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Mystery of Flight 370; Startling New Details on Jet's Possible Path; Chinese Ship Reports Picking Up Electronic Signals

Aired April 6, 2014 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news for you on this Sunday morning. Thank you so much for spending time with us here. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you and we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to our special breaking news coverage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

And we're beginning with two major breaking developments that happened overnight, including startling new details about the jet's possible path. A senior Malaysian government official tells CNN that Flight 370 may have been flown on purpose along a route designed to avoid radar detection.

PAUL: Yes. Take a look at this new map we've put up for you. It comes from a new analysis of radar data. This new flight path does. That shows the plane flew north of Indonesia and around Indonesian air space after it made that mysterious left turn we've all been talking about. And it flew across the Malaysian peninsula. A source says investigators reached this conclusion after reviewing radar trap data from neighboring countries.

BLACKWELL: On to our second big development now. A British naval vessel is now rushing to the area where a Chinese ship reported twice picking up electronic signals beneath the surface. The HMS Echo is due to arrive in about eight hours from now.

PAUL: And authorities say the signals, a brief one on Friday and one on Saturday that lasted 90 seconds, were about a mile apart and they'd be consistent with the pings from the Malaysian Airliner's flight recorders.

In the meantime, we need to let you know that an Australian ship, the Ocean Shield, it picked up a separate acoustic noise about 300 nautical miles away. Now authorities are treating all of these reports with caution.


ANGUS HOUSTON, CHIEF COORDINATOR, JOINT AGENCY COORDINATION CENTRE: This is an important and encouraging lead. But of one which I urge you to continue to treat carefully. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Well, let's dig in to this new information from a CNN source that Flight 370 may have deliberately skirted Indonesian radar.

Let's go to Kuala Lumpur to senor international correspondent Nic Robertson.

Nic, how important is this new information to the investigation?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very significant, Victor. What we have known until now is that the aircraft took off, flew towards Beijing, made that mysterious left- hand turn, the question always being, was there some kind of mechanical issue that made it take that left-hand turn.

It flew back across the Malaysian peninsula, but now we've had that missing part of the aircraft's path described to us by the senior Malaysian government official. And what they're saying is the aircraft then flew around the north of Indonesia apparently intentionally avoiding its radar detection, avoiding Indonesian air space all the way around the north before it turned south, before it flies down to the South China Sea where those search vessels are looking for the debris and for the flight data recorders right now.

So this is very significant because it gives investigators a degree more knowledge and information about what was happening onboard that aircraft. We've been told all along that whoever had taken control of it, whoever was at the controls, knew how to fly this aircraft. Knew how to fly it well. And this is more information that points in that direction.

But added in now, added in is the idea that whoever was flying was intentionally, on purpose, trying to avoid detection. Now that's going to tell investigators the mindset and potentially give them clues as to who was at the controls there -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: OK, so, Nic, does this take off the table, you know, this new route, mechanical problems altogether or is that something they still consider?

ROBERTSON: That's not what investigators are telling us at the moment. They're not saying it removes anything. But what the indications are here is we've known that they was -- they were looking at the possibility of sabotage, hijack person, personal issues or psychological issues. And this appears to be directing experts now to look at this and say, OK, whoever was flying this aircraft was doing it intentionally.

They had a purpose, they were trying to fly around radar space, avoid detection and then fly to a very, very remote place in the Indian Ocean. So it does make it look as if the aircraft was intact, that there wasn't a -- a substantial mechanical issue. That it was intentionally being flown on this route to avoid being detected and end up in a very remote place which to points experts to look at the -- maybe psychologically profile whoever was at the controls. Was it the first officer, was it the -- was it the captain, was it somebody else onboard? We know that the 12 crew who are on board that aircraft are still being investigated by officials here. The two most likely people who knew most about the aircraft, the captain who knew the most and best how to fly the first officer second -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nic Robertson for us in Kuala Lumpur. Nic, thank you.

PAUL: And joining us to discuss the latest twists and turns here, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general with the U.S. Transportation Department, Mary Schiavo, Captain Van Gurley, he's the senior manager from Metron Scientific Solutions and a former naval oceanographer, and former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole.

Good morning to all of you.


BLACKWELL: So let's start with the new information about the plane's flight path. Senior Malaysian, the government official, as you just heard from Nic, tell CNN that 370 flew around Indonesia, effectively skirting the country's northern coast possibly to avoid radar detection.

Mary, when we spoke yesterday I asked you about, actually, Nic Robertson's Tuesday report that a Malaysian official determined that that hard left turn was a criminal act and without any narrative of what happened inside the cockpit, how could that be supported?

With this new information, in your estimation, does this new info give more credence to the argument or to the characterization of that turn and the actions inside the cockpit being a criminal act?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it certainly helps provide an explanation for two things. Not only why the route could have been so erratic taking, you know, several turns to several different way points. It also helps explain there was a mystery, no one was saying what Indonesian radar showed and there was quite a bit of discussion and concern why Indonesia wasn't providing the radar.

Now it turns out that there wasn't no radar sightings or the coordinates from Indonesia to provide because the plane appeared to have avoided Indonesian radar. So two holes, if you will, or two things that we didn't know, we've been able to fill in the gaps, at this point, if all the information is correct.

PAUL: Mary Ellen, what -- help us understand, you know, the calibration process here because people are probably looking at this saying 29 days in and here we are changing the flight path, again. How do we make sense of this?

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER SENIOR FBI PROFILER: Well, it's hard to make sense because the first question that people have is why did it take this long for this very important piece of information to come out and, therefore, is this information reliable or will it change again tomorrow? That's important because people like me will make their conclusions based on the totality now, including this most recent information, which, if it, in fact, is correct, can be very telling in terms of what was going on in the head of the person that was flying that airplane.

BLACKWELL: So, Captain Gurley, I wonder if this new information, this new analysis realigns this arc that we've been discussing for several weeks now and where the search is happening and where it should happen.

GURLEY: Well, Victor, I think the biggest conclusion you can reach from the new analysis that was released last night is that the southern route, in fact, is the right place. You know, the big question three weeks ago was, did the plane go north or did it go south? Based on the analysis being released now, the southern route is now the right one and reconfirms that the Australians are searching in the right general region.

But unfortunately it doesn't appear that it provides any more information on the later portions of the flight that would really narrow down the type of search regions where they're concentrating in -- there off of Perth.

PAUL: Hey, Mary, so far -- Mary Schiavo, no evidence that, you know, the pilot or the co-pilot deliberately took down this plane. In your estimation, in your experience, is it possible for something to do something -- somebody to do something nefarious like this intentionally and leave no trace whatsoever and no reason?

SCHIAVO: Well, see, you know, I was an investigator, I mean, I've worked case literally for you know, almost 35 years and I have never seen the perfect crime. I mean, we used to chase mobsters around the globe. So if someone truly was able to do this, we still have two mysteries. There's no motive, and that's one of the most important things in solving a crime, is figuring out what the motive is, and then, two, a criminal always leaves a trail.

There's always a trace. And so far the FBI -- our FBI has told us that they didn't get anything off the computers or the flight simulator of the pilots. There's been no information from their friends or family. And so we have no motive and no trail. So if this was a criminal act and it was someone able to carry this out, it's quite a criminal mastermind.

PAUL: Hey, we want you all to stick around for us, if you would, please. We need to take a just quick break here, but do stay close.

BLACKWELL: Stay with us, we'll have more on this news -- the breaking coverage of this new information about 370 flying around Indonesian air space and potentially the radar detection in that area. Stay with us, we'll be back in a moment.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news. PAUL: So grateful to have you with us here this Sunday as we follow this breaking news on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

Let's bring our team of experts back in, Mary Schiavo, Captain Van Gurley, Mary Ellen O'Toole.

Thank you all for being with us.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about the pulse signals, now plural, detected by Chinese searchers. We've got video here. This is the hydrophone that is being used on that Chinese ship. Here is the video. It detected two pulse signals.

Now when you look at it, this doesn't look that sophisticated compared to what Australia's Ocean Shield is carrying. It -- is it really possible that Chinese search crews just happened to be in the right position, which is not in one of these search zones and dipped this, which looks like, you know --

PAUL: Looks like a cup on a stick.

BLACKWELL: A cup on the end of a stick into the water, the shallow water here, and they pick up the signal in an area where no one -- where no one else is. Am I wrong to have expected something more sophisticated, Captain Gurley?

GURLEY: Well, Victor, I think you're asking the right question. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? I don't know, and I think that's why Air Chief Marshal Houston is -- advising caution as they continue to try to investigate this. The types of equipment you're seeing in the video are really for handheld divers. It's a short-range detection piece of gear, not really designed to be ultrasensitive for the long-range detections you need for an area like this.

So for the fact that, you know, they're deploying it right over the side near the ocean surface, they're getting hits a mile apart, kind of doesn't add up, but it is -- but it does require investigation which is why they've got the HMS Echo headed over to the area with much more sensitive equipment to see if in fact this is real or it's one of those go signals that you sometimes chase around the ocean.

PAUL: We were skeptical yesterday, I think everybody was, when we heard about this. We know that there is -- this was coming from, you know, Chinese state Xinhua news agency but there is a reporter onboard the ship and this is what she had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This afternoon, the rescuers have heard the pings every second and the signals lasted for one minute and a half -- one and a half minutes. However, the rescuers say that this comes a signal at this frequency is not exclusive for the plane black box, so there is the possibility that those kind of signals are from some other equipment. So, at this moment, they still cannot confirm the signals are from the missing plane.


PAUL: OK, but basically what she's saying is that, as we said, there were two signals within 1.25 miles of each other.

So, Mary, I wanted to ask you -- Mary Schiavo. You've got one signal that just lasted a couple of seconds, you've got a second signal that lasted a minute and a half. Does any of that make sense to you considering the fact that we've got, you know, Chief Marshall Houston, who's leading the command center in Perth, saying this should be a continuous transmission.

SCHIAVO: Well, it should be. I mean, technically it's possible because if the ship -- you know, the ship with the receiver was moving around and it also could depend upon where the pinger was, if it is the pinger located on the ocean floor because there is a short range to the ability to detect these pings. You know, about a mile and a half deep or maybe three-mile radius.

So, if the boat with the kind of makeshift pinger detector was moving around, it could move in and out of the signal. So it's possible and it was moving off the site. The pinger itself doesn't stop and go even if the battery was running out. It would be the ship that was moving in and out of the signal area. So it's possible. And I don't think -- I mean, as they said there is also ocean sounds, but the pinger frequency and pulse was intentionally selected not to sound like sort of random ocean sounds.

And so unless -- you know, unless a whale has got a stopwatch, I don't think so. So the sound is the right sound. The coming in and out of focus is probably what has people wondering. Because once you latched on to that sound, you would put the boat right there. You wouldn't move off of it. So it's got to be explored. It's certainly not a sure thing, but it's promising.

BLACKWELL: So, Mary Ellen, let's look at this from a different perspective, a different angle. Our team had a very vibrant, spirited conversation --

PAUL: It's a good way to say it. This morning. Yes.

BLACKWELL: This morning. Before the show. Two-thirds of the passengers on 370 are Chinese. The Chinese have invested a lot of resources, a lot of hours, a lot of money into this search. Is it possible, reading the signals of the statements from -- you know, Angus Houston, from Malaysia, about this difficult search and now these long-term committees that in a search area where no one else is searching, that wasn't designated for the day this person can put what essentially looks like a cup on a stick into shallow water and hear something or manufacture that to keep the search going now that we know that the ping is -- the battery on this thing is expected to die in a few days or a few hours, possibly, or to say to the people of China, we were the closest, we gave it our best, we hope and try to get the rest of the world to come and look but they didn't or it was too late?

Is it possible or is it even too cynical to entertain that possibility?

O'TOOLE: Certainly that possible, but what you're suggesting then is someone that's extremely manipulative and in a very kind of nefarious way trying to basically control the investigation and manipulate it to tell people one thing when, in fact, it's the other. And, yet, you can do that with just giving them correct information. We think we hear something. Resources are going to stay on -- in place. So I -- while it's possible, I think that level of manipulation is, number one, it's unnecessary and, number two, if and when that's discovered, the damage that it would do to the trust of the people would be enormous.

So I think we have to look at it both ways. Yes, it's possible, but the consequences are dire and would they be willing to take on those consequences?

PAUL: Captain Gurley, what's your final thought on this?

GURLEY: Again, unfortunately, like everything else in this case it's going to take some patience and some time. We've seen lots of tantalizing leads, but it takes time to go in and investigate and decide if it's really solid evidence or just another false lead.

BLACKWELL: All right, Mary Schiavo, Captain Van Gurley and Mary Ellen O'Toole, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

GURLEY: Thank you.

PAUL: Stay with us. We're going to have more on those two pulse signals detected by Chinese teams. Why can experts say they are more than a little bit skeptical of all of this. What do you think? Tweet us or go to Facebook, we want to hear from you.


PAUL: Some of the big news this morning is that Australia is reporting they are taking very seriously and giving a lot of credence to these Chinese reports that they heard two pulses, two pulses, two signals in the Southern Indian Ocean in a new search area that hadn't previously been on their radar.

BLACKWELL: But as CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh tells us those readings came from a handheld hydrophone and experts are quick to exercise caution about their reliability.

Good morning, Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi and Victor, we now know more about equipment used on the Chinese ship when that pinging sound was reportedly detected. We spoke to the company that makes it and they tell us divers can use it or it can be used handheld from the surface like the Chinese are doing in this video.

But clearly this hydrophone does not go as deep as the towed pinger. Remember the towed pingers is what crews are using on board the Australian ship Ocean Shield. It can go 20,000 feet deep far away from any noise on the surface. From this video, you can see this hydrophone got nowhere near that because, again, they're using it from the surface on top of the water.

Now the reason depth is so important is because you have to be within a one to two-mile radius to reliably detect the pings from the black boxes. One concern is, false positive. The maker of the hydrophone the Chinese are using also says interference from another device in the ocean is possible -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Rene Marsh reporting for us. Rene, thank you.

And we've got new information. We'll go to our live reporter in Perth, Australia, in just a moment. Stay with us.


PAUL: Now for an update on mortgages. Thirty-year fixed rates rose slightly this week. Other rate are slightly down, let's take a look.


PAUL: Good morning to you on this Sunday morning. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, you're watching CNN's special breaking news coverage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

PAUL: Yes, we want to bring you up to speed with two major pieces of breaking news overnight in the search for Flight 370. First of all we start with this startling new details about the jet's possible path.

BLACKWELL: Yes. A senior Malaysian government official tells CNN that Flight 370 may have been flown on purpose along a route designed to avoid radar detection. Well, this comes from a new analysis of radar data that shows the plane flew north of Indonesia and around Indonesian air space after it made that mysterious left turn and flew across the Malaysian peninsula.

Our source says investigators reached their conclusion after reviewing radar track data from neighboring countries.

PAUL: Now, in the meantime, a British Navy vessel is rushing as we speak to that area where a Chinese ship reported twice picking up electronic signals beneath the surface. Now, the HMS Echo is due to arrive there in less than eight hours at this point.