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The Mystery of Flight 370; Latest Developments in Search for Missing Airliner;

Aired April 09, 2014 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We have breaking news. The search area for flight 370 has narrowed significantly, 13 ships, 14 planes are expected to search today. Crisscrossing an area that's about 7,000 square miles smaller than yesterday.

The Ocean Shield's 24/7 search with the Navy's towed pinger is still going on with the ships nonessential equipment turned off to minimize destructing noise. And as that search goes on there are still more questions than answers. And you have been sending us your questions by the thousands and we have got top aviation and security experts standing by to answer them.

Like this one from ed. It says if flight 370 landed intact on the ocean surface, would it be completely crushed by the intense pressure as it sank to the bottom?

Now, I want to go right to CNN reporters in the search zone Michael Holmes is in Perth and Joe Johns is in Kuala Lumpur.

I'm going to start with you. Michael. What are you hearing in Perth today about the search efforts?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's ongoing, as you said. I mean, the planes have headed out there. They are searching that area as they have been now for weeks. The ships are out there, too. More than a dozen ships, of course. That one ship that is towing the pinger locater buoy that U.S. Navy had, they are out there doing the same thing they have been out for days, going up and down slowly trying to find anymore pings as they have been.

We had two pings last week. We had two pings on Tuesday and they are looking for more before those batteries run out. This is day 34. Those batteries on those recorders, meant to last 30 days or so. So they are running down if they are still going at all. The more pings they get the more they can then triangulate the search, narrow that search down. And they have that ship out there towing that around.

Interestingly, we were on a Web site that tracks ships just a few moments ago and saw a British ship the "HMS Echo," it is a oceanographic ship. It can sort of map the bottom if you like. It is headed in that direction which is interesting. We heard no official comment about that. but if they are going out there, they might be going out to help and have a look at the ocean floor because as we have being reporting, that part of the Indian Ocean we know more about the moon's surface than we do about that floor bed, that seabed there.

One of the big concerns, Don, is there is said to be meters of silt on the bottom there now. If something like a flight data recorder broke free from the plane and headed in to that silt, it is going to be hard to find ping or no ping. You really are sort of in the dark literally looking for it. So those pings all important as they try to pinpoint where those boxes might be -- Don.

LEMON: Michael, you know, when we last spoke you said the planes haven't taken off yet and the weather was great. It appears to be beautiful behind you. Is it cooperating with searchers today?

HOLMES: Yes, it is actually. And there's a little bit of wind out there in the search area. Here it's warming up. Classic sort of Perth autumn day. But out there, it's a little windy, a little bit cloudy, it could be some rain, as well. We did hear one plane firing up here.

The Chinese planes that go out, as well, we should point out go out from Perth airport which is miles away and they are probably already up and out there. So, yes, there will be a dozen planes in all today out there searching, looking for debris.

Interestingly a lot of other boats. The one that is towing the ping locater is pretty much on his own in that tight search area. The rest are way further west, several hundred miles further west. Why? Well, because if there was any debris, there's been a series of storms over the last few weeks, and that's the direction any debris would have gone because of those storms.

Now, the flight data recorders might be on the bottom where that locater is at the moment, but the debris could be much further west and that's why we see ships in that area looking for debris and one ship tows the ping locater looking for the all-important black boxes.

And as I say, just interesting to note that the HMS Echo, this British oceanographic ship, seems to be heading to that area too. Might they be going to map and see what they can find on the ocean floor in, we will find out -- Don.

LEMON: At some point they are going to have to do something else because the pinger battery will run out.

Thank you, Michael Holmes. We appreciate that.

Joe, the chief coordinator of this operation, Angus Houston, said he is now optimistic the aircraft will be found in the not too distant future. The families of flight 370 have heard this phrasing before. How are they handling the latest developments?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's tough because people are in limbo. And I have to tell you from the last briefing that we had here from the acting transportation secretary in Malaysia, he said it's very important for authorities there off the coast of Australia to locate debris that can be positively identified as part of the plane because that will set in to motion an entire process that will include setting up a time line, and then flying the family members, who are here in Malaysia, off to what he called a minimal base in Perth, Australia, where they will wait there for the next step in this saga.

So, a lot of people here waiting to hear the first debris has been located -- Don.

LEMON: We can certainly understand why. Waiting every word. Thank you so much, Joe Johns. We appreciate it.

I want to bring in now Mike Dean. He is a deputy director for salvage and diving for the U.S. Navy. Also, Geoffrey Thomas, the editor in- chief of

Geoffrey, you first. You know, we didn't get a press briefing today. We thought we might get one. The first day in a while that we didn't get one. Do you see any potential setbacks for searchers?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, AIRLINERATING.COM: No, not at all, Don. I mean Angus Houston is really a man of few words. And he will only draw us together when he has something significant to announce.

At the same time, a lot of the information that colliding has to be processed, has to be analyzed. And I think clearly when they have something to say they will say it. I don't want to sort of raising false hopes or that sort of thing. So I don't think there's anything significant at all.

From what I'm hearing, off the record, they are absolutely certain they are above the final resting place of MH-370. Clearly, they want some definitive thing, like a piece of wreckage, a piece of debris to say, yes, we have absolutely found it. But off the record, they are absolutely certain.

LEMON: Mike Dean, what does your gut say, were yesterday's pings the last pings we are going to get? How much could be left in the batteries?

MIKE DEAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR SALVAGE AND DIVING FOR THE U.S. NAVY: Well, there is certainly could be some more battery life and we hope they are not the last pings. But again, as we continue to track and try to triangulate to a smaller search field. It's very encouraging that we are still getting some feedback from the pingers.

LEMON: Geoffrey, Angus Houston was asked when would the drone start to look for debris and he said it, you know, it wouldn't be far off. But isn't time running out here? And we also heard Michael Holmes saying that the HMS Echo is heading out. So there are maybe some signs this is going to come sooner rather than later. Why not send it now that the batteries and pingers are going out?

DEAN: The last thing you want to do -- I'm sorry. LEMON: Go ahead, Mike.

DEAN: The last thing you want to do is introduce another noise source into the area while you are trying to listen carefully and the AUV will produce noise. It's not uncommon to find -- to get false positive signals from any kind of equipment that might be producing noise whether it is on the ship, whether be from the AUV, whether it be something perhaps even now functioning in the TPL itself. So you want to make sure you are keeping random noise out of the search area.

LEMON: Geoffrey, do you concur?

THOMAS: Absolutely. And the fact of the matter is the pingers can cover six times the area that the Bluefin-21 can. So they want to be absolutely certain they max out on the possibility of the batteries being live a couple more days. And really -- I mean, the bottom line this wreckage is going nowhere. So, it is not going to move anywhere at all where it is right now.

So, the best opportunity is to continue to search for pings. And along that line, also, the Royal Australian Air Force Orion P-3s are dropping sonar buoys from the air around the vicinity of the Ocean Shield. And these sonar buoys deploy a thousand foot cable and on the bottom of the cable is a hydrophone. Not as good, obviously, as the pinger locater. But they are hoping that the sonar buoys, I think they are dropping 50 of them, will also pick up some signal to help triangulate and reduce even further the search area.

LEMON: Mike, you know, I want you to look at this e-mail. It is from in. I thought it was a good question. Ed writes, if flight 370 landed intact on the ocean surface would it be completely crushed by the intense pressure as it sank to the bottom? It's a good question.

DEAN: No. Because it is not a sealed vessel. So water is going to find a way in through some breaks in the structure. So it's not like a pressure vessel that you will take down and eventually it will implode on itself. It is going to slowly flood up as it will sink.

LEMON: All right. I want to thank Geoffrey. Stick around, Mike. I want to bring in my experts now. Jeff Wise, author of "Extreme fearless, the science of your mind and danger." Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general of department of transportation, now an attorney for victims on transportation accidents, lieutenant colonel Michael Kay, a former adviser to the UK ministry of defense. David Soucie, author of "Why Planes Crash.' Jim Tilmon, a retired American Airline pilot and ocean search specialist Rob McCallum.

OK. Michael Kay, first to you. You are only about 70 percent convinced we are in the right area. Why not 100 percent?

MICHAEL KAY, FORMER ADVISOR TO THE UK MILITARY OF DEFENSE: Well, it is a little bit more than that, Don. I think it is usually positive we have four pings. But I also think we have to remember there are constraints with the ping locater. It measures signal strength. It doesn't geo locate. And so, what that means is there are a number of things that can affect the signal strength. We have already talked about the batteries. We know they could be weak. But also, the range. If the ping locater is on the outer limits of its detection, then it will appear weak.

So, we got to remember, also pressure, temperature, solvency of the water, it all affects the signal strength. So as the ping locater goes toward the proximity of the black box, the signal strength will increase. But as it goes away the signal strength will decrease.

And I still think there are all of these factors that we heard about from bouncing of Echoes on thermals in the ocean that decrease the accuracy of that. So, I still think we have some time to go before we have unequivocal evidence.

LEMON: Rob McCallum, you have been under almost three miles of water. The claustrophobia for most people would just be unbelievable and probably the pressure. If the plane is down there, what is it like that deep?

ROB MCCALLUM, CNN ANALYST: You know, it's a very quiet place, which is funny because we are all talking about acoustics. It's also a very calm place and of course it is very, very dark. And relatively even temperature, just below freezing.

I described the bottom for North Americans who just came out of a brutal winter as being like a hard-packed snow with a light dusting of powder on it. And we actually want a little current because later on when we are stirring up the silt looking around for the black box, we want that silt to blow away in the breeze if you like.

LEMON: And you are down, I would imagine in a submersible that is especially made for that. Because not many people go down that far. The pressure is intense and this has to be a strong vehicle to go down that deep.

MCCALLUM: That's true. And at the moment, I think there are six vehicles in the world that are capable of this depth. China has one, Japan has one, U.S. has one, Russia has a couple and the French have one. So they are a rare beast, indeed, that can get to these depths.

LEMON: Jim, are you surprised we haven't found any debris yet? Should we discontinue the visual search?

JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: No. Absolutely not. I think it's extremely important that we continue until we in fact find debris. It's out there. It's got to be. I mean, an airplane fuselage is like an egg shell. Once you crack it open, it's open and things will come out through that crack. We just have to find it. And I agree with something said earlier. We just haven't looked in the right place.

LEMON: Yes. And to you, Jeff, you know, five weeks out, the fact there's no debris, no debris has been found, does that give more credence, do you think, to the scenario the plane could be under water, more or less intact?

JEFF WISE, AUTHOR, EXTREME FEARLESS: Well, you know, it seems like such an extraordinary chain of events to be required in order to get a plane -- I mean the 777, as someone pointed out earlier this is a much bigger plane --

LEMON: What is ordinary about this particular story, Jeff, this case, nothing.

WISE: That's true. OK. What's the alternative to being in one place on the bottom? I mean, it's fascinating to me that now, you know, we spent so much time looking to the east of that famous southern arc because the currents were going to carry everything to the east and now we are looking to the west because we're in a different latitude and now everything moves the other way.

And so, think of all the time we were looking to the east and all of those currents and storms were carrying everything to the west the whole time. So, we were looking in the completely wrong part of the Indian Ocean. So, there's two different explanations, at least, for why we haven't found anything. Who knows.

LEMON: All right. You haven't spoken yet. You will get a chance. Stick around, everyone.

We have a lot more to talk about and we will be answering your questions about the flight for flight 370. Make sure you use the #370 qs.


LEMON: The Australian ship, Ocean Shield is towing that pinger locater 24/7 searching for traces of flight 370. You have been sending your questions about the a thousand about the search and my experts are back now to answer them for you.

All right, so we have this tweet. This one is from (INAUDIBLE). It is for David. It says will the extreme cold of the deep ocean help pinger batteries last longer? Any mathematical estimates from your experts -- David?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: No. Actually, I don't think it will. It is supposed to go 30 days. It has a little bit of buffer in there. But that includes the testing at cold, hot, whatever kind of temperatures, but not hot hot temperatures, of course. But normal operating temperatures. That the higher temperature, it would reduce it. But the cold temperatures don't extend it.

LEMON: Mary, we have this the e-mail from Pat Sutton (ph). She said earlier today, Miss Schavio said that earlier flight has an alternate airport to use in case of emergency. What was flight 370's alternate airport and could that have affected the flight course -- Mary?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: The alternate airport has to be an airport kind of near where you are going. In other words, if Beijing had an emergency or you couldn't land. And so, the alternate airport is where you would land near Beijing, if you couldn't get in to the Beijing airport.

So, no. It shouldn't have affected, you know, the flight. It shouldn't cause the flight to go on the path that it did. And every flight has to have it and they have to have an alternate airport for their flight plan and then enough fuel to get to that alternate airport and 10 percent beyond that.

And so, no, I don't think it would have caused the vast deviation.

And Don, you know, there's something I did. I pulled up the list of the debris. There is a similar crash that went into the ocean in Indonesia. It was the 737. And you know, we are wondering why there was no debris. And in that case, they couldn't find the plane for about a month. And they put out a reward for debris. And at the end of the month, there were only 100 and I have the list here, there was only 194 objects from the entire 737 which broke up. And this was in an area where people were actively looking for it in the Islands of Indonesia.

So I guess I'm not surprised that we don't have debris. And in this case there was head rests, tray, one piece of the tail and one piece of aluminum and that's it. So, not finding debris, I guess, it doesn't necessarily assume that it is all together. It shifted in a vast ocean and even on this plane, there wasn't much left floating.

LEMON: It's amazing. You know, we keep thinking why hasn't anything -- but the ocean is a very, very. very, very big place.

This one is for Robert. It is from (INAUDIBLE) and he says will the atmospheric pressure damage MH370's black boxes?

MCCALLUM: No. They are specifically designed to function perfectly well down to 6,000 meters. And at the moment we are at 4 1/2. We may be a little deeper in the end, but well within the capabilities of these two black boxes.

LEMON: OK. This one is from Mikey -- for Mikey Kay from Steven. Steven says who should be first to open and read the data from the plane's black boxes if it is recovered, the Malaysians or the NTSB?

KAY: I don't think it will be the NTSB. I think it will be the JACC will have the call on that. So I would imagine that any coordination from the JACC from the particular aspects of when we go from finding the black box to getting the data, they will have the call on where that goes.

LEMON: OK. This is from Ken for Jim. It says what if we find only the black boxes but no plane wreckage. What improbable bizarre crash theory will we come up with then?

TILMON: We will have a lot of information. I mean, it certainly won't be anything like ideal. But the flight data recorder is one I'm very excited about. Because it has hundreds and hundreds of different parameters. You will know all kinds of things about what was going on that airplane. And it goes for a very long time. It's not looping like the voice recorder. You will have a complete history of what happened with everything every component on that airplane for its entire last legs of its life. So you will have a lot of information. It will be pretty empty because we really need the airplane. LEMON: And that's the focus for Jim on the black box is a black box is a black box rather than wreckage, right, because we need those black boxes, correct?

TILMON: We desperately need them. It will answer so many questions.

LEMON: This is for David and it is from Pem (ph) and it says if a plane landed on water wouldn't the life rafts and slides deploy if the plane was floating intact?

SOUCIE: Most of the life rafts and slides are not automatic. So not necessarily unless people actually manually opened the doors and popped them out. But -- so there's a lot more to that. That's part of the certification of the aircraft which is FAR part 25. So, in a FAR part 25, it goes beyond that and which I want to point out also, with the landability, I'm glad Mary brought up the 737 accident. Because over the last 50 years this certification for ditching has been improved and improved and improved and this aircraft specifically has breakaway engines. If it hits water the engines are supposed to break away. That the (INAUDIBLE) of the wing is set different so that if it is landed at the proper angle, which we don't know if it was of course, it could actually survive that much more easily than in the past where you see the aircraft tumbling through the water.

So this aircraft was designed specifically by the FAR 25 to improve the survivability in the event of a ditching. So, I'm a little bit more optimistic about the fact that this aircraft might be, at least, in substantial size pieces and not have broken up in to a lot of little pieces as was discussed before.

LEMON: Mary, I have to ask you a question and I don't want to come off as morbid. But Richard Quest and I talked a bit last hour about families may want to, if they do indeed find bodies, the families may want to leave them there as a final resting place. How often --that question does come up, doesn't it?

SCHIAVO: It does. It comes up in every kind of accident and it comes up in the accidents on the land, too. Because there are always comingled remains and there's a process where there is a joint resting place, where they memorialize, well, sometimes on the shore near an area where there's been an accident in the water and then even on the ground, there sometimes a joint memorial where all of the co-mingled remains are put to rest. And the families, at least under U.S. law, there's a law in China like this where the families can say what they want done with those remains and it's their right.

LEMON: Thank you very much for that.

When we come right back, much more on the deep sea search. We know more about the moon than we know about the ocean floor. So how difficult does that make the search for flight 370?


LEMON: The search area for flight 370 narrowing tonight. But even if we are finally closer to locating the plane, it could be miles below the surface. My experts are back now to talk about the difficulties of deep sea search.

I'm going to start with you, Rob.

Rob, let's talk about how deep it is. We talked about the depth, where they believe the pinger signal is coming from, far deeper than the empire state building, deeper than where the "titanic" was discovered, deeper than many mountain piece, the Blufin 21, the underwater sonar device can work at a maximum of 14,673 feet. The pinger was detected at 14, 800 feet. Are we pushing the limits here of what is technologically possible?

MCCALLUM: Not technologically possible all together, but for the Bluefin. And the manufacture at the Bluefin at the moment is looking at how far they can exceed the depth rating for the device. You know, there's always over engineering in these things and they maybe over extend it by 10 or 20 percent. But there are vehicles that go to 6,000 meters and even vehicles now that go full ocean deep which is 11,000 meters or 36,000 feet.

LEMON: Now, there's a possibility, right because the flight flew on for seven or so hours it's believed. If the black boxes don't reveal what happened on the plane, I mean, what other tools will investigators have? Because what is it, the black boxes do about two hours before --

MCCALLUM: Yes. I mean, the black boxes record the last two hours of voice transmission in the cockpit. The flight data recorder records a lot further back than that. The next step will be sending down a ROV, a remote operated vehicle, you know, it is essentially a robotic submersible that this would be a work class ROV. It is industrial strength if you like. Able to bring back quite large pieces to the surface. If you get the black boxes, you don't usually need to go too much further back with forensic examinations.

LEMON: Yes. But if you get the black boxes, what if they don't reveal everything? Like I said, this flight flew on for more hours than usually, I guess the cockpit voice recorder usually records.

David, you can correct me if I am wrong here, is there is a possibility that the black boxes won't have all of the data on it and what if it doesn't? What will they do then?

SOUCIE: Well, you know, I have been kind of hesitant to bring this up previously. But when we talk about the flight data recorder, if there is something nefarious going on if transponders were turned off, that these things were turned off, the black boxes can actually be turned as well off from the cockpit.

So, if a circuit breaker was pulled on, the flight data recorder, it could be that these boxes don't have any information on it if there was something with intent done to that aircraft, as well. So, if it is not available, there's quite a lot of information you can gain from just the materials where there is an exterior explosion or impact driven breakout from the aircraft or if it was a fire inside, there is a lot of information we would be able to gain from what is going in there including without being too morose but including what the condition of the bodies, the lungs and that sort of thing as well which are part of the investigation.

LEMON: You think they will be able to find enough of the material then? Considering, you know, you said it could be scattered for miles.

SOUCIE: Yes. I do believe that. if hundreds of miles would be more than I would expect on this because from what we can tell, it was not an in-flight breakup which is where you find, you know, scattered debris for many, many miles. But, and again, I mention before the ability for this aircraft to ditch without being totally broking in to thousands of small pieces is less likely in my mind. So I think we will find substantial pieces of the aircraft that could be used for our investigatory purposes.

LEMON: It is interesting that we didn't talk about that, but that is a real possibility of the flight data recorders, if there is something nefarious that happen to flight data recorder being turned off.

Jeff, the fact that these pings were found without a debris field, I know you deal in facts, but would you characterize that as almost a miracle?

WISE: Well, yes. I mean, really, you remember about a week ago, we were talking about how, you know, they had the tow fish, the towed pinger locater, they had it on station ready to use but they felt like there was no point in deploying it until they had debris on the surface to narrow down the search. Then we got so close to the end of the battery life of the pinger that I guess they decide well, listen, we might as well give it a go and lo and behold they are getting a signal.

And so, it's kind of like a one in a million thing unless there's some aspect to the search that we don't understand, if there are some other kind of information that the authorities have that we don't. In fact, I would go so far as to say, if this signal does turns out to come from MH-370, I'd be very, very wondering if there was some other information behind it because otherwise it's too coincidental.

LEMON: That from a writer very, very wondering. I like that.

WISE: This is what this case has done to me. It has taken my words away. I have no more language. No can speak.

LEMON: Mikey, so could there be information we are not getting? Except for last night, you know, that I took off, we sit here and usually when the ships go out and as they hold the press conferences and we learn everything there is to learn about this, we think we are, at least but can there be more information that has not given?

KAY: I mean, it goes back to the phases of this investigation, Don, the where, the what and the why. And I thought David brought up a brilliant point about the black boxes. We shouldn't invest all of our hope in understand the what, and therefore the why will drop out of that. The why I think is still complex and a mystery. And we need to rewind back to where the last transponder ping was. We need to understand why the Echo wasn't picked up on radar as it crossed Malaysia and sort of the track as it passed north Sumatra and then headed south.

I don't think the black box will give you the why. And I also think the importance of still looking for the surface wreckage and the other wreckage on the ocean floor is absolutely key. Because when you can see TWA 800 that there was this big explosion just behind the cockpit part of the engines. And something on the FDR isn't going to tell you there is an explosion around the cockpit.

So, I think it is important that we look at all of the factors from where we lost the aircraft and transponder, follow the track, talk to the Malaysians and create as much surface wreckage as possible.

LEMON: Mikey, our audio expert, you sat next to him the other night, he says it will -- everything if there is a mechanical or an electronic issue on the plane that just by listening to the sound, they can determine that. He said that the other night.

KAY: No. And he is absolutely right. I mean, for instance, you would be able to tell --

LEMON: Quickly, Mikey.

KAY: If it ran out of fuel but you won't be able to tell why it happened. You wouldn't be able to tell why the transponder was turned off. You will know it is off but why it was turned off. That is what the black boxes won't tell you.

LEMON: Thank you, sir.

Coming up. paying the price for the search. Ships, planes, nuclear subs and all that high-tech equipment, how much is the search costing and who's picking up the tab?


LEMON: The search for flight 370 is one of the most difficult in history and the price tag is likely to be astronomical.

Joe Johns has more.


JOHNS (voice-over): The search for MH-370 is quickly becoming the most expensive of its kind in history. The scope of which is unprecedented says a former lead investigator for the national transportation safety board.

BOB FRANCIS, FORMER NTSB VICE CHAIRMAN: During the history of aviation, we have never had a challenge that even comes close to this.

JOHNS: More than two dozen countries, seven contributing the most and Australia taking the lead, 80 ships and 61 aircraft all part of the effort to locate the plane. The greatest challenge, the remote distances of the search.

FRANCIS: A tremendous percentage of the resources whether it is aircraft, ships or personnel are spending their time getting there and getting home.

JOHNS: And that comes with a hefty price tag. With some estimates suggesting a cost of $21 million a month. Most of the money coming from military training budgets. Some from humanitarian organizations and now from U.S. Navy operations.

For example, a Navy P-8 aircraft costs $4200 an hour to fly. The Pentagon originally designated $4 million search but has already spent 7.1 million on planes, ships and underwater surveillance equipment.

How does flight 370 compare to other aviation disasters? The two-year search for Air France 447 cost roughly $50 million. The TWA flight 800 investigation and recovery costs about 40 million. In 1996, one of the longest investigations the NTSB ever conducted.

Swiss air 111 which went down off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1988. The search, recovery and investigation took four years and cost $39 million.

But what of the collateral cost of missteps and management of the investigation.

FRANCIS: Frankly the Malaysian government hasn't handled this at all well. And that's clearly cost time and resources.

JOHNS: The many governments engaged in the search already own the assets including ships and planes. So one way for them to look at this is an extended high stakes training exercise.

Joe Johns, CNN, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


LEMON: All right, Joe Johns, thank you very much.

I want to bring in now my panel of experts for a little bit more on this.

That's a lot of money, Mary, when we look at the other air disasters, I think $50, $39, $40 million. The price tag can be enormous for one of these operations. U.S. Navy has already spent $7.1 million. Did U.S. and other governments, can they expect reimburse -- do they expect reimbursement down the road?

SCHIAVO: Well, they probably don't expect it but they can sue for it. In other air crashes where there's been extensive amounts of money spent on searching and recovery, the various governments, including at one point the other crash that I mentioned Indonesia sued the airlines to get recovery for their costs. And so, with the insurance policy, probably about a billion, yes, they can expect to be sued for some of the cost of the recovery, sure.

LEMON: Jim, what kind of cost will the airline incur? What kind of costs are they incurring now?

TILMON: Well, the airline is incurring costs on a number of levels. One obviously the daily cost of operating under these circumstances, dealing with the families and that sort of thing. But I think that you are going to find some not so easy to recognize costs in the image they have now established for themselves and how they operate and how they don't operate. And I'm afraid that before this is over there will be a lot of information that will be uncovered that will be very embarrassing and very expensive for the Malaysian government.

LEMON: David Soucie, what about a time limit? How long should the United States -- how long will the United States stay dedicated to this search?

SOUCIE: Probably as long as they are still invited and they are contributing. The FBI, I know, has been involved from the very beginning.

LEMON: Even though there are only a few Americans on the plane?

SOUCIE: Yes, I think so. It's a -- I think it's like a maritime order, you know. When you have a ship in trouble you go help it. And this is not under that order, but I think that this is where the United States is proven to be available for whatever it's need for, even if there were only a few people involved in that plane.

LEMON: What Joe's piece in the story didn't mention is these are mainly military assets being used and as a former military pilot, Mikey, what do you think of that?

KAY: What I think it's the best equipment for the job, Don. I think, you know, when you look at the state of the art technology like the P- 8, I mean,. not only initial operating capability in December last year and it has got all the state of the art equipment on it.

There isn't anything I can see in the civilian world that will have that level of equipment and be able to deploy those assets for as long as they have. I mean, we heard the other day that there were 133 missions that have been flown.

You have the Australian air crews flying around the clock. You have the naval and maritime staff who are working all the hours God sends in order to do this. I think it would be a different story if it was handed over in completeness to civilian agencies.

LEMON: David, question for you. You know the former NTSB vice chairman Bob Francis mentioned there is certainly a cost to the way Malaysia handled the investigation early on. What would you estimate that cost to be? Jim Tilmon talked about it a little earlier?

SOUCIE: Well, you know, I have to disagree with Jim a little bit. In that while it did cost time, I was thinking about in the other day and if someone came and arm chaired quarterback all of the investigations that I have done, I'm sure there would be a significant amount of waste in those because it takes a while for a team to gel.

And I just have to have empathy with them and I believe that is what happened here. It is an inexperience to some degree. But now we have Angus Houston, the chief air marshal, being the communicator and heading up this thing, now there is no ways, now it's going right to the point and things are getting down. So I don't think I could speculate how much waste there was.

There certainly was, I agree with Jim with that, but it is just fine, it was necessary, it is possible that was in my mind.

LEMON: When we come right back, what lessons have we learned from the hunt for flight 370 and how can we be sure nothing like this will ever happen again?


LEMON: The search area has narrowed tonight. But after more than a month, we still don't know what happened to flight 370. What lessons can we learn for the future of flying?

Ana Cabrera is at the aviation maintenance repair and overhaul convention in Phoenix, Arizona, where the entire industry is debating that question.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, we are at a gathering of thousands of aviation industry insiders from airplane manufacturers to parts makers and suppliers to airline representatives. And there's a buzz about the mystery of flight 370. Everybody has a theory of what may have happened. But people don't really want to talk about that because no one really knows. Instead the conversation is more about what could prevent an airplane from going missing in the future? And insiders are telling me it comes down to better tracking, perhaps better emergency alert systems and perhaps even changing up who can control what.


DONLEY RODGERS, AIRBLUE: The aircraft so much redundancy in them. The pilots are so well trained usually that aircraft don't just disappear.

TODD BARNES, PAS TECHNOLOGIES: It would be amazing to me after all of this there's not a system in place that actually tracks path realtime like we see in our daily lives.


CABRERA: The U.S. is already working on this. In fact, the FAA has mandated there is a new aircraft tracking system that uses satellites in place by 2020. That would apply to flights that go through U.S. air space.

Now some think that because of the missing plane that this will all be sped up or at the at least will bring the global aviation community to address these satellite tracking capabilities on an international scale -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Ana Cabrera for that.

I want to bring back my panel of experts. Now, beginning Mary Schiavo. Mary, what have we learned about air travel after night flight 370 and what changes do you think should be made after this?

SCHIAVO: I think what we have learned is we can't rely on outdated technology to search the ocean floor to find basically a '60s technology black boxes inexcusable because we have been having this debate ever since September 11th 2001. I think we have to replace black boxes with glass box meaning that as we fly, the data can be and should be and must be continuously downloaded and we wouldn't be in this position.

I think that's the most important lesson. There are many others but that's one that has to change and it will take federal regulations to do it or the airlines will not.

LEMON: I'm so glad you said that. Because, you know, we have been -- for those of us who are lay people have been sitting here going, I can't believe this technology. I have better technology on my cell phone. We have hundreds of families sitting, waiting and waiting in anguish and we are spending millions of dollars for information that we could have had, you know, in realtime.

David, what are some of the big changes that have been made to air travel after the past plane disasters, do you think?

SOUCIE: Well, let's talk about the black boxes for a second. I mean, like Mary said, we are have advanced to about 1970 when they went to -- I guess about '76 when they went to a all-digital solid state type environment.

Before that it was a metal tape that actually scratched the altitude in to this metal tape. So there's been advancements, but since 1978, which is when the deregulation act went in the place it has been difficult as an FAA inspector it was difficult for me to mandate any kind of safety requirement. Because at that point, after deregulation, I had to do a cost analysis. I had to determine that this safety recommendation, I had to figure out how much it would cost the airline and then that was put forward to say here's how much it will cost the airlines. Is it worth it or not?

And I think that's the crux of this. This is really the why Michael was talking about earlier. Not only why are we not this or why someone did what they did, but why are we sitting here, trying to rush this investigation when we should have 90 days on the pinger, we should have 90 days to do that. And why are we sitting here without all the information of where the aircraft was located, what happened, what information, did we not have that we should have had? And Mary has been a big proponent since 9/11, I know, trying to get this done where we have a constant stream of data going forward. Why is it not happening, I tell you why. It is because of the bureaucracy. It is because of the United States, FAA, the international civil aviation authority. They have been gutted with deregulation and they really are having a hard time saying this has to be done. I don't care what it costs. Let's move forward. LEMON: Right. And perhaps -- I mean, even longer. I mean, some people wonder why is it even longer, the battery life on the black boxes?

Robert, you know, anyone who has watched this program over the weeks, they know that I'm fascinated with deep sea, with the deep sea. One of my favorite documentaries is "blue planet" by the BBC, (INAUDIBLE). It's amazing. And it is fascinating to me, as well, that we don't know as much as we should about the deep sea.

Do you think that this missing flight 370 will drive us to learn more about the deep sea?

MCCALLUM: Absolutely. I think it's been one of the positive things that's come out of this whole saga has been that everybody now understands that even in the most remote part of the ocean there is debris. There is garbage, trash floating around.

I think people have learned about underwater acoustics. They know more about how the underwater (INAUDIBLE) of our planet now. It is from an environmental perspective it has been a positive lesson.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Under minute left, you know, there were people a week ago who thought we'd never find this plane. And now here we are, there's some optimism.

Rob McCallum, what do you think?

MCCALLUM: Yes, I think we'll find it. I think the acoustics, we'll get another day out of that, and then launch the Bluefin and other sonar assets and you'll have your first imagery within a couple of weeks.

LEMON: Jeff Wise, optimistic?

WISE: Not so much. I'm hoping. I'd like it to be true, but if this hasn't in half way, we are really out of options.

LEMON: Jim Tilmon?

TILMON: I agree. We will be out of options if we don't get something out of this. And let's face it, we thrown everything we have got. But we get tome fast.

LEMON: All right, guys. I wish I have time to get all of you, but I don't, unfortunately.

Thank you very much for joining us, all of my panel of experts and my guests. That's it for us tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you for watching. Good night.