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EgyptAir Crash Investigation; A Look Back at the Life of Morley Safer. Aired 2-230p ET
Aired May 20, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: the vice president of EgyptAir tells me that they have found the wreckage of the plane that
crashed into the Mediterranean, killing all 66 people on board.
Both Egyptian and American officials say that terror is the leading theory but the vice president of EgyptAir, Ahmed Adel, says all necessary
security checks were made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMED ADEL, EGYPTAIR'S VICE CHAIRMAN: All the procedures that should have been done in Paris were done to the letter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804 has been found. The airline's vice president tells me debris has been spotted in the sea and a search and
recovery mission is under way near the island of Karpathos. That means the recovery word that all on board are presumed dead and next of kin are being
U.S. officials tell CNN that the early theory is that a bomb took down the plane. The flight left Paris late last night and was en route to Cairo
when communications stopped. There was no distress signal.
Greek officials say the plane swerved and plunged into the sea; 66 people were on board, including three children. The majority of the passengers
came from France and Egypt but from many other countries as well.
Devastated families rushed to the airport searching for answers. And just moments ago, I got much more detail from the vice president of EgyptAir,
Ahmed Adel, who is a former pilot himself. He broke the news to me that the wreckage has now been found.
AMANPOUR: Captain Ahmed Adel, welcome to our program.
ADEL: Thank you.
We just, first, want to say, obviously, that we are really sorry for the loss obviously of all those people in the EgyptAir passengers and crew.
What can you tell us about the very, very latest of figuring out what happened?
ADEL: First of all, our heart goes out for all of the family members and friends of all involved in this terrible incident. As I can tell you now,
we have found wreckage, we can confirm that wreckage has been found and the search and rescue teams are now turning into a search and recovery.
AMANPOUR: Can you tell us where the wreckage exactly was found, how much of the wreckage, what makes you sure that it is this?
ADEL: I just got the phone call that the wreckage has been found before going on air with you right now. So all the details, I don't have it on
hand right now.
AMANPOUR: You have said, you know, and perhaps nobody's surprised, this is now a recovery operation. You believe everybody to have been killed.
What is your working hypothesis as to what happened?
Why did this plane come down?
ADEL: Our main concern right now is taking care of the families and friends of all those perished in this tragedy. It is early to speculate.
As you know, you have conducted a lot of these interviews. We have to gather all the facts.
Once the facts are put on the table, everything will be on the table. There will be a thorough investigation, full transparency and we'll update
everyone with whatever happens.
AMANPOUR: Do you plan to release the passenger manifest?
And when would that happen?
ADEL: Yes. We are now in the process of contacting next of kin. Once the process is finished and complete, we will release the passenger manifest.
AMANPOUR: How long do you think that might take?
ADEL: As you know, it's a very difficult process. So I should think we would be finished by maybe later this evening.
AMANPOUR: You are a pilot. What could -- you must have prepared for all eventualities.
What would cause that?
Describe why a plane, how a plane, would do a 90 and then a 360 and then drop.
ADEL: There could be many, many reasons. All I can tell you is, our crews are very well-trained. We have one of the state-of-the-art training
centers. We abide by all international rules.
So there's no explanation for me to give you at this stage. I need to look at more facts and more investigations to have an idea about what happened.
AMANPOUR: Now your ministry of aviation -- I believe the minister himself, earlier today, suggested that, based on everything that's known so far, it
looks much more like a terror attack than any other sort of natural or mechanical disaster.
Have they told you that?
Because that is what they've said --
AMANPOUR: -- in public.
ADEL: I don't believe that this was said; maybe it was a misunderstanding. I did not hear that. But I can tell you that, now, at this stage,
EgyptAir's main concern is the family and the friends of those who are perished. We are offering a lot of facilities. We are opened our
facilities with our SAT teams, the assistance team. They are all well- trained.
AMANPOUR: I need to put this to you again, because there's obviously a difference of impression as to what your aviation minister said.
He basically said -- and I'm quoting practically verbatim -- that when you analyze everything that happened, everything that we know, the likelihood
of terror is much higher than a technical failure. That is what he said.
ADEL: I did not hear that. But I would say, if you analyze everything thoroughly and you put it on the table, everything is out there.
AMANPOUR: Did you know anybody on board?
How are you, as vice president of this company, as a former EgyptAir pilot, how are you feeling?
ADEL: It's a very, very sad time. It's a very sad feeling. We're trying to hold on. And we're trying to move forward and see what happened and
make a thorough investigation to see what caused this crash.
AMANPOUR: Captain Adel, again, it's hard to talk about these things at this time but -- and obviously you're clearly emotional about this and so
is everybody concerned.
But the thing is, there have been terror attacks directed at aircraft in Egypt. I mean, the very latest one, of course, was the Metrojet, the
Russian jet, that took off from Sharm el-Sheikh months ago.
And just a couple of weeks ago, you had an EgyptAir pretend, fake hijack situation that was resolved in Cyprus. You know, there are a lot of these
threats against your aviation.
What you tell us about that?
And isn't that a major concern for you, as an airline?
ADEL: As you know, security concerns are a major concern for every airline on this planet right now. Terror exists everywhere. It's definitely
something that we are concerned about. It's definitely something that we take a lot of mitigations.
We have good security. We have security collaborations with everyone around the world. We are part of an international organization. And we
abide by international security laws.
AMANPOUR: You say you have good security cooperation. This particular flight, I believe, did an Eritrea-Tunisia-Paris-Cairo. Where -- tell me
In each of these locations, is the entire plane swept?
Who is able to get on board and get off?
ADEL: Well, I can tell you that every time the aircraft returns to base or lands at anywhere, any airport out of base, it gets thoroughly checked.
It's a checklist that's done by -- a security check that's done by the cabin crew.
There's a security check done by a cockpit crew, air force authorities, ground personnel. So in each and every destination that you have
mentioned, where the aircraft has stopped, it was checked. And once it takes off and lands in another airport, all of the checks are done from the
AMANPOUR: Do you cast any doubt or questions on any of the security agents aboard or some of the crew on board or passengers?
ADEL: No, that's a negative.
AMANPOUR: Did you know anybody on board, Captain Adel?
ADEL: Yes, of course. I had the pleasure of flying -- the captain on the flight, flew as my first officer for several years.
AMANPOUR: What can you tell us about him?
ADEL: He's very well-trained, high disciplined captain and he has 6,000 hours, total flying hours, 2,000 on this type; a good reputation. And he
was a colleague of mine, yes.
AMANPOUR: Because you know why I'm asking you?
Again, it's painful but we've had an Egypt airline that went down off the coast of the United States in 1999. We've had the Malaysia Airlines that
went down and there's always a question about who was at controls and what might have been, you know, potentially any motivation for foul play.
ADEL: I understand you asking these questions but, again, we need to have the facts. We -- since the -- I told you that the debris of the aircraft
has been spotted. I believe that, in this area, we can get the cockpit voice recorders and the digital data --
ADEL: -- flight recorders and all of the information we can and we're going to move forward from there.
AMANPOUR: Can you try to explain for us the 30 or 45 minutes of lack of contact between air traffic control and the pilots?
ADEL: Well, the facts that I have is that the pilot, the captain, reported his last position to Greek ATC, air traffic controllers. And then they
tried to -- when he moved into Egyptian airspace, they tried to contact him and there was no reply.
And then they informed Greek airspace ATC and they tried to contact him and this is when the communication was lost. It was somewhere between 2:30 am
and 2:45 am Cairo, local time, which is 30 minutes past midnight in GMT.
AMANPOUR: And if you can explain to me a little bit more about the wreckage and what has been found and where, where has the wreckage been
ADEL: As I told you, it was found somewhere on the FIR (ph) borders between Greek and Egypt and I don't have any further information, as I got
the call right before going on the interview with you.
AMANPOUR: Was this plane in good nick?
Was it -- it was healthy, it had passed all its mechanical tests?
How old was it?
ADEL: The plane is -- was produced in 2003. It was delivered to EgyptAir on the 3rd of November, 2003. So it's a relatively new plane. You know,
the age of the plane goes up to 20 and 25 years old. This was around 15, 16 years old.
We checked all the maintenance checks were done in good time. All of the maintenance schedule of the aircraft was done on time. There was no snags
or anything that was earlier reported from Cairo to Charles de Gaulle in Paris and then again from Charles de Gaulle to Cairo.
There was no snags reported in the technical log of the aircraft. No complaints.
AMANPOUR: And why haven't French officials been able to come to Egypt yet?
I understand they have asked; this is obviously an Airbus made in France, it originated in France. There were French passengers on board as well.
Why has Egypt not yet sought their help or invited them in?
ADEL: I'm sure they're going to be involved. By international law, you involve the country where the aircraft is registered, the country where the
aircraft is manufactured and the country where the aircraft crashed. So this is a matter of time.
AMANPOUR: Well, Captain Ahmed Adel, vice president of EgyptAir, on a difficult day, thank you very much for joining us.
ADEL: Thank you, Christiane. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: A lot of difficult questions to grapple with as well for Egypt and the Egyptian aviation authorities. The aviation minister did say
earlier today that terror was a more likely cause than a technical issue. Here's exactly what he said at a press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARIF FATHI, EGYPTIAN CIVIL AVIATION MINISTER: If you analyze the situation properly, the possibility of having a different action or having
a terror attack is higher than the possibility of having a technical...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And, of course, you heard the vice president of EgyptAir, saying that they would be able to get all of the data recorders, all of the
evidence and the equipment they needed to figure out exactly what did happen.
So coming up, we dig further into the details of how this flight could have vanished, just 16 kilometers into Egyptian airspace, that's after a break.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
All these hours since EgyptAir Flight 804 disappeared over the Mediterranean and as new facts start to flow in, so do the questions about
what could have happened to cause the airliner to crash.
With us to try to answer some of them is aviation safety investigator, David Gleave. He joins me now from Dubai.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Mr. Gleave, welcome to the program.
You heard the vice president of EgyptAir list a whole load of new information, including that the debris has been found, that they have not
yet -- obviously it's way too early to determine exactly what happened and all possibilities are on the table.
What did you take away mostly from what he said?
DAVID GLEAVE, SENIOR INDEPENDENT AVIATION SAFETY INVESTIGATOR: Well, the first thing is that the airline is reacting as it appears -- we require it
to react, by looking after the families first.
They haven't released too much information to the press and they're focusing on that element whilst the government machinery starts to run with
We've seen that they've apparently identified wreckage already; I was rather worried that people just finding things floating in the sea could
be, as we saw with the loss of Malaysia 370, anything that was found in the sea could have been the airplane, first of all. And we were searching
completely the wrong place.
So it's good news that the search is starting to narrow the area down.
And it's going to be some period of time before we can draw anything technically as an answer. But certainly some of the investigations are
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, because you mentioned the Malaysia flight. I mean, still, all of these years later, we don't really know a huge number
of answers to that.
Give me the sort of comparison between where they have found the wreckage of this flight compared to, you know, the depth of the sea and the
difficulty over where they think Malaysia Airlines went down.
In other words, will they be able to get it easier?
GLEAVE: Well, in this particular case, we have pingers, which are transmitters, on the black boxes that we're trying to recover with the data
and the cockpit conversation. Those should be good for a month or more in the sea.
It's a relatively small search area. With any luck, there's not any bad weather, there's relatively little tide and sea swell in the Mediterranean
as opposed to in the deep Indian Ocean and it's nothing like 15,000-feet depths that the Australian search, led search has to contend with west of
So you require relatively stable seas to be able to tow the listening devices to locate the airplane. So once this equipment is flown and the
ships are charted and have got out to the right area, then the search should be down to the matter of a few days to isolate where the wreckage
But things will be going on already behind the scenes. They'll start to identify which navy divers from which particular country will work together
and train them. You heard the vice president there, saying that they have already been through some of the maintenance records.
Well, that will be a big interest and the training records of the flight crew. The meteorological records, they'll start to pull those off the
things that the flight may have encountered and forecast and things like that.
So a lot of background work will go on, even though they haven't actually located the exact wreckage or found anything that they can work with back
in the laboratories at this moment in time.
AMANPOUR: Although they do say they have found debris, so I mean -- and wreckage, so that's interesting in and of itself.
What I found really interesting was the way Captain Adel outlined all the security checks that had been done on the key legs of this flight, from
Cairo to Paris, and then Paris -- obviously it was returning back to Cairo.
The cockpit crew, the cabin crew, the ground security staff, the maintenance staff, all of that, because obviously everybody is going to --
is trying to figure out what happened.
How does something like this come on board if all the checks have been done, if indeed -- well, the U.S. and the aviation minister in --
AMANPOUR: -- Cairo suggested that terror was a leading, you know, at least the top theory right now.
GLEAVE: Yes. I mean, it could be the Americans have some information from intelligence agencies that point towards that. And whether
probabilistically we lost Airbus aircraft at high altitudes through minor equipment failures and human errors, so we have to be slightly careful,
certainly in Egypt.
It may be biased slightly toward security but realistically the flight originated in Paris, which has some quite reasonable security at the
airport. No doubt the three security guards that were on the airplane were examining what was happening during the aircraft turnaround and things like
So if indeed it was a bomb, there are still some loopholes in the system which make it very difficult but not impossible, to get a bomb on board the
airplane and possibly one of these was exploited.
But no doubt, the investigation will run -- the security investigation will run in parallel and going through the videotapes that they take of all of
the passengers' luggage that was searched in Paris, through the x-ray machines and things like that.
So it'll be a very comprehensive security investigation going on behind the scenes, looking into passenger backgrounds, until such time at the normal,
conventional accident investigators say, ah, we can see this; perhaps here it indicates a mechanical failure, not a bomb.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Gleave, we are just hearing more and more details about the passenger manifest and we understand two Canadians were among all the
passengers, including there was a British person, there was French, there were Egyptians and people from many other countries.
But when you first heard the news today from the Greek authorities that there was this sudden turn at 90 degrees to the left and then a turn of 360
degrees and this sudden drop, what does that tell you as an aviation expert?
And, by the way, Vice President Captain Adel said there had been no distress signal, contrary to earlier media reports.
GLEAVE: Well, to deal with the distress signal, first of all, sometimes these get confused in media reports, sometimes the pilots will declare a
mayday. But if there's a problem, they must fly the airplane first, that's the first priority, to aviate, then to navigate, then to communicate.
So you sort out the problem first of all and then you say could I have some assistance, such as a priority landing or the fire engines at the airport
or something like that.
So the crew being very busy flying the airplane is not unusual and not emitting a distress call.
And secondly, when the aircraft hits the ground, if it were to hit ground particularly rather than the sea, then we have emergency locator beacons
that may to transmit, which may be picked up by satellite.
So there's two different forms of distress signal, one from the crew and an automatic system.
Back to your other question, then really everything is just open; the source of that information, I'd like to know where it came from.
Was it the old -- what we call primary radar that just blasts energy off into space and catches the reflected energy?
The tracking systems that work with that are quite inaccurate when it comes down to aircraft descending rapidly or tracking bits of airplanes that have
broken up. It's not designed for that at all.
If it's information transmitted from the airplane, say, for example, the tail has fallen off but still you have power to the cockpit systems and can
still transmit, the it may well indicate that the tail has separated if you're starting to oscillate in yore through those numbers that have been
AMANPOUR: You know, you heard, again, the vice president, Captain Adel saying that he did not want to address any of these movements because, as
you've just indicated, there are so many questions about how they may or may not have been detected.
Anyway, on that note, David Gleave, thank you so much for joining us from Dubai.
AMANPOUR: Coming up -- we turn from breaking news to remember a man who broke the mold. A look at the incredible life of the broadcasting legend,
Morley Safer -- next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, in the midst of all this breaking news today, we imagine a world without the legendary newsman, Morley Safer, who
died today at 84, just a week after he announced his retirement from the trailblazing American news program, "60 Minutes."
For nine years, we were colleagues there and I was proud to work with such a legendary journalist, who obviously had decades of experience on me but
who broke the news for more than 50 years.
His war reporting changed the game back in 1965, when, as a young CBS staffer in Vietnam, he broadcast devastating images of American Marines
burning civilians' thatch huts to the ground using flamethrowers and those Zippo lighters.
In years later, he took to the most extraordinary human storytelling, focusing more on the softer side of life, always with a razor-sharp wit and
witty repartee. Morley was one of a kind, one of the few who have made this business truly great.
He was born in Canada and he leaves behind his wife, his daughter and his three grandchildren.
That is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.