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Updates In Search For Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Aired April 10, 2014 - 00:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN special report, the mystery of flight 370. I'm Don Lemon.

And we have breaking news for you tonight. Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott says they are quote "very confident that signals they picked up are from the black box of flight 370." That comes from comments he made to reporters in Shanghai this morning.

And meanwhile, this statement from the joint agency coordination center in Perth, Australia. Air chief marshal Angus Houston says their initial assessment of the possible signal detected yesterday afternoon, the so-called bit ping, is not related to an underwater locater beacon. He said that on that information available to him, there has been no major breakthrough in the search.

He also says they have not yet made a decision to deploy an autonomous underwater vehicle in the search. That decision could be days away.

Now, I want to go right to the search zone now. Joe Johns is in Kuala Lumpur. Richard Quest is her with me in our New York studio. Thank you so much for joining us. And Erin McLaughlin is in Perth.

Erin, I want to start with you. You heard the information coming from the Australian prime minister saying he is confident it is from the black boxes r the black box, I should say. What do you know about that?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. There seems to be growing confidence in this search today here out of Australia. The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, briefing reporters in Shanghai saying that he is quote "very confident that the signals detected by the Ocean Shield, the signal detected on Tuesday and again or Saturday, rather, and then again on Tuesday, are in fact from flight 370 black box, that according to Australian media. He went on to say that the search area has been narrowed down significantly and that they are now confident that that signal has started to fade.

Now, Angus Houston, the man responsible for this international search effort, in fact he is coordinating efforts in the building just behind me, he has long said that they're going to wait to be certain, they are going to wait to see actual physical signs of this wreckage before they can say for absolutely sure they have found the final resting place of missing Malaysian flight 370. He released a statement this morning in which he said the detections made yesterday by the sonar buoys after an overnight analysis, a preliminary analysis showing that those detections were in fact not related or they do not believe they are related to the black box. But the search for pings, he says, continues.

The Australian vessel, the Ocean Shield equipped with the American towed pinger locater still out there, scouring the waters, trying to get more signals. They are also sending out the planes. And Austrian P-3 is expected to make some three passes today, equipped with dozens of sonar buoys, equipped with hydrophones capable of going under the water to detect more signals all in an effort to get more information, while they think that there is a possibility that that black box pinger battery is still alive.

More information needed to narrow down the surgery before they take it to the next phase and deploy an autonomous vehicle. The Bluefin-21 provided by the United States navy. But in terms of what Angus Houston has put out today, we're not quite there yet, Don.

LEMON: All right, thank you, Erin.

Now, I want to get to Joe Johns now.

Joe, let's talk about the reaction of the families to this news. Yesterday, the prime minister is very confident that they found the black boxes. We spoke to one and they say he may be confident but they are not so confident in the information. There is always a degree of skepticism. What do you know?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think that is absolutely true. These families have been through this repeatedly, Don, and it has been a roller-coaster ride for them. They don't want it to happen again, quite frankly.

What they want is some type of proof, some type of convincing evidence, conclusive evidence that tells them the plane is in the water. And until they get that, a lot of people tell us they are not going to talk. There are still a couple of people you talk to from time to time who hold out that little bit of hope that this all could turn out a little bit better than most people think you might. Nonetheless, families we have spoken with say they're waiting and hoping for some type of evidence just so they can get closure on this episode at the very least. Don.

LEMON: Joe, can you talk to us about the families' plans? What's their plan at this point? Do they intend to travel to Australia as the search continues to hone in on the plan?

JOHNS: Well, their plans very much depend on the plans of the Malaysian government. Now, the Malaysian government has said as recently as a couple of days ago that they will also wait for conclusive evidence. In other words some wreckage that shows the plane is in the water. At that time, they will arrange for some type of day new line or a schedule by which they will eventually fly the family members of the passengers over to Perth and stationed them there to await word for what happens next.

So, this is the process and it begins with finding some type of wreckage that would be conclusive evidence the plane has crashed in the water there, Don.

LEMON: All right, Joe Johns there in Kuala Lumpur. And you can see the light is changing. That is why Joe is darker, the sun keeps coming up.

So stay with me, Richard. I want to bring in now Geoffrey Thomas. He is the editor in-chief of

So Geoffrey, do you believe the progress of the search so far words such optimism from the Australians, you heard what the prime minister said, I mean, is this a huge development, do you think?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR IN-CHIEF, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look. Indeed, I think for Tony Abbott to make the comments that he has made in Shanghai just a short time ago, he would not make those unless he was extremely confident unless the information he was getting from his advisers was very supportive of that.

And I understand also that he is going to brief the Chinese counterpart before making any further statements on it. So there seems to be momentum building that we are very, very close for him to make or for someone to make a very definitive announcement about this.

LEMON: Richard, the prime minister also said the black boxes, and this is starting to fade, so how quickly do things have to move forward, do you think and we expect them to if they -- he says, he is confident that these are the black boxes to actually get to them?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, when he says he is confident they are the black boxes, that does not mean he is confident he knows where they are. It means he is confident they are the black boxes. So we mustn't make one and one come up with half a dozen.

We still going to have a way Angus Houston in the search team, they are still going to have the very real and difficult task of going down there and locating those black boxes'. All they have now is the ping equals the right black box. They are not -- and made it small of the area, but nobody is saying so far we know where it is.

LEMON: So 18,000 square miles, right, which is not --?

QUEST: I can't remember the exact number. It is getting smaller and smaller.

LEMON: Right. OK. All right.

Geoffrey, you know, we still have not seen any debris. How important is it to find the physical debris if they have potentially located the black boxes? That is equally as important, I would imagine.

THOMAS: Look, absolutely. And we should clarify something here too, Don. There are two search areas. One is up way to the west and one closer to the coast. So the one that is closer to the coast about a thousand kilometers, 600, 700 miles, that is where they're looking for the actual wreckage. That is where they are getting the pings. The debris search is much bigger and that is another 700, 800 miles further out to the west.

Yes, look, a piece of debris would be wonderful because that would mean, yes, we have found the airplane. Yes, we know we are on to it. At the same time, we also have the HMS Echo with Ocean Shield in the general search, the initial -- the smaller area. It is scanning using echoes sounds on the bottom; it might across a strong return off the bottom which would also give rise to supporting the fact that we have found the final resting place.

So anything, the triangulation of the pings, an echo sound off the bottom or some debris further away on the surface, any one of those would give us the definitive proof we need that we have found the airplane.

LEMON: All right, Geoffrey, stand by. I want to bring in now flight lieutenant Tony Beilby of the New Zealand Air Force. His team is out there in the search area right now and he joins us by telephone.

Lieutenant, thank you. I know that you are busy. The Australian prime minister is saying that they are very confident they have located the signals from the black box, but the search continues. Can you bring us up to date from your end?

Lieutenant, are you there? Can you hear me? Di you hear my question? Shall I repeat?

Are you there?

LEMON: Yes, can you hear me, lieutenant? Apparently we are having a problem with lieutenant. If you get lieutenant, please let me know. We'll get back to him. I think it is important especially on this evening if we could get to him, it is best to considering what the prime minister said.

But I think you bring up a very good point when the prime minister says, hey, listen, we are sure this is the black box.

QUEST: Absolutely. We still don't know where it is. He is saying I am confident from the information that we already know that it is the black box. But as we know and it is disappointing that the 5th ping paying does not have any further help.

LEMON: Yes. Hang on. Lieutenant, are you there?


LEMON: Thank you very much. Lieutenant Beilby is with the New Zealand air force out there. His team is out there in the search area joining us.

Lieutenant, the Australian prime minister saying they're confident they have located the signals from the black box. The search is still going on. Can you bring us up to date from your end?

BEILBY: We continue with the search after the wind surge (ph). We are focusing on the primary visual search of the moment. We are not really involved in the acoustics search as such right now. But it is still ongoing for any debris that might be floating on the surface about turn 50 miles from the waist of the (INAUDIBLE) possible black box right now.

LEMON: Yes. And that is very important because as we have been saying, we have been focused on the acoustic events but there are still visual search is going on for debris. I don't know if you can answer this but I will ask you. Does your team share the prime minister of Australia's confidence and I asked you, you know, I put a caveat on that because you are not looking for. You are not doing acoustics searches. You are doing visual search. But do you share the prime minister's confidence?

BEILBY: Like you said it is in the hands of the experts. I mean, as far as I am aware, the date (INAUDIBLE) back to the acoustics specialist and they are reviewing it and drawing opinion from the search. We have not proven the information, unfortunately.

LEMON: And as far as the visual search, how is that going? So far still nothing concrete, nothing confirmed that is from MH-370, correct?

BEILBY: Yes, that is correct. Every day we go out there and we're still doing this search and actually picking up debris every day. We are taking photographs. We are getting it back to the coordination center here in Australia and we are getting visual scan rendezvous with it, that debris, and pick it up.

But unfortunately to this point, there has been nothing that being looking forward, it has coming from MH 370, but we still trying.

LEMON: What about the coordination from your team, the visual search, the acoustic search and everyone involved? How has the coordination been between countries and between different teams?

BEILBY: It is a bit (INAUDIBLE) going on. So the strutting command team here coordination has done a fantastic job. It has been originally a complex operation, obviously. So, at the beginning it was challenging, nations here that we don't really exercise with. So, there were challenges with communications and procedures and things and making sure there was appropriate cooperation between all the aircraft and rationally close pitch of the ocean miles of the coast. The Australian team her done a great job and it is working smoothly now. It has been done the most important thing.

LEMON: Tony Beilby -- Lieutenant Tony Beilby of the New Zealand air force. His team is out there searching in the ozone doing visual searches. Thank you very much. We appreciate your time.

When we come right back, we'll have more on our breaking news tonight. Australia's prime minister says he is quote "confident, very confident" they picked up signals from flight 370's black box. He also told reporters in Shanghai he would have more details on the pinger search but only after he meets with the Chinese president at 5:30 a.m. eastern time in the United States.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

Our breaking news tonight, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is quote "very confident" they picked up signals from flight 370's black box.

Meantime, this statement from the joint agency coordination center in Perth, Australia, the head of the search team, Angus Houston says their initial assessment of a possible signal detected yesterday afternoon, the quote "so-called fifth ping is not related to an underwater locator." Not related to the beacon.

Right now, I want to bring in my team of experts. Jeff Wise, the author or "Extreme Fear, the science of your mind and danger," Lieutenant colonel Michael Kay, a former advisor to the UK ministry of defense, Jim Tilmon, a retired American Airlines pilot, Geoffrey Thomas is back with me from Also joining me exclusively is Paul-Henry Nargeolet or PH as he wants me to call him, the director of underwater research for premier exhibitions.

Jeff Wise, I am really interested in learning how you feel about what the prime minister had to say. You have been skeptical of some of the information coming from all of the agencies.

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I just -- I don't understand why he is using this kind of language especially right now. If he is as confident as he says he is, that should just -- it would seem sensible to wait a day or two or however long he thinks it will take just to let the black boxes emerge and let the world find out and not let there be any doubt.

As it is, he is kind of, you know, upping the ante on himself. Now really, he has put the whole authority of his office behind this assertion. If it does not pan out, it is going to be embarrassing. If it does pan out, no one is going to remember that he said it anyway. They are going to be so excited to see these black boxes. So I am not quite sure what the political logic is behind this kind of language.

LEMON: Jim Tilmon?


LEMON: How do you feel? What is your assessment of the prime minister saying he is confident these are the black boxes?

TILMON: Well, I am kind of convinced he is a great politician but I am not convinced that he is the person that can deliver that kind of information for us and for our team. I think Mr. Huston is and I want to hear what he has to say. I am still saying to myself the longer this goes the less confidence I have in this whole approach about whether we are in the right place and those basic things. I am very concerned about the progress of this.

LEMON: PH, we shall you helped in finding 447, very instrumental in finding the wreckage from that and also the black boxes. So, you are very skeptical of this information, why?

PAUL-HENRY NARGEOLET, DIRECTOR, UNDERWATER RESEARCH: Because, you know, I will trust, if I heard that from the U.S. team, from the team where it really using the equipment. But you know, when you are some step away and like a politician, we don't know why he was saying that. But I am skeptical because it is really hard and to find this kind of pinger. And I know that the U.S. Navy team on their side, they are the best for that.

LEMON: It is an Australian ship but there is a U.S. pinger locator on that.

NARGEOLET: Absolutely. You know, there is the ship, it is the platform as far as the U.S. equipment or for the AUV is from Phoenix International which is also a U.S. company who works a lot with the U.S. Navy.

LEMON: And for 447, did the information come out this way? Was it disseminated this way?

NARGEOLET: Not about the pinger, but we have some politicians. They were saying some information, sending information we before was confirmed and they were totally wrong. And, because they wanted to do that, they wanted to be the first to give the information to the public and they were wrong.

LEMON: Michael Kay, you know, you have been at least a little bit reticent with the information saying, you know what? I'm not sure we are in the right place here. You heard Jim Tilmon say the same thing. You have been skeptical. What do you make of this information? How do you feel? Do you think we are in the right place? And what do you make of the prime minister's statement there?

MICHAEL KAY, FORMER ADVISOR TO THE UK MILITARY OF DEFENSE: I go back, Don, to the conversations we were having at the beginning of the program in terms of really, trying to identify the track of 370 from when that lost. Transponder pings was known all the way through the crossing in the Malaysian Peninsula heading out over to Sumatra and then heading down south.

And I think that in trying to ascertain what that aircraft did leads to some planning assumptions that people have been using, the investigators have been using to put the search location in the area that it is in.

I go back to this piece of wanting to corroborate with external evidence of why we are in the right area. So for example, if we know the track is going across the peninsula and the altitude, it will give us a better idea of what the fuel burn will be. And if we know what the fuel burn is, we can have an idea what endurance is. And if you know what endurance is, we can work out what distance is. And so, it still, for me, I still big unknowns about what happens on the aircraft when it crossed the Malaysian peninsula. I still think we need to go harder to the Malaysians and say come on, look, I don't think you're telling us everything here.

All we want to know is where the aircraft went across the Malaysian peninsula, what you saw, did you speak to Indonesian radar, what did they see, and we are close to Thailand, what did they see? I still think there is a lot of communication that is required between those three countries to ascertain between these countries.

LEMON: Geoffrey Thomas, they have been working in a much smaller search area today. What can you tell me about that? Do we read anything into that, the search area is smaller? Does that mean they actually honed in on exactly where this beacon may be?

THOMAS: Well, Don, there are two search areas. There is the very small search area which is where they're locating the pings. It is only about 20 miles by 20 miles. That's where they're locating the pings. The larger search area as being discussed is about two to 300 miles further west. And that is the big large area where they're searching for the debris, the surface debris, the floating.

And so, the -- the current search area where Ocean Shield and HMS Echo are is where they're looking for the black boxes, the actual main body of wreckage on the ocean floor. And HMS Echo is there, arrived there last night to do an Echo search of the bottom. The silt on the bottom will give a soft return, metal object, a large metal object, hopefully will give a harder return, and that will be a very broad sweep. And that will give us even more definition before they launch the Bluefin- 21, which will go right down to the bottom.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. Everyone stick around. We'll be right back with more on our breaking news tonight.

Australia's prime minister says he is quote "very confident" they have picked up signals from flight 370's black box. He says he will have more details the pinger search after he meets with China's president at 5:30 p.m. eastern time U.S.


LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is very confident they have picked up signals from flight 370's black box. But even if he is right, recovering the black boxes will be a tough job.

George Howell has more now.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once you find a needle in a haystack, how do you extract it? That is what investigators are up against in the search for flight 370 as they try to hone in on the black boxes.

KAY: For authorities and search operators actually found the needle before they found the hay stack is quite unprecedented.

HOWELL: Once you know where to look, how do you get down there, some 14,000 feet below the Indian Ocean?

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well, there is one of two ways you do it. You either do it with a remote vehicle that is not tethered to a ship or you do it with a tethered remote vehicle.

HOWELL: The former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board says similar types of vehicles went almost 13,000 feet deep during the search for the cockpit voice and data recorders from the 2009 Air France crash off the coast of Brazil. The recorders were found about two years after the crash, long after the pingers had died.

Underwater vehicles were also used to also to recover artifacts from the titanic. But before sending the investigators down, investigators must first map the terrain, a step that takes time and requires patience.

GOELZ: If it is in rocky or cavernous terrain, it can be challenging. But once the wreckage is identified these vehicles and operators have extraordinary capabilities.

HOWELL: Locating them is one thing, but pulling the black boxes from the incredible depth is another. The remote control vehicles armed with sonar, cameras, lightning and remote control arms may sift through silt and potentially through wreckage in pitch dark waters.

GOELZ: It can be painstaking, it can be very difficult, you know, sometimes the boxes have separated from the wreckage, sometimes they have separated from their pingers. So this is going to be a long process.

HOWELL: George Howell, CNN, Chicago.


LEMON: All right, George, thank you very much.

Our breaking news tonight, Australia's prime minister saying he is very confident they picked up signals from flight 370's black box.

Now, I want to bring in Eric Van Sebille. He is a physical oceanographer at the University of New South Wales and he joins us by Skype. Also back with now is Paul-Henry Nargeolet, director of underwater research for premier exhibitions. And we are going to call him PH. He likes to be called PH.

Erik, to you first. If the prime minister is right and the signals detected earlier are from the black box what will those conditions be like under the surface of the ocean? ERIK VAN SEBILLE, PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHER, UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Well, first of all it is absolutely pitch black down there. And light doesn't penetrate the ocean much further than maybe 300 feet or so. And if you go further and further down it is just completely dark.

It is also very cold. It is only a few degrees above freezing temperature, the water there. And most importantly, it is -- there is a constant fall of what we call marine snow. That is actually the scientific term of this thing. I know this essentially that animal, the plankton living on the surface, that when they die, they slowly fall down and that forms this very thin silt layer just ooze on the sea floor.

LEMON: So in your opinion, the black box will be buried in the silt, right?

VAN SEBILLE: Yes. Well, it won't be buried in the sense that since it came there, there is a new layer of silt on top of it. Because it doesn't go that fast actually, they only form very slowly. But because the currents are not very strong in the deep ocean down there, it actually doesn't move that far.

But what will probably happen is that this layer of silt is so fine, so thin that anything that actually falls on top of it, kind of like entirely gets into it like a very soft mattress almost. You kind of fall into it and you go away.

LEMON: Yes. You have experienced the -- you know, many depths and what do you see? Are you seeing what he is seeing? The silt and do you think it will be covered?

NARGEOLET: No, I don't think so. Because there are currents, you cannot avoid the visibility. That happened very often on the titanic, for example, some days we don't have very good visibility, but some days we have a good one. It is not all motion, you know, (INAUDIBLE). It could be -- that thing can change very fast.

LEMON: And speaking of the titanic, you used sonar technology to help to find the titanic, right? Tell us about that.

NARGEOLET: We were using -- it was in 1985, we were using towing sonar, which was -- like all the equipment are doing now. Now, most of the time we are using AUV, on the air France flight we were using AUV because the topography was better for an AUV than for towing sonar.

But AUV is a carrier, also, the so sonar, I men, the same kind of equipment. That is the only way to see something under water because you don't care about the light, if it is dark or not with the sonar. You don't need any light. And you have the swab, which could be pretty big, is much bigger than the towing sonar than with an AUV, because AUV have small power, you know, the battery, but they cannot give the same power than you can get from a surface ship. And that is different.

LEMON: Erik, do you think they should send down a robotic vehicle and be searching that way, as well?

VAN SEBILLE: Well, as soon as you start doing that of course everything really goes even slower. And as soon as you start to work on the water with the robotic vehicles, you can't move that much anymore with your ship. And that means that you have to be pretty certain of the area where you are going to search before you take this step.

And as soon as you do that, you're going to introduce noises. So you can't really hear the pinger maybe that could anymore. So I think it is really important to first do the -- locate the pinger and try and get as much leverage, as much mileage out of that before going down the route of actually sending something down.

LEMON: Erik, are you concerned there has not been any debris found yet? You know, the Australian prime minister saying he is confident they are hearing the ping, you know, no debris though. But he believes that it is from the black box. Are you concerned that no debris has been found yet?

VAN SEBILLE: Well, I'm not an expert on airplane crashes or something, so what could have happened of course is that the plane went into the water without much debris. But since -- even if that didn't happen, even if there was a lot of debris on the surface of the ocean then because we are searching much more further north or much closer to Malaysia than we were searching before, the currents in this region actually moves kind of the other way around. So currents would here tend to bring the debris westward, essentially slowly towards Africa. And I'm not sure how much effort has been put into searching really in that area for debris. So it might be that there is something overlooked a bit, the area where the debris might be.

LEMON: Very interesting. But you say in your experience you don't think the plane could have landed. We have been wondering if it landed intact, we haven't seen debris. You don't buy that?

NARGEOLET: No. That is totally impossible in the ocean. It was possible. I mean, we saw that a few years ago on the Hudson River because it was perfectly flat. But on the ocean you have always wall. Always something, and that is enough to make the plane, you know, turning and be (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: It doesn't matter how slowly or methodically you put it down, you think there has been -- it is going to break out?

NARGEOLET: Yes, surely. The smaller plane like 777 is never slow. You know, with the fighter, you know, military is possible. I know a story of --

LEMON: The guy of smaller plane.

NARGEOLET: Yes, smaller plane. The guy was sleeping. You know, he fell asleep and he landed but he was in the Mediterranean. And the Mediterranean was like the Hudson River.

LEMON: But not the Indian Ocean, and not a plane -- NARGEOLET: And a plane, for this plane to fly, you need a minimum of probably 200 kilometers, 300 kilometers, not nothing when you hit the water. The water is like cement. You know -- that is why.

LEMON: Thanks to both of you. I appreciate you both your perspective.

Our breaking news tonight, Australia's prime minister says he is very confident they have picked up signals from flight 370's black box.

Meanwhile, the head of the search tem, Angus Houston says their initial assessment of the so-called fifth ping is that it is not related to the underwater locater beacon.

More when we come right back.


LEMON: Back now with our breaking news, I want to go to Sky News business correspondent Brooke Corte. She is one of the reporters who was president when Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott talked about being very confident they have picked up signals from flight 370.

She joins us now by phone from Shanghai.

Brooke, tell us what the prime minister said.

BROOKE CORTE, SKY NEWS BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, actually, when you were reporting on the prime minister's trip across Asia, Don, we were having a brief conference about the developments of potentially a trade agreement between Australia and China.

While we were in the room, during that press conference, couple of the reporters inside started to get information about this latest ping. He was asked a question and he came out really with not what we expected, but a stronger statement that he made about locating that black box. He said we do have the signal what we're looking at, he say, that we are confident that it is the black box. Of course, that signal is now starting to fade. But suddenly confident that we've seen where those signals are coming from. That we've narrowed down the search.

He did say, though, Don, that he doesn't want to go further with what he says, and that is because right now, and that should be part of the party which will pay Tony Abbott as the Australian prime minister from Shanghai to Beijing, where he was seen as he was getting off the plane to have a meeting with the Chinese president. And at that meeting he has told us he will talk about MH-370 and deliver the very latest update that he has to the Chinese (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Brooke Corte, we appreciate you. Thank you very much for clarifying.

I want to bring back my experts now. We're talking about tonight's breaking news. Australia's prime minister saying he is very confident they have picked up signals from flight 370's black box. Michael Kay, to you, even with the prime minister saying what he is saying I think you, Jim Tillman, and also PH here, you're not even sure they're looking in the right area.

KAY: Yes, Don. There are very serious ramifications, again, this information wrong, not just Tony Abbot's political credibility, but the number one priority at the moment right which is getting closure for those families and loved ones.

So I would like to see more corroboration, let's reverse engineer where the search area is, and let's draw back the track and the path that the aircraft would have had to fly around the tip of Sumatra, back across Malaysia, and back to where the transponder pinger was. What is that distance? Could the aircraft physically be able to fly that with the fuel load that we know that it had? If it could, what were the altitude speak combination? And let's just see if we can corroborate the search area a little bit more. I'm not convinced.

LEMON: The prime minister saying he knows where it is within a few kilometers.

NARGEOLET: Yes, I don't know how he knows that. How he can find that. You know, I'm sure on board a ship, it is impossible to -- with only the pinger, it is not enough. We need evidence. We need a piece of the plane or something. With or without this, it is not really --

LEMON: But you're not convinced the plane is even where they think it is?

NARGEOLET: Why -- because we don't know where the information is coming from. Who says that? You know, remember, really at the beginning we heard OK, the plane turned around and crossed again Malaysia. The day after, they say no, no, no, no, it was wrong. The general from Malaysia said no, no, he was wrong. Two days later, he said oh, yes, yes, yes, he did it. How are you going to trust these people? How do they get their information, you know? And are they hiding information, which is possible? Or they are saying, you know, like a political information, but not technical information.

LEMON: Jeff Wise, unless you want to weigh on this, I want to talk to you about the use of sonar buoys. You don't think that they're reliable?

NARGEOLET: No, because they are very good equipment. But they're for wartime who is war service.

LEMON: Jeff Wise.

WISE: You know, listen. The thing is hanging a thousand feet down from the surface. The water is three miles deep. The range of these things is two and a half miles maximum. So only if it is directly over the pinger and the pinger is operating at full strength are you going to even have a chance of locating something on the seabed. So doesn't seem to be a break.

Listen, as this has been going on, you know, we've heard about how they're narrowing and narrowing the search, in fact they're not narrowing it. If you look at where these pinger sounds have been found, the area gets bigger and bigger, it is not converging. It is diverging. This is not what a situation should look like. If it was real, we should find this thing operating at the right frequency, which incidentally, it is not. And we should find with each path, we should be converging and information that confirms earlier information. Instead, we are getting stuff that is further and further apart. It is very confusing. It is not very encouraging.

LEMON: Jim Tilmon, I have to run really quickly, but I think you said that at this point, the last information you said grasping at straws, correct? Did you not say that?

TILMON: Yes, I did say that and I mean that even more so tonight that I have before.

LEMON: All right, when we come right back, our breaking news. Australian prime minister saying he is very confident that they know the position of the black box within some kilometers.

Meantime, the head of the search team, Angus Houston says their initial assessment of the so-called fifth ping is that it is not related to an underwater locater beacon.


LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, Australia's prime minister says he is confident that they know the position of the black box flight recorder within some kilometers. I'm back now with my experts. Jim Tilmon, who is a former retired American airlines pilot.

Jim, you're skeptical that we're even looking in the right place and the Australian prime minister says within a couple of kilometers.

TILMON: Well, I don't know how he measures the kilometer, but as I can tell you right now as I measure the just plain old common sense about this, there is no reason where the plane should even be where they say it is.

LEMON: And you agree with that?

NARGEOLET: Totally, 100 percent.

LEMON: Why do you say that?

NARGEOLET: Because, you know, how can we say that? You know, we don't know. And a few kilometers it doesn't mean, you know, in few kilometers you cannot hear a pinger with a few kilometers, that doesn't work.

LEMON: Yes. He says within some kilometers. But that is very tough to believe.

One of our guests, Geoffrey Thomas said that the search was 20 miles by 20 miles. You don't believe -- he said a smaller area, you don't believe that's a smaller area. NARGEOLET: No. It is 20 miles by 20 miles is 400 square miles. And it is a big area. And on the titanic that was the size of the area and it took two months before they found the titanic.


Michael Kay, though, we spoke to a family member earlier who said he wanted more information from Inmarsat, more information from Boeing. The families many don't believe, as well. Obviously, this is the worst case scenario for the family that it is actually in the bottom of the ocean somewhere. But they're still not believing this information and they don't trust the investigators.

KAY: Yes, I don't think the mistrust, Don, is coming from Inmarsat or those analysts. I think the mistrust is coming from the Malaysian government. And I don't think the answer to their worries is going straight to the Inmarsat analysts in trying to conduct the investigation themselves.

I obviously sense their frustration, and this is just a completely punishing time for them. But patience, I think, hopefully will play well in the long-term. What I do think is again, going back to this corroboration of information.

Tony Abbott is a clever guy. He is the Australian prime minister. He has a lot of clever people around him, people that can advise him accordingly. The Inmarsat analysts are very clever people. There is a lot of intellectual horsepower going into this.

If you then overlay on top that, the Australian country, one of six in this team under the investigation along with the U.S., the U.K., France, China, and Malaysia, he also going to have to discuss with them what he is going to say on the world stage. So I think, you know, I live in earth. I am a glass half full kind of guy. And I would like to think that with all that support around him and all the countries around him that he would be leading us in the right direction.

Jeffrey Wise, listen, even with the information that you guys are skeptical, a lot of people are. But investigators seem to be very sure of where the plane, they think the best possibility they said where it made impact into the ocean. If they have to search somewhere, whose information is to be believed?

WISE: Well, right, they have to search somewhere, and they should search somewhere. But I guess what I have questioned all along is if you're conducting a search you should just say we're conducting the search. You don't need to characterize it in a way that would raise expectations which subsequently would be dashed.

And I'll direct your attention to the fact that when they first established the search area, remember the prime minister said this many times. The prime minister went before parliament in his own country and said this is the best tangible evidence or words to that effect. He characterized it as a very promising lead. It didn't pan out at all. And again, I think that was just the first example of setting up expectations really for no apparent reason only to see them be crushed -- we talked about their families and their disappointments.

LEMON: OK, Jeff, hold that thought. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Back now with our breaking news and the final thought. Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, says he has to share with the Chinese president, 5:30 p.m. eastern time, U.S. time, before he shares any more information. What does he have to say to convince you that he know where these back boxes?

NARGEOLET: He has to show a piece of the aircraft, something from the aircraft.

LEMON: So, a piece of the aircraft.

Jim Tilmon?

TILMON: Crystal ball would help.

LEMON: Jeff Wise?

WISE: I agree. Just show me something, I don't need to hear encouraging words, just show me something.

LEMON: All right, Mikey Kay?

KAY: Yes, it is not what Tony Abbott says, it is what Angus Houston provides. And it is wreckage, we need wreckage.

LEMON: Everyone agree -- everyone is in agreement. You need to get some wreckage or you need the physical black box, right, to convince that he has it.

NARGEOLET: Or diving and seeing there was wreckage on the bottom.

LEMON: Thank you, everyone. Thanks to my panel of experts and to all of my guests.

Make sure you stay with CNN all night for the very latest on the search.

I'm Don Lemon in New York. Thank you so much for joining us.

Good night.