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Search for Flight 370; Ferry Disaster Search Continues; Interview With Congressman Eric Swalwell; Legal Options for Families with Flight 370; Bluefin's 10th Mission Nearly Complete

Aired April 22, 2014 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN special report. I'm Don Lemon.

I would like to welcome our viewers here in the United States and of course around the world.

We have some breaking news tonight in the search for Flight 370. The 10th Bluefin-21 mission almost complete, and 80 percent of the search zone has been scanned. So is the plane somewhere in the remaining 20 percent of the area? And if it's not, what's next in the search?

Plus, Mother Nature not cooperating with the searchers, more extreme weather in the form of heavy rains, winds and giant swells that could delay the 10 military aircraft and 12 ships ready to continue that search.

Plus, the latest in a miraculous survival story, the 15-year-old stowaway who smuggled himself in the landing gear compartment of a commercial jet. Well, his illegal trip from California to Hawaii raises questions of airline security and your safety.

You have been tweeting us your Flight 370 questions, and we have top aviation and security experts standing by to answer them for you, like this great question. "Why didn't they initially choose something more advanced than the Bluefin like the Orion or the CURV?"

I want to begin now with our correspondent in the region, Michael Holmes, who's in Perth.

Hello to you, Michael.

Eighty percent of the underground search area covered, no contacts of interest. How are searchers feeling about that remaining 20 percent?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has got to denting the enthusiasm or the confidence levels, Don, doesn't it?

The search organizers have been telling us for a long time that this more focused area was indeed their best shot. Well, mission number 10 done now, and that focused area, as you point out, is now 80 percent covered, still nothing found. No sign of MH370. No word on data results from the latest mission, but the previous nine, as we know, turned out nothing.

They could look to expanding next if they find nothing in the next 20 percent of that area, perhaps looking at underwater scanning vehicles. But the search, everyone says, is not over and will not end anytime soon, Don.

LEMON: Michael, I want to show about your experience because you had the opportunity to visit the laboratory in Australia where the black box from MH370 would could potentially up if can they find it. What did you learn from the experts there?

LEMON: It was fascinating. We went flew from Perth to Canberra, a bit like going from L.A. to Washington, yesterday just to go visit the laboratory.

Only a handful of countries in the world, a half dozen or so, are equipped to decode the mountain of information that's in a data recorder. There's up to 2,000 separate strands of information in one of those things. One of those places it can do it is in Canberra, the Australian capital.

We talked to the investigators there and they are confident they could pull off information here. We saw a bunch of damaged recorders there and cockpit voice recorders as well. They have pretty much always risen to the challenge and got the information off.

They have done many black box investigations here, not just planes, Don, but also trains, and believe it or not, even ships, of course. That's something like I didn't know, that they have black boxes as well. One sidebar fact, I have to say, as an Australian, it was David Warren, an Australian, who was in fact credited with the first version of the black box in the 1950s. So, Australia has a long history with these things.

LEMON: Yes. Even your own, especially -- well, modern cars have their own versions of black boxes and data recorders.

Thank you, Michael Holmes. We appreciate that.

I want to get to my experts now.

Jeff Wise, the author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger," Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the Department of Transportation, now an attorney for victims of transportation accidents, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kay, a retired military pilot with the British Royal Air Force, Jim Tilmon, a retired American Airlines pilot, aviation attorney Arthur Rosenberg, David Soucie, former FAA CNN safety inspector and author of "Why Planes Crash," aviation attorney Arthur Rosenberg, and of course Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief of

This is the original group we assembled eight weeks ago and you guys are back here with us. Thank you for joining us on this Tuesday night once again.

Jim, I will start with you, Jim. Some of the families have been question whether searchers are looking in the right place. You share some of their skepticism, don't you? Tell me specifically why you think they might need to go back to the drawing board, Jim. JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I never got any assurance there was a really strong scientific reason for taking the approach that we are taking.

I don't know what was the thinking involved when the decision was let's go south and let's ignore anything to the north. I don't like the idea of ignoring any part of a search like this because we just don't know very much.

It's one of these things that came up last week when I think Mr. Quest made the statement, we don't know anything. And that's true. We know very little. We suppose a lot. We have a lot of assumptions. We need to know something. And I'm with the family on that. Tell me something I can count on to be real.

LEMON: One of the family members on this show raised that possibility last night.

David, do the results so far in the search or lack thereof justify the confidence officials have that they are looking in the right area?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I think the confidence comes from the fact that the pinging went on.

And I have looked at the spectral analysis of those pings and I'm convinced that it's from a black box. I think that's -- as Jim pointed out, we don't know anything. And in any other situation, I would say I know that, but I don't in this situation because the information that we are getting has always been so scattered.

But if we were to take that on its face value, that is -- that would be the one thing we do know is that those pings are happening. Where the aircraft is related to those pings it could be within a larger area than they are searching currently. I'm still confident we are looking in the right place.

LEMON: In the right general area, you believe, right?

OK. So, Jeff Wise, to you first. Experts say they are looking in the highest probability area, a 10-kilometer radius around the second ping signal, the ping that was detected for 13 minutes. Could it be in this area and they are just not finding it, you think?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it was the highest probability area in their estimation.

It no longer is the highest probability, certainly the areas they have looked at. Now, as you said, we have 20 percent more to go. But once that has been searched, I think it's going to be time to really stop and reassess. The towed pinger locator does not have an infinite range. These things only are capable, according to the specs released by the U.S. Navy, only have a range of about a nautical mile.

So it's a fairly compact area. They are obviously searching a much larger area than the area immediately around where the ping was located. I think by the time they search the entire search area, we can safely say that it's not there.

LEMON: All right, Geoffrey Thomas in Perth, Geoffrey, I love it, because you bring new information here every evening.

You have some information about what may happen after the Bluefin finishes searching this last 20 percent of the search area. What can you tell us about how the underwater search will proceed?


We have a sense that what they are going to do after this last 20 percent is possibly go to the area where the first ping was heard, and that's ping number one. I don't think they will go to ping three and four. But they will go possibly to number one and do the same thing again there, do a 10-mile -- 10-kilometer, six-mile radio out of that.

Also, there's now serious discussion about the Orion, the towed side- scan sonar device, which of course does everything in real time, gives them much greater flexibility. It also can go to a much greatest depth, too. And one of the issues here is, the area they are searching at the moment is like a plateau, about 4,500 meters deep. Off to the sides of it, it drops to 6,000 meters deep. They will have to get more assets or better assets if the search is to be widened considerably.

LEMON: Let's talk about the big picture or the long haul, so to speak, Mary.

We know Malaysian and Australian authorities are mapping out a long- term for a search focusing on how the debris is handled, the care of human remains, and the widening search. Does it sound to you that they are preparing to settle in for the long haul here?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, I think it does. It shows that they're -- it's wise they are getting a plan, they are getting an agreement in place. Better to get an agreement up front than later on. And so they have clear lines of responsibility.

I also think that will go -- of course, it will be hard to get any credibility with the families for the Malaysians, but it will go a long ways to help restore the faith in the investigation if they have this clear agreement as to who's going to do what, particularly with the recovery of wreckage and remains. That's going to be extremely important. And this agreement will help to keep things sane and manage a very, very sad and terrible situation.

LEMON: Arthur Rosenberg, you are an attorney here. But who should handle the debris and the remains specifically if they are eventually found?

ARTHUR ROSENBERG, AVIATION LAWYER: That's going to be worked out between Malaysia and Australia.

But for my dime, the Australians are competent and sophisticated and have the technical expertise to handle that. Under ICAO, Malaysia technically leads the investigation, but I give them poor grades for just about everything they have done thus far, particularly with the handling of the families. I go with Australia to handle the technical side, the human remains side, the analysis of the black boxes and so forth.

LEMON: Michael Kay, I have a question to you and it's about the Inmarsat data. We have learned that Malaysian and Australian officials are still studying Inmarsat satellite communication data for any new clues. Why won't they open this up to the general public or at least an outside expert to analyze?

LT. COL. MICHAEL KAY, EXPERIENCED MILITARY PILOT: I think, Don, because the analysis is inconclusive.

It is bespoke analysis. It has never been done before and you have some very intelligent brains working on some ones and naughts that they are kind of learning as the days, weeks and months go by. Certainly, if I was working for Inmarsat, I would be wanting to keep that analysis quite close hold because I would be wanting to make sure it is getting into the right hands and it's been affected upon as per what they were saying.

What I would say is that there are more bits of this investigation, more concrete than others. The Inmarsat I think is relatively concrete compared to the assumptions made on what height the aircraft traveled at and what speed the aircraft traveled at.

And go back to the question on where do we go next, I think we have just got to focus on that arc. That's what Inmarsat gives us. But the unknowns are the height and speed and that is where the inaccuracy is occurring.

LEMON: All right, stay with me, everyone, because coming up, much, much more on the search for Flight 370 -- why we may have crossed a legal milestone that could possibly help the families.

And later, new developments on the 15-year-old stowaway who was able to hitch the ride in the wheel well of a passenger jet. Now one congressman wants the government to look at security at airports nationwide. We're going to have that for you next.


LEMON: The 15-year-old boy who smuggled himself to Hawaii in the landing gear of a passenger jet told investigators he was trying to reach his mother in Somalia.

He scaled an airport fence in California almost seven hours before the plane took off and survived the five-hour journey at high altitude and freezing cold. He's really lucky to be alive. But others are asking how such a huge security breach could happen in the first place.

So, joining us now is U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

This is an unbelievable story, Congressman.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: A remarkable story.

Thank heavens he's alive. But it does raise major security questions about our airport perimeter security and what more can we do to protect our perimeters, so that they are not breached like this.

LEMON: Let me give you a little bit more of the backstory here and we can talk more.

We learned today the teen who stowed away on the flight hopped the airport fence shortly after 1:00 a.m. That was on Sunday. And the flight took off at 7:55 a.m. How concerned are you that an unauthorized person could be in airport undetected out on the tarmac, access to the plane or whatever, for almost seven hours?

SWALWELL: We should know as soon as he is coming over the fence. And then for him to be able to roam at will around the airport, the runway, the gate area, and for no one to see him, that's a problem.

And so I'm calling on the TSA to do a nationwide assessment of our airports. This is the fourth security breach in five years. We had the jet skier at JFK that wandered across two runways. There was a car that crashed through the gates in Philadelphia.

And so for the traveling public to have confidence in air safety, we need to make sure that these perimeters are guarded, at least with upgraded security measures.

LEMON: OK. Let's talk in specifics here, because you are calling for an investigation of airport perimeter security. What specifically would you like to see done?

SWALWELL: Well, first, I would like to know our vulnerabilities.

We haven't taken a diagnostic of our nation's airports. And these airports, Don, they are bigger than some in many small towns. There are over 1,000 acres in many cases, and it's impossible to guard against 100 percent of the threats.

But I think we owe it to passengers to look at what new technologies are out there that we could employ to make sure that when we get on a plane, only ticketed, screened passengers are on that flight.

LEMON: If a person is able, Congressman, to climb into the wheel well of a plane, you have to think there's nothing to prevent someone from putting something else, some contraband or, God forbid, even a bomb on the plane.

SWALWELL: That's what is so troubling is, we are fortunate that these past incidents, passenger safety was not affected.

But you can only imagine what a determined person could do. And so that's why I think let's take a look at all of our airports, focus on the ones that have the greatest vulnerabilities, and start to step it up and bring into the 21st century some of the technology we use to alert airport officials when people have breached the perimeter security. LEMON: Usually, you know, when people go to the airport, the contact that they have with security, it is usually the TSA. So let's talk about the TSA's role here, is largely the security inside of the airport building, the checkpoint security. Local airport police handle the perimeter.

So, who do you think is at fault here?

SWALWELL: The TSA is responsible for airport security. They work with local law enforcement.

And what I believe we need to do is not just have high-quality security at where the employees go through or where the passengers go through, but these large perimeters. As I said, at the San Jose Airport, you could fit almost 800 football fields in the area that that covers. You can't put a person at every 10 feet to watch it.

But with surveillance cameras, with upgraded technologies that are out there, we owe it to people to look at whether this could have prevented this, because we can't afford for somebody to walk into one of these airports who does want to bring harm to passengers or an airliner.

LEMON: It is important, what you are trying to do, so keep us updated. Thank you, Congressman. Appreciate it.

SWALWELL: Great. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: I want to bring in now my panel of experts.

And I want to start with David.

David Soucie, we just learned that Congressman Swalwell, what he said, he had to say about the implications for airport security when things like this happen. Do all airports need to take a second look at their security measures?

SOUCIE: Well, there's actually -- within TSA, there's a mechanism for doing that. They should be continuously improving the way that they do security. I'm a little concerned actually that they are not doing that as part of a measure to have quality control as far as whether it is operating the way it is intended to.

But they also have a quality assurance level at which they're supposed to come in and say, is my quality control working? The fact that that hasn't triggered something and that it takes a congressman to put the pressure on is a little disappointing in my eyes. I feel like there is some complacency going on in TSA at this point.

LEMON: OK. Let's talk about the pilots.

So, Jim, you are a pilot. Our friend and fellow pilot Les Abend wrote an op-ed for that says: "From a pilot's perspective, this is ridiculous." He said, "Pilots are supposed to inspect the wheel well in a walk-around inspection."

Would you, as a pilot, overlook a person in a wheel well during an inspection like that?

TILMON: It would be very easy to do.

The thing is, how many wheel wells do you look at in a course of a year? And how careful are you about making sure there is no way that anybody could be in those as you take a look?

Obviously, right now, the attention is definitely going to be there. They're not going to have a chance of thing...


LEMON: Jim, why is hard to do?

TILMON: It is not hard to do. It's just one more thing that you should be checking as you do your walk-around.

LEMON: No. I mean why is it hard to overlook, is what I'm asking, to overlook or spot a person what is in there?

TILMON: Well, you have seen today what it looks like when you are in one of those wheel wells and how you can get up into one little corner over there and just sit there.

You know, and if you are not really careful as you analyze this -- first, you have got to drop the doors. You got to open up the wheel well so you can get in there and see. And then of course you have really got to be careful about looking everything.

What happened today won't happen again for another, I don't know how many years, because everybody's going to be very, very conscious now of any kind of stowaway situations. Right now, we're really protected.

LEMON: They are putting themselves in danger, not really the plane, because the instruments there are so strong and they weigh thousands of pounds. You are really putting your own life in danger.

Mary Schiavo, surveillance footage shows the boy jumping the fence at the airport and it also shows him walking across the ramp towards the plane. Is no one monitoring any of this in real time? What's going on here?

SCHIAVO: Yes, that's the question here for not only the TSA, but the airports and the FAA.

You know, after September 11, 2001, there were a lot of studies as to how can people stare at the screens and see nothing, even though there is something there. And you know what they found? That's exactly what happens. People stare at the screens and in a short amount of time as 15 minutes, they don't see things that are happening right on the screens. They zone out.

That's why you have things -- for example, air traffic controllers, you switch off your screens every 15 minutes or 30 minutes and you switch around so you don't get this complacency. But often what we find in late night -- especially late nights, or odd hours, is a lot of times, they are not manned and they go off and do other things or they simply just zone out.

That's a problem. You have got to stay sharp, on your toes all the time.

LEMON: Geoffrey Thomas, the congressman wants to look in to security, to securing the perimeter at U.S. airports. What about international airports? How secure are they against something like this, especially the perimeters?

THOMAS: Good question, Don.

Of course, it varies from country to country. Countries like Australia, the security is very good. In fact, I would say it is excellent. United Kingdom, the same sort of thing, very good security and most European countries. But you get further and further away from those sorts of countries and in some jurisdictions, it would be very, very easy to scale a fence and get on board an airplane.

Interestingly enough, Don, only a few weeks ago, we were talking on your show about the fact that did -- with MH370, was it a hijacker who smuggled on board the perpetrated the disappearance of MH370? So, this just raises another question mark.

LEMON: Geoffrey Thomas, thank you very much in Perth.

Everyone else, make sure you stay with me.

Coming up, the death toll continues to rise in the Korean ferry disaster.

And, later, the families of Flight 370, why they may have crossed a legal milestone. Will it help them?


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone.

We're going to get back to the search for Flight 370 in just a moment, but first an update on the Korean ferry that sunk off of the coast of Jindo, South Korea.

Nine crew members have been arrested. That includes that captain who could be facing life in prison, and all of this while the search and recovery process is still going on.

I want to bring in now CNN's Nic Robertson, who is in Jindo.

Hello to you, Nic.

We learned a little more today about the final moments of that ferry. What do we know?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the interesting details that emerged, Don, is one of the students was the first person aboard to make a call. He called the equivalent of 911, which is 119 here, to get through to emergency services.

He called a full three minutes before any of the crew aboard the sinking ship called for rescue, called for help. This is one of the startling details that is emerging here. We are also learning today more about the recovery effort, 150 bodies now recovered, according to the Coast Guard here.

The divers who were hoping to find many of the students inside the cafeteria area say they have gone into that area, they have searched it, and they didn't find any bodies there. They are now trying to get to a meeting area on the third floor of the ship. They say most of the bodies they have found so far have been of the students inside their cabins on the fourth level of the ship.

But, so far, the right side of the ship, which is the bit that is sort of lying uppermost in the water, ship is on its side, they have sort of cleared the right side, if you will, and they are trying to go down to get to the left-hand side of the vessel now, so a lot more still to clear, but large parts of the third floor have now been searched, Don.

LEMON: It is just awful. Nic Robertson in Jindo, South Korea, thank you, Nic.

Just over 45 days have passed in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. That time frame may have legal significance for many of the families involved.

CNN's Jean Casarez has more.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the air, on the water, the 45th day in the hunt for Malaysia Air Flight 370 has come and gone. It's a somber milestone in the search, as American attorneys can now approach family members without violating ethics rules.

(on camera): This 45-day rule, what is it?

DANIEL ROSE, AVIATION AND MARITIME ATTORNEY: Well, it is the minimum amount of time in which an American lawyer has to wait before they can reach out to a family who's lost a loved one in a plane crash.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Aviation attorney Daniel Rose says families who choose to file suit in American courts against U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing may face difficulties.

ROSE: If we don't have the black box with all the critical information on it or we don't have any part of the wreckage, it would be very hard, nearly impossible, to maintain a claim against Boeing in any court in the United States.

CASAREZ: And without a viable lawsuit, families won't get access to crucial information.

(on camera): So families won't be able to get maintenance records from Boeing, manufacturing records, nothing.

ROSE: That's probably true.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Malaysia Air, on the other hand, may have the deck stacked against it.

(on camera): Airline responsibility is determined by an international treaty, the Montreal Convention. The convention sets no cap on damages families can claim. And the only way the airline can defend itself against paying out so much money is to prove that it is not responsible for whatever happened to Flight 370.

So Malaysia Air is really at a disadvantage?

ROSE: You can call it a disadvantage or you can call it what the treaty was intended to do, which was to allow a family member who was just sitting in seat 15-C, not doing anything wrong, have the benefit and the rights that their families are entitled to.

CASAREZ (voice-over): But the money will never replace what they have lost.

(on camera): As a lawyer representing the families of victims, how do you really make them whole again?

ROSE: It's a great question. It's an incredibly complicated question. There's a limit to what a lawyer or the legal system can do for a family.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Jean Casarez, CNN.


LEMON: Jean, thank you very much.

Joining me now is Steven Marks, aviation attorney with Podhurst Orseck. He's worked with families of Flight 447. Also with me is Dr. Judy Ho, clinical and forensic psychologist.

Hello to both of you.

Steven, at this stage over a month and a half into the search, would you recommend that family members start retaining attorneys? Is there a benefit to them doing so? Maybe it's a buffer between them and the people that they're dealing with?

STEVEN MARKS, AVIATION ATTORNEY: For some families, it makes them feel like they have some power. They're very frustrated right now. They're not getting answers.

The families that are being approached and have been approached within days of the crash, those attorneys the people should be very suspect of. They need to do their research. They need to find people who have handled these kind of international cases in the past, make sure that they're competent and that they're not knocking on their door. In the 45-day period that you talked about under the Family Assistance Act, really applies to crashes in the United States as to U.S. attorneys. There's some question as to whether it applies overseas. And we know in this particular case, there have been lawyers over in China within days of the crash trying to solicit cases, which in the United States would be barred.

And instead of doing that, the attorneys who are contacted by the victims know what they're doing, can assist the families. And I think there is a vehicle for getting information and answers in the United States courts, which really are the best avenue for the truth and the documentation through our discovery process.

LEMON: So the question is, Steven, if the families -- if families do want to pursue a lawsuit, who do they have a case against? And where will they have to pursue it?

MARKS: Well, that's a complicated question. Malaysia Air is covered by Montreal Convention. Each passenger will have to look at their ticket. There are four factors that apply to every passenger and their jurisdiction.

The four factors are the principal place of business, the place of incorporation, the carrier, which is Malaysia. The third is the contract of carriage, which is complicated because people buy tickets through the Internet, through brokers, through travel agents, and where the contract was sourced (ph) may have may give them jurisdictional options outside of Malaysia.

And finally, their final destination. If they were traveling on a round-trip ticket that took them from Malaysia to the United States or from the United States through Malaysia back to the United States, they would have jurisdiction in the U.S.

And fifth is a recent amendment to the convention which applies to citizenship. So if you're an American citizen, you get access to the American courts.

Now I didn't answer the second part, who they can bring the claim against. The claim can also be brought also against Boeing, assuming there's some factual basis. I agree at this stage it's relatively difficult because we don't have the factual information. So I think that could be brought easily in the United States, and jurisdiction would be maintained by any passenger here.

LEMON: OK. I want to get to Dr. Judy now. Family members are going through an extremely emotional time, no new information coming, and they're struggling with officials now. Can they have a lawyer now? Will that help them to navigate this process at all, or does it give them a sense of regaining some control here?

DR. JUDY HO, CLINICAL/FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, Don, I agree with Steven just told us, which is that this is an empowering process. Perhaps for these families that have had no control in this investigation. And that's their perception. And human minds have a really difficult time with the unknown. And they still haven't had the proper narrative to really piece this together for themselves to be able to bring this to closure.

Yet, the Malaysian government has been trying to force closure on them via various ways. Like, one of the things that they had done earlier is saying they are concluding the investigation and thinking of issuing these death certificates to keep things moving.

But these families haven't got the answers they need yet, and the finality of death is so hard for them to deal with. They really need better communication. And the Malaysian government has not followed through on their promise to do that.

LEMON: Let's talk a little bit more about that. You mentioned the Malaysian government and their plans of issuing death certificates for passengers of the missing Flight 3-7-0. How difficult is it for family members to reconcile the loss of their loved ones? You said death is hard to deal with any way, right, the finality of it. But their loved ones, and then when there's no physical evidence of wreckage, does that make it worse?

HO: Absolutely, Don, because there's no body to bury. And they truly cannot reconcile for themselves that this has actually happened. And until they do that they're not going to be able to deal with the guilt that they're probably all experiencing, because they don't want to give up on their families before it's really time to.

And so because we really have not had any significant pieces of evidence that would show that these families have passed away, and we also have had all of these conflicting reports and conspiracy theories flying everywhere. These families are having really a hard time dealing with all of this information and trying to at the same time understand that perhaps their family is gone, and they need to move forward.

So I think it's just so difficult. There's so many factors at play for these families.

LEMON: Steven, what's the legal significance of having a death certificate?

MARKS: Well, it's not necessary in order bring a suit. In most jurisdictions, you can prove the death through other evidence: the lack of the body. You can prove that they were on a flight; the flight's gone missing. You don't need an official death certificate.

However, usually, you can petition a government, and the governments usually will cooperate. We've had many instances where we have been able to get the government to issue a death certificate or it may be a legal requirement, but in most jurisdictions it's not.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. We appreciate all of you -- both of you.

And coming up, the search zone, 80 percent of the search zone for Flight 370 nearly complete. What could be the next move for searchers and the families of 3-7-0 passengers?


LEMON: Breaking news tonight. The tenth Bluefin mission nearly complete. This means that 80 percent of the search zone will have been scanned. What do the families of Flight 370 do when and if the search turns up nothing?

We're going to go to CNN's Ivan Watson in Beijing.

Ivan, you know, the Malaysians who flew there for a meeting with the Chinese families to answer their technical families, but that didn't happen. Why not?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been a lot of reversals and last-minute changes of plan here, Don. And last week, the Malaysians said, "Hey, we're going to," after the Chinese families here requested many, many, many times some kind of high-level technical delegation, to come and inform them about the progress of the investigation, answer a lot of detailed questions. The Malaysians said, "OK, we're going to bring that team and they'll meet with you on Monday."

And then the Chinese families, 100 relatives sat down in a packed conference room, and a Malaysian diplomat showed up, and he said, "Guess what? We're having to change plans. The government has decided it wouldn't be appropriate right now to deal with those questions. We're going to send a different team to come and meet with you." That team has not showed up yet to meet with these Chinese families.

And instead, it has triggered some pretty dramatic confrontations this week where I witnessed as the relatives of these passengers of the Flight MH-370, they wept, they were begging the Malaysian diplomat. They were cursing at him, hurling profanity at him. Asking for some kind of answers and begging for a technical team to come.

Really dramatic, dramatic, heart-breaking and sometimes disturbing exchanges that on Monday lasted for more than two hours. Now the Chinese families are saying that if some team does come over here, they may not even agree to meet with them. That gives you a sense of the nature of this relationship.

LEMON: That's what I was going to ask you. Dare I ask you about the relationship between the Chinese families there in Beijing and the Malaysian officials at this point? It appears that you have summed it up, but it is tense.

WATSON: It's one of the strangest things I've ever seen, where there are daily briefings in this windowless conference room. You get this kind of mid- to low-level Malaysian officials who come out, who clearly are not authorized to really answer any detailed questions beyond a few talking points. And then you get these desperate families who sit down, and they start to kind of interrogate these people. And then it very quickly turns from kind of constructive questions and back and forth to really this confrontational antagonistic stuff. They put these Malaysian officials in front of these people, and they become the targets of real anger and frustrations of the Chinese. It's a very, very unhealthy relationship. And within the last 36 hours the Malaysians just haven't bothered showing up.

LEMON: All right. Ivan Watson, thank you very much.

I want to turn now to my panel of experts here. First to Arthur, Arthur Rosenberg. The family members of Flight 370, the passengers, they've gotten few answers about what happened six weeks ago to their loved ones. Can attorneys help with that right now, or will they be more concerned about lawsuits?

ROSENBERG: Well, an attorney's job is a little different than trying to get these people information. But I actually thought about this a little bit today on how we can give these people the information which they so desperately need. And this is what I came up with.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO, annex 13 and their general responsibilities for safety impose certain obligations on the Malaysian aviation authorities. Also ICAO is an agency of United Nations. Somebody either directly from the United nations or ICAO has got to get ahold of Malaysian officials and let them know that the job that they're doing and the information that they're dispatching to these people is inadequate.

These people have been suffering long enough. They're entitled to answers. Things as simple as the air traffic control transcript, the tapes, some basic maintenance records on this airplane, the general rule being if there was information that was disposable before the crash it's fair game after the crash. It's really just a whole host of things that these people are entitled to.

LEMON: Mary, I just want you to clear this up for you. We know that there were a few Americans on board Flight 370, but could Malaysian Airlines be sued in an American court since they operate in the U.S.?

SCHIAVO: Actually yes. There are several parameters that you have to satisfy. But if you, for example, if you're American, if you bought a ticket in the United States, if you're traveling through the United States. There are many ways in which the airline can be brought here, but that is a jurisdictional threshold. In other words, you have to meet one of those thresholds to be able to be here. And if you do, then you get to stay here.

You have to meet the -- usually they look for residency, where you're traveling to, what your destination was and then it helps if the airline was doing business here.

It's a weird situation in Asiana where they're trying to say even though the plane crashed here, that you can't bring the case here. So there's even twists on that treaty.

LEMON: OK. So, David, do you foresee enough evidence coming forward that a case could be against made against the manufacturer Boeing?

SOUCIE: Not at this point. Unless we get the black boxes or some kind of evidence, I can't see how it could be tied. Because the liability, as far as the operation of the aircraft, lies with the carrier, not with Boeing.

So the safety systems and processes that are, for example, the maintenance process, progress, and the maintenance program is approved by the airline carrier themselves, as well. They don't just take Boeing's program out of the box and say this is Boeing's responsibility, because it's their responsibility.

LEMON: OK. This is for -- I want to do a tweet question real quick. I want to ask this to Jeff Wise. We had a tweet question. This is from Mary Jones. Mary Jones says, "Why doesn't Angus Houston talk with families of MH-370 and answer their questions?"

You heard Ivan Watson saying the Malaysian authorities and families have this difficult relationship document you think it would be better if Angus Houston spoke to the families?

WISE: Well, I mean, I feel that we've heard a lot of criticism of the Malaysian authorities, and I think the Australians should come under some criticism.

We've heard some very strong language in recent weeks. Where essentially we were promised that -- that this -- the search area was going to turn up the remains of the plane. And we have no explanation of what data was used, what the assumptions were made.

By the way, these are questions that were asked in the most recent document released by the families -- of the family members. They want to know what assumptions are being made, what data was used? Really excellent questions. We've seen a lot of footage of emotional family members hurling abuse and invective.

But when you see the kind of questions that the family members are asking, they're very, very reasonable. And I think both the Malaysians and the Australians could have done a lot better answering them.

LEMON: All right. Coming up, my experts answer your questions. That's next.


LEMON: Welcome back. Time now for our experts to answer your questions. And first one will go to Michael Kay. Michael, we have a question, and this is from Mabel. Mabel says, "What are the first steps taken in the investigation once the plane is found?"

KAY: I guess my answer to that, Don, is which part of the plane is found first. That is critical. If it is surface debris, I think the huge bit of the investigation will be allowing closure for the families. So that will be absolutely key. We've been talking about completely bypassing the haystack and going straight in for the needle. And if we do find the needle, which is, in this case, the two black boxes, the FDR and the CVR, then I think you know -- then that has to be handled very, very carefully. And there are memorandums of understanding being drawn up right now, so I gather, between Malaysia and the other five countries involved as to who would handle the processing of that data. Would it be the NTSB, the AAIB or the Australian (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

LEMON: I've got to go to David. David, Pete Meyer says, "A lot of questions e-mailed tonight on your show seem to assume the black boxes are simply sitting on the ocean floor or buried in the silt. Wouldn't they still be inside the fuselage?

SOURCIE: Absolutely. That's right. If we have given that impression or if I have it's incorrect. It should be and it probably will be surrounded by and very difficult to extract from the wreckage itself.

LEMON: All right. This is a question from John for Arthur Rosenberg: "It seems very lucky that the first ping we heard was so quick. And now no wreckage top or bottom. Time to show all info?" Question mark.

ROSENBERG: Absolutely. It's time for the Malaysians to come clean. It's time for us to have a little bit more detail on virtually every aspect of this investigation. And it would only help the families.

LEMON: All right. Jeff, you will like this one, because it's about the northern route. OK? It's from Amanda. Amanda says, "Have any of the countries on the northern route even searched their own territory?"

WISE: Wow, that's a great question that we've completely lost sight of the whole northern arc. You know, when -- once the Malaysian prime minister made that famous 10 p.m. announcement that they determined that it was the south, we really stopped looking at the north altogether.

And I heard that Malaysia had asked Kazakhstan to set up a search facility up there. I haven't heard back about it. So, great question.

LEMON: Mary, question. This is from Dale. It says, "Why not drop pinger in area to calibrate detected pings." We know that the ocean can play tricks on sounds. Should they put a pinger down there to see how the pings are manipulated in that part of the ocean?

SCHIAVO: Absolutely they should do that. They should do that. They should also put a pinger down that's losing the battery to see if it goes from 37.5 megahertz down to 33.5 to see if the signal degradation is right and see how far a pinger signal can travel. Can it travel the 17 miles between the distance of the ping site? I think that's a great suggestion.

LEMON: OK. This is from Jim. Jim, this is an e-mail. And it's from Jim Lauren. It reads -- this is in part. It says, "On Flight 370 or any other plane, why don't the flight attendants in the cabin area have a button to send a distress call or SOS to the air controllers if they could not get into the cockpit and they know something was wrong?"

TILMON: That's a great idea. And I don't know why we don't have that. It would be a simple matter to wire that up and have it available. So, yes, it's a great idea. We just never thought about having to need anything like that before. That's probably the reason it hadn't been done.

LEMON: Yes. Great questions from our viewers. All right, guys. Stick around, guys. When we come right back more from our experts.


LEMON: Time for one more question and it's a big one. The families have been talking about the northern arc. Should they be searching the northern arc? I'll start with you, David Soucie.

SOUCIE: I think not. As much as I hate to, I like to think that the Inmarsat data is correct and that the comparison they did was OK.

LEMON: Jim Tilmon.

TILMON: We should at least do it, if for no other reason than to eliminate that as one of the situations and get that out of the way.

LEMON: Arthur.

ROSENBERG: Absolutely not. All of the information coalesces in the area that they're looking.

LEMON: Mikey.

KAY: Only after the southern arc has been cleared.

LEMON: OK. And Jim -- Jeff, I'm sorry.

WISE: Absolutely. I think we need to put everything back on the table. We've never seen this analysis that's supposed to...


LEMON: All right. I've got three seconds, Mary. What do you think?

SCHIAVO: Ask the countries to certify that they've looked at the radar tapes and they have searched.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate you all joining us. That's it for us tonight. I'm Don Lemon. "AC 360" starts right now.