Return to Transcripts main page
CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
Search for Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Resumes in Southern Indian Ocean; Chinese Satellite Finds Objects in Southern Indian Ocean; Searchers Contend with Turbulent Weather in Unchartered Waters; Should Crews Search Land Due to Lack of Signals from Underwater Locator Beacons?
Aired March 22, 2014 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jim Sciutto in New York. Our live coverage of the mystery of flight 370 continues right now with Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. It is the top of the hour. Thank you so much for joining us. This is a CNN Special Report on the urgent hunt for flight 370.
Right now the sun is rising over the Southern Indian Ocean. And that means as we come to you live tonight, the search for missing flight 370 is resuming. Search crews are back in the skies now heading to this remote part of the world with several new clues. One of them is this, an object floating in the area in the search area captured by Chinese satellite. It appears to be fairly large, 74 feet long, 43 feet wide.
Why is this so important? Well, this new object was spotted just 75 miles from possible debris that appeared earlier on Australian satellite images. And another potential break in the search, a visual spotter on an Australian plane reported seeing several small objects including a wooden pallet floating in the search area. All these new clues catching the attention of NASA who are now training their space assets to this particular section of ocean.
And CNN has just been given a demo of the black box ping that searchers are desperately hoping to hear. Listen to this.
LEMON: But even the best quip can't solve the problems that the weather may bring. I want to turn now to CNN's meteorologist Karen Maginnis.
Karen, hello to you. The searchers are sandwiched between a cyclone to the north, severe with tore the south. What is the day ahead going to be like, you know, as the sun is now rising?
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We'll, show you the broad view, Don. And yes, it looks like some interesting weather coming up over the next 12 to 24 hours. Here's that tropical cyclone much further to the north. So the debris area or the object that has been sighted is well to the south. Right now, relatively quiet. That's because we've got this ridge of high pressure. But there is going to be a frontal system that starts to sweep across this region. It's not going to be very strong. But there's going to be an area of low pressure to the south. We've got high pressure ridge to the north. And as a consequence, this is an area known as the roaring 40s because unimpeded, a broad stretch of ocean where these weather systems can just move right on through. And they are not interfering with any type of land mass.
So, when this weather system rolls in, it already is seeing some fairly rough seas. But then you get this weather system on top of it, and we could see seas on the order of three to six feet above where they typically are. That in addition to some pretty gusty winds.
The roaring 40s. It is exactly as it sounds. And this is the area where that object has been located. Coming up in the next 24 to 48 hours, wind gusts around 50 to 75 miles an hour making it very difficult for those who are trying to locate any objects on the sea surface.
Back to you, Don.
LEMON: Difficult indeed, understatement there, right?
Karen, thank you. Appreciate you.
You know, in the two weeks since the plane went down there have been only four satellite images that could be pieces of this missing plane. The first was a day after the incident. Vietnam released this image of something in the gulf of Thailand. And then China followed that three days later with images of several objects in the South China Sea.
Well, China later said releasing the images was a mistake. The search then shifted to about 1,500 miles southwest of Australia with these images released this past Thursday of objects from an Australian satellite. And then today, as we mentioned, this one seen by Chinese satellite in the same general part of the Indian Ocean.
And tonight we have our panel for you. CNN aviation analyst Richard Quest is here, Miles O'Brien, and Jeff Wise, all aviation analysts. And then former commercial airline pilot Bill Savage joins us as well. Alistair Dove from the Georgia Aquarium.
Rich, I'm going to start with you. I want to ask you this twitter question from Hannah. She said the past two debris have been found on satellite. They have taken three to four days to be released as to being found. So clearly it won't be there anymore.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, AVIATION ANALYST: No. It takes by the way, first of all, quite a lot of time to analyze this huge amount of data that comes down from the satellite. So that is why it's taken them some time. They've got to get the data, they've got to look at it, they've got to analyze it. And we're talking about a vast area and a vast amount of information. You're right, it won't be there now. But you've seen the pictures of where that dropping the buoys with the transmitters on them. And the reason they're doing that is to work out the currents so they know which way the ocean is moving. And then you reverse drift it up so they can work out where it should be now.
LEMON: You drop them -- do you drop them where you spotted the debris?
QUEST: Doesn't matter. Where it should be where it was last time, in the vicinity. And then you can work out. And that will help them immeasurably because you can have all the models you like. And I know your experts are going to discuss this. You can have all the models you like, but ultimately you need to know the real data of what is actually moving. And that's how they do it.
LEMON: OK. Miles O'Brien, another question from social media says, is there a possibility of any airplane being completely intact at the bottom of the ocean, hence the reason for no floating debris?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I'd say that possibility is remote at best. I mean, you know, I suppose that this person is probably thinking of sully's landing on the Hudson River. You know, you could ditch the aircraft and if that were the case, it could remain intact for some period of time. It doesn't sound, in this scenario, like that is a likely outcome.
LEMON: All right. Alastair, this one is for you. This one is from Patricia. Patricia says why no debris washing up on any shores? It's been two weeks.
ALISTAIR DOVE, GEORGIA AQUARIUM: It seems like an obvious time that we should have something washing up on the beach by now. But that practically speaking isn't how these things go. It's a very large part of the ocean. There aren't a lot of places for the debris to wash up. And sometimes it just takes a really long time.
The material that came from the Japanese earthquake a couple years ago took almost 18 months before it reached land. And even then it was a tiny fraction of the amount of debris that was originally washed into the ocean, which was estimated to be between five and eight million pounds of debris. And so it -- it's entirely possible this stuff will never wash up anywhere. And the fact that it's been two weeks is really not that surprising in that part of the world.
LEMON: Alistair -- and let's talk about really the difficulty that they are facing there. Because when you think about it, people say, why aren't the bodies washing up? Why aren't they finding anything? When you look at the amount -- I don't know if everyone really understands just what they're up against. How much water. And the depths of the Southern Indian Ocean, Alastair.
DOVE: The extraordinarily difficult place to work. Not only is it far remote from the Australian coast, the weather is rough as we've just heard. And that's the best part. Because once you go below the surface of the ocean, it gets a great deal worse. The ocean there is between 10,000 and 12,000 feet deep. That applies thousands of pounds per square inch of pressure to anything that sinks there.
You can imagine, for example, a foam seat from the aircraft. At those pressures, if it's carries downed with the debris, it's going to squeeze all the air out, completely collapse it. Anything that's there is likely to be significantly deformed by the time it reaches the bottom. And then finding it is going to be exceptional hi difficult.
LEMON: Jeff, you think a little differently. I know you know what they're up against. But you think that there should be something, if not -- this is a 400-seat airplane, you said there should be something, a seat, something we should be able to find.
JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Right. So imagine a shotgun blast. Little pieces going all over the place. You know, we've seen satellite footage of big pieces. But there's a lot of little pieces that should be coming out of this plane as well. After a while, if you're not finding anything, that itself has determinative value.
So after a while, you know, you can rule out a certain search area. Again, this as huge area of ocean. The region that they're searching is based on models, pro-Ballistic models that are generated from certain assumptions.
And so, if an area is searched, then you can check off those assumptions and have to ask, OK, what assumptions can we change, develop a new mathematical model, and go look there instead.
LEMON: Richard Quest?
QUEST: I just wanted to bring you up to date. Our Kyung Lah has been reporting and just told us the number of planes that are searching today. There are eight planes that are going to be in the air today, Don. This is the most number of planes that there have been. Two civilians, a U.S. P-8 is already in the air, another civilian is going up in the air at 11:00. In total, there will be planes from the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and China, in total eight.
LEMON: Is that because as Karen Maginnis is reporting, it's sort of a sandwich of bad weather, a good piece, and then another bad chunk? Are they trying to make the most of it? What is this?
QUEST: I'm certain that's part of it. But I think the assets are now there. Remember, the U.S. P-8 didn't fly for the last two days because of crew rest and mechanical reasons. So now you've got the U.S. p-8, the Poseidon, back into the air. You've got two civilian aircraft in the air. You've got the Australians. You've got the New Zealand. And those Chinese planes which arrived. So eight in total will be searching. But it takes them four hours to get there, two hours of searching, and four hours back.
LEMON: Miles O'Brien, you know, I watched you forever as a young novice in journalism talking about aviation-related stories here on CNN.
O'BRIEN: You make me feel old, Don. LEMON: No, we're about the same age. I'm just saying, you just, you know, you started a little bit earlier than I did. But, here's the thing. Have you ever -- this is unprecedented. As you hear Richard Quest talking about the apparatus and the equipment is now there, this is -- I don't remember anyone looking for -- I don't remember this many people, this much assets, being devoted to looking for an airplane, a missing airplane.
O'BRIEN: I think probably you have to go back to Amelia Earhart. And I think a good portion of the pacific fleet was involved in that particular search. The very famous aviatrix, of course. And so, this is unprecedented in so many ways. And the fact that we can lose a 777 in this day and age.
LEMON: It's amazing.
LEMON: When as we sit here with our devices, we are pinpointable. It is amazing.
LEMON: Yes, it is unbelievable. OK guys, stick around. Thank you very much.
And as we said, the sun is coming up now, the planes are starting to go out, they are searching. We don't know, they could get developments in this hour. If they indeed do we'll bring them to you here on CNN.
Up next, it is the theory many experts keep coming back to time after time. The so-called ghost plane scenario. We're going to go live to our flight simulate tore demonstrate what may have happened inside that cockpit.
And plus, joining me live now, a woman who was the sole survivor of a plane crash. I want you to hear how she survived and exactly what happened on board.
This is a CNN Special Report.
LEMON: I'm Don Lemon. Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage of the experience of flight 370.
If searchers are in the area where the jet went down, the site is thousands of miles of off-course as you see from this map. Take a look at that. The possible debris is even further south than the arc that estimated the borders of where the plane flight could have ended up.
And that is why one theory continues to persist here. It is the ghost, the zombie plane theory. It involves the pilots becoming incapacitated, the plane flying on auto pilot, ultimately descending onto the ocean when the fuel runs out.
CNN's Martin Savidge live in a flight simulator test our theory for us. What did you come up with, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Don, there are a couple of variations that can be done on the theme of the ghost plane or zombie plane. Meaning, it could be a decompression, sudden decompression that incapacitates the crew. Or in our scenario, it's going to be a fire. But whatever, you're at altitude, you're flying along, there's been no problem with the flight so far, everybody back in the passenger area is relaxed and settling in. And then all of a sudden you get some kind of alarm.
For us, it's the fire alarm that goes off. And this immediately sets off a series of almost automatic events. The copilot and pilot would begin delegating here. And you know, we'd say, all right, you fly the plane, I'll work at navigation, communication.
You've got alarms going on before the aircraft now, we're suddenly descending. Because one of the steps you have to take is immediately try to get down to a normal or at least more normal atmosphere because you're going to try to open one of the windows assuming you have to ventilate the cockpit to get the smoke that's now building up in this fire. You can also launch, you know, the fire extinguishers that are located in the cargo hold, there are about five of them that are now dumping onto whatever is burning down there. You're hoping that is suppressing the fire. By this time you've also put on your oxygen mask. And you would be communicating.
So you've also made a sharp turn because now you're planning to make the return to Kuala Lumpur or to get to an airport nearby. Again, get on the ground, deal with this emergency.
But in this scenario, you regain control of the aircraft. You settle things down. You get the plane level and flying straight. And as Mitchell is doing, put it back on automatic pilot. And then apparently the pilot and copilot become incapacitated. Maybe overcome by smoke. They passed out. And the plane now, with still six hours of fuel, because it had seven hours to go to Beijing, just flies on. And it's on this new heading, the southerly course, because of that turn. And it flies and it flies and it flies. Called the zombie theory because it's a plane flying essentially without a brain.
The two problems with this, one, no radio distress call. It seems so unlikely in an emergency you wouldn't call. And the other is, what are the passengers supposedly doing in the back for six hours if they sense that there's no one in control in the cockpit? I can't imagine they just sit there and wait -- Don.
LEMON: Yes, absolutely.
Martin, can you taught to me a little bit more about this? Because I have wondered as I've gotten on a plane, I'm sure other people have. You see the windows and you mentioned it in a bit in the cockpit that they can open, many times they're open when it's parked on the tarmac and you're getting ready to take off. But you have to be below a certain altitude, right, you have to be in a certain zone in order to be able to open that window, correct? SAVIDGE: You know, Mitchell what did we say, 10,000 feet or thereabouts?
MITCHELL CASADO, COMMERCIAL PILOT INSTRUCTOR: Yes, you want to be down by 8,000, 10,000 feet, and we're below that.
SAVIDGE: And there are other ways to vent too. You know, you can use air conditioning systems. It can depend on the aircraft, depend on configuration, vent laying of the cockpit. But you need to get down to -- you need to get down because you want to planned. You're not going to want to fight a fire in the air. Fire is the worst thing you're probably going to face as a pilot.
LEMON: Martin, thank you very much. Mitchell as well. Appreciate you.
So let's bring back our panel, talk about the so-called zombie or ghost plane theory.
Bill Savage, we are going to start with you.
Bill, a lot of people quite frankly don't like us calling it ghost plane or zombie plane. Because in deference to the people who are on board that plane. One can understand that correct?
BILL SAVAGE, FORMER 777 PILOT: Yes. Yes, I would agree with that. But to incapacitate a crew, either through depressurization or smoke, is also very far-fetched because in any kind of smoke situation that is recognized by the pilots in the cockpit, you immediately, Don, the masks. And then you have full control of the breathing and the communication.
In addition to putting out a squawk and declare an emergency that indicates to the ground that you are in an emergency situation. So it's -- without the irrefutable facts having been established of what was going on that aircraft and who was in control of it, then you really are just -- you're chasing theories.
LEMON: Yes, absolutely.
Bill, I've just got another question for you, then. Because this one is from Joe. And Joe said if any bodies from MH 370 are recovered from the ocean could they tell for certain if the cause of death is hypoxia or not? Can you answer that?
SAVAGE: Not with any expertise. I would recommend a pathologist answer that.
LEMON: Richard Quest?
QUEST: Yes, I'll -- yes, they can. And having read numerous reports, most notably the crash of 447, the air France Rio to Paris. It's disturbing to read it. But the pathologists and the postmortems can determine with a great degree of accuracy the cause of death. And there have been times where there have been -- I'm not going to go into many more details. But suffice it to say there have been times when they've been able to determine whether the person -- how the person --
LEMON: And we understand that. You know, we should be careful. We should talk about the families. The families, obviously, are distraught and they're probably watching this.
QUEST: Yes. It is absolutely --
LEMON: But that is one possibility.
QUEST: There is no question at all that they will be able to determine that, good for about it that's the eventuality.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. Stand by.
Up next, what if there are survivors from this flight? The woman I'm about to talk to next was the sole survivor of a plane crash in the '90s. She survived on rainwater for more than a week before she was found. And she joins me to talk about her survival story. That's next.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone to CNN's special coverage of the disappearance of flight 370.
For nearly all of us, we can only imagine what it is like to be a passenger on a plane that's crashing. But the author of the book "turbulence" is one of the few people in the world who is the sole survivor of an airplane catastrophe. Her name is Annette Herfkens. Her plane hit the side of a mountain in Vietnam in 1992, killing 29 on board including her fiance. She survived eight days alone in the jungle drinking rainwater.
Here is an excerpt from her book. It says "I was sitting in what's said to be the least safe part of the cabin with the lowest survival rate. It was the aisle seat in the third row in front of the wing. But where I sat turned out to be irrelevant. I wasn't wearing my seat belt. Everyone else was."
So Annette Herfkens joins me now. Your dad was arranging your funeral, and now you're here. What do you say to the families of flight 370?
ANNETTE HERFKENS, SOLE SURVIVOR OF PLANE CRASH: First of all, my heart goes out to them. I know how it was for my family. There's insecurity, not knowing. Like them, hearing one day they're lost at sea, the next day the mountains, the next day -- it's awful.
LEMON: The impact of what they're hearing and seeing?
HERFKENS: The insecurity of not knowing. I think in a way it was worse for my family, the whole experience, and my loved ones. Because I knew where I was and they didn't. It was almost torture for them.
LEMON: You know, I asked you as you were coming on, I would imagine when something like this happens, do you relive it all over again? Or is it something that's constantly in the either front or back of mind, top or back of your mind all the time?
HERFKENS: For me it's an experience I've integrated in my being. It's not my identity or anything, but it's major. It's cut my life in two. Before and the after. Because I lost my fiance. And that was for me the most relevant part.
And for me, again, the jungle survival, was not as bad as it seems. That's why I never really talked about it until now. Then I felt it was a story to tell because it was not as bad as people expected it to be. So that's why I told the story.
But also I gave my family a huge input. And I showed it from their perspective. Because it was fascinating doctor me how different it was for them than it was for me. And it was so much more agonizing than it was for me.
LEMON: It's been two weeks, 13, 14 days that, you know, this plane has been missing. You survived eight days, right? People can survive. I would imagine someone like you gives the families hope. They are watching us. It probably gives them some hope that their families may be alive. We don't know.
But, how did you survive for eight days?
HERFKENS: I behaved like a more survivor in the way that I accepted immediately where I was. I didn't fight it. I just observed. I accepted reality. And I surrendered to the situation. And I think really, this is it. I mean, this is happening. And first I believe. I kept my emotions in check. I didn't cry. Because that would make me very thirsty and I made a plan. And I kept my sense of humor. And I did all that.
But the most important thing, I shifted my focus slowly. But more and more to the jungle because it was so beautiful. So instead of fixating on the dead bodies next to me and what could happen, I stayed right there and then and I fixated on the beauty, and it was beautiful.
LEMON: Yes. What about the impact? Do you remember when it was happening, was there any warning and then the impact. Tell us what you felt.
HERFKENS: We were flying and suddenly -- I was very claustrophobic and that's why I wasn't wearing my seat belt, I felt restrained. We suddenly made a huge drop and everyone's screaming and I said, well, that's logical in such a small plane. So I didn't take it as scared. My fiance looked really scared. And then not a big scream but then we basically dropped, the airplane accelerated, and it flew into the mountain. It tumbled over to the next mountain. And that's where we stayed upside down and the plane broke in three pieces. But I wasn't wearing my seat belt so I was like a lone piece in the dryer tumbling around. And then I woke up under another seat with a dead man in it, as it turned out. Then I realized that something happened.
So I don't really remember the crash as such. And again, when I connected later with a few families, they were very happy to hear that. It's very important for loved ones to hear.
LEMON: That's why we have you on. Thank you, Annette Herfkens. We're glad that you can share your story. Appreciate you, thank you.
Up next we're going to take you live to Perth, Australia, where the prime minister just made a surprising comment about the search.
Plus this, we're focusing on the captain and the copilot of flight 370. Everything from this mysterious call before takeoff to what previous cockpit tapes could tell bus their habits.
This is CNN's special live coverage.
LEMON: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the mystery of flight 370.
Right now, planes back in the skies above the Southern Indian Ocean and searchers now have two new clues to guide them. The first is a mysterious object that was spotted by Chinese satellite not too far from the search zone. It is the largest one seen so far, 74 feet long, 43 feet wide.
This news is coming to us as we learn an Australian plane reported seeing several small objects including a wooden pallet during a fly- over.
Now back in Malaysia, families of the missing are frazzled and they are exhausted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here! We are here!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And to make matters worse, today they were asked to move out of their hotel and relocate to make room for Formula 1 tourists.
Malaysian officials are promising to do more for desperate families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HISHAMMUDDIN BIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN ACTING TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: My pledge to all the families, wherever they are, is the same. We will do everything in our power to keep you informed. I will not give up hope. And I will continue as from day one. And I am given more hope to get closure to this by the support that we are receiving from so many countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So as for the search itself, Australian prime minister Tony Abbott says there is now increasing hope that we'll figure out what happened tonight 370.
TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: It's still too early to be definite. But obviously, we have now had a number of very credible leads. And there is increasing hope. No more than hope, no more than hope that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Live now, Perth, Australia, Kyung Lah is our correspondent there. She is at the royal Australia air force base.
Kyung, you heard him say, no more than hope, no more than hope. What are people making of this comment here?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, his comment hasn't been heard widely here at the military base, but I can tell you certainly they are planning on hitting it hard today. I can actually hear the turbo jet of the Australian P-3 Orion. It's a jumbo jet sound. And this plane is about to take off. There will be a total of eight planes in the air today heading to that remote section of the Southern Indian Ocean.
Remember, this is for those military planes a four-hour flight down. They'll have two hours to scour before they have to make the long flight back. For crew time as far as gas, it is certainly something that they have to be mindful of. But the most planes in the air today, this is the fourth day that Australia has led the search in this section. So Don, yes, the prime minister has said that. And certainly we can see an increase in the number of countries involved, in the number of planes that are heading to that area -- Don.
LEMON: Kyung Lah, live from Perth, Australia. Appreciate your reporting. Kyung is going to be standing by.
I want to get -- we're getting a ton of questions on the captain and his copilot. So, let's drill down on that.
Returning is our panel right now. First to you, Mr. Miles O'Brien, this one comes from Jake. He says, is anyone aware of any medications the pilot or the copilot could have been prescribed that could have led to impulsive decision-making, Miles?
O'BRIEN: Well, we're not aware. This goes in the category of thins that haven't been released by the Malaysian authorities. I'd like to know a lot more about the two of them. And a little bit about how they were flying in the ten flights prior to this particular flight. Was there anything unusual about it?
But, you know, there are medications in the U.S., if you're going to be flying airliners or for that matter little airplanes that are just outright banned. And that's the kind of thing that, you know, there are certainly medications that pilots still do take. You know, ultimately if they were to recover them or their bodies, a blood test might indicate something along those lines.
LEMON: Jeff, Brad asks are pilots aware of what is in the flight cargo hold? WISE: I'm not a pilot, but I asked this question to 777 pilot Rick Soam (ph). He told me that pilots are told what is on the manifest. They're particularly alerted if there is dangerous cargo aboard. In their walk-around they'll see the pallets. And so -- and if there's animals in the hold, they'll be told about that because they need to be aware of the air conditioning and so forth for them.
LEMON: Good question, Bill Savage, former pilot, are they aware?
SAVAGE: I would say the same thing as your former guest. We are generally told the nature of the cargo but not the specifics of the cargo.
LEMON: OK. Richard Quest. Let's see. Have they looked at tapes from previous flights of copilot to see if he always signed off as "all right, good night"?
QUEST: I've no idea. I would imagine that they have looked very closely at all the various previous flights, as Miles O'Brien was saying, of both pilots to see if there's any inconsistencies in what they've said.
I'm going to go back to this idea. The Malaysian authorities today said that the transcript was not accurate and it was not abnormal. And we've heard now from many pilots who have said that it was sloppy, perhaps. There may be a lot of reasons why. But it is not indicative of anything that you just finished with "all right, good night." sloppy, perhaps.
LEMON: OK. Let's go back -- I want to go back to this. And here is -- about the pressure in the plane and the altitude. And how would you -- talking about this whole ghost plane scenario. Someone, a pilot, sent me this saying how long someone would have to put on their oxygen mask if they were at 35,000 feet.
If you're at 15,000 feet, you have 30 minutes or more. Is that right? If you're at 18,000 feet, 20 minutes or -- let's see, 20 minutes to 30 minutes. If you're at 22,000 feet, five to ten minutes. And then it goes exponentially, usually they fly around 30,000, 35,000 feet, right?
QUEST: High, a bit higher.
LEMON: Yes, one to three minutes or 30 seconds to 60 seconds.
QUEST: Right. And you've got to look at first of all what sort of decompression you're talking about. Are you talking about a slow leak? Are you talking about an explosive decompression? Are you talking about a total decompression?
In all cases, it's very serious, as I'm sure Bill will explain to us. But once you get above 35,000 feet, the room, if you like, the amount of time you've got, dwindles enormously. And once you get up to, say, 40,000 feet, which is where some of these planes will fly as they burn off fuel, you're down to minutes and seconds. LEMON: Miles O'Brien, I mean, if you're in a panic, in haste, when you're looking at 30 to 60 seconds, at 40,000 feet 15 to 20 seconds, that's not a lot of time.
O'BRIEN: No, it's not. It doesn't seem like much. But that oxygen mask is right behind them and they drill for this kind of thing in simulators time and again. This is one of the things they try for.
I just want to walk down the ghost plane scenario a little bit if you'll allow me for just a moment.
O'BRIEN: Let's assume for a moment there was some sort of golden BB fire that occurred that caused crew incapacitation, as well as communication incapacitation. And that is -- right there that's a premise that is hard to wrap my head around. But let's assume it for just a moment.
If, in fact, there were such a fire and the crew became incapacitated, what are the chances that that airplane would remain aerodynamically intact for another five or six hours? I think astonishingly minimal chances that would occur. So I think this ghost idea is truly we're chasing ghosts.
LEMON: And we talked about this a little bit, Jeff Wise, on the Special Reports that we've been doing at 10:00 here during the week. We talked about the idea if there was a fire in the cockpit, there was structural damage, what are the chances that the plane would be intact, as Miles says, long enough to fly six or seven hours.
WISE: Well, there's a lot of improbabilities that add up. And as I mentioned last night there's new data referring to -- we know more about the route. It did not go in a straight line. So I think by this point the ghost ship theory is out.
LEMON: I want to talk to you more about your theory. You wrote on slate.com right, about this new theory. I don't know if we have to get to it. Do we have time to get to it in this? We'll get to it after a break. But it's very interesting. And the NTSB is using this particular --
WISE: There was more data that came from the Immarsat satellite.
LEMON: OK, we'll talk about that after a quick break. So stick around, everyone. We'll talk about that, a theory Richard Quest hates but a lot of you are asking about, can a plane essentially hide under another plane to avoid detection? Jeff wise just wrote about it and Richard will sound off.
This is CNN's special live coverage.
LEMON: We're going to get our experts to weigh in on a theory many of you are asking about, and that is the shadow mane concept, theories the plane maneuvered itself behind another plane, shadowing it to mask flight 370 from military radar.
And Daniel tweeted this asking, can a plane reprogram its digital signature I.D. to fly unnoticed as another flight to land elsewhere?
Richard Quest, I hear you loathe this particular shadow plane theory.
QUEST: I do, because it puts together a whole lot of circumstantial facts and comes up with absolutely nothing. This is the theory that says that the plane came up behind Singapore airlines SQ 68 on its way to Barcelona. And then it shadows SQ 68 all the way for most of the journey and then peels off and goes off - and lands somewhere to be used by terrorists on a future occasion. Let's go through the reasons why this is a really rather poor theory. One, you've got to get behind SQ 68.
LEMON: And it would have seen you.
QUEST: Whether it sees or not, it's very difficult to do at altitude. SQ 68 is not flying at 10,000 feet. IT is flying 36,000, 37,000 feet and making its own adjustments. Number two, you've got to stay behind the plane. And there may be fog, there may be turbulence, there may be all sorts of things. Number three, there's a real possibility SQ 68 would have spotted you either I have a TCAST (ph) or via its radar. Finally, Don, you've got to leave SQ 68 and start flying at that altitude and radar on the ground would have a blip to pick you up.
LEMON: And you said that your particular scenario discounts this whole shadow plane thing?
WISE: What I talk about this is scenario with this new data that allows us to know more precisely than we did what path the plane took when it went either north or south. And that track does not permit flight over central India.
It does not rule out the concept of flying behind a plane. It's conceivable that this technique, if it's valid, I don't know, was used behind another plane but it couldn't have been SQ 68.
LEMON: Let's get back to the search now for this. Because, you know, I spoke to our meteorologists at the beginning of this broadcast, Alistair there, she talked about the weather. It's sandwiched between two storms. There's a cyclone. How is this cyclone going to affect the waters this.
DOVE: So it's going to make the surface of the water a great deal rougher. It would mean that it would be practically impossible to deploy a lot of the assets that you would use to look for something on the surface of the ocean. It may even make it so that shipping operations are completely impossible.
But that's even the best news. Because once you get below the surface, it gets even harder. It's very deep. If there was a purgatory on earth, it would be very much like the deep oceans, it's perpetually dark, it's perpetually cold. The pressures are absolutely crushing. And it makes it very difficult for any piece of equipment to work effectively down there. So, you know, the sort of cyclonic conditions on the surface, the good news. The bad news is what happens if you really do have to look for something in that part of the ocean, because it's exceedingly technically challenging.
LEMON: Alistair, the most interesting thing to me recently is where they're searching. Then how difficult it is. Many of these waters, many parts of this ocean, uncharted. Really undiscovered. People have never seen it. And obviously, we've never been to the depths of it.
To get people to understand just how difficult it is, just how much water this is, the depths, the different currents, it's almost impossible. I think you said it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. You went beyond that saying, what? On the dark side of the moon, is that correct?
DOVE: Right. So, you're searching for a needle in a haystack when you're talking about trying to find debris on the surface of the ocean. If you're trying to find debris on the bottom of the abyssal oceans then that haystack is on the dark side of the moon. And it's a very deliberate analogy because we don't know that much about most of the abyssal oceans. And it's equivalent to what we know about the dark side of the moon.
NOAA, the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, maintains a system of buoys around the world in the oceans that provide realtime data about what's going on in the oceans. And unfortunately that part of the Southern Indian Ocean is one of the worst-covered areas in terms of providing realtime data about ocean conditions. And it's very poorly surveyed on the bottom and it's a tremendously difficult place to look for anything.
LEMON: Alastair and everyone else, stick around because when we come right back we're going to get more of your questions. Everything from black boxes to how much this search is costing. That's next.
LEMON: Back to our special coverage of the disappearance of flight 370.
We have a few more questions to our panel. First I'm going to start with Richard Quest. This is from Edmund. Edmund wants to know, how much money is being spent on the investigation and search for possible rescue of flight 370?
QUEST: We don't have a full dollar number yet, Don. We know the U.S. has said it's about $2.5 million so far. The department of defense and the United States has allocated $4 million so far. I'm expecting that of course to go much higher as the search goes deep into the South Indian Ocean.
But one thing to bear in mind, as long as they are using military assets, those assets already exist. So you're talking about fuel, overtime, all those sort of things. Where it will become extremely expensive, although money is not an issue, is if you start having to rent external facilities. Things like submersibles and the like. Then the costs will go up. At the moment, not an issue.
LEMON: All right. This is for Alistair. Alistair, how much water pressure can a black box endure and can the pressure cause it to malfunction? I would imagine yes.
DOVE: Possibly. It all depends on how much damage the black box sustains during any impact it might have experienced. They're really rated when they're manufactured to go to at least 20,000 feet, sometimes more, depending on the model. But that's enough to sustain them at the bottom of the ocean. They should function properly as long as they didn't sustain any damage themselves on the way down.
LEMON: This is for miles O'Brien. Miles, David on twitter wants to know, granted it is not the hubble telescope, but I find it a bit hard to believe that satellite images of earth are so grainy. Miles O'Brien?
O'BRIEN: Well, it's -- a lot of it has to do with where the satellites are optimized. You know, basically when we're talking about the roaring 40s, there's not a lot of need to image down there. And so basically, we have kind of a dearth of good satellite assets trained in that area.
Now, we have polar orbit satellites so eventually they'll get around to it. We're talking now, you know, we're talking about a meter and less of resolution. So three feet and less. In the classified world, even better. So even in the commercial world, we should as time goes on, and we refine where this location is, get some better satellite eyes on it.
LEMON: All right. Jeff Wise, Steve wants to know, will airline authorities use flight 370 as a teaching moment and change any procedures or technology so this doesn't happen again?
WISE: Absolutely. Absolutely. This is the real reason we have accident investigations. This is why there's black boxes on planes. Every single major accident you've ever heard of has resulted in a change of procedures or a change of equipment. And, you know, not only does the FAA change the rules, but every pilot will think about it. They'll talk about it. And you'll see -- for instance, great example, in the case of air France 447, in the transcript you can hear the captain saying to the pilot flying, "not too much rudder." He was referring to an earlier crash that had taken place over Long Island in 2001 where a pilot had ripped off the rudder by using too much rudder. And so, he'd been working the rudder pedals back and forth and ripped off. And so, everyone's going to have this front of mind the next time anything like this happens.
LEMON: There have been a number of incidents where the pilots have overcorrected using too much rudder. And I think you remember the crash that happened right after 9/11 --
WISE: That's what I'm talking about. LEMON: Right, right. It was 847 or something like that. I forget what it was. But yes, unbelievable. OK. So listen, here's what Bill Southway (ph) asked. He says, are the 777 experiencing software malfunctions in the past? Could this have sent the plane to stall and plummet on this flight -- Bill?
SAVAGE: I'm unclear about your question. But the airplane is very stable aircraft. And very easily controllable by experienced and trained pilots. So they just don't fall out of the sky.
LEMON: They just don't fall out of the sky.
I have something here quickly that we have to get to before the top of the hour. Someone says, a pilot, the same pilot says, I say good night all the time, and I say good morning. And he said, if the TTCAS was turned off you wouldn't know if an airplane was near you. Commercial planes do not have radar that picks up airplanes. The only radar is for weather detection and TCAS traffic collision avoidance system. I said, can a plane shadow another at that altitude? He says the military does it all the time for refueling.
QUEST: Yes, the military does it all the time for refueling under the most perfect conditions. But you're talking about two civilian aircraft, shadowing each other in less than perfect conditions, in the middle of the night, when it's not been practiced. It's a world of difference.
WISE: Yes. But Don, can I jump in here?
LEMON: Just quickly, fast.
WISE: Just because you can't do it doesn't mean somebody else can't do it.
LEMON: OK, that's it, thank you. We'll talk much more to talk about, everyone.
Another story that I want to talk about, that's why I'm cutting you guys off here. We are watching this tonight. It is breaking news in the CNN coming out of the Ukraine here. Where Ukrainian ship has just been captured by Russian military forces. This is coming to us directly from sources quoted by Ukraine's ministry of defense.
They're telling CNN that men armed with military weapons stormed the ship. The crew on board tried to fight back. Joined by Crimea's special defense forces. But after a two-hour assault, there is a ship right there, they lost the battle and the Russian military took over the ship and reportedly raised a Russian flag. That is the ship you're looking at right there. We will have more on this news throughout our broadcast, throughout our hours here on CNN.
But again, this breaking new coming to us from Ukraine. And Ben is talking about Crimea and the ship.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Good evening. It is the top of the hour. This is CNN's live special report on the urgent hunt for flight 370. As we come to you live right now, searchers are now in the skies above the prime focus area for this plane, an isolated section of the southern Indian Ocean. This is an area that has just become the scene of another debris sighting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HISHAMIMUDDIN BIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MALAYSIA DIRECTOR OF TRANSPORTATION: The news I just received is that the Chinese ambassador received satellite image of certain objects in the southern corridor and they will be sending ships to verify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The object in question is the largest one we have seen so far, 74 feet long, 43 feet wide. What makes this so credible? It is its location. Just 75 miles from possible debris that appeared earlier on Australian satellite images. Then there's this, a visual spotter doing a fly-over in one of these Australian planes says he saw several small objects, including a wooden pallet, floating within the defined search area. Also this as the clock continues to tick in the locator pinger attached to the plane's black box.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It appears ominous. A frantic search as the battery life on this search is set to run out in less than 14 days.
So there is no doubt that those scouring the seas are feeling that pressure.
On the phone with me now is Navy Commander William Marks, public affairs officer for the 7th Fleet, which is involved in that search.
We will get to that commander in just a little bit. He is traveling in that area and we have many questions for him. As soon as we get him, we'll bring him to you right here on CNN.
In the two weeks since the plane disappeared, there have been only four satellite images that could be the pieces of this missing plane. The first was the day after this incident. Vietnam released the image of something in the Gulf of Thailand. China followed that three days, with images of several objects in the South China Sea. Then China later said, releasing the images, well, that was a mistake. The search then shifted to about 1,500 miles southwest of Australia with these images released this past Thursday of objects from an Australian satellite. And then today, as we mentioned, this one seen by Chinese satellite in the same general part of the ocean.
Joining me now this hour is going to be CNN's Richard Quest. He's our aviation correspondent. Michael Kay is going to join us in just a little bit here -- Michael Kay is former minister of defense (sic) -- and Christine Dennison. All will join us in this hour, a little later on.
But first, to Richard Quest.
What do you make of these new developments? First, as the Malaysians were holding a press conference, someone handed him a piece of paper, saying now there has been something found in China, and here it is.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Right. It is confirmation that there is something there that they want to go and have a look at. Is it the same piece of debris that has now moved 100 or so, 140-odd kilometers over from the last known position? Is it the same piece? Is it another piece? The prime minister of Australia was very clear that this needs to go and be investigated. And that's why there are eight planes on their way to this part of the ocean at the moment to actually search for this area. This has been the next biggest, most credible development, if you like, of the day -- Don?
LEMON: I want to ask that question to Michael Kay now, a former adviser to the U.K. minister of defense.
What do you make of these new developments here?
MICHAEL KAY, FORMER ADVISOR TO U.K. MINISTER OF DEFENSE: I don't know, Richard. Yeah, we're over two weeks into this investigation now and there's still no unequivocal evidence to get us any the wiser. I think any information that could possibly give us a lead is welcoming. However, a word of caution. The downside of what we're seeing at the moment is it's 75 miles away from the previous supposed sighting of something. I'm not going to call it debris because there was a P-8 "Poseidon" that went out to the southern area a couple of days ago and it spotted a freighter. It spotted a pod of dolphins. It spotted some other things that weren't debris. And there could be all sorts of logical explanations for what that satellite is seeing. It could be a container off a ship. It could be a freighter. It could be a pod of dolphins, a pod of whales. It could be refraction of light, depending on --
LEMON: As I look at it, I thought that as well. This seems to be a reflection or a refraction.
KAY: Exactly, a refraction of light. If you actually look at the resolution of the satellite image, it's not that great. So a word of caution in terms what was we're looking at. The downside is that it's in the same area. And that area is huge, 1,500 miles from southwest Australia --
LEMON: Here's a question. As I heard and we're talking about the Malaysian officials coming out today -- and either one of you can answer this. Remember the satellite images of China about a week into this?
QUEST: Not even a week.
LEMON: Not even a week into this. Then we had the other images, you and I were working until 3:00 in the morning from Australia. Now we have these images. Do you think it is responsible for them to be releasing this information? I'm asking because, is it giving everyone false hope, including the families?
QUEST: Damn if they do, damned if they don't. If they did not release this, you would be the first person, Don, sitting here screaming, why didn't we know about it? What I think is interesting is whether it's right for the Australian prime minister, as he has both the other night and today, to use the word "credible." Now, he may be using that word "credible" -- and you help us out here -- he may be using that word credible in a technical and scientific sense in that it might be.
But when laymen hear the word "credible," they think he's saying it's it.
KAY: Yeah, I think it was a little bit premature, personally. However, what I would say is let's look back to Asiana 214, San Francisco flight. The NTSB -- that investigation where the NTSB was having to report to the 24-hour media news cycle almost every day on updates was very unique in terms of accident investigations. Accident investigations are historically very quiet. They're very restricted. And the release of information is incredibly sensitive. You don't want to give too much because you don't want to sort of lead people down the wrong track. You don't want to give too little because obviously you want people to --
QUEST: And on that point, the NTSB, I won't say was criticized. But eyebrows were raised.
KAY: No, it was criticized.
KAY: Actually, it was criticized.
KAY: -- but it was criticized.
QUEST: Well, the amount of information that was being released so soon from the investigation was really quite remarkable.
KAY: It was. But it was created by the demand. And the demand came from 24-hours news outlets. It came from people banging on the door. I thought the way the head of the investigation handled it -- her name leaves me -- (CROSSTALK)
QUEST: Deborah Hertzman.
KAY: Deborah. I thought she was wonderful in the way she handled it because this is new for accident investigation boards. And I think it was the first of its kind to actually go through that social media process. So I thought she handled it very well.
What Asia doesn't have, Asia hasn't been exposed to that yet. And therefore, I don't think we're seeing that drip release of information that we've seen with the San Francisco flight --
QUEST: She was slightly -- terrible disaster, crash, but she was slightly helped by the fact that the facts were relatively soon established by the FTR and the CVR. And therefore, she had facts to be able -- credible facts that she knew to be able to put out.
KAY: Right. I think without being argumentative, I think that can be a double-edged sword.
LEMON: Without being argumentative, I feel like I need an accent to get in on this conversation.
KAY: But I think if it moves rapidly, it means you've got to get it right first time. If you don't, things move beyond are you.
LEMON: OK, let's move on.
Richard, I want to ask you this question. This one comes from Dan. He said, instead of satellite images, does U.S. have spy plane or drone images of search area. Are these easier to obtain than satellite images? I wondered about the use of drones as well.
QUEST: And I have absolutely no idea.
KAY: Why, no. The U.S. used to have the SR71 Blackbird. That was decommissioned awhile ago. The only knowledgeable spy plane that the U.S. deploys at the moment is the U2. The closest, as far as I'm aware, is based in Cyprus. The U2 operates at seriously high altitudes.
Now, in terms of the equipment that would be used on drones and spy planes, the equipment that is deployed on the P-8 "Poseidon," which only reached operating capability in December '13, it's phenomenal. It has thermal imaging. It's got signal intelligence capability. It is a phenomenal piece of kit.
Technology has its limitations.
KAY: When the sea states are high, when the weather's coming in, when the visibility is low, the Mark 1 eyeball is almost more important than the technology on board. Fro instance, the technology that is used to hunt for submarines, the P-3 Orions have this magnetic anomaly detector. What that does is detects big lumps of metal just under the surface of the ocean, like submarines, that actually disturb the earth's force field. It's an incredible piece of kit but I would argue it's rendered ineffective against something like this.
LEMON: It's not a big piece of metal. Also, it could be a shipping container, which is metal, a number of different things.
Stand by, guys. We're going to continue here.
Because next, one pilot wonders why crews aren't searching on land considering the lack of pings from locaters. We're going to discuss that.
This is a CNN special live report.
LEMON: Welcome back to our special coverage of the mystery of flight 370.
Joining me now is CNN's Richard Quest; Michael Kay, former adviser to the U.K. ministry of defense -- I said minister of defense. Gave you a promotion a little bit earlier -- Christine Dennison, an ocean explorer and expedition expert.
I want to talk to you about these waters. Again, I keep coming back to this because I don't think people really understand just what the searchers are up against, what everyone is up against here. This is really -- I'm not exaggerating, Christine -- uncharted territory. Are there even commercial flights that go across this water?
CHRISTINE DENNISON, OCEAN EXPLORER AND EXPEDITIONS EXPERT: No. So where we are at 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia, we're right there. Then to the south of that is Antarctica at 3,500 miles away. So the research -- I'm sorry, they're in the middle of nowhere. There's nowhere to run, there's nowhere to hide. There's bad weather they're going to be encountering as we go into the fall season. Everything that they're going to be out there with, as far as supplies, they're going to be as self-supplied as they possibly can for as long as a month if they have to be. Because there's really no -- they're not close to anything at this point.
So when we talk about this, when we say uncharted territory, these are waters that people who are going across the ocean, right, if you're going to go on the other side of the world, you avoid these waters. DENNISON: Well, there's nothing there. It's very deep water. It's not a trafficked area. It's not a shipping lane. So there's no reason to really be in these waters.
LEMON: Is this a reason -- and I'm just assuming here as viewers at home are -- that the satellite imagery is so poor? It's because of the depths of the water and because this is maybe -- maybe we don't feel that we need to, this should be covered, because no one traffics this area?
DENNISON: Well, at this point, satellite imagery is only going to give you so much. I'm sure they're working with high-definition satellite images, which would be the best resolution they can get. Even with that, you still have to physically be able to see the object in the water. And they're doing the aerials and they're having a harder and harder time as the weather moves in. So you have to put people on the ocean to see them. So they're looking, they're spotters, they're looking to see what that debris physically is. What it looks like.
LEMON: Is there a submersible that can be to the bottom of this area?
DENNISON: To my knowledge -- and I'm not a military expert -- I don't believe the military has the capabilities on these subs to go farther than a couple thousand feet below the ocean surface.
QUEST: I've got a question.
QUEST: And the condition of the water? We're hearing about 10, 15- foot waves. What's it like if you were in the water? The temperature, the roughness, the current, all that?
DENNISON: Well, you're going to have strong currents. On the surface, it will also depend -- you have experts who are studying these. There's no reason to really put people in the water at this point. They don't have to. It's very deep. Water temps are probably at this time of year in the 40s, so it's cold. You've got winds. Weather will vary. So all those elements are going to be very difficult if you were to have people in the water.
LEMON: I think what Richard is pointing to -- and you're being more subtle about it -- the survivability of this.
QUEST: Well, both that and also this idea of most people never come across rough seas of that magnitude. So anybody that's got an idea of sort of a nice, gentle wave --
LEMON: Oh, no.
(LAUGHTER) QUEST: That's what I'm getting at.
QUEST: Even for the searchers, even just to look and see.
LEMON: But here's the difference. When we think about it -- put it in terms of movies. When you talk about "The Perfect Storm," something that happened in the Atlantic or Pacific, this is beyond that.
DENNISON: Well, they're so exposed. I mean, they are just -- if a weather system moves in, again, there's nowhere to run to. Those waves, those winds, that is going to hit them hard.
KAY: I was speaking to a number of retired P-3 crew today, just to sort of get their perspective on what it's like to actually look out of a P-3 traveling at 180, 240 knots at 200 feet in various sea states. And then how you align that to the technology they've got on board, and which one is more effective, the eyeball or using this technology. Kind of the consensus I got from the guys was that, in inclement weather conditions and high sea states, you literally had to be over the object to get eyes onto it, which I thought was phenomenal. Even with all the technology, even with the magnetic anomaly detectors and everything else, you had to be right over the top. If you weren't and it was hidden by a wave, you'd just fly right by it. So that to me just emphasized the difficulty of the task ahead.
LEMON: Remember when we first started doing this, Richard, I said what are the possibilities that we were -- it's conceivable we, I think the question was, that we may never know what happened. You said, no, no, no, no. It is conceivable that we will probably figure out one day what happened but it's conceivable we may never know.
When you think about these waters, this is not what you see off the coast of the beach. People are asking me, wouldn't something be floating on the top of the water? And it's like, no. Maybe it's not. Maybe it's miles upon miles under the sea in unexplored areas.
DENNISON: That's what they need to ascertain at this point is what they're seeing on satellite, they physically need to go and see it. Because you don't know from a satellite image how far under the water that image is. It could be an object that's just floating on the surface. It could be 10 feet under water. They have to see it. You can't get -- water's very dense. You can't see that from an image. You have to have eyes on the water.
LEMON: We tried to explain the other night -- it was on the air with Anderson Cooper. You were there as well. And we said, just because they have spotted something -- you know, everyone said, oh, my gosh, they're going to go and figure out whether -- it's like, no, you have to go. You drop buoys where you think -- if you find it, in the area you think it is. It's not an exact science where you go -- it's not like Map Quest where you can go --
QUEST: Right. Because what happens -- and Mike, you're more experienced in this. The satellite shows it there. But by the time three or four days later --
LEMON: The current, right.
QUEST: -- you're sending the planes out, it's moved. And you've got to work out from there, did it go there, there, there, there? You do that by the method of putting the buoys in the water, not modeling, actually getting the data on which way --
LEMON: Can we talk about under the water as well? I'll let you finish up. I am fascinated by oceanography and by -- I don't know if you guys have seen about the BBC's "Blue Planet."
LEMON: It is the most amazing documentary about the ocean and you learn about the abyssal plain and all this. There are ecosystems under the water, there are beaches under the water, there's molten lava, there are volcanoes, there are earthquakes that happen that we never even know about that are miles down. And there's life that we don't know about.
KAY: Yeah, I mean, what -- I just draw it back to the conversation we were having slightly earlier in terms of they're up against it on the technology side. The technology is there to detect huge lumps of metal that are under the surface. We're talking about relatively small bits of debris, the buoys, everything else, will find it incredibly hard to detect. Yes, they're deploying the day-to-day methods of anti-submarine hunting and maritime surveillance. But it's in a completely different context. And the reason --
LEMON: And the reason I say that is because if this comes in contact, say, some sort of volcanic activity under the ocean, then the pressure -- you start to limit whether or not you're going to actually find these voice recorders or the black boxes or any sort of debris if it is actually gone to the bottom of the ocean.
DENNISON: That's the problem. It's a race against time. We're 15 days, 16 days into it. We've got very little time left.
LEMON: Stick around. Fascinating conversation. More coming up, especially your questions.
Up next, one expert wonders why crews aren't searching land considering the lack of signals from the underwater locater beacon that we talked about just a little bit ago. Does he have a point here? We're going to go live to CNN's Martin Savidge inside the flight simulator for a demonstration.
Plus, one person asked me, could satellites pick up images of survivors?
This is a CNN special report.
LEMON: While the search in the Indian Ocean intensifies, one expert points out this possibility: What if flight 370 ended up on land?
To help you understand what you're about to hear, know the term "ELT" stands for emergency locating transmitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LES ABEND, FLYING MAGAZINE: My contention is that maybe we should increase the search back over land.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, A.C. 360: Really?
ABEND: From the standpoint of the ELTs not activating with the salt water. You know, the slide rafts would have them -- one of them at least --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, our experts believe 777s carry two to possibly four locating transmitters.
I want to go to Martin Savidge inside of a flight simulator to test this concept for us.
Martin, this kind of plane is supposed to have around 8,000 feet of runway to land. But could it have landed on a far shorter runway?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, and that's the scenario we've set up here. We're actually aiming for a very small island, a real island with a real runway, airports being a little extravagant here, located off of Perth, Australia, an hour's ferry ride. So it's in the area.
This is an airplane, as you point out, needs 6,000, 8,000 feet of runway. We're aiming for something almost half that. And Mitchell will claim that I have purposely done this just to make him look bad on TV. Because on top of the fact that it's a very short runway, we've added in bad weather, which of course you never know what the weather's going to be. But any port in a storm at this point. The aircraft would be pretty much running on fumes. And you're trying to make it to a runway which right now is almost invisible but it's that very narrow strip, say about, oh, 1:00. The air speed of this aircraft is about 140 knots now. And the other thing that makes this approach apparently very difficult is tree line. And the reason -- I didn't do this to make it, oh, let's see what Mitchell can do. This is the reality. If you're desperate, if you have to land, beggars are not choosers. This is a runway.
The other thing we should point out that is in the benefit of the 777 is the landing gear. It's got some of the biggest tires and wheels to be found on any commercial aircraft. That's good. It's also got a very robust landing gear just in case we were to overshoot it.
So you can watch now as we navigate the last, what is it, 420 feet above the ground coming in on that very narrow air strip. And again, this aircraft is responding just as a true 777 would. There are the trees you've got to miss. But he's got to nail it right away on the ground. And the runway's slick, slippery. And we've never done it before. And he's got to stop.
LEMON: Oh, my goodness.
SAVIDGE: There's the reverse thrusters. We've got it on full max auto braking.
And see, you did not embarrass yourself on national TV.
He's managed to do it with room to spare.
You know, this is a simulator, of course. You can only take it so far. The real thing, you would have a lot of other things bearing on you, not to mention emotions. But at least it shows that, in our particular case, it could have been done on a 4,000-foot runway, congratulations.
LEMON: Mitchell, that was a little bit frightening. You can imagine it, with the passengers, what passengers would be dealing with. Each of us, I'm sure, has landed at an airport that has a short runway. This is beyond what you would feel if you had a short runway.
MITCHELL CASADO, PILOT: Absolutely.
LEMON: All right, guys.
LEMON: Thank you, Captain. Thank you very much. We appreciate you.
SAVIDGE: Just glad you got it done.
LEMON: We appreciate you, Mitchell.
And, of course, our Martin Savidge.
I want to pose this land theory to some of our experts now.
Pilot Bill Savage, to you first.
I also want to bring in a former senior FBI profiler, Mary Ellen O'Toole, to ask as well.
But first, I want to go to Bill. What about this land scenario? People are saying, we've been talking about the southern -- whether it's in the southern Indian Ocean, but what about if it landed -- what about the northern arc? What if it landed on land?
BILL SAVAGE, FORMER PILOT: If the airplane didn't have a severe impact on the ground or in the water, the ELTs would not have gone off. You wasn't have ELTs if it made a landing.
LEMON: Mary Ellen O'O'TOOLE, in an investigation this large, who might make that call if the focus is over water or it's over land?
MARY ELLEN O'O'TOOLE, FORMER SENIOR FBI PROFILER: Well, that is an area of expertise that's outside of the behavioral part of it. So the behavioral experts would not weigh in on that decision.
But what we would weigh in on, what they might ask us is, is that behavior consistent with what occurred beforehand? So in other words, if you have a crew and the -- all the passengers who are extremely quiet. There's no noise. There's no indication from what we know right now that someone tried to break into that cockpit. And I'm just saying that there's no available evidence to suggest that at this point.
Then, all of a sudden all of these people come alive again and they land the plane. So where our expertise would come in would be, if they ask us, is this theory consistent with all the behavior that we know about right now?
LEMON: All right. Mary Ellen O'Toole, thank you very much. Stand by as well. Mr. Savage, I'm sorry, stand by as well.
And you guys were all watching this. We're all going, oh my gosh. You know. Our hearts were pounding. So can you only imagine? We'll talk about it a little bit more.
We want to get to a break. Could the Chinese images be pieces of the plane wreckage? What part of the plane should sink and what would stay afloat? We're going to tell you, coming up.
Also, are the pilots' final "all right, good night" words and other actions evidence of the copilot's impairment or disorientation? We're going to talk about that in our special report "The Mystery of Flight 370", coming up.
LEMON: Welcome back to our special coverage.
So planes are back in the skies right now above the southern Indian Ocean. It is morning in the southern hemisphere, and searchers are again returning to the area we have been talking about. Now the scene of a new debris sighting.
The Australian prime minister just commented on these new satellite images and picked his words very carefully. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: It's still too early to be definite. But obviously we have not had a number of very credible leads. And there is increasing hope, no more than hope, no more than hope, that we might be on the road to discovering what did happen to this ill-fated aircraft.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, back in Malaysia, families of the missing are frazzled and they are exhausted.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
LEMON: And to make matters worse, today they were asked to move out of their hotel and relocate to make room for Formula One tourists.
Well, search teams now in the air will be trying to find a large object discovered by Chinese satellite several days ago. But this huge piece may not be part, may not be part of Flight 370.
CNN's Rene Marsh has more now.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some experts say the 74-foot object in this newly released satellite image from China is too big to be debris from the missing jet. Others say we could be looking at multiple pieces.
BILL WALDOCK, EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY: They're going to be actually intermingled with wire and other debris. So, you may have a lot of smaller pieces mixed in which might look like a larger piece from a satellite or the air.
MARSH: The size of the debris depends on how the plane hit the water, assuming it did. If it were going at a high rate of speed and made a nosedive like Alaska Airlines Flight 261 did in 2000, when it crashed into the Pacific, there would be a shatter effect breaking into thousands of small pieces. A mid-air collision like TWA Flight 800 would produce larger pieces of debris and a wider debris field.
A third scenario, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 tried to make a controlled landing in the Indian Ocean in 1996, the plane broke into large pieces. What sinks and what floats depends on the part of the plane and the material it's made of.
WALDOCK: Most of the cabin furnishings, for example, were made out of a variety of plastics, thermo plastics, and some composite materials. Things line the overhead bins, the seat cushions, the cosmetic bulkheads, all of those typically should still be floating.
MARSH: Metal pieces sink. The engines go straight to the bottom and the fuselage too. In the crash of Air France 447, the tail of the plane was still floating. Experts say the tail of a 777 is made of composite material and it may still be floating as well.
LEMON: Rene Marsh joins us now from Washington.
And, Rene, I understand you have a flight data recorder. Talk to us.
MARSH: That's right. Well, Don, we've been talking about this dying battery on the locater pingers attached to the data recorders. And so this is it. This gold part here. This is the pinger that we're talking about.
Those pingers at this point on the data recorders that belong tonight 370 are about 50 percent trained at this point. As the battery dies the pinging gets more faint and eventually it stops.
So, tonight, we now know what that pinging sound sounds like. And here it is.
(PINGER AUDIO EXAMPLE)
MARSH: All right. So, that is what the --
LEMON: It's like a ticking clock, yes.
MARSH: Right, exactly. It sounds like a ticking clock or snapping your fingers. But it's not as loud as you may have expected it to be. So when you consider that and you consider how deep the water is, you consider the other competing noises within the ocean, when the waves are smacking around, it just really illustrates how difficult this job is, because you have to be within a two-mile radius to actually pick this up.
Obviously you don't usually hear it with the human ear. They have special equipment that's designed to detect that snapping sound that you just heard.
LEMON: And, Rene, there's another problem here, because searchers have, you know -- they said there are pieces that are floating. So, the pieces that are floating today may not be floating tomorrow.
MARSH: Absolutely. And we do know today NASA's stepping in to help. They told CNN that they will target their space assets to the area where these so-called floating objects were spotted to see if their equipment picks up anything.
But again, Don, depending on how long the search really continues, some of the debris may become so waterlogged it eventually sinks. Other pieces may be cracked and they may be filling with water. They would eventually sink.
And some items could essentially float for years. But over the time, currents and winds will scatter them all around. And so, all of those scenarios are really problematic for the crews because they're depending on a debris field to really lead them to the wreckage, Don.
LEMON: Rene Marsh in Washington -- Rene, thank you very much with that.
Back now with my panel. Richard Quest, Christine Dennison, and Michael Kay, all join me now.
So, here is -- here's the interesting thing. We were talking about -- and in the flight simulator with Martin Savidge and Mitchell Casado about this land theory, why aren't they searching over land, why aren't people looking at land now? Which a conversation among you guys, you said that's feasible, they should be looking over land.
MICHAEL KAY, FORMER ADVISER TO THE UK MINISTER OF DEFENSE: I think there's a -- I think there's a number of different scenarios associated with the land thing that we have to look at. For example, was the crew under duress or was it an emergency? I think you can -- it's unlikely it was an emergency because we'd have heard a mayday call, we'd have had 7700 put on the transponder. So, let's assume it was under duress.
If it was under duress, was the landing strip within Malaysian air space or was it external to Malaysian air space? And, again, if it was external to Malaysian airspace, that means the aircraft would have had to have crossed a sovereign boundary.
Now, we all know in the post- 9/11 order in the world there, that sovereign territories are very sensitive to traces coming across a sovereign boundary that aren't part (INAUDIBLE), that aren't part of routine airways, corridor traffic, with no squall com. That alerts the authorities to get the QRA, quick action alert, if the country has it, up to interrogate. So, that would be my big question.
CHRISTINE DENNISON, OCEAN EXPLORER AND EXPEDITIONS EXPERT: I could say, at this point, I think that you have -- they're mobilizing so many teams, so much aircraft. Ships are going to be deployed. The expense is tremendous and they're focusing on the ocean, because they're also following the radar and the data that they have.
Now, again, I believe it's very sensitive. It's political. I don't know that they're going to disclose a lot of information to us as to why specifically they're doing what they're doing. But I believe that eventually we will fine out more, but there's a lot of sensitive issues that go on as well.
LEMON: Do you think that the land possibility is still -- do you think it's still a possibility?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It's out there.
DENNISON: It's one of those.
QUEST: It's one of the possibilities.
LEMON: Do you agree?
QUEST: When I'm finished.
LEMON: But during the break he was saying he didn't agree with you, that's why I'm asking.
QUEST: That's his prerogative and privilege.
But they have chosen to deploy all the resources down to the south Indian Ocean, because they believe that is where the most credible evidence is at the moment. I mean --
DENNISON: Hear, hear, Richard. I agree, absolutely.
KAY: I agree, Richard, in terms of we've got to leave all the cards on the table. Let's go down to the south. Let's go down to the ocean.
What I would be wanting to do, I've been part of two boards of investigation, I think we have to look more broadly at this. I'd like to see more evidence to corroborate the area that we're looking at. What I mean by that is if we draw a line to the last transponder trace in the South China Sea, we draw that line all the way to the search area, it's out of bounds of a 777's endurance anyway.
So, it's going to be a relatively straight line, it doesn't have the fuel to go off course. So, that line would have had to have gone across Singapore or relatively close to Singapore, which has one of the most sophisticated ground-based air defense systems in the area. And it would have had to go across Indonesian air space. If it's doing that, it's crossing a sovereign territory.
And I go back to my original point on how sensitive sovereign territories are to having up identified traces go across their international boundaries.
QUEST: So what are you saying?
KAY: What I'm saying is that rather than putting all the eggs in one basket and relying on all these aircraft to come up with evidence to relate to it 370, I'd be going back to Indonesia, I'd be going to Singapore.
Singapore is one of the busiest air fields in that part of the world. It was hub for years, going from Australia to Europe. It has big radars. I cannot understand how every aircraft in the air space, squawking aircraft, if there's a big 777 primary radar pulse that is going across the overhead, why would that not be investigated?
QUEST: And that is the big unknown in this whole area. That whether or not it was Indonesia, whatever country it was. This plane from its last known transponder position, 119, did a left-hand turn, according to the Malaysian authorities, went back across the entire peninsula of Malaysia, went across or around the top of Indonesia; then out that way.
KAY: But I dispute that only in the fact that, let's go back to the transponder theory. A transponder has position, altitude, speed, and it has TCAS. Outside 200 miles from the coast using secondary surveillance radar, you cannot see a transponder.
DENNISON: I'm sorry, you're saying what they're doing at the moment is futile, they shouldn't be doing that? Looking in this area?
KAY: No, no, I'm not saying it's futile at all. What I'm saying is, let's not put all our eggs in one basket.
QUEST: They're not.
KAY: By having all of these aircraft --
QUEST: They're not.
LEMON: Pretty much they are. I mean, they're doing it --
KAY: Well, they absolutely are.
LEMON: Most of the resources, he's right, most of the resources are being dedicated to this southern Indian Ocean --
KAY: And I'm not saying they shouldn't be because there is just enough evidence there to warrant a search and there's not enough evidence to have concrete activity. So, what we should be doing is looking outside the box and looking for other ways to corroborate that area.
QUEST: If you have those --
LEMON: Stand by. Sorry. Stand by everyone.
One expert says there are three different ways a plane can land in water. We're going to talk about that with our panel coming up.
You're watching live coverage of "The Mystery of Flight 370."
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to our special coverage.
Right now, as I speak, search teams sandwiches between a cyclone to the north and severe weather to the south. There's another challenge that these rescuers must overcome.
I want to bring back the panel to answer your questions.
The first one is going to go to Mary Ellen O'Toole. Here's what David wants to know. He said, "Isn't it possible that countries to the north may not report the flight plan because they would embarrassed or do not want the attention?"
O'TOOLE: Well, I think from a behavioral perspective, the way that we would look at it is to consider whether or not the culture is impacting on people calling in or people reporting information. Every time you have a case like this, especially one with such international consequences that does have to be considered and does have to be factored in just in terms of, OK, what can we do, then, as behavioral scientists, what can we do to encourage people to call in. How do we get around that if it is a barrier? LEMON: OK, Richard Quest, this one is from Hannah. Hannah says, "The past debris found on satellite have taken three to four days to be released as to being found. Why?" Clearly, it won't be there anymore.
QUEST: No, it won't be there anymore, but they're going to work out from the tide, from what's called the reverse --
LEMON: Do they overshoot where they go?
QUEST: Well, we'll work out where it should be.
LEMON: Got you.
QUEST: They're three days ago there, we now know what the current is, therefore we estimate. Again, it is an art as much of a science. We estimate it's going to be there.
People like yourself are the real experts that's working out where that would be.
DENNISON: You're absolutely right. They have to follow the debris. They are putting in marker buoys or they will, and then they're going to follow that as best they can. If they find something, they will have to backtrack once they examine what that debris is.
LEMON: OK, I've got a question for you, Christine. It comes from Patricia on Twitter. She says, why is there no debris washing up on any shores. It has been two weeks. We talk about that a little bit.
DENNISON: You know, this is -- it would be ideal if we had something that we could say, OK, this is coming from this area. But we don't know if this plane is even under water. So we don't know what this debris is.
It could be garbage junk, ocean junk. We don't know. And it's very frustrating. But we don't really know where this plane is at this point. So, it's all speculation.
LEMON: Yes, and people are wondering, as you've said, the prime minister said this is credible. But --
QUEST: Very credible.
LEMON: But everyone is spending a lot of money and we're spending a lot of resources and so far, you know, nothing --
QUEST: The exact words.
QUEST: Forgive me. And speaking on the search, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday, on Australia, we have now had a number of very credible leads.
LEMON: Which leads us to -- QUEST: It isn't just a lead. He says very credible leads. And that I find disturbing.
LEMON: Bill Savage, this is from Brad. Brad asked, are pilots aware of what is in the flight cargo hold? We talked about that a little bit. Yes, they have some idea. But also, Bill, what kind of cargo concerns might pilots have the most? Might concern pilots the most?
BILL SAVAGE, FORMER 777 PILOT: The hazardous materials is our biggest concern. Explosives, etiological agents, and just the general there's a whole milieu of dangerous good that airlines, some are prohibited carrying, some specialized in carrying, and the pilots get paperwork concerning that.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, everyone. Stay there. Thanks for sharing your expertise this hour.
Up next, as the families wait for answers, you are about to see the faces of Flight 370, the passengers, the stories about them, their families and their lives. Please don't miss this.
This is a CNN special live coverage.
LEMON: And finally to the heart of why we care so much about this story, not for all that's unknown or the unprecedented search. It's about 239 people who have not seen, hugged or talked to their kids, their soul mates, their partners, family or friends in 15 days.
Here now, a snapshot of some of the lives so tragically interrupted:
Wife and mother Chandrika Sharma of India is the executive secretary of the International Collective in Support of Fish Workers. She was headed to a conference in Mongolia. Her husband let CNN read the note he wrote to friends and family to thank them for this crucial support.
It says, "I remain focused on what we have at hand by way of information and stay with the knowledge that Chandrika is strong and courageous. That her goodness must count for something somewhere. I carry firmly the faith that the forces of life are eternal, immutable and ever present to keep the drama ever moving. In the ultimate analysis, I'm neither favored nor deserted. No one is."
Others were also traveling on business. Hollywood stuntman Ju Kun was reportedly headed home to Beijing to see his two young children and pick up material for a new project.
Paul Weeks, a mechanical engineer from Perth, Australia, was on his way to a mining job in Mongolia. The father of two young sons, the oldest is just three years old, he left his wedding ring and watch behind with his wife in case of the worst.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA WEEKS, SISTER OF MISSING PASSENGER: I had a bit of a car accident earlier on, actually just a year before. And sort of discussed what they wanted to do and for some reason before he left to go to Mongolia, he decided to leave them both behind. And he said to Danica that the oldest child should get his wedding ring and the youngest should get his watch if something happened to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Others on Flight 370 were traveling just for pleasure.
Mukesh Mukherjee and his wife Xiaomo Bai had been on vacation in Vietnam, heading home to Beijing to their two young sons.
Norli Hamid and her husband Muhammad were taking a honeymoon that they promised themselves for a long time.
There were also the Lawtons on the left, and the Burrows, two couples, four friends who are out seeing the sights together.
Three Americans were on 370, Philip Wood, a father of two. The other two with U.S. passports are children, brother and sister, both under the age of 5. Authorities say, without waivers from the girls' families, there's nothing they can tell us about the children except that they are among the 239 missing.