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Bluefin-21's First Dive Cut Short; FAA Announces GPS Requirement in All Planes by 2020; Jewish Center Shooter Could Be Charged Today

Aired April 15, 2014 - 11:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a slow process, moving at just three nautical miles per hour, only made worse by horrendous conditions, freezing temperatures, mountainous terrain and complete darkness.

But even diving blind, there is much hope the Bluefin-21 AUV will see something.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Quincy, Massachusetts.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello. Thanks for joining me at this hour.

"@ THIS HOUR" with Berman and Michaela starts now.

MICHAEL PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Back-to-back obstacles in the underwater search for Flight 370, the robotic submarine's first deep dive is aborted, cut short, due to the ocean depth. Its return to the sea floor delayed now due to weather.

Also, the man accused in a shooting spree at Jewish centers in Kansas could be formally charged today. His victims were all Christians. Could he still face hate crime charges? We have a live report, ahead.

And it was a late show worth staying up for. Did you see it? The lunar eclipse turning the moon a stunning shade of red. If you couldn't stay awake or the clouds ruined your view, don't worry, we've got some pretty spectacular pictures just for you.

Hello, there. I'm Michaela Pereira, one half of the fabulous Berman and Pereira duo. John Berman is off today.

It is 11:00 a.m. in the East. That means it's 8:00 a.m. out West. Those stories and much more @ THIS HOUR.

Search crews are set to relaunch the unmanned submarine Bluefin-21 as soon as weather allows. The first deployment of the underwater vehicle to hunt for flight 370 ended kind of abruptly.

The drone resurfaced after only seven and a half hours into its mission. It was supposed to have lasted 24 hours. Officials say a built-in safety feature automatically aborted the mission when the device exceeded its maximum depth.

In the meantime, the first data from Bluefin-21 has now been analyzed. The U.S. Navy says no objects of interest have been found.

Malaysia is now promising to reveal any data that is retrieved from the black boxes.


HISHAMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MALAYSIA TRANSPORT MINISTER: I don't think it's important who gets custody as far as I'm concerned. And this is my own personal position. It's finding out the truth. And when we're going to find out the truth, definitely we have to reveal what's in the black boxes.


PEREIRA: So, let's focus on the all-out effort to find the black boxes. Erin McLaughlin joins us from Perth, Australia.

Erin, talk to us about some of the challenges that we know are facing the Bluefin-21.


Operating some two-point-eight miles beneath the ocean's surface pretty tricky business, full stop. But it's really at the limits of the Bluefin-21's capabilities, as we saw yesterday as it was searching the ocean floor and encountered waters deeper than its capacity.

And it had been preprogrammed then to resurface. They don't want to lose it, so it came up to the surface and boarded again the Ocean Shield, technicians downloading the data.

And they wanted to put it down into the water again, but were not able to because of another challenge, the weather. And as far as we know, it's still on board the Ocean Shield. It's still not searching because of the weather conditions, Michaela.

PEREIRA: So, I think a lot of people are wondering. We're always critical when we see these things. We seem to have very little patience in waiting for this data to come back and for it to gather its data.

Is this device, is this technology, the Bluefin-21, up to the task?

MCLAUGHLIN: So far, Australian authorities have expressed confidence in its capabilities.

Angus Houston, the man responsible for spearheading this multinational, coordinated effort, addressed this issue at a press conference yesterday, and he said that he thinks the Bluefin-21 is up to the task. He said that most of the area that it'll be searching is on the right side of 2.8 miles or 4.5 kilometers, which is at the edge of its capabilities. So they are confident that this particular submersible will be able to search this area, Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, Erin McLaughlin, thanks so much for that end of the story.

Let's bring in our aviation analysts, Mary Schiavo and Jeff Wise. They keep me company at the top of every show. Today is no different. Good to have you both.

Mary, why don't we start with you? The sonar sub we're talking about, the Bluefin-21, didn't even get a third of the way through its mission before its own technology brought it back up to the surface.

Is it a question of misjudging the depths of the ocean there, the lack of knowledge we have of that region -- we've talked about it -- or the technology perhaps not being powerful enough?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, maybe a little bit of both. Of course, that part of the ocean has never been mapped, so there was no way of them to know about some, you know, deep caverns or areas of the ocean there that were deeper that others.

But it in some ways, it was good that the submarine did that. The Bluefin-21 went as far as it was supposed to go and when it ran out of its authority, it came back. If only children behaved that way.

I mean, it was kind of good what it did. It didn't go get in trouble, and it didn't hurt itself. And it came back for more instructions, and that's exactly what it was supposed to do, so that's good.

PEREIRA: The last thing you want is to have to send technology down to find the technology that's being used to look for the missing plane.

SHIAVO: That's right.

PEREIRA: Jeff Wise sits beside me here. One of the other big updates that we have received is the FAA announcing kind of a big tech upgrade, going to be putting this GPS satellite tracking technology on all planes by 2020.

Sounds like a big headline, and I know you feel differently, because you think there's some weaknesses to the system?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, look, this is a big initiative that's been in the works for a long time. It's going to mandate a replacement of equipment in every air men flying in the controlled airspace. It's a lot of planes. It's a lot of money.

It's a big deal for aviation here in the United States. It's going to change the way that air-traffic controllers stay in communication with the planes and know where they are.

PEREIRA: But? WISE: But the problem is this suspect gonna solve what happened to MH- 370, because MH-370 actually was already equipped with this technology.

PEREIRA: It had this technology on board.

WISE: Yeah, this has already been rolled out elsewhere in the world.

And, in fact, in the early days of disappearance, if you went onto one of these Web sites where you can track its progress, that was how they knew where it was, because ATSB was turned on.

It was one of these things that turned off, along with the transponder and everything else.

And so, although it's a new system, it's a more technologically sophisticated system with lots of great capabilities, it would not have prevented this problem.

PEREIRA: So, Mary, the next step then to -- you know, all common sense would dictate that you make it so that this technology can't be turned off.

SCHIAVO: Exactly, and you have to make it mandatory. It's called the NextGen, the next-generation air transportation control system, and what NextGen is, it's a series of satellites that will control the air traffic, and the planes will talk to each other and literally can sequence themselves.

In the old days, we had the highway in the sky and the air-traffic controllers told you where to go.

Now, the planes can self-direct. It has energy savings, it's efficient and it makes a thing of the past, near mid-air collisions, midair collisions or runway incursions.

But it's not mandatory. The government has to make it mandatory for all planes and make it so it cannot be turned off.

PEREIRA: That's the key. All well and good, but if it's not turned on, it ain't helping anybody.

Mary and Jeff, I want you to stick around. We have more questions for you.

And I also want to bring up the topic of the cell phone of the co- pilot. It was detected to be on. We want to talk about the significance of that, what it could tell us, what it can't tell us, et cetera.

So, again, we are going to have you stick around. We have some viewer questions we'd also like to you take about the search and the mystery.

If you want to ask a question to Jeff and Mary, tweet them to hash tag 370Qs. Don't forget to look us up on Facebook. We're going to return to our coverage of the plane in a second, but we want to give you a look at some of the other stories happening @ THIS HOUR.

First up, the Kansas shootings, formal hate crime charges could be filed today against Frazier Glenn Cross. He is the 73-year-old man accused of opening fire at two Jewish centers on Sunday.

Three people were killed. Two of his victims were a teenaged-boy and his grandfather. Their family is doing what they can to cope, minute by minute.


WILL CORPORON, FATHER AND NEPHEW KILLED IN SHOOTING: Just coming together, trying to cope and deal with it as best we can. This is one of those things never think's gonna happen, and you know, now we are planning for two funerals.


PEREIRA: Two funerals they have to plan.

Now to Ukraine, a country in crisis, Ukraine's acting president says an anti-terrorist operation has started. We're showing you video of Ukrainian troops with armored personnel carriers and other vehicles on the move today.

They now surround the city of Slavyansk, according to the pro-Russian mayor there. We'll have an update for you from Ukraine, coming up.

Also @ THIS HOUR, extreme weather moving across the country, it is spring, people. Sure doesn't look like it.

A massive storm system dumped heavy, heavy rain in Austin, Texas. We're told golf ball-sized hail was reported there, winds reaching 40- miles-an-hour.

A powerful thunderstorm also roared through southern Mississippi, leaving many streets flooded and damaging a trailer park. We're told two people were injured.

You an insomniac? Did you happen to see the blood moon overnight? In case you didn't, there you go, courtesy of the folks at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

The total lunar eclipse put on quite an amazing show in the night sky. One astronomy teacher said this is why you should look up sometimes rather than staring down at your cell phone or your tablet all the time.

Don't worry if you missed the blood moon. Three more blood moons are expected over the next two years. Maybe we'll have clearer skies in the east so you can see it.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, the water was just too deep for deep-sea search vehicles. The Bluefin sub's rocky first dive just goes to show how little we know about our very own planet.

We'll talk about that more, next.


PEREIRA: I think it is fair to say that for many us, all of our lives, we've heard that space was the final frontier, but let's face it. We have certainly got frontiers right here on earth where no man or machine has ever been before, and it just so happens that's exactly where the sonar sub is looking for Flight 370.

The search area is so very foreign, the sub couldn't even finish its first dive


CAPTAIN MARK MATTHEWS, U.S. NAVY: It aborted its mission at about the six-hour point.

What this vehicle was programmed to do on this mission was maintain an altitude above the sea floor of about 30 meters while it conducted a side-scan sonar search of the area.

Now, one condition that causes it to abort its dive is if it reaches its maximum operating depth of 4,500 meters.

So, that's what happened in this case.


PEREIRA: That's what happened indeed. It aborted its own mission.

Let's bring in our Tom Foreman. He joins us now. And, Tom, we certainly know a fair amount about parts of the moon and Mars.

It seems we know more about the planet Mars than we do about this part of the ocean.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Michaela, we talk about going to space as if it's an easy thing these days. It's not.

And when you talk about the deep oceans, it is also a very forbidding environment. Once you go below, say, a thousand meters, you get into an area that very few people have been to. More people have been to space than have been down there.

And this area we are talking about certainly qualifies. At the shallowest part of this slope that they seem to be working on, you're talking about one and a half miles deep. If you come down here to the other end, you're somewhere over three miles, and we honestly don't really know what's down here. We don't know if it's very smooth on the bottom, if there are a lot of hills and valleys and crags down here.

We don't know if there is something to be found here, whether it is sitting on the top of something, or whether it's under layers of silt, which could be very deep.

On top of which, Michaela, down at this level, this water is just barely above freezing. That always taxes battery systems, no matter where you put them. The pressure is unbelievably intense down here, and it's in complete blackness.

One advantage, quite calm at this level; there are very few currents or anything to affect anything down here, but controlling something down here from way up here, getting it back and forth, this is more experimental than the way we have been talking about. We talk about like it's a simple thing to do. It's not simple at all. And even though they have done it before, hasn't been done so many times that this is routine, Michaela.

PEREIRA: I imagine, though, like anything, when you go in to learn one thing, you end up learning all sorts of other things, that this is uncharted area we have been talking about before. They probably are getting some data and research that they can use for other things.

FOREMAN: Yeah, once they finish this mapping of the ocean floor out there, by the time they have been able to go with ships like the HMS Echo and w3ith the side-scan sonar, and they get pictures of the ocean floor here, yes, we will have a body of knowledge that we absolutely do not have right now about that portion of the ocean floor.

But mapping the entire ocean floor is a gargantuan job that many in the scientific community, of course, would like to see done. They just know it takes lot of time.

This is one of the positives of even a terrible event like this. Many, many scientific advances are driven, not just by pure science, but by a practical need and this practical need is expanding knowledge right now.

PEREIRA: And we have some of the technology available to -- at our hands now to do it.

All right, Tom Foreman, thanks for looking a that the with us.

Ahead at this hour, is the Bluefin-21 capable of completing its mission to search for the wreckage of flight 370? The submarine's first voyage into the deep falls short. We are going to talk to a veteran search expert, see what he has to say, next.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to AT THIS HOUR.

The unmanned submarine Bluefin-21 is set to be relaunched on a second sweep of the ocean floor in the search for the wreckage of flight 370. But as has been the case over and over again in the 39 days since the plane vanished, more set backs.

Right now, weather. Can't argue with weather. Earlier, the device aborted its own mission because the ocean floor is deeper than expected, deeper than 15,000 feet. CNN analyst Rob McCallum joins us from Seattle. He is an ocean search specialist and professional expedition leader with three decades of experience.

Really great to have you back on the program with me, Rob. Let's talk about this initial dive ending so abruptly on the Bluefin. It begs the question is its capability enough for this mission?

ROB MCCALLUM, CNN ANALYST: Well, what we are seeing is it's right on the very edge of its operational parameters. You know, the machine is rated to 4500 meters. And, you know, it's limited by weather and if it -- because it operates autonomously, it is programmed that if it has any issues, that it has to return back to the support ship.

And these are some of the draw backs of operating with AUVs. So, if we have good weather, and if we don't go below 4500 meters, and we can accept that it's, you know, a relatively tight search area, then the Bluefin will be OK.

PEREIRA: All right. Use your three decades of knowledge and tell me what you would do. Are we using a technology -- is there other technology or other devices that could be used to aid in the search right now?

MCCALLUM: I mean, you know, you have to understand that I don't have all the information that the search leaders have. But, you know, if you're wanting to search a broad scale search area, if you want to have a wide swath, then you need to have side-scan sonar with more power.

And the best way to do that is to have a deep towed sonar. That's like a sled that's towed behind the ship on a cable. And the cable provides electricity to the machine, which gives you a lot greater range, but it also allows to you bring data up the cable so that you're getting information from the machine in real time. This is an advantage over AUVs because, of course, they have to return to the ship and to be downloaded.

PEREIRA: So in a way it would sort of speed --

MCCALLUM: The other advantage of the towed --

PEREIRA: It would speed up the process because you're -- you can -- you can tow, search and send the data kind of continuously, correct?

MCCALLUM: That's right. I mean, a towed system is able to operate 24 hours a day and provide data in real time, and typically, has a coverage area around five to 10 times greater than an AUV.

PEREIRA: We have been talking a lot about this -- this area of the ocean, the depth of it, how inhospitable the ocean is. And we were thinking about the ocean floor, that it's never been mapped before. Is it a reasonable goal, in your estimation, to map the ocean's floors, the way we have mapped and chartered our oceans?

MCCALLUM: I think that's real possibility in the future. Up until now, there hasn't been a great drive to map the ocean floor because, of course, as humans, we are really only interested in the little bits that we interact with, so the ocean's being mapped mainly for navigational purposes, you know, to look for hazards to shipping.

But now that we are driven by science, I think there will be a drive to go deeper. And as battery technology improves, and AUVs get longer range or we invest in deep towed sonar, then we will see more mapping of the ocean floor.

PEREIRA: Are these deep towed sonar devices, are they widely available or is that a massive investment?

MCCALLUM: It depends on the depth rating. You know, for this kind of depth, down to perhaps 6,000 meters or 20,000 feet, there are around eight of these vehicles in the world. They are in industrial use most days. And they are capable of swath widths of, you know, two or even three miles.

So, very, very powerful machines. But of course, they are only of use to people who have the specific need in mind to go and find a single target on the sea floor or to map undersea infrastructure, like oil and gas installations.

PEREIRA: Or, say, perhaps a missing jetliner in day 39.

Rob McCallum, you think that we will see this kind of device being used there in the near future?

MCCALLUM: It really depends on how these pinger locations work out. You know, the search controller is obviously very confident in the locations that the pingers have been heard at. If -- if those pan out to be correct, then Bluefin may strike it lucky.

But if there's any doubt about that or if this drags on another week or two or we get bad weather as we move into winter, then for certain, we will have to move into deep towed sonar.

PEREIRA: Yeah, because the fact is, the calendar is clicking away. Time is definitely not on our side.

Rob McCallum, thanks so much for joining us from Seattle. We appreciate it.

Folks at home, we're taking questions about this ongoing mystery. If you have questions about the plane, the search, the investigation, feel free to tweet them to us, #370qs. Look us up on Facebook as well.

I want to turn to Boston now and the scene of another tragedy. Today, if check your calendar, you know that today's the day the city remembers a day it would very much like to forget: last year's bombing at the Boston marathon finish line.

Three people died, including an 8-year-old child; 264 were wounded, many others scarred for life. The city is holding a memorial today, paying tribute to the bombing victims. Vice President Joe Biden will be there.

Now as part of the ceremony, there will be a moment of silence right at the marathon finish line at 2:49 today, the moment that first bomb exploded.

That terrible day left brothers JP and Paul Norden amputees but grateful to be alive. Next Monday, they are planning to go back to the bombing scene for this year's race.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have stitches right here and staples right there. And I have burns on my stomach and my back. And then I had a nail come out of my face right here. And a couple bbs -- a bb came out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a part of my muscle out right here. Some more stuff, and then my leg was open from like here to here. So it's sore there. I had -- I didn't get a lot of the burns like them. I did get some, you know, some nails and stuff out of here. And I've had, you know, little bbs here and there. But I was fortunate.


PEREIRA: And they still consider themselves fortunate. What tremendous, tremendous examples they are of the human spirit.

Coming up next hour on "LEGAL VIEW", we're going to take you live to that memorial event that's happening in Boston today.

After a year, Boston and the victims impacted by the bombings, they are certainly struggling to move on. If you'd like to help out, if you believe in Boston Strong, as we all do, you can get some information about some of the survivors. You can look up funds set up to assist them. We have got all of that information at We encourage you to go there and be a part of the movement.

Ahead at this hour, we are going to talk more about that mystery cell phone signal in the ongoing flight of mystery flight 370. The co- pilot's phone apparently was detected after flight 370 made that westward turn. Is there something buried in that detail that could help explain what exactly happened? We will suss it out.