequency.

It is not an uncommon frequency to use from a number of locating beacons. You need to know what else is out there and one would want, certainly, confirmation of the signals. The signals should be included (ph), so it's possible that they can get a proper locater on side, they can identify this as a positive sighting.

If and that is a huge if this pinger proves to be the pinger, the possibility of recovering the plane, or at least the black box goes from being 1 in a million to almost certain.

PAUL: Well, and the interesting thing about this, as you say, this is a huge if, but if it does happen, we are at the very end of the life span of this thing. It disappeared 30 days ago and it is at the 30- day mark right now where this black box very well may die out, so to speak.

Mary, can you talk to us at all about these pingers that are in the ocean. This is such a difficult search because you are talking about underwater. We think about ground robots. This is under water robots essentially, when we talk about ground robots, they are dealing with two dimensions.

You know, they're dealing with the surface area and beyond. When you talk about under the water, this is truly a three dimensional search.

SCHIAVO: That's right. And depending upon, obviously the strength of the battery and age of the black box and the pinger, the range is between a half mile all the way up to three miles or perhaps beyond. That is from the ocean floor up and then the side distance, too.

So, you are working off angles no matter how you cut it. But given it is only at maximum, a three-mile radius. That would be if it was pretty close to the surface, which it would not be.

If it's a pinger, they have a pretty good fix on the location and if they can get the assets there, even if the pinger battery dies out, now they have a location fix in which to search. And they can deploy all the other wonderful resources that the other guest was telling us about, the side-scan sonar, et cetera.

So, this is a hugely wonderful development. I think we were talking yesterday what they needed right now is a huge dose of luck. Maybe they got it or maybe they just had a lot of hard work going in by the particular ship and they had a theory of where to look.

But it's the right frequency. It doesn't occur in nature. It is not nature giving off that frequency. And supposedly there is nothing else out there in the ocean except, you know, the ships. I'm encouraged and I would put resource there is as soon as possible to see what that is. BLACKWELL: Let's introduce another expert voice to this conversation. We've got retired Navy Captain Chip McCord, who has been involved in more than 50 ocean salvages, including the salvages of TWA Flight 800 and Swiss Air Flight 100. He joins us from Boston via Skype.