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Four Days Of Silence, No New Pings Detected; Friends and Family Defend Pilots of Flight 370; Colbert to Succeed David Letterman; Search Area Reduced To 16,000 Square Miles; What Investigators Have Learned From Black Boxes Recovered In Other Cases

Aired April 12, 2014 - 08:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Also the woman arrested for hurling her shoe at Hillary Clinton. We know who she is now and we will show her coming up.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We begin though with the desperate search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Nearly four days after search crews detected that fourth ping in the Southern Indian Ocean. Officials are battling the sound of silence this hour. Here is the big question, are the batteries on the plane's black boxes dead? Have they run out?

BLACKWELL: Yes, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he is confident that the signals detected by a high tech U.S. pinger locator are from one of the plane's black boxes. Listen.


TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: There have been numerous, numerous transmissions recorded which gives us the high degree of confidence that this is the black box from the missing flight. What we are now doing given that the signal from the black boxes rapidly fading, what we are now doing is trying to get as many detections as we can so that we can narrow the search area down to as small an area as possible.


PAUL: So those pings were detected within 17 miles from one another. What that means is the ten planes and 14 ships wrapping up today's search are focused on the smallest search zone to date.

BLACKWELL: Let's put that to perspective. Look at this map. Massachusetts and Connecticut highlighted in red. That is the size of today's narrowed search zone. Now you may recall that at one point, the search area was about the size of the continental U.S. This is a smaller zone, but still a lot to search.

PAUL: The big concern here is that even crews maybe close to finding these, but the signals are coming from about 3 miles below the surface. All this as the black box batteries may already be dead.

Joining us to discuss the latest on the investigation here are CNN aviation analysts, Michael Kay and Miles O'Brien.

BLACKWELL: Miles, I want to start with you and I have a question from Twitter. We are accepting these questions from #370qs. The question is do you feel that based on the flight path it was under the pilot's control. That is from Michael Rustin.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, Victor, it was under the control of a human being. We have to be careful about who we say was flying the aircraft, of course. There is no question given the flight path there was human input. So I think we have to leave it at that for now. Was it the flight crew or was it someone from the back of the plane who somehow got into the cockpit and commandeered the aircraft or force the flight crew to fly a particular course. But there is nothing about that particular course that is indicative of an auto pilot gone wacky. Put it that way.

PAUL: I wanted to ask you, Michael Kay, when we are looking at everything and we've gotten so close and now we are four days into hearing nothing. Is it time to send that Bluefin drone under water?

MICHAEL KAY, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, we know that the batteries last between 30 and 40 days. We are sort of on the transition of working out whether the batteries have completely died and whether to start launching the AUVs. It is a difficult judgment to make that Angus Houston's got. I think personally I think he will probably keep the search going for the pings for at least three-to-four days.

Because we are taught by experts that the batteries could last 30 to 40 days. He wants to make sure that those batteries are dead before he starts the very long laborious process of putting the AUVs down there and searching the whole area. That is going to take a long, long time. When Angus Houston eventually makes that decision, I think we need to be prepared for the long haul.

BLACKWELL: So one question that I've received is so there is a search for the black box and we know that in other crashes, sometimes the black boxes don't have everything that the investigators hope. Is there any chance that once this black box is retrieved, Miles, that the cards inside, the information could be so damaged that you don't get the answers?

O'BRIEN: Sure. There is a good chance of that. You know, these black boxes are designed to handle a lot of g-forces and a lot of heat if there is a fire. That wouldn't be relevant in this case. Sometimes they don't work. Most of the time they do, however. Most of the time the clever technicians who know how to read these cards, whether at the NTSB or expertise in Australia, should be able to recover something.

They have a high probability of success of getting something out of it. My concern is this that the cockpit voice recorder captures only the last two hours in time on a loop. So this is a flight that extended over seven hours. We have to wonder what that last two hours offered in the way of conversation or statements or any sort of human voices. There may not be much on the cockpit voice recorder. You don't know.

The other aspect is the flight data recorder which measures all the inputs to the controls of the aircraft, 80 plus inputs from the settings and power settings. You name it. It could tell us if there was a mechanical failure or say sabotage or a small bomb or something like that. Rapid decompression. You name it.

If it shows the plane was working well all the way into the water, that would tell us it is a deliberate act, but it would not tell us who is responsible for the deliberate act. Since we don't have black boxes for human beings, there may be questions after this time it might take to get the black boxes to the surface.

PAUL: Michael Kay, does it alarm you that they have not been able to find one piece of debris yet? Because this investigation at this point is completely turned backwards. Usually you have debris and then you have the black boxes.

KAY: I think it is a really good point. I think we have to remember that there are three ways in which we can discern the first part of the investigation. Miles made a good point earlier on. We are talking about the why at the moment. Before we get to the why, there is the where and the what. Once we get the black boxes, how do we get that and then how did it come to the final resting place.

There are three ways to find the phases which is the where. It is really important to keep remembering the number one priority of the moment is to get closure for the families. That will be in the where and how we can do that is through the airborne search looking above the surface looking for any signs of debris linked to MH370.

The second way is the debris on the surface of the ocean. That is a long time to trawl as we know. We just had the discussion on when we launch the AUVs. The third way which is effectively bypassing the haystack and identifying the needle, which is the black boxes.

So I think it's really important that we concentrate on all three of those aspects to try and discern the where. I think it's very unusual. I can't think of a case in history where we bypassed the haystack and gone to the needle, found the black boxes and then worked out where the debris is from that.

So it is incredibly unusual. I think what's important at this stage to note is to discern between the two search areas. We've got the location where the four pings were heard about 17 miles apart. There is 18,000 square miles of the airborne search. That is what the maritime surveillance aircraft, the P-8s and P-3s. They are all still very active in trying to find out the airborne bit.

BLACKWELL: So, Michael, one more question back to you. Air Chief Marshal Houston said they will wait for visual confirmation before they send down Bluefin. I guess, you would imagine that he would have to walk that back at some point if that visual confirmation doesn't come. If you don't find the debris, at some point you have to send the Bluefin down. That would come in a few days? Your estimate?

KAY: Yes, I mean, you are absolutely right. I think Australia has done a wonderful job in reenergizing the search and actually bring a lot of credibility too. We know there were problems when Malaysia 370 first went missing. I think Air Chief Marshal Houston is kind of in a place where does he keep on searching with the ping locators or does he launch the AUVs.

He mentioned the fact he needs some sort of physical wreckage or debris to corroborate the search location, but I think also, if he finds the black boxes, that is another trigger to launch the AUVs. We are in a place to build our expectations for the long haul.

I would expect over the next few days if we don't hear any more from the pings, then Air Chief Marshal Houston will have to start going into the second big phase of the operation, which will be launching those AUVs into the area where the pings were heard to trawling for debris. That will take a long, long time.

PAUL: All right, if you gentlemen will say with us here. We want to get to Perth, Australia because we have -- who is there? Matthew Chance is there. Matthew, I have to assume at this point, are planes coming in? Are you hearing anything about what they found in today's search?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, we haven't had actually much detail in terms of what's been coming out of the search zone for the past 48 hours. There has been no press conference given by Angus Houston. Information has been only drip-fed to us. It indicates the kind of lack of progress or lack of concrete developments that they achieved over the past 48 hours.

We know that there have been expressions of further confidence by the Australia prime minister who is on an official visit to China. He is certain or confident at least that the signals monitored are from the black box flight recorders from the missing Malaysia Airliner. He is warned it could take time for the black boxes to be recovered.

We are in a bit of a hiatus. We are confident the search area, beneath the sea, is continuing to shrink. About 16,000 square miles at the moment. It is 18,000 square miles at this time yesterday. There is nothing concrete that they have the black boxes. We know where they are -- Christi.

BLACKWELL: I want to go to Miles O'Brien. Over the past couple of weeks, you have been very adamant, Miles, about highlighting that there is nothing that points to any criminal activity on behalf of the pilots. We heard from Malaysia Airlines that they spoke to Sky News that everyone is a suspect still in their view. What do you think about that so many weeks on after hearing initially that the passengers had been cleared, Miles?

PAUL: Can Michael Kay answer that question?

BLACKWELL: Let's go to Michael Kay with that question.

KAY: I think that the FBI and there will be a lot of investigational authorities that are looking at that kind of the human aspect of the investigation and I think it is important at this point to remember there are six countries involved in this as the U.K. through the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

You got the NTSB with the U.S. You have France. You have China and you have Australia who are conducting the search operation and then you've got Malaysia who is the investigator in charge. There is a lot of intellectual horsepower going into this looking at all aspects of the operations from operations, air worthiness, human factors, medical.

What I am really vested in is trying to understand the where and the what bit and the why bit sort of through all the human factors piece is something that I'm trying to steer away from. We don't have enough evidence to go down a specific route.

We have enough evidence to keep all the cards on the table, but not enough evidence to take any off. We have to keep a broad mind and not go down a rabbit hole too quickly on the why bit, which is the phase three.

PAUL: All right, Michael, one more question and this is coming from Twitter from David. He brought up a scenario I have not heard of yet. He wants to know is it possible to remove the flight data and cockpit recorder from a 777. Could it have been dumped as a diversion?

KAY: I think that is highly unlikely. As I said, you know, we've got very little evidence to take any cards off the table, but that is a scenario that I just can't envision to be honest. I think what we need to do is we need to keep vested in what the realities of the search are. There is not a lot of information about this. This is unprecedented. It is one of the most mysterious accident investigations in the history of aviation.

So what I think we need to do is keep ourselves anchored in the realms of reality. Understand what we do have. Also understand that there are a lot of heavy players involved with this. I mentioned earlier on the NTSB and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

These two organizations associated with the U.K. and U.S. have got a serious amount of experience and influence and credibility when it comes to looking at accident investigations. So I think we need to have the confidence in the information that they are giving us.

For example, the AAIB was working with Inmarsat. They are the people that came up with the initial sudden curve. There are a lot of people who have doubts about that. But at the moment, we don't have a lot so I think we have to maintain confidence in those authorities and they are working on the accident investigations.

BLACKWELL: That work continues. Michael Kay and Miles O'Brien and Matthew Chance, thank you all. We will continue our coverage of the search for 370, but we want to tell you about some other stories we are following.

PAUL: In California, the college tour for a group of high school students, went horribly wrong when a truck slams into the bus. We have gotten some new information about that. We will let you know. And Hillary Clinton dodging a shoe in Las Vegas. BLACKWELL: BLACKWELL: Yes, you have seen the video, but now we know who threw it.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. We have much more on the search for Flight 370. We are taking your questions on Twitter with the #370qs. But first, let's check in with Nick Valencia.

PAUL: We have some new information on this horrible bus crash in California.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, really tragic event there in Northern California that's where we start. New information on that deadly bus crash in Northern California. This just in to CNN from affiliate, KOVR, who spoke to witnesses who say the FedEx truck was on fire before it rammed into the bus.

The bus was carrying students on their way to Humboldt State University to visit the campus. Ten people were killed, five of them students and more than 30 were injured. Among those killed were a newly engaged couple Michael Movet and Madison Haywood, they were chaperoning students.

The two recently got engaged in Paris around Christmas. You're looking at those photos there of the engagement. One of the survivor says he escaped the burning bus by jumping out of the window. Our affiliate at KXTV captured the emotional moment when he was reunited with his parents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you. Definitely had an angel with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a special gift that was given to us. Others did not receive the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lucky is understatement. Blessed is an understatement. I don't have a word to describe how I feel like I'm so thankful that I'm here. I'm grateful that I'm alive.


VALENCIA: Emotional moment there with his parents. Eyewitnesses say the FedEx truck sideswiped another car before crashing into that bus.

Investigators are searching for a motive in Wednesday's stabbing attack at a Pittsburgh area high school. An attorney for Alex Hribal says some sort of bullying may have been a factor, but an FBI agent discounted that theory calling the accused, quote, "disaffected but not bullied." Hribal faces four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault.

We are learning more this morning about the protester arrested for throwing a shoe at Hillary Clinton. She is identified as Allison Ernst. She managed to make it passed security in Thursday's conference in Las Vegas. But it's still unclear exactly what she was protesting.

Clinton laughed off the incident. She showed up her quick reflexes by dodging the shoe. The protester faces disorderly conduct charges. Reportedly, that shoe, quick dodge by Hillary Clinton.

PAUL: She handled it well.

VALENCIA: Coming up, more on the search for the missing Malaysia airliner. The focus is now on the black box and we will show you why some previous cases of a black box shedding light on what went wrong in that cockpit.



ABBOTT: There have been numerous transmissions recorded, which gives us the high degree of confidence that this is the black box from the missing flight.


PAUL: Everything about this plane right now and what happened to it hinges on that black box. We have been talking about what information we will get out of it as long as it is not damaged in some way.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Randi Kaye shows us how pivotal and how important these black boxes have been in previous crashes.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In July 2000, the Air France Flight 4590, the Concord jet takes off from Paris. This terrifying video shows the plane on fire as it leaves the runway. The control tower radios the pilots, 4590, you have strong flames behind you, and moments later they crash into a hotel killing all 109 on board. The plane's black boxes are recovered.

FRANCOIS BROUSSE, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, AIR FRANCE (through translator): The black boxes are in good state to be decrypted. We have to understand what the data means.

KAYE: The cockpit voice recorder unveils the pilot's last words, the co-pilot tells the captain to land at a nearby airport, his response, too late. The black boxes also reveal a catastrophic fire in one engine and a loss of power in another. Air France Flight 447 caught in a powerful storm and rolling to the right. It is June 2009, a flight from Rio to Paris, 228 people on board. The plane begins to fall 10,000 feet per minute and crashes into the Atlantic, belly first, killing everyone.

PAUL-LOUIS ARSLANIAN, FORMER HEAD OF FRANCE'S ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION AGENCY: This is a pinger. This is what we're looking for in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. KAYE: Two years later, they find the black boxes deep in the ocean. Before the recovery it was thought the plane's speed sensors were to blame, but the black boxes reveal the pilots were at fault. A transcript from the cockpit voice recorder shows confusion in the cockpit. We still have engines, what the hell is happening, one co- pilot asks? Another co-pilot says climb, climb, climb, then the captain, no, no, no, don't climb. In February 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3407 also stalls and disappears off radar.


UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: Colgan 3407, now approaching.

UNIDENTIFIED CONTROLLER: Delta 1998, look off your right side about 5 miles, should be 4300, do you see anything there?

KAYE: The plane's speed drops dangerously low. It begins to dive in heavy snow, the pilot overcorrects, a fatal mistake.

WALLY WARNER, CHIEF TEST PILOT, BOMBERDLER: Obviously the initial reaction to the stall warning was incorrect.

KAYE: The jet crashes into a home in Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board.

MARIE BRANDQUIST, AIRLINE CRASH VICTIM'S SISTER: We put our lives in the hands of people that we assume that the FAA is -- and the airlines are properly training.

KAYE: Both black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder divulge panic in the cockpit as the plane falls to the ground. Pilot Marvin Renslow blurts out, Jesus Christ and we're down! First Officer Rebecca Shaw starts to say something, but is cut short by her own scream.


KAYE: The black boxes also reveal the airplane pitched and rolled. This horrifying fact, the pilots were joking around as the plane slowed in the final minutes before tragedy struck. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

PAUL: All right, we want to hear from you. Tweet us your questions. We want to know what you have to say with #370qs. Send it to NEW DAY or you can send it to me @victorcnn or @christi_paul. We'll be back.


PAUL: Rise and shine. Bottom of the hour right now. I hope Saturday morning has been good to you so far. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott says that he is confident the four signals detected by the high tech U.S. pinger locator are from at least one of the Flight 370's black boxes. The searchers have detected another signal -- have not rather detected another one since Tuesday.

PAUL: And we should point out that this morning at least, ten planes and 14 ships are scouring a substantially smaller area that's now roughly the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined -- the smallest area yet that they have been able to hone in on.

BLACKWELL: Let's dig deeper into the investigation with our panel of experts. First we have David Soucie safety analyst and the author of "Why Planes Crash?"

PAUL: Raymond "Chip" McCord is a retired captain, now director of ocean engineering for the U.S. Navy and Tom Fuentes a CNN law enforcement analyst and a former FBI assistant director. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

BLACKWELL: Captain McCord. Let's start with you four days -- almost four days of silence now for the teams looking for these underwater pings. Do you think that the beacon has stopped or maybe just they are not in the right position any longer? To what do you attribute that?

CAPT. RAYMOND "CHIP" MCCORD, U.S. NAVY (Ret.): Well the beacon is powered by battery and it's like a flashlight -- as the battery drains down the flashlight gets weaker same with the pings. So they have to be closer to the beacon to hear it. They've got all of this data that they've had from the various pings that they've had over the day and they identified this area the 16,000 square mile area.

They probably have gradient in that area where that some area now they've got a higher probability and as you go further away from the center, the probability is less and less. And so what they are trying to do is refine and get a best an idea of where they think this -- hat the pings are and the black boxes are so that they can start from a specific point on the side-scan sonar search.

PAUL: Hey Tom you know transparency has been a big issue. A lot of people are -- are frustrated just sitting here, you know listening to what's going because we get information and we find out they had that information a long time ago and they are just releasing it. Certain countries obviously are making discoveries, and there's the belief that they are not sharing that information with the other countries because they don't want to reveal their tactics and the resources that they have. Do you think that that has hindered this investigation?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't know necessarily, Christi that it would hinder it. I think that you know that -- that is happening from all sides. I mean our own U.S. Navy is not saying whether or not a U.S. Navy submarine was deployed in this investigation. The British announced that they deployed their submarine, "The Tireless" but we've heard nothing more about that. And then all of a sudden, they are very lucky they dropped the ping locator in the water and find -- find pings.

So you know, we don't know. The main issue is that if the countries have any information that would place a location to search and the search goes on, then there is really no hindrance whether we know why they search there or not.

BLACKWELL: Hey David, a question from Twitter from Jim Tallton. He asks "Help us understand what happens to a plane when it's out of fuel at 35,000 feet." Essentially does it glide? Does it coast? What happens then?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It can actually glide for many, many miles. What happens when it runs out of fuel is two different options: one is if the auto pilot is engaged the other is it's not and then the flag -- there's a third which is it's in control or not by the pilot. If the pilots are incapacitated, it will actually find a center. Remember the aircraft has dihedral wings so that means that if it tilts to one direction, then the lift on the bottom wing increases to lift on the top wing decreases. So it naturally finds its center again assuming that it's been trimmed properly which obviously it had if it's been traveling that far. So the aircraft could potentially have a pretty smooth glide slope in.

What would be a problem is if the auto pilot is engaged because the auto pilot will continue to hold, try to hold altitude even though it reduces thrusts. So the aircraft would go into almost a 40-degree pitch before finally stalling. And once it releases, the auto pilot would release at that point because of the pressure on the control. It would then dive and stall and go directly down at that point.

So you'd have a dramatic fall at that point over 15,000 - 16,000 feet per minute.


PAUL: Captain McCord, how long do you think other countries, you know Australia, obviously the U.S., China obviously, you would think would stay in the game here. But -- but how long do you think that we're going to have this multinational presence there? Will there come a time when some teams, some countries just say I'm out?

MCCORD: I think what they'll do is they'll probably stay at it for a while at least until they can find and recover the black boxes and see what's on the black boxes. I think at that time, there will be have to be a decision made on what happens after that -- after they've got the data from the black box.

PAUL: And what does happen after that? Who do -- how do they decide who gets it?

MCCORD: Well it's going to be Malaysia Airlines are the lead on this. And however, whatever the results come out on whether or not -- pardon me -- they want to recover anything, the recovery is very expensive it's time consuming and someone has to pay the bill on that. And so they'll have to make a conscientious effort and determine how it's going to be funded and what assets will be brought to the table at that time.

BLACKWELL: Hey Tom Fuentes, Sarah Bajc who is a partner of one of the MH370 passengers. She told CNN that the Fox is very much in the hen house in this investigation. And I'm going to quote her here. She says, "We've a country", Malaysia, "leading the investigation who has all the primary liability in the case."

I want you to speak to that. Has there been over the last 36-day now any systems of checks and balances to make sure as Miss Bajc is inferring that the Malaysians are not just releasing information or conducting this investigation in a way that benefits them considering the level of liability they do hold?

FUENTES: Well I think, Victor the fact that, you know, that the way the investigation is going to come out, I'm not sure that that's the case or not. Because the way the investigation is going to unfold, when they find the boxes, it's going to say you know exactly whether the plane went up in altitude or down or made a left turn or right turn. The exact routing will be determined at that time. And we may not ever know why it turned or, you know, who was in control of the plane to make it do those turns.

But I think that the idea that the Malaysians would be covering it up at this point on purpose, I just think there are too many people involved, there's been too many experts looking at the data there's been all kinds of conflicting data that's for sure but I don't -- I don't know that it's strictly a cover up.

BLACKWELL: All right. David Soucie, Chip McCord and Tom Fuentes -- gentlemen thank you so much for making time for us today.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

FUENTES: You're welcome.

PAUL: You know we also today have to talk about this Heartbleed bug that's being called one of the biggest security threat the Internet has ever seen. We're going to explain how you can protect yourself.

BLACKWELL: Also David Letterman has says he's heading home, he's retiring and fans are looking forward to what the new guy, this guy, Stephen Colbert, has in store.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Hey good morning. I'm Michael Smerconish and we have a great program for you this morning. Exclusive interviews with deep sea divers who know all about the depths in the search for Malaysia Flight 370 and the true crushing pressure involved.

Also, those pingers are only supposed to last 30 days. Well, today is day 36; we're talk to the man whose company actually made the pinger that was on Flight 370.

And the kissing congressman, Colbert, and is a Pulitzer for breaking the Edward Snowden story admirable or abhorrent. There's a lot to bring up on my program beginning at 9:00 a.m. Christi and Victor.

PAUL: All right good morning to you Michael thanks so much. "SMERCONISH" airs at the top of the hour 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Let's talk about what's going on in Ukraine this morning. Gunmen stormed and took control of an administrative building in the eastern part of the country there. And officials are headed to the scene now but meanwhile NATO's chief is urging Moscow to pull back troops from the Ukrainian border. He released new satellite images showing the Russian military buildup, Moscow says the photos are out dated.

BLACKWELL: An appeals court has ruled that SeaWorld trainers still cannot get in the water with those killer whales during shows like they once did. After the death of Dawn Brancheau in 2010 OSHA barred staffers from performing with orcas in water unless there were barriers between them. Now the publicly traded company had yet to decide if it'll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

PAUL: You know, some people are calling this the biggest security threat the Internet has seen and some big named Web sites are still working on a fix here. It's called the Heartbleed bug. The security hole allowed leaks from a safety feature that was supposed to keep your online communications private for sites like Google, Facebook, they've already fixed the patch and they're urging all of us to go ahead and change our passwords.

BLACKWELL: Yes it affects so many people.

PAUL: Oh my goodness.

BLACKWELL: Still to come on NEW DAY, more than five weeks after Flight 370 vanished, passengers families are still clinging to hope understandably. Up next we'll ask a psychotherapist about the stages of grief and how to cope with sudden tragedy.


PAUL: We're learning more about the final moments of Flight 370. Officials say now the plane's pilot was the one who signed off before the 777 vanished.

BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines is tightening onboard security to make sure no co-pilot or pilot is ever alone in the cockpit. And there are some people who question whether the crew members sabotaged the plane.

PAUL: Let's bring in psychotherapist, Robi Ludwig. Robi, good morning to you.


PAUL: I think what's so astounding is there's no evidence that either of the pilots took down this plane -- first of all. We want to make that very clear. In fact those close to the pilot describe him, the captain, as a man who was so passionate about his job.

Let's listen here real quickly to something that one of his friends told CNN's Erin Burnett this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SIVARASA RASIAH, FRIEND OF FLIGHT 370 CAPTAIN: The Captain Zaharie that I know would never have put the lives of his passengers in danger or his plane at risk. That is not the man I know.


PAUL: "That's not the man I know," he says. So we were sitting here thinking how plausible is it that someone could just have some psychotic break and decide at the last minute to crash a plane without any warning signs?

LUDWIG: You know, it is very unlikely. A lot of people think a psychotic break just happens without any notice. But that's really not the case. There is always some kind of sign if you look years back. So there is some kind of oddity that goes on in a person or you can even look at their family's history to get a sense whether there's mental illness there.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about the families here because we know and we heard from her earlier today -- Sarah Bajc who's the partner of one of the passengers who was on board. She says that she just does not believe that this plane went down into the South Indian Ocean. Let's actually listen in her own words.


SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: It's the time that I'm alone that I feel him the strongest and I can only feel him. I can't have him next to me. So, my mind is so confused by what my heart is telling me.

I think I've come to a realization that for sure that the flight is still intact and the passengers are still alive.

I do believe that there is some sort of cover-up by some sort of government agency.

I think I felt his spirit since I met him. And so maybe what I was confusing as his physical presence has always been how his soul has connected to mine.


BLACKWELL: We saw a range of emotions there, Robi. Reconcile those for us. Her mind and her heart are in conflict here.

LUDWIG: You know, Sarah really beautifully describes what many members feel when there is an ambiguous loss. There is no body. It is not clear what actually happened. They really vacillate and go back and forth with the fantasies in their minds. So one moment they might feel like the plane is at the bottom of the ocean and then another moment, they imagine a different scenario, a more positive scenario where the plane landed somewhere and their family members are alive and well.

That's the problem without having a body. There is no funeral. There is no definitive information. So very often their grieving process hasn't even started to begin yet. It is almost frozen in time. So for many of these family members, they really don't know what to believe and sometimes that leaves them believing the more positive outcome, which is the family member is still alive somewhere.

PAUL: You know, I think parents with missing children probably go through some similar because as you said it is ambiguous.

LUDWIG: Yes. Yes.

PAUL: So on that note, when we think about what these families are going through, if you were counseling them right now or counseling anybody who has a situation where they don't know if somebody is dead or alive, how would you counsel them? What would you say?

LUDWIG: Well, you really have to just support where they are right now. Right now, their family member is missing and to try to deal with that upset and that loss. Very often family members want as much information as they can get. That certainly should be supported. But they need to -- a therapist needs to acknowledge that they are just doing well just trying to survive and that they should just honor the fact they are missing their family member now even though there is a big question mark as to what will happen in the future.

Very often these family members feel like they're limping through life and since other people don't know how to deal with them, they often avoid them. But it is really a process. And it's one that's happens over time over the years when they realize hey, maybe this person is never going to come back. They deal with just that missing them in the moment.


PAUL: All right. Robi Ludwig, so grateful for your expertise this morning -- thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you Robi.

LUDWIG: Thank you.

PAUL: Sure.

You can learn more about coping with sudden loss at our Web site. Visit


BLACKWELL: Legendary comedian and talk show host David Letterman says he is retiring from late night "The Late Show" some time next year.

PAUL: Some time. I'm thinking like one night he's just going to go away.

BLACKWELL: This is it folks.

PAUL: And the next thing you know, there is Stephen Colbert, who's of course, you know, replacing him -- the man who's been chosen. That has a lot of people going "What is this new version of late night going to look like with Stephen Colbert?"

BLACKWELL: I wonder if he is going back to Colbert -- the correct pronunciation of his last name now that the report is on the way. Let's check in now with Alexandra Field, who tells us what folks are saying in New York. Alexandra, hey.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christi and Victor. Stephen Colbert, of course, came to fame playing a conservative pundit on his Comedy Central show, "The Colbert Report". What we know when he takes over "The Late Show" some time in 2015 is that he plans to retire that character. But that is really all we know about the new show.

CBS is not saying creatively what the show will look like with Colbert as the host. But it will give fans a chance to meet the real-life Colbert. And that's something they tell us they are looking forward to.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little sad. It's weird. Like Leno's gone and now Letterman is going. It's kind of weird but I love Colbert so I'm totally for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if I like this.

FIELD: Why don't you like it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I love Stephen Colbert in his persona as a political commentator. And I'm not sure we're going to get that or he's going to be able to do that if he becomes a talk show host.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Colbert is great. I went to northwestern university with him. He was well known for being a great comedian then. It is the best news.


FIELD: we will see what we get. Not everyone is sold on the idea. Real-life conservative, Rush Limbaugh speaking out calling Colbert a partisan comedian suggesting that he might alienate some potential viewers. Meanwhile Letterman is already lending his support for his successor calling Colbert a real friend.

Now, as for the competition, Jimmy Fallon also weighed in. He said don't expect a late night war between the two of them -- maybe just a dance-off. And I would watch that. How about you guys?

BLACKWELL: What is your vote? Colbert or Colbert?

PAUL: Alexandra what do you think?

FIELD: Colbert, you know. I think Colbert -- Colbert is the name that we all know. It is really, you know, the name that he made for himself. He has to stick with Colbert here. PAUL: Yes, if he came out with Colbert I think people will go what are you talking about?

BLACKWELL: Stephen Colbert.

PAUL: It doesn't have the ring to it.

BLACKWELL: No. That has the ring -- no.

PAUL: Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: And thank you at home for starting your morning with us. Of course, we will be back here at 10:00 Eastern.

PAUL: Yes. And we have something special coming up at 10:00. Ocean explorer Fabian Cousteau -- yes the grandson of Jacques Cousteau -- is going to be with us. He said there are some things about this area in the Southern Indian Ocean where they are searching for this plane that we really need to know about. He's going to walk us through that here in just a little bit at 10:00.

But you know what is coming up next.

BLACKWELL: Yes, absolutely. Next Smerconish with interviews with the people who go down to these levels -- these deep sea divers who know a lot about this area of the world and what happens in the search.

So be sure to join us back here at the top of the hour, 10:00. Right now, stay tuned for "SMERCONISH."