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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
The Search for Flight 370
Aired March 26, 2014 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN special report, "The Mystery of Flight 370."
Good evening. I'm Don Lemon.
And welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We have breaking news.
The search is on nearly three week since the plane vanished. And tonight, we could have our best lead yet, satellite images of 122 floating objects in the Southern Indian Ocean.
So, is this the big break? Planes are in the air as we speak trying to locate these mysterious objects, some of them reported to be up to 75-feet long. I'm going to talk to the brother of a Flight 370 passenger about what this news means to him. And was what happened to the plane premeditated? And if so, who was involved? The investigation turns its focus to the pilots of Flight 370.
You have been tweeting us your questions by the thousands. And we have got top aviation and security experts standing by to answer them throughout this hour, like this: "When they finally do find the debris, can they tell if an explosive or a fire was the cause of the plane going down?"
Also, "Why is it so difficult to find the location of the many satellite images released? Don't the sat images contain approximate GPS locations?"
Richard Quest is here with me, as he has been every evening.
Thank you for joining us. Good evening, Richard, to you.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening.
LEMON: And I want to get to CNN's correspondents for the very latest on the search for Flight 370, starting with Atika Shubert, who is in Perth.
So, Atika, planes and ships back at it combing the Southern Indian Ocean for those 122 objects spotted on satellite. At this hour, how is the search to find this debris going?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's only really just started.
China's Ilyushin jet has already left and a number of civilian aircraft are scheduled to leave now. They're all on their way to search area. They haven't reached it yet. And the search area has now been divided into two sectors, covering about 78,000 square kilometers.
It's going to be a long day of searching, and they have to do it quite quickly. The reports are that weather could deteriorate later in the day, and of course that is going to prolong the search. And it's really important the planes get as low as they can to try and really eyeball that -- what the satellites have already picked up, because while it looks like a floating object, we just don't know what it is.
So, they have to take a closer look, see whether it's potentially something that could be from the plane and then they will call in the ships to take a closer look at it, but all of that takes time, which is something we're quickly running out of, Don.
LEMON: Atika, it's really been touch and go. You mentioned the weather. The weather was bad and the search was suspended for a day or so, and so now it's at it. But the timing really is crucial when it comes to the weather. It could impact the search, as it has been.
SHUBERT: Yes, it really can. When you think about, it's not just, you know, the planes having difficulty getting through. We're talking about huge swells, meters high. So with these massive waves, of course it's much harder to see anything out there and much harder for the ships to get through it all. Even these massive ships really struggle against these big waves.
The worst the weather gets, the harder the search is. And, unfortunately, it's autumn here, and the closer you get into winter, the worse this weather is going to be. And that's another reason why they really have to work hard and speed it up.
LEMON: Atika Shubert, thank you very much for that.
I want to turn now to CNN's Pamela Brown, our justice correspondent in Washington, Sara Sidner, who in Kuala Lumpur, as well.
Pamela, I'm going to start with you. As officials try to determine what happened on the plane, how is the investigation going into the pilot and the co-pilot?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, bottom line here is that, Don, they're looking at the co-pilot and the captain. They're still a top priority and being fully examined.
And investigators are still digging into their backgrounds. But, so far, investigators say they haven't found a smoking gun in either of their backgrounds that would suggest a premeditated act. And a source in Malaysia told CNN earlier today that a search of the pilots' home did not turn up any evidence such as a suicide note that would suggest financial, psychological, or marital problems, and a U.S. official close to this investigation also telling me that forensic experts, they haven't found anything in that hard drive that they have been examining for the past week that jumps out at them.
It's just been a preliminary look, but there's been nothing from the simulator hard drive, from both of the pilots' laptops, at this point in the investigation, that's a smoking gun. But I want to emphasize here, Don, this is an ongoing investigation, and sources I have spoke to said they just aren't ready to jump to any conclusions right now, because they don't have that concrete evidence. The plane still hasn't been found. And that's really the key here.
LEMON: You spoke to us about what they said about the simulator and the pilots. Have senior U.S. officials told you anything about what happened on that flight? Do they know?
BROWN: No, nothing is being ruled out. In fact, we heard Chuck Hagel speak earlier today, and he said that terrorism still isn't being ruled out, that everything is being looked at.
Honestly, Don, the people I have spoken to, the officials who are close to this investigation are baffled by this. They say with every theory, you can poke a hole into it. There's a counterargument for every theory. Therefore, everything is still on the table.
LEMON: Oh, my goodness. All right.
Pam, stand by, because I want to bring in Sara Sidner. I may have some more questions for you, Pam, but I want to bring in Sara Sidner now.
"USA Today" is quoting a senior Malaysian investigator, Sara, as saying police believe the captain deliberately redirected the aircraft. What are you hearing about this?
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's not really new. We reported that a week ago. A source of mine said that, look, we believe that this was an intentional act.
And the reason why they say that, initially at least intentional, because of the turn, the fairly sharp turn that this aircraft, the Boeing 777-200, took. Can't do that on its own. Someone had to turn the aircraft around basically and start going the opposite way.
It was supposed to be heading towards Beijing. It came back towards Malaysia, not long, about an hour after takeoff. So that's been out there for quite some time.
The question here, Don, is whether it was a sinister act, as opposed to perhaps the pilot or co-pilot trying to save themselves and the passengers. That is the detail that we just don't know. And I have come to the point now where, when it comes to sources, unless someone at this point comes on camera or talks on the record with their name in lights, you just cannot believe everything you're hearing. There are too many theories out there. The investigation is still continuing. And I think we do a disservice if we go after these pilots and this co-pilot and it turns out that they're not at fault, that indeed they were trying to save themselves and the plane and the passengers on board. It could have been a fire. It could have been many different things.
But I think it does a disservice to their families, who, by the way, are grieving just like all of the other passengers' families. Right now they have lost loved ones. They don't know where they are. They have no idea what's happened. Investigators have still not finished their investigation. And so this is really, really hard.
Imagine being one of these family members of the pilot or co- pilot and having people start looking at you suspiciously. And we just don't know. So a very hard time here for all of the families involved. Many of them still do not believe what the government and the airline is saying, that this plane was lost over the Southern Indian Ocean.
They still, even to this day, day 19, still holding on to hope that their family members are somewhere alive -- Don.
LEMON: Sara Sidner, thank you. And thank you to all of our correspondents.
A number of new developments to get to tonight. And I want to see what my experts have to say.
Joining me now is Richard Quest, CNN aviation correspondent, Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief and managing director of AirlineRatings.com, Floyd Wisner, a principal the Wisner Law Firm in Chicago, Jeff Wise, an aviation analyst and author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger," Jim Tilmon, a CNN aviation analyst a retired pilot for American Airlines, Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the Department of Transportation.
Thank you very much, all of you, you guys for joining us.
I want to say Mary now represents victims of negligence by transportation companies, including airlines. And also Tom Fuentes is a law enforcement analyst and a former FBI assistant director.
Lot of folks to get to.
You're applauding what Sara had to say.
QUEST: Yes. Well, it is entirely right and proper that the investigators look into the pilots. Of course it is, the police, the criminal -- every aspect of it.
But what has happened in the last few hours is, it's taken a very unsavory, unpleasant tone.
LEMON: How so? QUEST: Because we have sources who aren't named basically saying -- besmirching names of people, who it may turn out to be did something wrong. But we don't know. And Sara is absolutely right. Until something is...
LEMON: But until something is proven, but they have every right to look into it. Right.
QUEST: Of course they do. They must do...
Geoffrey Thomas, you have spoken to an expert on the 777 about what would have had to happen for this plane to take this course. What did they tell you?
GEOFFREY THOMAS, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look, there's two elements to this.
First of all, there's the course change. That has to be human input. It can't be anything else but human input. Reprogramming the flight management computer, disengaging it, perhaps changing the autopilot settings or flying it manually, it has to be done that way.
The other thing, we have been told that there have been some altitude changes. The detail of that varies a little bit. But some have that altitude down to 12,000 feet because of a possible hypoxia event or decompression event.
But the issue is this. If the plane is in the Southern Indian Ocean, and we're now getting more and more evidence that that's exactly where it is, the plane would have had to have been up at cruising altitude of 35,000 feet for it to reach that particular location 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth. If it had been at a much lower altitude, it would have never got that far south.
But that means -- that's if it's there, if it's there. According to the mathematics, they believe it's there. But that's not for sure.
I want to turn to Tom Fuentes.
Tom, what are you hearing from your sources about the FBI investigation into the pilot and the co-pilot?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Don, first of all, I received a call today. It was a return call from a very senior Malaysian government official that I have known many years, who had told me that there is no increased suspicion or focus on the pilots.
They have looked at the pilot and co-pilot from day one, the first night the day disappeared, invited the FBI into their command post to work with them day one, and they have vetted the pilots, the crew, the passengers, the cargo, and all ground personnel that had access to that airplane.
They have detected nothing specific to implicate the pilot and the co-pilot. They're still looking at it just as intensely, but their report is that any reporting that they have suddenly become increasingly suspicious of the pilot is not true.
Jim Tilmon, as a pilot, do you think that this added scrutiny, this scrutiny on the pilot and co-pilot, do you think it's fair? Are they being scapegoated by Malaysian authorities?
JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Don, there's a history for this. It goes way back when, when accident investigations took a little kind of course.
There was a habit that was called, blame the dead pilot. He can't protect himself. If you have a dead pilot and you can't figure anything else out, blame this guy. It's easy to do.
TILMON: But I'm going to tell you I'm very concerned about the attitude that the writer in the "USA Today" column came up with, because what he did was insult not only the captain, but he really insulted every co-pilot in the air by suggesting that the first officer didn't have whatever it would take to make those maneuvers.
Get out of here. He was perfectly qualified to fly that airplane.
LEMON: It sounds exactly like what Miles O'Brien said on another show today. It's like blaming the butler. Blame the pilot. Blame the co-pilot.
And it's understandable, because you're at the top. You're at the ones who's in control of the plane. When something goes wrong, they don't blame the producers, they blame us. We're the one who are in front. So, you can understand that.
Jeff Wise, 122 pieces of debris, is this the break that we have been waiting for?
JEFF WISE, "SLATE": Well, we have had a breaks before this that sounded very similar, and we have been disappointed in the past.
They spent the whole previous search day looking for this very specific debris, and have been unable to find it, just as they were unable to find the debris before. We just don't know. Hopefully, we will get lucky. Hopefully, it will turn out to be what we're looking for.
But, like I said before, every time we search for something and don't find it, that's information, too. It tells us where the plane debris isn't. So, it tells us we have to look somewhere else.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. We will get to the rest of our panelists coming up. Coming up here, planes are in the air and the search is on for those 122 mysterious objects that we mentioned. Will we find them and are they debris from that plane?
And later, a little insight into the catastrophe that families have been living through for close to three weeks now. I'm going to speak to Bimal Sharma. His sister Chandrika was a Flight 370 passenger. And we will talk to him a little bit more about his sister. He's going to tell us that a little bit later on in the show.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to our special coverage. You see it's breaking news tonight.
The search is tonight on off the coast of Australia for any sign of Flight 370. Nearly three weeks ago, it vanished and we had no idea in the world where it would end up. Well, now we have satellite images of 122 objects floating in the Southern Indian Ocean.
But actually finding them is an entirely different story.
Here's CNN's Jason Carroll with more.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daylight in this remote part of the Indian Ocean, so far, no sign of the debris spotted here by a European satellite, 122 potential objects over an area of 154 square miles, 1,600 miles from Perth, Australia, the most credible lead to date in the search for Malaysia Air Flight 370.
DATUK SERI HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: Some objects were a meter in length. Others were as much as 23 meters in length. Some of the objects appear to be bright, possibly indicating solid material.
CARROLL: The question now, if debris is found, could it be linked to debris spotted by satellite on two previous dates?
(on camera): Perhaps the 16th captured some of the debris. Then it floated, then the 18th. And here we are.
TIM TAYLOR, PRESIDENT OF TIBURON SUBSEA SERVICES: If they can find the debris and if they can match it to those satellite images, that's empirical data. We know here at this particular date, here at this particular date, and it's extremely important. Those satellite images could be invaluable.
CARROLL (voice-over): Planes and ships from at least five countries racing to find out what's really there, including by air two Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orions, a Japanese Gulf Stream jet, and by sea four Chinese ships. The United States also dispatched an underwater vehicle which can search for submerged objects at depths more than 14,000 feet. (on camera): Also ready, if needed, undersea listening devices to try and pick up signals or pings from the plane's data recorders before their batteries run out, if they haven't already.
(voice-over): But those devices cannot search large areas quickly. How large is the area? About the size of South Carolina. In spite all the technology, all the resources, searchers are still also relying on the human eye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully, today will be the day that we find something.
CARROLL: Scanning miles upon miles of open water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We usually do about half-hour to hour at a time. So, it's quite fatiguing on the eyes.
CARROLL: The exhaustive search continues.
Jason Carroll, CNN.
LEMON: All right, Jason, thank you very much.
I'm back now with Richard Quest. Geoffrey Thomas also is here from AirlineRatings.com. And he joins now from Perth, Australia, obviously where the site -- the search is being facilitated from there.
He's been speaking to Boeing 777 experts about this flight's final hour.
I have a question for you, Geoffrey. I want you to explain to us what your sources have told you about the altitude changes necessary for the plane to have ended up in the Southern Indian Ocean.
THOMAS: Yes, Don.
Look, there's various reports about altitude changes, some down to 12,000 feet, maybe even lower, to do with a hypoxia event, a decompression event. But the reality is this. For the plane to have got from the Straits of Malacca, just north of Penang, down to the Southern Indian Ocean, where we understand that it is, it would have had to have climbed back up to 35,000 feet, its cruising altitude, approximately between 30,000 and 35,000 feet.
Otherwise, it would not be able to -- with the fuel on board, it would not have been able to reach so far south. It would have in fact reached only on an area about half that distance off a place called Queanbeyan on the midwest coast of Western Australia.
So the only conclusion, according to a 777 check captain, is that that plane had to go back up to cruising altitude, about 35,000, to get to where it supposedly is.
Just quickly, Geoffrey, on that point, there's some other statistics going around this evening. I'm not sure whether you have seen them. Les Abend, the 777 pilot, captain, was talking about them earlier, that if you look at the charts for the airline and the 777, the distance change at 12,000 feet is not that much less than at 35,000 feet, which, of course, is the way I had interpreted it.
So I'm wondering, do you think there's any scope for confusion on this point of how far the plane could have gone?
THOMAS: Well, according to my source, Richard, the 777 at 12,000 feet can do about 340, I think, knots. At 35,000 feet, it can do 480 knots.
That's like about 600 kilometers an hour vs. 900 kilometers an hour. If you do the range calculation, as we have done, from north of Penang to 2500 kilometers southwest of Perth, the 777 couldn't do it at 12,000 feet.
LEMON: Yes. And that's quite a difference.
Geoffrey, though, the question is, talk to us a little bit more about this scenario that you presented here. If the plane did run out of fuel and crash, describe how that crash would have unfolded, at least according to your source.
THOMAS: Look, yes, it's rather heavy-duty, if you like.
No airplane is absolutely stable. So the engines fail, the electrical systems fail, the plane is not absolutely stable. So it will start to roll to the left or to the right. When it does that, it's going to go into a spiral. And it's going to go almost supersonic in its descent and it's going to be a very rapid descent.
Interestingly enough, when the auxiliary power unit senses there's no power to the plane at all, it actually restarts. The auxiliary power unit in the tail has its own fuel source, a separate fuel source. It starts up. And so power would actually return to the plane for the last few minutes of that descent.
And that may possibly explain that partial ping that Inmarsat picked up, where the power returns to the plane.
And that's a -- we were just -- you answered the question as I said to Richard as you were saying it, would that explain that partial ping, that partial handshake that we spoke about?
Geoffrey Thomas, thank you. I really appreciate your perspective. So, stand by. Coming up, there are a number of working scenarios of what happened on Flight 370. You have asked us all of them, some of them, and we're going to go through your questions coming up next.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone.
So with the new information we have tonight, let's dig into the working scenarios for what could have happened to Flight 370.
Back now with my experts.
OK, I want to talk through some of these various scenarios that could have happened. We have discussed whether this was a deliberate act by a pilot or co-pilot.
So, here are some of them. OK?
And this first one, I'm going to give it to Tom Fuentes.
Tom, hijacking by passenger or passengers. And here's what Paul says. "Ask if it could be a hijacking gone wrong. The hijacker ran out of fuel flying under radar. That'd explain the contradictions."
So, if it was a hijacking, are you perplexed by no claim of responsibility, Tom?
FUENTES: Not necessarily. There have been other cases where there hasn't been.
But also the notion of flying under radar, I would dispute that, because when that plane turned back and went over Malaysian territory and went through three other airport radars, those radars go all the way to the ground. That plane would have had to have been a subway train to avoid radar, because there's three operating airports.
And looking back on what flights occur all night long out of those Asian airports, including Thailand and Malaysia, those radars would have picked that plane up. There's no going under those radars.
This one, this scenario is batteries on board catching fire. And I'm going to give this on to Jeff Wise.
But here's what Lori says, Jeff. She says: "Huge question mark for me is the lithium batteries on board. Could that be a cause of explosion and crash?"
"Huge question mark for me, could that be the cause?"
WISE: Sure. I mean, theoretically, that could be the cause. There could be an unknown cause of fire. Fires can arise from a number of causes. There haven't been any indications. There's no evidence for a fire. There hasn't -- there weren't any ACARS transmissions that indicated fire.
There were no transmissions by the pilots saying, we're on fire. So, it's something we can't rule out. There's no evidence for it either, though. It's one of these many amorphously potential things that could have happened 679
LEMON: OK. Let's talk about pilot error. Let's talk about with a pilot.
Jim Tilmon, this is going to be for you.
"Everyone is focusing on mechanical error. Why isn't anyone focusing on human error on the parts of the pilots?"
So, would decompression cause the aircraft fatigue or deliberate act? Or, no, no, I'm sorry -- yes, no, no -- could it be pilot error? Sorry.
Jim Tilmon, I'm moving? I'm getting ahead of myself here.
TILMON: Yes, you can always say that pilot error could contribute to a crash. I don't think this evidence really points to that a great deal. I don't know that the pilots made a mistake that made this thing crash. I think that's another one of those ideas.
Mary Schiavo, I was trying to give Jim Tilmon your question here. So I will give it to you now.
This is the one that says, "Decompression caused by aircraft fatigue or was it a deliberate act?" And Nina says, "Could this have began [SIC] as faulty decompression and escalated to pilot suicide when all died but him," Mary?
SCHIAVO: Well, it's possible. There have been other accidents where we have had cabin decompression and from fatigue in the aircraft or from maintenance mistakes. One is where the maintenance crew forgot -- the helios (ph) forgot to turn back on the automatic pressurization. Another was from a crack in the fuselage. So it's possible.
You know, at that point you would assume, if everyone else had perished except for the pilot, presumably there was lack of control surfaces, too. Because otherwise we would have taken the plane home, I think, and delivered the loved ones, though perished, back to an airport. So there must have been something else with lack of control of the plane.
LEMON: All right, Mary. This one is about an electrical system. And John Cook asks this. He says, "What is the probability that an electrical issue rendered the transponder, ACARS and oxygen systems inoperable?" Geoffrey, what about that?
WISE: Jeffrey Wise?
LEMON: No, Geoffrey Thomas.
LEMON: Geoffrey Thomas.
THOMAS: Sorry, OK. Sorry. I beg your pardon. Look, electrical problem, you've got power from the engines, we know that, so you do have electrical power. You also have a ram air turbine which drops into the airstream, which also provides electrical backup power.
There are so many backups on the triple-7. There is not a scenario that would take out everything and allow the plane to keep flying at the same time. So no, I don't believe that is the case.
LEMON: Floyd Wisner, this is your bailiwick here. What are the legal implications of all of these scenarios, any of these scenarios here?
FLOYD WISNER, PRINCIPAL, WISNER LAW FIRM, CHICAGO: Well, as against Malaysia Air, no matter what the result is found to be, Malaysia Air is going to be responsible. Whether it's hijacking, a terrorist act, an act of a pilot, pilot suicide or mechanical failure, Malaysia Air is going to be responsible. The issue is whether somebody else.
LEMON: The issue is whether somebody else was involved in this. But my question is now, can Malaysia Airlines sustain this? Can they afford to be in business after this?
WISNER: Sure, they can. They have at least -- they at least have $1 billion in insurance. So their liability probably will approach that amount, but they can withstand it with that insurance.
QUEST: There's always the government, as well. It is majority owned by the government. The Malaysian government is certainly not going to step back and away from this one.
LEMON: What is this new information you have tonight about the plane -- part of the plane that may hold the answer to the black boxes and batteries. What do you have?
QUEST: This is the story tonight that maybe the batteries -- the batteries on the black boxes, the pingers may not be that strong, because of the way they had been stored back in Malaysia.
David Soucie was reporting earlier, his sources told him that there was an audit that actually showed the batteries were stored in hot and humid conditions, and that the effectiveness had been degraded by some 50 percent. If that is the case...
LEMON: Then the pingers have already run out. Right? QUEST: Unfortunately, that would be -- that would be the case. But there again, the makers of the black boxes and the makers of the pingers, they say that they are built to operate in extreme conditions. And therefore, it's very worrying -- look, put it this way, Don. It's very worrying, if there is a question over the battery power for those pingers. Because if they were gone already, that's very difficult.
LEMON: Let's hope they haven't. Let's hope they haven't.
Geoffrey Thomas, thank you very much. Everybody else, stick with me.
When we come right back here, a man whose sister was on board Flight 370. He's been waiting anxiously. And as an experienced ship captain, he's familiar with the waters of the Indian Ocean. We're going to speak with him coming up next.
LEMON: So we can analyze, theorize and break down every element of the investigation into Flight 370, but we can't possibly know what the families of those passengers and crew are going through, after nearly three weeks with no word from their loved ones.
Joining me now is Rimal Sharma, whose sister, Chandrika, was a passenger on Flight 370.
Hello to you. First thing's first. How are you and your family doing?
RIMAL SHARMA, SISTER A PASSENGER ON FLIGHT 370: We're going through very anxious moments.
LEMON: As simple as that. Three weeks and still no answers, right?
SHARMA: Without an iota of evidence. The prime minister of the country of Malaysia has said, he's given a -- he's given a mathematical solution to an emotional problem. I mean, it's an amazing thing. I mean, I don't know what -- what to say even.
LEMON: Yes. Let's talk a little bit more about that, about Malaysian officials. They announced that they believe that the plane was lost. You said you hoped they didn't give up the search, that you needed to see some debris from the plane. You said not just a mathematical solution.
What do you think about this latest satellite photo that appears to show 122 objects floating in the search area, Mr. Sharma?
SHARMA: Yes, 122 objects. I've been -- I've been searching the Net for previous plane crashes in the sea. I mean, to find 122 objects floating from an aircraft, I don't think even Air France had about three or four. I mean, 122 looks more like -- like -- I come from an industry, which is the shipping industry. A hundred and twenty-two looks like maybe a ship had lost some containers. And they are floating around there. And 122 is a large number of floating objects close together.
LEMON: You are -- you are familiar with these waters. And again, I just want to reiterate for our viewers here. You've been sailing for 38 years, as a captain in the merchant navy. So you think that some of what they're looking at could be what they call just junk, flotsam, jettisoned stuff that people have thrown off and lost?
SHARMA: Yes, yes.
LEMON: Tell us about what sailing these waters, what's that like?
SHARMA: These waters are very hostile waters. They're called the roaring 40s. And the weather here can be very, very severe. And it's -- and coming to losing containers is a very -- it's, well, not abnormal, but a very frequent happening. So losing containers -- and another thing over there, is it's a garbage patch. All the garbage, for reasons which can be explained due to the winds, the tides and open waters, there's lots and lots of garbage which has accumulated over the centuries is over there.
SHARMA: And it accumulates into a patch. I mean, I have...
LEMON: I want to -- I want to -- I think we have the message, that there's a lot of it. Listen, we hope that they find something, and in your case, I would imagine you hope that they find nothing. I would imagine you're still hoping that your sister is somewhere still alive, the passengers are somewhere and still alive. And I won't say tell me what your sister was like, but tell me what your sister is like, what kind of a person is your sister?
SHARMA: My sister is a social worker. She's always been a social worker. She's a doctorate in social work. She's -- she's been to some of the -- one of the best institutes in Asia for doing social work. From Mumbai, the Calcutta Institute of Social Work. And she -- well, she was working for the welfare of the fishermen of the world for a very long time now. And a very down-to-earth person and very, very -- I mean, she was a really nice person. Very nice person, yes.
LEMON: And if she's doing the kind of work that she does, obviously she is one of the extraordinary people who in this world help others.
It's been three weeks now, and I would imagine every single scenario has gone through your head and your family -- I don't understand how you're even standing right now. I'm not sure I'd be able to do that. But if you can, can you tell me what you believe happened on board this flight?
SHARMA: Look, I cannot recount the minutes of what happened on the flight, but it's almost like believing a fairy tale, you know, like believing Jack and the Beanstalk or some fairytale like that. And the -- what I feel personally, is I think this whole -- it's an international issue now. It's an international issue now. It should be handed over to professionals and people who have done this kind of thing before.
And it's just coordinated, rather than (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and things like that. I hear stories of -- from on the news that, OK, I mean, China is doing their thing. Japan is doing their thing. And I mean, it should be handed over to some professionals who can -- who know what it's all about, what a search and rescue is. And be handled in a more professional manner, rather than being, you know, getting countries involved and emotions getting high.
And I'm -- I'm sure we can come to a logical conclusion. That's what I'm wanting. I'm not getting overboard with emotions or anything like that, but I mean, at least a logical solution. I mean, in this day and age -- in this day and age where, I mean, and I have done search and rescue myself.
Believe me, it must be coordinated with professionals from all over the world. There are lots and lots of people who know what they're talking about. And rather than being handled by governments and being coordinated by the Malaysian government. I mean...
LEMON: Mr. Sharma, the whole world is thinking about you. We thank you for coming on CNN and for sharing your story. And any time you'd like to come back here and share your story just to get -- just to get it off your chest, you're more than welcome to come any time.
LEMON: Thank you.
We wish the families the very best there.
And I want to bring in now Dr. Judy Ho to talk about this. She's a clinical and forensic psychologist. And also, the experts are back with me now.
Doctor, my goodness. It's like a nightmare that you -- you know, you're thinking you're going to wake up from it every single moment.
DR. JUDY HO, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: That's right, Don. And I really feel for these families, because every day the coverage is going on. And they probably can't help but continue to glue their eyes to the TV and to the newspaper and just hope that some reporting source is going to come up with some new information that's either going to ease their mind a little bit or actually put this question to rest.
So being in this state of ambiguity is just torture on the human mind.
LEMON: It is.
Floyd, to you now. You practice in Illinois where Boeing is located. What type of lawsuits could Boeing face here?
WISNER: Well, depending upon the outcome of the investigation, what's disclosed and ultimately determined, Boeing could face lawsuits from all the passengers and the crew on board that aircraft.
Unlike the claims against Malaysia Air, which must be brought in certain jurisdictions, as mandated by the Montreal Convention, claims against Boeing can be brought in the United States in my home state of Illinois, just because Boeing has its headquarters there and obviously does business there. So it could face massive claims. But depending upon what the evidence shows.
LEMON: The liability of the airline itself versus the plane manufacturer?
WISNER: Yes. The liability of the airline itself is almost automatic. At least it definitely is automatic for the first $176,000. After that, it's virtually automatic, because the airline, not the passengers, have the burden to prove that they took all necessary measures to avoid the loss or a third party is solely responsible for the loss.
Absent proving that, Malaysia Air is on the hook and is going to have to pay compensation. So Malaysia Air is facing massive claims nearing their insurance policy limits of $1 billion.
LEMON: Let's talk about if the Malaysians conclude that this was a pilot suicide then, what does that do to any possible legal action? Who is held responsible in that scenario?
WISNER: Well, conceivably, Malaysia Air could still be responsible, because it's their employee, and if their employee took that act, they could be responsible.
Now, that would involve agency issues about what has happened around agency (ph) but also, it could involve negligent hiring, negligent entrustment of this plane and these person's lives to this person, if it's proved that way.
I kind of join with my fellow Chicagoan Jim Tilmon in wondering about blaming the pilot. You know, my experience in these aviation cases is that they first blame the weather. Then they blame the pilots.
You know, Silk Air 195 that I was involved in, in the '90s, Boeing was sure that was a pilot suicide. Turned out to be there was a problem with the rudder, and that's what caused the crash.
LEMON: Coming up, your questions are coming in, and we are answering them. Keep them coming to us, hashtag 370Qs.
LEMON: Breaking news tonight, the search is on for the 122 objects spotted by satellite in the southern Indian Ocean. There are a lot of theories out there tonight, ranging from sensible to maybe a little bit out there. And now I want to find out from my experts. I want to answer some of your questions.
Mary, I want to talk to you first, because you heard what Rimal Sharma -- his sister's on the plane -- what he said. He said, "Listen, I want it to be a coordinated investigation by people who know how to do this."
And this is a great question. It's from Jitenomics, and it says, "After -- after first week of inexperience, why didn't Malaysia let NTSB head the investigation like Air Egypt case?" Should the NTSB be taking over this investigation, or is it being handled in capable hands at this point?
SCHIAVO: Well, I don't think that the investigation to date has been -- I won't say incapable, but it certainly hasn't been handled in a way which AAIKO (ph) regulations, and not to mention the NTSB would have handled it.
But according to the AAIKO (ph) agreements, it does belong to Malaysia. However, Malaysia could ask the United States or any other country. It could ask Great Britain to do it for them. The reason they probably won't, though, is because Egypt was not happy with the NTSB conclusions. And once they handed it over, then there was a diplomatic spat, and that resulted in the NTSB not issuing a full report and not issuing full recommendations and Egypt Air disputed what the NTSB found.
The bottom line is, it's often political, and Malaysia will not want to let go of this investigation, particularly since Malaysia Air is owned by the government.
LEMON: And that's -- at the very end that was it. You said it's all very political.
OK, Tom Fuentes, this is for you, and we've been talking about mostly this has been about satellite images that have been captured and them going to try to find them. Here is what Christopher says. "All the satellite data has come from China, France, U.K. Why not U.S. military satellites, best resolution?" I mean, is the United States possibly more involved than we know, or -- Tom?
FUENTES: I think, Don, the first satellite information put out by the Australians was based on the U.S. company in Denver, who are on contract to the U.S. military. So first satellite data that went out when the prime minister of Australia announced the initial finding of debris based on satellite information, that was based on U.S. satellite information.
LEMON: Yes. Jeff Wise, here is what Patrick says, "Are three million pairs of crowdsourcers being given access to help search near Australia? Why rely on planes and ships only?" I mean, given the vastness of the search area, would it be useful to have other -- more people scrutinizing these images?
WISE: Well, it's good in theory. I mean, the problem seems to be recurring in this investigation, that satellite imagery is produced; it's pored over. Likely images are found. By the time it gets to the actual searchers in the air and the water, it's four days old. And it turns out to be very hard to locate whatever object corresponded to those images in the first place.
LEMON: Jim, we're talking about the investigation. Also, you know, the brother of the young lady who was on board that flight says, "Hey, you know, let's get this into capable hands, international hands." Why do you think that there has been so much conflicting information over the last three weeks?
TILMON: Is that for me?
LEMON: Yes, Jim Tilmon.
TILMON: I'm sorry.
Well, I think because actually the government and the airline were way over their heads. They were overwhelmed with this. I think their intentions are wonderful and golden (ph), but I think their experience and their ability to deal with something of this magnitude is far short. They should seek out other countries, other -- other opinions and some of the experts.
I think that the person you brought on earlier was right. Professionalism really does pay off in on investigation like this.
LEMON: When we come right back, final thoughts from my experts and answers to more of your questions.
LEMON: We're back now. And I want to know what questions my experts have. So let's go through it now. Floyd Wisner, what questions do you have?
WISNER: Well, I think basically my general question is, was there a structural mechanical electrical failure of that aircraft? A more specific question is, is there an explanation for that transponder being turned off other than by and act of a pilot?
LEMON: Jeff Wise.
WISE: Where is the rest of that Inmarsat data?
LEMON: Dr. Judy Ho.
HO: I want to know what type of psychological evaluation they went under, the pilots, and also if they have an opportunity for re- examination.
LEMON: Jim Tilmon.
TILMON: A timeline. I've been asking for it from the beginning. An accurate and precise timeline that we can count on.
LEMON: Mary Schiavo. SCHIAVO: What maintenance was performed on that plane just a few days before this flight, and what maintenance did they not finish that they said they had to finish the next time it was in the shop.
LEMON: Tom Fuentes.
FUENTES: Where is the crime scene? Debris and the plane?
LEMON: Hopefully we'll get answers to all of these questions. Thank you so much for joining us. And thank you for joining us at home. That's it for me. I'm Don Lemon. "AC 360" starts right now.