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Flight 370 Search; Possible Signals Located

Aired April 7, 2014 - 08:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: How far away from Indonesia you would need to go to get into international waters?


BOLDUAN: Air space.

KAY: It's 12 miles.


KAY: But the thing is, is primary radar, this huge radar head that is at -


KAY: That's at the top of Sumatra, Banda Aceh, that can see out to about 125, 150 miles. So just because you're not in international air space doesn't necessarily mean you're not going to be seen by radar.

Now, if you're wanting to avoid radar, then I would be taking the aircraft well beyond 150 miles. I would be taking it out to 400, 500 miles. I'd be reducing the altitude. And that way is the best way to potentially avoid radar. But there's no way of knowing. There's no radar warning receiver inside the cockpit of a 777.

BOLDUAN: So you don't even think if they were trying to deliberately avoid detection, they did a good job of it?

KAY: Well, if they were -- absolutely right, Kate, if they were trying to avoid -

BOLDUAN: And that's a big if, let's be - of course we're careful with that.

KAY: Yes. Yes. I mean radar theory is quite complex. So the person would have to get into, you know, all of the ins and outs of how it works. And if they were trying to avoid radar, they weren't doing a very good job. But I find it inconceivable that the radar head (ph) at Banda Aceh in Indonesia didn't see anything. I'm still questioning that.

BOLDUAN: Now, there -- a lot of questions remain on all of this.

KAY: There are. There are. BOLDUAN: So we have this flight path. And I wonder what you - what questions you have and what information you would want to get from the black box, if they did pull them out, that you think would shed light on really what happened up here.

KAY: I think what we've got to do, and I've been saying this all along is, we've got to corroborate this evidence of these two signals that we now know are occurring in this location. We've got to try and corroborate it some other another rather than just putting all our eggs in one basket. And what I mean by that is - and air chief Marshall Houston spoke about this yesterday -he can't really say unequivocally that these black boxes belong to MH-370 until he finds a debris field.


KAY: And that debris field could be on the surface or it could be sub- surfaced on the bottom of the ocean.

BOLDUAN: Definitely haven't found it yet.

KAY: So they've got to find it with an AUV or they've got to keep using the maritime surveillance aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon, the P-3 Orion, the Ilyushin 76, the Chinese aircraft. So that would be one way.

The other way would be looking at, well, if this is the track -- and this data has already been crunched.


KAY: And what we've got to remember here is that the way this investigation has panned out is really sort of rewriting the history books in terms of aircraft accident investigation. It's all been done through the Inmarsat satellite. What we've done here, Kate, is effectively we've bypassed the haystack, which is what we always look for, the debris field -


KAY: To then find the black boxes. What we've done is we've completely missed (ph) out the haystack bit (ph) and at the moment there's potential that we might be able to find the black boxes throughout (ph) finding a debris field, which would just be phenomenal.

BOLDUAN: Mary Schiavo was saying earlier this morning, she was like, this is a huge kudos for math (ph), because that's really what this has come down with the Inmarsat data and how all of the analysis has really just been refining, refining, refining data points that they've been - that they've - that they've realized.

But we've got a lot more questions and we're definitely not there yet. Michael Kay, it's great to see you.

KAY: You too.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michael.


BOLDUAN: Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, time for the five things you need to know for your new day.

At number one, as we've been telling you, an American pinger locater picked up two signals from the Indian Ocean in the search for Flight 370. Unmanned subs could be sent down to see if it is the black box from Malaysian Flight 370.

Emotions running high in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. The track star is on the stand right now describing being the target of crimes and break-ins at his parents' homes and his own home. Earlier he apologized to Reeva Steenkamp's family.

A bill to restore long-term unemployment benefits for nearly 3 million Americans expected to pass today in the Senate, but the bill could have a tougher time getting through the House.

Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney has passed away at the age of 93. He had one of the longest show business careers ever, appearing in more than 200 films.

And tonight, college basketball's champion will be crowned when UCONN takes on Kentucky in the men's title game in Arlington, Texas. It's the first time a number eight tournament seed and number seven seed are playing for the national championship. Who are you rooting for?

We're always updating the five things to know. Be sure to go to for the very latest.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Come on. You're not just good looking. Who do you have?

PEREIRA: Kentucky. Kentucky.

CUOMO: You've got Kentucky?

PEREIRA: All day, people. Come on.

CUOMO: All freshmen?

PEREIRA: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: The twins?

PEREIRA: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: Another big shot?

PEREIRA: Oh, yes. CUOMO: Comes down to the end of the game?

PEREIRA: Oh, yes. It -- I'm thinking it's going to be a buzzer beater.

CUOMO: Buzzer beater?


CUOMO: In the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s?

PEREIRA: Sixties. They're going to fight for it.

CUOMO: Good looking and a prognosticator on top of it.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the black boxes are tiny, the pingers even smaller. How do you find them in this vast Indian Ocean? What's the technology involved? What can it do? What can't it do? We have one of the people who actually worked on the development of them to give us all the answers coming up.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

New signals detected by a U.S. Navy pinger locater are consistent with aircraft flight data recorders and follows the discovery of signals by Chinese crews over the weekend. So, could either of these event be the big break in the search for Flight 370? Let's talk about it with Van Gurley. He's the senior manager of Metron Scientific Solutions and a former naval oceanographer. Thomas Altshuler joins us again. He's VP and general manager -- group manager, rather, of Teledyne Marine Systems. That company makes the equipment that the Chinese use to hear those unconfirmed sounds.

Gentlemen, good to have you both with us.

So let's talk about it. Is it the big break? Are these signals that were detected consistent with an aircraft's black box pingers? We'll put the question first to you, Van.

VAN GURLEY, SENIOR MANAGER, METRON SCIENTIFIC SOLUTIONS: Well, I'm much more confident in the signals that have been picked up by the Ocean Shield. A couple of things there. First, they are in an area that was already deemed to be sort of the highest probability area. But even more importantly, they've hold - they've held the signal now for extended periods of time, up to two hours. And if you have a signal that's repeating every one second, like the pinger should, for a two-hour period, that just doesn't happen in nature. Nature isn't that regular.


GURLEY: So that really leads me to believe that they - I think the Ocean Shield is on to something.

PEREIRA: And, Thomas, it's that consistency in the signals and it's very hopeful really because they picked it up for two -- just over two hours, correct?

THOMAS ALTSHULER, VICE PRESIDENT Y GROUP MGR., TELEDYNE MARINE SYSTEMS: And I agree with that. That is correct. And the important thing is to know that you're towing a body at very slow speeds over a device on the bottom of the ocean, and you should be able to detect it for a long period of time if the bathymetry if the terrain on the bottom is correct.

PEREIRA: Say the word again?

ALTSHULER: Bathymetry.

PEREIRA: That's a word we're learning. We're learning some things here on NEW DAY.

Also we know that the Chinese were using some detection equipment and it's the equipment that your company makes out of Massachusetts. Tell us - pick it up, show it to us, tell us how this thing works.

ALTSHULER: So what we make is a set of detectors that are used by divers. So they're shallow water equipment. So when you saw the Chinese using it on their boat, they were using a piece of equipment that was not designed for that application.


ALTSHULER: It is designed to detect a pinger. And I have a pinger right there.

PEREIRA: And you've got a pinger right here with us.

ALTSHULER: This is a 30-day aviation pinger. It's live if we put it in saltwater. It would work perfectly.

PEREIRA: There it is. So this device is looking for your device. Hold that up.

ALTSHULER: Right. There we go.

PEREIRA: So they're looking for one and this one's -

ALTSHULER: Only the other way around.

PEREIRA: Oh, I've got it backwards.

ALTSHULER: Got to put the -- got to put the transdueser (ph) going forward, that's right.

PEREIRA: Well, they wouldn't send me down under water now would they? OK.

ALTSHULER: So here what would happen is that this would be listening for the acoustic signal coming from here and received there. And if it's in front, you would hear it. And if it's to the side, you would not. The range is typically a kilometer or so. So detecting at the depths that the Chinese were talking about is right at the detection limit of a system that puts this kind of energy out and it -- the receiver that has that kind of (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: And the Chinese were said to be using it with some sort of adapter.

Van, let's bring you back in, oceanographer. You know the challenges of dealing with that level of depth for the ocean. We know the Ocean Shield is using something. It's a towed pinger locater. It's much more sophisticated, correct?

GURLEY: Well, it's much more sensitive and it's specially built specifically to look for these types of signals. So, again, and we have the right gear in the right body of water picking up the signal we expect to hear. Again, it just - it sounds to me like we're on to something. But again, nothing can be confirmed -


GURLEY: Until they get the next piece of gear down there and actually get images of something on the ocean bottom.

PEREIRA: Cautiously optimistic I think most people are remaining. The TPL (ph) is not without its challenges. You have to tow it at a very slow rate and then turn the ship around to get right back on the mowing the lawn pattern that you're going to go in the opposite direction.

GURLEY: Yes, that's correct. I mean as has been discussed, it takes a long time to reel this out, deploy the system because it's on a long cable. Once you have it out, you've got to keep the ship on a very constant, slow speed with no changes in heading so that you get a nice, good track. And then when you get to the end of the track, you've got to either reel it in or turn the ship. I think they're actually retrieving it, turning around and then redeploying it. And this takes a long time, which is why they're being cautious about expectation management, many, many hours.

PEREIRA: Expectation management, something we could all use.

Thomas, are you surprised that the Chinese were deciding to give this a shot? Sort of a rouge application of your technology to use it in this fashion? We know that, obviously, there's pressure from their countrymen. A bulk of the passengers on board that the jet are Chinese nationals. So are -- were you surprised that they used this in that way?

ALTSHULER: Yes, it was quite surprising. I mean we've sold that product - or this product to them probably five plus years ago for other applications. They have multiple in country. But the reality is, we sold it for a different application. It says something about whether or not they actually have a deep water pinger locater. The chances are they do not. They don't have something that can contribute the way the navy TPL does.

PEREIRA: Van, I wonder if you can give us an idea of, you know, the - of some of the challenges that you're dealing with when you're in that depth of water. We know the chief coordinator of the joint task force in Australia, Angus Houston, said it's -- funny things happen in deep water. Give us an idea of what he was alluding to.

GURLEY: Well, there's two pieces here. One, -- the way sound moves through ocean and water is very dependent on the temperature and how the temperature changes with depth and the solinity (ph). And so you get weird patterns where you may hear something and then it goes away and then it comes back. That's fairly well understood in underwater acoustics. So I think that's probably what he was referring to.

But then the challenges for the next phase of getting equipment down on the ocean bottom at tremendous depths at very high pressures, that takes some special engineering. They've got some of the gear on Ocean Shield. They may have to bring some more in because of the depths they are working at now.

PEREIRA: We've got to make sure that this is the wreckage. They've got to get there, confirm that it is and then there's so many steps. I think we have to remind people in our cautious optimism that there are so many steps before any of this mystery is even begun to be solved.

I want to say a big thank you to Van Gurley and Thomas Altshuler. Always a pleasure to have you both with us.

ALTSHULER: Thank you.

GURLEY: Thank you.


CUOMO: Well, wouldn't it be nice, Mich, if we were actually at the beginning of the end, even if it is the beginning.

And, of course, there are a lot of boxes to check. When we come back here on NEW DAY, where is the debris field if they're hearing the pinger sound? Are these sounds what they believe they are? Could they be whales? Could they be some seismic air gun? These are possibilities. Indra Petersons has looked into them. She's going to take us through it when we come back.


CUOMO: Now, usually I'm saying we have more questions than answers. Not true this morning. We have new data about these pingers in the Indian Ocean. Officials are urging caution, but do believe they're on to something here.

Now, it's very tricky. We brought in Indra Petersons, the resident scientist, meteorologist to take us through the science of why it can be so confusing in the ocean. The first thing, and this will be great for you because it's all about telling me what I don't know, sound in the ocean. Tell us about it. How fast it travels and why it can be confusing.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. I think the biggest thing people need to realize, don't forget -- water and air -- two completely different mediums. So let's talk about the speed here. We're going to pull up this graph and kind of show you that remember, in the water we talk about sound traveling 4.3 times faster than it does in air.

This is important because that means you're going to see that sound travel farther, so you're going to have to calculate this. You're also going to have to calculate all these pressure differences that you talk about in the water as well and changes in the pressure underneath the sea as well. Even though you may hear sound and say it's now farther away than maybe I think above the ground, you still have to figure out -- it's not a straight line where the sound came from. It's just not that simple.

CUOMO: So the calculations require assumptions. So there's still some guesswork in there.

PETERSONS: A lot of guesswork and a lot of changes with heat, and cool air, warm air -- a lot of things going on under the sea.

CUOMO: All right. So once you figure out all of that, now you have to start dealing with the question of what is it that we're hearing? What are the chances? What are the choices?

PETERSONS: So let's listen to the sound first so everyone knows what the sound is that we're talking about.


PETERSONS: So very faint. You can hear that. Now that's displayed at a sound that we can obviously audibly hear. Now under the ocean --

CUOMO: That's what the black box, the battery's putting out.

PETERSONS: Correct. That's what it's emitting. This is supposed to be at 37.5 kilohertz. Just keep in mind that this sound may not be as strong. They may not be able to hear this sound. Of course, a lot of things change the way they sound under the sea. So that's another thing to think about.

Most importantly, you have to realize, this sound under the water is emitted by a lot of equipment. It's not just the black boxes that emit the sound. We've been talking to a lot of our experts out there stuck in our greenroom and saying there's a lot of things the militaries use, the ships use, the divers use that purposely have this exact frequency at this exact same interval in the water because they want to locate their own equipment. So you have to keep that in mind.

There's a lot of we want to know about under the see and there's a lot of things with that frequency there that we can learn about it.

CUOMO: The corollary is and why it gives them confidence is that while the sound is similar and the frequency is similar, the period that it's been repeating and cycling through is somewhat unique to black boxes, that's why they had confidence and started on that track -- right.

PETERSONS: Correct. But they're saying there's still equipment even under the sea with that exact same period. What we're trying to locate is that exact same frequency. So that's what you have to keep in mind.

CUOMO: All right. So now the phrase of the morning that I love so much --


CUOMO: -- the seismic air gun. I'd use it just really as a nickname for Richard Quest. What is it? And is it real?

PETERSONS: So the seismic air gun. Let's listen to that.


CUOMO: That's what he sounds like.

PETERSONS: So it definitely sounds a little different -- right. That's the first thing you want to realize -- that's what it sounds like. One of the things you want to keep in mind, this is what they use off a ship. Ships trail this as they're trying to explore the oil and the coal and what's underneath the water.

So there would be a ship if you did hear this. Remember I talked about earlier how far sound can travel under water. And there's a lot of places they're exploring in the water there so there is the thought that there is a potential that they are still seeing ships in this region looking for something under water but they may not want to admit it.

This is the key because it will harm marine life. So we're talking about a blast that is a billion times stronger -- that sound that a motorcycle -- people don't want to admit maybe they're doing this and may not be coming forward with that.

CUOMO: So that leads us to the third theory. You're shooting off the seismic air gun. It's making all the whales angry they start talking about it. Maybe you're picking up their conversations. Could it be marine life?

PETERSONS: Let's listen.


CUOMO: That's my stomach. Do we have the actual -- the whale, they sound differently. Obviously they're using sensitive monitoring equipment. They would be able to pick it up. They would know if it were whales.

PETERSONS: This is something that we're pretty much taking out. We have the intervals to be concerned with as well. The chances of this being a whale -- probably not the likely cause; we just wanted you guys to hear because people are talking about it.

CUOMO: Now, as the show was going on this morning and there were people who were speculating about the debris field, that triggered something in your science head about whether you believe there's a reason. Ordinarily, by the way, you find debris and you start looking for the pinger. This is going on in reverse. It takes confidence away from people. Where is the debris field? You have a theory.

PETERSONS: Yes, so remember we have the search area is now farther to the north than what it was originally. Want to keep in mind there has been a tropical cyclone in that region, equivalent to what we know is a category 5 cyclone that went into that region. We do have a map that I kind of wanted to show you guys because take a look at this map.

Now notice that we moved the field farther to the north, this cyclone went right into the region that they're searching for the debris field. Remember category 5, that's the strongest that you could potentially be seeing out in the water, one of the strongest they've seen in a long period of time. So easy to see why the debris could be dispersed farther than where those (inaudible).

CUOMO: So couldn't they just have taken it out of the way? You explained earlier that this is the gyre regions -- also could be circulated out. So there are a lot of possibilities that can still keep their optimism for the (inaudible).

Appreciate it -- science, this is very helpful stuff. Kate -- over to you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, for 40 years, a teacher keeps an incredible promise to his students. What would you give for a piece of your childhood back? One teacher's inspiring assignment in "The Good Stuff".


CUOMO: All right. We've had to deal with a lot of tough stuff today, impressive questions -- so how about a little bit of the good stuff?

BOLDUAN: Yes, please.

CUOMO: How about this. For 40 years a teacher in Canada has kept an incredible promise. Every year since 1961 teacher Bruce Farrah has given his ninth graders a very special assignment. He says write a ten-page letter to your future self. And for each class, 20 years later he has delivered those letters to every student wherever they have ended up, no matter what. Take a listen.


BRUCE FARRAH, TEACHER: The motivation to write it, look at where you're going and decide, OK, what is it I want to do with myself? They would write about where they wanted to end up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: November 30th, 1994. "Dear Scott," myself, "Hey, how are you?"


CUOMO: Hey how are you. That's 34-year-old Scott Fulton received his letter. He thought he would have been married, have two kids by now. But he's not. He's a teacher, no doubt because of the example he had in Mr. Farrah. And he gives the very same assignment to his kids.

Now, as for Mr. Farrah, the reason we love teachers incarnate -- he has long since retired, but he is still sending the letters, more than a thousand of them over the years. The big question, when is he set to send his last one? Take a listen.


FARRAH: 2026.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST: Think of the logistics it takes to do that because people move, women get married, sometimes change their last names. Trying to locate people is no easy task.

BOLDUAN: If you are smart though you will -- before you even tell the post office that you're moving, you tell that teacher because you want to get that letter.

PETERSONS: I may not be from Canada. I'm from (inaudible) Canada but my teacher did this in sixth grade. He even took a little picture in the letters when he mailed them to us. Maybe in 10 or 15 years.

PEREIRA: Did you want to be a meteorologist?

PETERSONS: I wanted to be a doctor because my dad was a doctor -- so original. Sorry, dad.

CUOMO: "Dear future Indra, I'm sure you are awesome." Is that how you started your letter?

PETERSONS: Obviously, first thing I said, "Hi awesome."

CUOMO: All right. A lot of news this morning. We've had these developments on MH370. That would be the hash tag. So what's the latest? For that we take you to the "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.

Breaking overnight. New hope.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new developments over the last few hours has been the most promising lead we have had --


COSTELLO: Two new pings.