Return to Transcripts main page


Oscar Pistorius Takes the Stand; Did Flight 370 Deliberately Avoid Radar?; Source: Plane Skirted Indonesia; Flight 370 Families Wait For Confirmation; Signals Consistent With Black Boxes

Aired April 7, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Remember, the U.S. is the one controlling the pinger locators. We got him from Yokosuka, Japan.

Here's the interview.


CUOMO: This is about as good an opportunity for good news we've heard. Tell us what we know.

COMMANDER WILLIAM MARKS, NAVY'S SEVENTH FLEET (via telephone): Well, it is encouraging. So, yesterday, the U.S. Navy personnel, along with our Australian counterpart did detect a ping signal, actually, over a pretty significant amount of time in the search area.

At first, the CPL, or code pinger locator, heard a signal about 300 meters. That's pretty shallow. But it still is encouraging because sound does travel quite far in water. So, once they heard that detection, they went ahead, lowered the pinger locator to a better depth, about 1,400 meters or so. There, they had pretty solid contact for about two hours.

So that was call for optimism. We're cautiously optimistic, though. Since that two-hour time period, we did turn around on a reciprocal course, drop the depth down to about 3,000 or so meters, that's really where we would expect to hear the black box if it's down there, and really only had exact for another 15 minutes or so.

CUOMO: All right. So, there are U.S. personnel on the Australian ship using U.S. equipment. And that's what's picking up this signal. How do you account for not picking it up the same way when you retraced your steps on what you called that reciprocal track?

MARKS: Well, there are so many variables involved here. The first and the biggest variable, is the effectiveness of the pinger locator. It's only as good as the signal coming from the black box. So, if that signal is diminishing just because of the batteries or if it's pressure depth, temperature of water, those things all affect the signal being sent out. CUOMO: Contrast what you're doing on Ocean Shield with the U.S. equipment to what we saw with the Chinese who are like in a speed boat with this handheld thing that they just looked like a boom mike that he were putting in the water. I mean, how does it compare in terms of level of sophistication of equipment and their reports what they picked up a signal as well? What do you make of those?

MARKS: I can tell you, from our equipment, the U.S. Navy equipment, we believe it's the best in the world. And we are encouraged. If I were a betting man, my money would go focusing on the Ocean Shield and trying to reacquire this signal that we found yesterday.

CUOMO: What's your best estimate as to the horizon of when you're hoping to pick the signal back up? Can you gauge it all?

MARKS: No one knows. This is a very deliberate and slow -- necessarily slow process. So just to turn the ship around requires a pretty complex operation. You have to retrieve the CPL. You have to do a very slow and deliberate turn, because you want to get back on that same course. And then, of course, you have to reel it out again.

So -- and this is only moving a couple knots which is a nautical mile per hour. I can't give you a good timeline. But I can tell you it won't be quick.


CUOMO: And, of course, everybody wants this to go quickly, but it's more important that they get it right. And you made an excellent point, Mick, all of these countries working together, something we see so rarely. So, there's a little bit of a silver lining in this situation right now.


Let's take you to another story that we're following today. Right now, Oscar Pistorius is on the stand in his own defense in his murder trial with Reeva Steenkamp's mother looking on in court. He immediately apologized, saying, quote, "I can promise you that when she went to bed that night, she felt loved."

Robyn Curnow is following all the developments for us from Pretoria, South Africa.

That must have been quite a thing to hear in the courtroom today, Robyn.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESONDENT: Yes, what an amazing morning. I think people have been waiting for this. Oscar Pistorius has been waiting for this opportunity to tell his side of the story.

But before we even did that, he did that thing that you just described, he literally turned his back to the judge, tried to look Mrs. Steenkamp in the eye. He was very tearful. And this is some of the apology he said to her.


OSCAR PISTORIUS, OLYMPIC RUNNER: I would like to take this opportunity -- to apologize to Mrs. and Mr. Steenkamp, to Reeva's family, to -- for those of you who knew her that are here today.

JUDGE: Mr. Pistorius -- I don't like doing this to you, but I can hardly hear you.

PISTORIUS: I beg your pardon, my lady. I'll speak up.

I'd like to apologize and say at these moments, and there hasn't been a moment since this tragedy that I haven't thought her family. I wake up every morning, you're the first people I think of, the first people I pray for. I can't imagine the pain and the sorrow and the emptiness that I've caused you and your family.


CURNOW: OK. I was in court during that. It was difficult for me to see Mrs. Steenkamp's reaction.

And Oscar Pistorius obviously as you can hear was very emotional. You can't see him because he's chosen not to have the visual images of his testimony broadcast, just the audio. So that's why you didn't see his face.

I think what was also crucial as I was sitting in that courtroom, listening to the beginning of his testimony. It was very important that he acknowledged that his mother when he was a young child was very fearful. His father often traveled for work. So, he described how his mother would often go to sleep at night with a pistol, with a gun in a bag underneath her pillow. That she'd often bring in the children into the room in the middle of the night and call the police. She was fearful of intruders in the night as well.

Of course, this is crucial but it just not explains perhaps his family history, his sense of paranoia about the dark. But it will also give the defense an indication of why he reacted like he did that night. And of course, his testimony is continuing right now.

PEREIRA: Yes, we'll continue to watch that with you, Robyn. Thank you so much for that.

Really interesting to hear him react and talk about his feelings because everything else has been other people's versions, now, we get to hear from him himself.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And has been said this morning, it is largely his perspective, what he perceived was going on that evening is what this case is about.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Unusual to see a defendant this early in the case to come forward. So, that will be interesting. Also unusual for a defendant to testify in a case like this because, remember, the prosecution has nothing to work off except his version of events.


CUOMO: By doing this, even talking about his mom, while laying out the groundwork of vulnerabilities, he's doing what they call opening the door to a lot of scrutiny of his past, his motivations and his story. So, there's going to be a lot there based on this.

BOLDUAN: An emotional day in that courtroom.

CUOMO: It's heating up now.

Let's take a break on NEW DAY. When we come back, we have new information about flight 370's path. But we're going to test the reasons offered for why it may have taken that. Did it deliberately fly around Indonesian airspace to avoid radar detection of that? Coming up, what is the basis for that?


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Once again, breaking developments overnight. Investigators are in the process of verifying signals detected in the Indian Ocean that could be Flight 370's black box. They call it the best lead they've had so far.

Meantime, a source in the Malaysian government is now telling CNN the plane skirted Indonesia, possibly, to avoid the radar.

Let's bring in David Soucie, a CNN safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash." He's also a former FAA inspector.

David, I want to focus mostly if we can on this new path, this tweak in the flight path around Indonesia.

When you first heard that, what does that -- what do you make of it?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: You know, I'm having a difficult time with that. For one reason and that is the fact that the radar that picked this up, that movement up there was from the military radar and that there's no secondary ping. There's no ping saying yes, this is that aircraft. There's nothing that says, yes, I am Flight 370.

So looking at radar, when you do from that perspective of not knowing when you're looking at, it can vary quite a bit. There's quite awe few dots out there that have no meaning necessarily, other than a flock of birds perhaps. Or other items that pop up on the radar.

And on typical radar, you discard those things. You turn your intensity down and focus on those things. But they're giving you a secondary thing back saying, yes, this is who I am. Now, when you're trying from scratch and all you have are those dots, trying to connect those dots and convincingly say this is that flight, I'm not so convinced they can do that with any level of confidence, honestly.

BOLDUAN: Let's go down the road with the healthy dose of caution that you that just gave that they might not have this flight path as firm as they may think. The implication is that this was done intentionally. That's not a typical kind of plane route that you would take.

Do you think that's the most likely scenario, that it had to be intentional if this was the path?

SOUCIE: Well, again, if this was the path -- yes, I don't see any reason why it would have gone that way. There's no reason it would have stayed on the path, if it was a mechanical failure, let's say, that it would have continued on the flight path. But the fact that it took an intentional turn up north a little bit and then back down to the south, I have no idea what that would be other than something at human hand.

BOLDUAN: Now, of course, we still -- even if this is the flight path, the way it took, we still don't know why. But the implication is that this was to avoid military radar, to avoid going over the land mass and to avoid detection. Is there a scenario that you can think of in your mind, that this would be done, and it was not with a bad intention?

SOUCIE: Now, you're really stretching maybe, because I really can't think of any reason that it would be. You know, if you're going to avoid military radar for the purpose of not being shot down, for example, that means that you must have an intent of getting somewhere. If you're avoiding military radar to avoid detection to make the aircraft disappear in some way, I can see that.

But to have a reason to go around that, unless there was some weather situation going on at that point, where you'd go around that. But at an awfully big turn to make just to avoid some weather with that type of an aircraft especially if it was at a high altitude.

BOLDUAN: Do you think this should change the investigation? The direction the investigation is going right now or do you think it's too thin on detail to revamp at all?

SOUCIE: I think the focus of the investigation, and the hard facts, I'm hopeful that these pings are going to get us some pieces of that aircraft to see what has happened inside from the flight data recorder, which would give us clues as to when those turns were made and why. That's where I think it has to start the investigation as that who is on board the aircraft that may have done this.

To me, it's a daunting task to try to figure out not only who, but the purpose and the reasons behind it. It would be nearly impossible to come up with any scenario that makes sense to me at this point other than what we find with that black box.

BOLDUAN: So you still maintain -- you still think, the direction this needs to go is to find the black box, get the data off it that black box, and then you can work backwards to try to figure out why this plane took whatever path it took?

SOUCIE: Absolutely. That's the only chain of facts that I think you could start with. Other than that, it is speculation, innuendo, there's no way to know what went on with the aircraft, until you start looking at some hard facts that you have 100 percent confidence in.

BOLDUAN: There's sure enough of not hard facts and rumor and innuendo that we've had to deal with throughout this investigation and this search. Let's focus on the hard facts as I know you like to. David Soucie, thanks so much, David. We'll talk to you soon -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Kate, let's take a little break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, more on the search for Flight 370. The families, of course, they're still desperate for answers. Will these new developments bring them closer to knowing what happened to their loved ones? We're going to go live to Beijing.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. We're following breaking news in the search for Flight 370. Two signals have been detected that are consistent with black box signals. While these developments may bring the families of the passengers closer to knowing what happened to their loved ones, no one's anxious to jump to conclusions just yet. Many including the partner of American passenger, Philip Wood, said they won't believe the plane went down until there is proof.

Our Pauline Chiou joins from Beijing where many of the families are anxiously awaiting any updates -- Pauline.

PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Michaela, the families are generally very cautious about these new developments because they want more information. Now here's the dilemma, they want concrete information, but if they get confirmation that these pings are actually coming from the plane that would be devastating because that would eliminate any sort of the hope that some of the family members still have -- they do exist, some of these family members do have hope that there may be some survivors.

Now we talked with a woman today who said this is a lead. It's a lead that may lead us closer to the truth of where the plane is, but we need confirmation. We are not sure yet and we don't know if this is true or false. Now, we're approaching the one-month mark and relatives later tonight are going to have a candlelight vigil. They're going to start this vigil at 12:41 a.m., which is the minute the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. This vigil will end at 8:19, which is when this last half ping was detected by satellite -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: I have to remember how terribly hard it is for those families and loved ones. Thank you so much, Pauline. The detection of the signals that we've been talking about follows a weekend report from the Chinese Navy that they heard similar sounds over 300 miles away. The folks involved in a multi-national search effort are using a variety of pinger detection technology.

Joining us now is Thomas Altshuler. He is the vice president and group general manager of Teledyne Marine Systems, the very company that makes that equipment the Chinese used to hear the unconfirmed sounds. Really a pleasure to have you here. You brought some gear with us. We can take a look at this. We really appreciate it.

So we hear that Australians heard a sustained signal. The Chinese say they detected a signal themselves using technology that you guys make. We'll talk about that in a second. Do the sounds and what they're reporting does that signify to you that it could be a black box that they're detecting?

THOMAS ALTSHULER, VICE PRESIDENT AND GROUP GENERAL MANAGER, TELEDYNE MARINE SYSTEM: So the reports from the Australians is very consistent with pingers from a black box. There are a pair of pingers there are down. The Chinese is a little bit different. It sounds like information we have information from the Chinese that particularly sounds like consistent with a pinger, but it's not necessarily a sure thing it's a pinger. Not something that's environmental or some other man-made noise.

PEREIRA: Right. And we should point out it's not the same area. It's about 300 miles away. Let's talk about technology. In fact, the Chinese is using your technology. What exactly is it and what is it designed for?

ALTSHULER: This is a diver pinger location system. As you can see, it's relatively simple. We've seen on the press that it looks almost like a radar gun. It really is basically a sonar gun is the way we're looking at a time. What we're looking at week trying to detect, I'll pick it up again. This aviation pinger. This is the one that goes in the black box. This is the one that Teledyne manufactures. It's in black boxes right now. This is a 30-day pinger.

When it goes into salt water, it starts to ping. It will ping for at least 30 days. In a shallow water configuration, you would take this, turn it on, adjust the frequency and the diver would then use this phone that sits under, behind the ear, and they could hear the ping going off.

PERIERA: So this would be attached to that looking for that.

ALTSHULER: Absolutely. So the diver swims around --

PEREIRA: Ding, ding, ding -- and that would not detect anything else or would it?

ALTSHULER: It's a broad enough frequency. It has two kilohertz frequency band so it will detect other noise in that band. But if you are looking at something that is a very type of acoustic admitter you won't hear it.

PEREIRA: But the diver would be trained to tell the difference in that or no? ALTSHULER: Well, the way the pinger works, it goes off every second. So the sound is very much a ping or something every second. So there's that rhythm that tell, the person that there's something there that's not just background noise.

PEREIRA: Now, we should point out, this is designed to be handheld by a diver, a human diver in shallow water, correct?

ALTSHULER: Yes. We, we make an adaption kit that lets you stick it over the side of the boat. The Chinese was using that kit. That's a legitimate part of the device. But it's designed to look for things in shallow water primarily. To look at things in deep water, you want to be in the deep water. That's why the U.S. Navy is using the tow fish, the TPL to do that.

PEREIRA: Right. But even with the adapter, is this going to give you the depth that you want and give you the accuracy that you want?

ALTSHULER: So we've looked that the very carefully. We are doing calculations over the weekend. Looking at the response that we saw from the Chinese and the depth of the water, we think it's possible but the possibility is very remote. It would be the luckiest, you know, game that they could play. You wouldn't play in Vegas that way.

PEREIRA: OK. Fair point. I mean, they'll take whatever they can right now at that point. You also said that you saw video of the Chinese boat, and they have another pinger used for detection. And that you were maybe concerned that the pinger detector could be picking up, for testing -- you were concerned that maybe it was picking up the other pinger inside the boat. Is that a possibility?

ALTSHULER: It could be. We know that the other pinger is not an aviation pinger. It's at the same frequency, 37.5 kilohertz. It's one that we manufacture. It's used to put something in the ocean and set a time that says don't start going off for five days from now and then I can find what I put in the ocean. The Chinese appears to be testing the device and working OK. So if they're careful it would be fine to have it in the boat if you keep it dry when using it in the water.

PEREIRA: That's the key.

ALTSHULER: We don't know their operational protocol really, we have trained the users originally of that equipment, but that equipment was sold five to ten years ago.

PEREIRA: We appreciate you bringing this in for us. Great explanation. Thomas Altshuler, really appreciate it.

ALTSHULER: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Chris, to you.

CUOMO: All right, Mich, thank you very much. We have a lot of news this morning. Pistorius is on the stand. We have new information about the Fort Hood shooter and our top story, breaking developments in the search for Flight 370. The best lead yet. Let's get to it.


ANGUS HOUSTON, HEAD, JOINT COORDINATION CENTER: The towed pinger locator has detected signals of aircraft black boxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. Navy did detect a pinging signal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have finally found the haystack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is extremely encouraging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this proves conclusive this will rewrite history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The speculation of what happened to the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We continue to hope and pray.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Monday, April 7th, 7:00 in the east now. We do have breaking details overnight. Signals consistent with those sent out by black boxes have been picked up by an American pinger locator searching for Flight 370. Officials call it the most promising lead yet, but stressed nothing has been confirmed.

Right now, they're combing the area. You can see it here on the map. This is where the Australian ship was. There's also a Chinese ship that had pinger locator data. They're not as confident in that. We're going to stick with what we're hearing from the Australians using the American equipment right now. They're combing that area.

They had two hours of contact. They had to turn around, which is a massive process. It took hours. They then had several minutes of contact to try and to re-establish now. If they can narrow down that search area then they can use underwater subs to map the bottom of the ocean and hope to find Flight 370.

We'll take you through that and new information about the flight path and all the speculation going along with that that we will test. We'll have it all for you this morning --Kate.

BOLDUAN: Even with this the most promising yet, there's a lot of work to be going forward. That underwater drone will have its work cut out for it. We're talking about one of the deepest parts of the ocean. It's nearly three miles deep where they believe this ping was detected.

Let's start our coverage this hour with Erin McLaughlin once again, live in Perth, which is about 1,000 miles from where that signal was picked up. Erin, what are you learning?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN: Kate, here in Perth, they're saying this is an extraordinary find. The Australian vessel, the "Ocean Shield" detecting not one, but two separate acoustic events.