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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Have MH-370 Searchers Been Searching Wrong Area?; News Conference with Australia's and Martin Doland on MH-370
Aired March 27, 2014 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone. It's 11:00 p.m. here in New York, 11:00 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur. And early morning in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia where the search for Flight 370 is not only getting back under way, but, and this is breaking news, the search area is now shifting.
Australian authorities say today's efforts will move to an area some 680 miles to the northeast of the old search area, the search area they've been looking at for the last couple of days. The new area covers about 123,000 square miles and lies about 1100 miles west of Perth.
This move stemming from ongoing analysis apparently of the plane's last known radar contact. So this is all new radar analysis. Authorities say it suggests the Malaysian Airlines 777 was traveling faster than previously thought. If that is true, which they seem to think it is now, it means that it burned more fuel, which in turn suggests it did not fly as far south as first thought.
So the surveillance aircraft now airborne or getting airborne now have a new ocean to search. This Chinese plane lifting off a short time ago outside Perth, part of a multi-country effort now including some ultra-high tech American P-8 Poseidons. The second one heading to the region from Okinawa, Japan.
We're also waiting for a news conference with the Australian officials in about a half an hour. We're obviously going to bring that to you live from maritime safety officials in Australia. Really with an explanation of why exactly now this radical shift 1600 miles difference in the search area. So there's a lot to cover tonight.
We begin with the very latest from western Australia and the changing search, the breaking news from Paula Newton who joins us now.
So this information, I mean, it could be a real game changer. Why exactly, do you know, are they shifting the search area?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is definitely a game changer. And the reason is that when they say they refined their radar analysis, they determined that indeed that plane, Anderson, was likely flying faster, which means it ran out of fuel, which means it's in a completely different location than they thought. Not so far from the kind of areas that we've been outlining here on CNN but still shifting much more to the north and east. What does that mean? It does make the search much easier, in the sense it moves it closer to shore. And we've been told about the conditions out there, they're horrific on certain days. But what it also means is it's hard to determine the credibility of what's come before, all of those searches that they've already done, and all of that evidence from satellites, is it debris, is it garbage, what was it? They continue to say, and I'm sure we're going to hear more about this in the press conference in the next few minutes, that they need to refine their search area further.
Still, Anderson, they are calling this a very, very credible lead.
COOPER: So here's what I don't understand, and maybe you can help me or maybe we have to wait for this press conference in 30 minutes, but A, I mean, you mentioned the satellite data. I would assume they had coordinates on that -- on those various pieces of debris, hundreds of pieces of debris that various satellite had picked up over the last several days.
So if they have coordinates of those, I would have assumed they were in the search area that everybody was looking in, and are they now -- this new search area, is this where they believe debris is or where the actual plane may be? I assume it's where they believe debris must be, because they wouldn't be able to find the plane under water.
NEWTON: They most definitely think that that is a credible area for where the debris field will be. I think -- I was just out on the tarmac with the captain who's about to fly out one of the P-3s. He was about to go into this briefing.
The point here, Anderson, is when you listen to them speak about this, going over those search areas is incredibly difficult in terms of debris shifting.
Anderson, They don't know, did it break up in the air? Did it all come in pieces in the water? There are many different things that they're looking up because they don't know what caused it at the end of the day or how this plane ended its flight in the water. All of these things very confusing.
And stunning to me, Anderson, I mean, I just got off of one of those P-3s as it was on the tarmac. The human eye is still the best thing that they have leaving aside all that satellite data that hones in on the area that they're in. They're still only using their human eyes in rotations 20 minutes to try and spot things on the surface of the water. An incredible challenge ahead.
And I do say, Anderson, a lot of confusion as to why they refined this search point now so much further inland.
NEWTON: And if that's a good thing or possibly means they've just been wasting their time.
COOPER: Hopefully we'll get more word from Australian authorities, as I said, about 25 minutes from now.
Paul Newton, I appreciate it. Let's get an update, though, on the search. Just as Paula said in this new area. Joining us on the phone is Commander William Marks of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet.
Commander Marks, I appreciate you talking to us again. So you and I talked about three hours ago. This is a new -- this is new information from that time. What can you tell us what you know about this latest news that the search area is shifting some 684 miles to the northeast?
CDR. WILLIAM MARKS, USS BLUE RIDGE SPOKESMAN: There were a couple of points that come to my mind. First, it looks to me that this is closer, a lot closer for the aircraft, so instead of traveling 1300, 1400 miles just to get three or three and a half hours search time, they should get a little bit more search time. I haven't mapped it out yet but that's how it looks from my initial indication.
COOPER: So can you just -- sorry, go ahead, Commander.
MARKS: The second thing is, our oceanographers have to now remap the estimate of how the winds and currents and seas may have affected the debris, and reverse engineer wherever we find the debris to the area we think the plane may have crashed. We work very closely with oceanographic experts at the (INAUDIBLE) Space Center with the Australians.
And what we do is we're waiting for a visual confirmation of the debris field, and the satellite imagery is helpful, but I have to caution not to be too optimistic until we actually get visual confirmation. Once you do, our oceanographers reverse plot, the wind, the current and sea state, and that will help us determine a much more specific point where we think this plane may have crash landed. That way we can get the pinger locator out there.
COOPER: So, Commander Marks, help me understand this, because I'm an idiot in science and this kind of thing. But I mean, for days now, you know, we've been hearing about satellite data from a variety of different countries showing, you know, in one case 122 pieces of debris, in other cases, several dozen pieces, whatever it may be, but multiple sightings of some sort of debris in the water.
I assume those had relatively specific coordinates, and that's where the -- and that's where your efforts, the Australian efforts, the New Zealand and the whole multinational contingent has been looking.
Now this is shifting 600 miles away. Does that mean that whatever debris that was shown up in those satellites further south is now -- that it's not stuff from an aircraft?
MARKS: Yes, you know, great question, and, you know, we asked those same things here in the Seventh Fleet. A couple of points. One, that satellite image comes in from all different places. It could be commercial, it could be military, it could be other government agencies. And then the second is, it's time late. And so you never know where it may be it was debris. And then the third thing is, these are just, you know, if you look at it, they're just little specks on the screen. And so without visual confirmation, you really don't know if it is debris or not. And so my -- I encourage the flights to keep flying. We moved our second P-8 into the theater. And in my opinion, it's critical to keep flying these missions in order to get visual confirmation on debris. And that way we can reverse engineer the winds and currents and sea states and to try to get a position on them.
COOPER: You -- I mean, you've been dedicating yourself to this since you were tasked with this, and a lot of people in your command have as well from a lot of different -- a lot of different countries, as well.
Is this frustrating for you? I mean, have you heard from people under your command who are -- you know, who have been working around the clock on this to now feel like wait a minute, the area we were working in, we're now going 600 miles away from that, or is that just the nature of the job?
MARKS: You know, it's not at all frustrating because we train for this every day. And these planes, the P-8s, it is built for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare. So its mission every day is to go out and search and patrol. So to the pilots and to the air crew, this is what they train for. And they know they have different missions. Some days it may be IFR, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, some days anti-submarine warfare, and then, you know, some days you're looking for aircraft debris.
So they understand it. And you know, we're -- we have a continuous 24-hour presence, not just in this area, but north of Japan, all the way to south of Australia, all the way from Hawaii to the India- Pakistan border. So we are not frustrated. This is one of our missions and we're very proud to be doing it. And the other thing is to see all of these countries come together is so encouraging.
You know, this part of the world is known for having a big melting pot of different governments and ethnicities and religions. And it's a critical part of the world. That's why we're rebalancing here. And to be part of that is something we're proud of and hopefully we can help.
COOPER: Well, Commander Marks, we do appreciate you talking to us and all your efforts, to all the people under your command as well. Thank you very much.
I want to bring in our panel here who's been with us throughout the evening. With us earlier tonight in our 8:00 hour. CNN safety analyst David Soucie, author of "Why Planes Crash: An Accident Investigator's Fight for Safe Skies." CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest, Miles O'Brien a veteran pilot and CNN aviation analyst, David Gallo, co-leader for the search for Air France Flight 477 and director of Special Projects in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
And also former Transportation Department General -- Inspector General, excuse me, Mary Schiavo, who currently represents accident victims and their families.
David Soucie, let me start off with you. I still find this confusing. So all the satellite data, which was days old, we know, of alleged debris that had been spotted over the last week or so in an area, they're now searching some -- or moving toward an area some 684 miles away from that. So does that mean that was all wrong?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: You know, I don't know what that means as far as whether it was wrong or right. But what I do know is that interpreting the satellite data is not easy to do. People think it's either on or it's not. It's not. If that transponder is not on, you're looking at a very small pieces of little white dots which you're trying to put together --
COOPER: Right. And it could be white caps, it could be anything.
SOUCIE: Exactly. Well, actually in the radar system, it's actually pings off of something.
SOUCIE: But you just don't know what it is until you do some really in depth analysis. So it doesn't surprise me that after really digging into that and seeing the possible triangulations of where those dots went that they would readjust their calibrations.
COOPER: Richard Quest, what's reading of it?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: So what they've done, after we got the Inmarsat information last -- earliest last week.
COOPER: Right. (INAUDIBLE).
QUEST: Yes. What they've done is they set up an international working group in Malaysia. They brought in the AAIB from the Brits, the NTSB, Inmarsat, they brought in everybody who had any expertise in satellite radar and -- because they needed to interpret the pings. And then they went and looked at the three -- that area of the flight that they knew about, from takeoff up to the South China Sea, down to the Straits of Malacca when it lost radar contact.
Now that's the only part of the flight, Anderson, that they really know about. They know the speed, they know where it was, they know the height. They know all sorts of details. As you look at this part, this is the part of the flight now that they really know about. And they could compare the pings that took -- that took place in that part of the flight and then work it out.
So what they've done is, this international working group, they've gone back and looked at all this data and they've refined it again and again and again. To this point here, and there's that, and now what they're saying is when you look at the pings, three or four pings, at that point, when you look at that part of the flight, you can now deduce the plane was flying faster.
Therefore, it would not have gone as far south because it would have burned more fuel. It's disappointing, of course, but this is -- this is science at the extremity.
COOPER: So, Miles O'Brien, one way of looking at this, as Richard was describing, is that at least it's a sign that they are working together and that these investigators, I mean, are actively working and refining what they are -- what they are seeing.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, that's a half full way of looking at it, I suppose. I mean, this speed should have been known a long time ago. That information, that radar information -- just didn't come in recently. So I just think of all the lost time in this area perhaps chasing around garbage bags or whatever it is in the ocean is a bit frustrating.
Again, we're on the other side of an opaque investigation. And we don't really know exactly what revelation has occurred to them or what ping they've seen. But now it makes me think twice about that big Inmarsat curve and dog leg that we've seen. Is that accurate at all? Because a lot of those assumptions in that plot that they drew out were based on speed assumptions. Were those the right speed assumptions? I don't know now.
COOPER: David Soucie?
SOUCIE: Well, obviously they weren't the right speed assumptions. And that's why they have recalibrated it. To me it's a good sign that this group is finally starting to work together and listen to what they're doing and adjust their assumptions. Assumptions are the key to all this. If you assume something, then you end up with the final conclusion, you have to constantly review that. And they constantly understand what that information means.
COOPER: Mary Schiavo, how do you see this? I mean, this is a large readjustment three weeks after the plane went missing.
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it's a very large readjustment, but then it also confirms suspicions that a lot of people had. I mean, a lot of us as we, you know, talk these over amongst ourselves, amongst our group here, a lot of us were -- suspicious about the altitude readouts that they claim they have that, you know, it was 45 then it was 35 then it was 12 and 5.
And we questioned that data. And now I question whether they're really sure about the waypoints. We don't have any accurate information that those were actually waypoints that this plane was headed to. And so now with this new calculation of the speed. And the headings, et cetera, on the plane, I think that some of the other data might be suspect, too. Especially some of the altitude indications.
COOPER: Wow. David Gallo, what's your read on this?
DAVID GALLO, CO-LED SEARCH FOR AIR FRANCE FLIGHT 447: Yes, Anderson, you know, I'm -- boy, puzzled. I'm only hoping that behind closed doors they know an awful lot more than they're letting out.
I have the same question you had, Anderson, though I don't think we've got an answer to that, is that this new area, are we looking at where they think the plane impacted the water or are we looking at where they expect the debris to be? Because if it's the former --
COOPER: The release I saw said -- the release I saw said debris.
COOPER: And Richard, that's your reading -- yes.
QUEST: Yes. I'll read exactly the words. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Australia's investigative agency, has examined this advice from the international group and determined that this is the most credible lead to where the debris may be located.
COOPER: So, David Gallo, to me that reads as whatever that debris was that they were looking at 680 some miles further away, they don't really think that's credible anymore.
GALLO: Yes. That's right. And, you know, I guess just from a level of frustration, and again from the outside, we don't have all the facts, but to me it's not a game changer, it's a reset. You know, it looks like we're starting over here with some new assumptions. And, you know, I'm glad that things are progressing. We'll see what the day brings in terms of what they actually see on that spot.
COOPER: And, again, we're awaiting this press conference by Australian authorities, maritime safety authorities who probably -- at least we hope will be providing some more clarification on this. Because this -- I mean, this is a -- this is a very big deal. You know, for days now we've been talking about and you've been seeing the satellite images of the debris fields, you had the Australian prime minister coming out talking about a debris field. I guess so maybe about a week ago or so. That's where the focus has been. It's now moving to 680 miles away.
We're also going to be joined by a photographer who recently spent time aboard one of the search planes. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're following breaking news tonight. A major shift in the search for Flight 370. New analysis apparently of radar data suggesting that the plane flew faster and may have run out of fuel sooner, thereby shifting the search area hundreds of miles to the northeast from where they've been searching now for the past week.
We're also waiting new word from authorities explaining this in about 10 or 20 minutes from now from Australian authorities. We're going to bring that to you live. Just stick around for that.
I want to turn to someone who recently had a chance to see exactly what the searchers are seeing. Associated Press photographer Rob Griffith recently spent time aboard a Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion. He joins us now. Rob, thanks for joining us. So you see -- I mean, despite all of the advanced equipment on board these planes, how much of this boils down to folks looking out of the window?
ROB GRIFFITH, PHOTOGRAPHER, ASSOCIATED PRESS SYDNEY BUREAU: From what I saw on board the plane, more than half of everything is determined on what the people using their eyes can see. The equipment is extremely sensitive, but at the end of the day, they need to visually identify each piece. And an electronic equipment can't visually do that yet.
COOPER: So explain how it works for these spotters. Because I mean, they have a system for doing this kind of searching, right?
GRIFFITH: The initial objects they've taken were seen on the radar and they relay those objects, the bearings and the headings to the pilots. And everyone on board the aircraft can hear these directions and distances out from the aircraft. The pilots then will fly towards these objects and in between all of that, they're also monitoring their fuel loads, whether or not they can safely make it to the object that's been identified on the radar.
So that the spotters can see them. And then they will fly past and not over the top of them, but directly past them on an angle that the visual guys can see them clearly or as clear as they can without hindrance from the sun or the cloud or the mist that might be around the aircraft at the time.
COOPER: And they're trained to look for specific shapes and colors?
GRIFFITH: They're trained to look for things that would generally not be in the ocean. Things that have parallel lines, triangular points. Because everything in the ocean, you know, dolphins or whales, or even waves, they all have curved edges and rounded areas. So they're looking for -- straight lines, shapes, colors, and then they'll be able to gather more from that once they see the radar and then put that together with a visual sighting.
GRIFFITH: And determine what it actually is.
COOPER: Fascinating stuff.
Rob Griffith, appreciate you being on. Thanks, Rob.
I want to bring back our panel as we wait to hear from Australian officials about this really -- I mean, important information now that we have just been getting that the search area has now shifted some 680 miles basically to the north, a little closer to Australia. So that's the good news on this. And this apparently comes from a harder look, a reanalysis of data by an international team coming out of Malaysia about the speed of the aircraft.
But it also means that all those that we have been showing and that you have been looking at, all those satellite images allegedly of debris, possibly from the aircraft, are most likely not from the aircraft because now authorities say well, we're actually search -- going to search for the debris 680 miles away.
We're going to take a short break and we'll join our panel in just a moment.
COOPER: Well, in just a moment, Australian officials in the capital Canberra are expected to update us all on the search for Flight 370. What's being described as a major shift. I mean, there's no other way to describe it.
As we wait for that, let's bring back our panel, Richard Quest and David Soucie here with me in New York. You guys were kind of optimistic about this, really at the top of the program. But the more you've been looking at this the more -- have authorities -- I don't want to sound too harsh, but -- and it just -- it shows how difficult these investigations are, have basically these been going in the wrong area and wasting the past week?
QUEST: It's just very -- I mean, they're not doing it deliberately.
COOPER: Of course.
QUEST: And they're not -- I mean, they're doing it with the best information they have. But there is no getting away from the fact that tonight this is exceptionally disappointing that you're looking now 700 miles or so in completely a north easterly direction from where, you know, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you're down here. And by the end of the week you're up here.
SOUCIE: In any investigation, you have leaps forward and you have setbacks. It's just so disappointing to see this being played out on such a close -- for the whole world to see.
COOPER: Right. Well, that's what makes this investigation different, I mean, just the way it's being played out.
SOUCIE: It is. It is.
COOPER: The international attention on this. The interest in this.
COOPER: You know, people's concern about this is beyond anything for any kind of plane investigation for a long, long time.
SOUCIE: Right. COOPER: David Gallo, I mean, you've been -- you know, you co-led the Air France investigation. Is this just the nature of these searches, that there's steps forward and steps back or --
GALLO: Yes, of course, Anderson. They are some of that. But this -- not of this magnitude. I mean, I'm still trying to understand how they could have shifted the box for debris. I understand what they said, we think the impact area is different. But for them to have shifted the debris box must mean they knew the relationship between the old impact area and the present -- the old debris area but they didn't find anything old -- you know, I'm totally confused.
COOPER: Yes --
GALLO: For how to make this transition.
COOPER: See, when I first heard this, you know, I thought, OK, this means they're moving because this is where they believe the impact area is.
But, I mean, Richard, that's not what they're looking at.
QUEST: Well, it's the same --
COOPER: From what we understand, the statement they've made said this is where we believe the debris is.
QUEST: The statement is less than clear. By using the word, the most credible lead to where the debris may be located. Well, they know that we will interpret that as being -- you know, as subsequent drift to where the plane would have gone down 20 odd days ago.
By using the debris, we know one of the biggest issues they're going to have in this is reverse engineering to where the impact was. So David is spot-on. The fact that they have shifted the debris zone means that not only do they believe the debris zone is 600, 700 miles to the northeast, then the impact area is even further off than that, because of the way things have moved.
COOPER: Mary, at the end of this day, the new search area, 123,000 square miles, is still a massive area to be looking at.
MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: It's still a massive amount of area and, to me, it seems like they're starting over. It's good they responded to the previous coordinates and it's really important that they keep searching but it seems like they're back to square one. And that's really confusing, on the one hand, of how they could have been so far off, but encouraging because they're narrowing it in. They have another area which could prove to be hopeful.
COOPER: But again, Miles, I'm not critical of their individual efforts, and they're working under tremendous pressure and everybody is trying to do their best, but days have been wasted.
Let's listen to the press conference now from AMSA. JOHN YOUNG, GENERAL DIRECTOR, AUSTRALIAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY: I'm joined today by our colleague, Mr. Martin Doland, who is the chief commissioner for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
I will, as usual, make an opening statement, as will Mr. Doland, and then we'll take questions. He will answer questions about aircraft accident investigation issues. I will take questions on implications for the search effort.
We would like to update you on some credible information AMSA has received from the ATSB, which will see the search area refocused today. The AMSA search for any sign of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH-370 has been shifted to an area north following advice from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. An international air crash investigation team in Malaysia provided updated advice to the ATSB, which has examined the information and determined an area 1100 kilometers to the northeast of the existing search area, and is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located. The new search area is approximately 319,000 square kilometers an area, and about 1850 kilometers west of Perth. The Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organization, AGIO, is re-tasking satellites to capture images of the new area.
Weather conditions are better in the revised area, and 10 aircraft have been tasked for today's search. They are: two royal Australian air force P-3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard Gulf Stream 5 jet, a Japanese P-3 Orion, a Republic of Korea P-3 Orion and C-130 Hercules aircraft, a royal New Zealand air force P-3 Orion, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Anution (ph) 76, a United States Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft, and one Australian civil jet acting as a communications relay. Four of the 10 aircraft are overhead in the search area as we speak with a further six planes to fly over the area today. A further Royal Australian air force P-3 Orion has been placed on stand by at the Royal Air Force Base in Western Australia to investigate any reported sightings. Six ships are relocating to the new search area, including HMAS "Success" and five Chinese ships. And "Success" is expected to arrive in the search area tomorrow night. Additional, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration patrol ship "Hyshemwan (ph)" is in the search area.
And I want to add (INAUDIBLE) quite well. She visited Sydney and Cannes (ph) last year in order to support a Regional Maritime Safety Conference. And we had the opportunity to do a search-and-rescue exercise with that ship.
A United States towed pinger locater and a Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle have arrived in Perth to assist with location and recovery of the black box. These will be fitted to the Australian defense vessel "Ocean Shield," which will arrive in Western Australia in the coming days.
And the depth of the water in the search area is between 2,000 meters and 4,000 meters.
MARTIN DOLAND, CHIEF COMMISSIONER, AUSTRALIAN TRANSPORT SAFETY BUREAU: Thank you, Mr. Young.
The ATSB, as Australia's Transportation Safety investigation agency, is working with a range of other international expert organizations to analyze available data relating to the flight of MH-370 and to determine the best area to search for the missing aircraft.
The key pieces of information being analyzed relate to earlier positional information from the aircraft and its later poling of a satellite through its aircraft systems. The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data about the aircraft's movement between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost. This continuing analysis indicates the plane was traveling faster than previously estimated, reducing the possible distance it traveled south into the Indian Ocean.
The international investigative team supporting the search continues their analysis of the data. This could result in further refinement of the potential flight path of MH-370. Radar and satellite poling data has been combined about the likely performance of the aircraft, speed and fuel consumption, in particular, to arrive at the best assessment of the area in which the aircraft is likely to have entered the water. The information provided by the international investigative team is the most credible lead we currently have in the search for aircraft wreckage. However, this information needs to be continually adjusted for the length of time elapsed since the aircraft went missing and the likely drift of any wreckage floating on the ocean surface.
Finally, let me stress that, under international convention, Malaysia has investigative responsibility for Malaysian Airlines flight MH-370. At this stage, the ATSB's main task is to assist in the search of the aircraft.
Thank you. And we will now take questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
DOLAND: This is the best estimate of the area in which the aircraft is likely to have crashed into the ocean, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you considered taking into account the drifts of the currents and also --
DOLAND: In determining the search area -- and Mr. Young will comment further. We have taken account of drift information as well as the likely entry point of the aircraft into the water.
Mr. Young, do you want to add?
YOUNG: That's correct. That's what we've been doing with all of the searches that we've conducted so far. This is day 21 for the search for the aircraft. So we have -- we are using our own in-house systems, as well as expert advice from the United States Coast Guard and commercial companies -- drifted the area for 21 days of movement taking into account the actual weather and the known currents for the area, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many debris fields seen by satellites?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How much faster was the plane going according to the new analysis? And how you know it continued to go at that faster speed after the radar lost contact?
DOLAND: This will remain a somewhat inexact science. I don't have in front of me the exact figures of the estimated speed, but this was an estimated speed between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. And then a range of assessments are being made about likely speed thereafter.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That suggests no human control of the plane at some point?
DOLAND: The assumption is that the aircraft was traveling at a close to constant speed. And the reason we know that the aircraft continued to travel is we are bringing together -- we, meaning the international investigative team -- are bringing together two sets of data, the data from poling of the satellite that can give an arc within that specified time the aircraft was, an aircraft about from -- the likely performance of the aircraft, and matching those two sets of data to get point where is the aircraft is likely to have gone through and ended up.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many of those debris fields spotted by planes or satellites could have drifted from that area? Would this rule out any of the potential debris fields?
YOUNG: We had -- firstly, I would not use the term debris field associated with the satellite imagery. The imagery is seeing lots of objects out in the ocean that may or may not actually be objects. What we do is to seek expert advice from the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organization to advise us which of those are credible enough to search on. You might recall we've done some of that lately, and not found any objects. Does that answer your question?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the previous search areas, to the south, are they active or now abandoned?
YOUNG: We have moved on to those search areas to the newest credible lead, based on the information from the accident investigation side. That is now our best place to go. And I would remind you that the analysis, in fact, is in the same form as we started with. It has been refined and moved on. It's not a new theory.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Young, you've got a range of aircraft and ships from several different countries involved in this search. Hopefully, now they'll start being able to pick up pieces of wreckage. Is there any agreement or understanding or maritime rule that says all of this wreckage, any debris they find must all wind up in the same country so it can be properly investigated or could it wind up scattered around the world? YOUNG: Mr. Doland will answer that.
DOLAND: The answer to that question comes from international convention that relates to accident investigation, which says that it's the responsibility, in this case, of the country of registry of the aircraft to initiate an investigation. And that that country, through their investigator in charge, has to secure the wreckage and make it available for the investigation. Any wreckage that is obtained we will hold on behalf of the Malaysian investigation team and await their instructions. And we're in continual discussions with the Malaysians about the progress of the search. And we will continue to discuss with them the handling of wreckage as and when it comes to hand.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So anyone that picks it up would have to hand it over to the Australians?
DOLAND: Yes. We are in the search operating on behalf of the Malaysian government.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I think the previous analysis indicated that the last ping was at 11:00 p.m. on that particular morning. If the plane was flying faster, burning fuel faster, and might have gone down earlier, is that previous analysis now contradicted and that timeline now contradicted?
DOLAND: No, the previous analysis had a range of possible assumptions about aircraft speed. Those assumptions have now been refined. What is tested is the aircraft speed and, therefore, likely position against the arcs that come out from the distance from the satellite, the poling data. So bringing those two together gives you the most credible path for the aircraft. It is being refined over time. What we have at the moment is the most credible location of the entry into the water and, therefore, the place to search.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The area that you've refined, it's still very remote but it seems less remote than you were watching before. What does that mean for things like your sortie rate, your ability to actually search the area? Does that mean you can put more planes over the area?
YOUNG: We will certainly get better time on scene. We started nearly 3,000 kilometers from Perth, so taken quite a lot off that. And now we will get -- you might recall we were talking in terms of one to two hours on scene. We're now doing much better than that.
The other benefit we get from moving further north, the search area has now moved out of the roaring 40s, which creates very adverse weather frequently. I'm not sure we'll get perfect weather out there, but it's likely to be better more often than what we've seen in the past. And we'll see what that does in terms of satellite imagery when the re-tasking of satellites starts to produce new material, as well.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Which way would wreckage likely drift, towards the mainland of Australia or further out into the Indian Ocean? YOUNG: Forgive me, I'll have to take that on notice and give that back to you. I think the drift is towards the east, but I need to look at it and get back.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You mentioned continuing analysis of radar data. Is there new radar data or can you be specific about which data you're talking about from which country, et cetera?
DOLAND: The data is a matter in detail for the Malaysians. International conventions say the data is released by the country responsible for investigation. There is a set of radar data from a number of sources. But most of this work is closer analysis of existing data rather than new radar data coming to light.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you explain about their role and what satellites or whatever we have access to or are sharing that we can actually re-task? Are they things that pass over the area once a day, 10 times a day? And how good would their imagery be?
YOUNG: The Australian Geospatial Intelligence Agency is effectively providing a service for government agencies. We take it as a consumer, and so they are looking through all of the satellite imagery that's available. I'm sure they take it from commercial and government sources. And they provide us with the best leads that are available. I think if you want a detailed explanation, you probably need to talk to them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does the debris spotted or the potential debris spotted supports the apparent search area, given that it may have drifted from that area?
YOUNG: Referring to the new area, aircraft have only just arrived on scene today. So we'll need to wait to see what emerges. In regards to the old areas, we have not seen any debris. And I would not wish to classify any of the satellite imagery as debris, nor would I want to classify any of the few visual sightings we made as debris. And that's just not justifiable from what we have seen.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So the search until today has been a waste of time focusing on the southwest area?
YOUNG: The search to date has been what we had at the time. And I might add that's actually nothing unusual for search-and-rescue operations. This happens to us all of the time. That new information will emerge out of sequence with the operation itself. And I remember occasions when -- at least on one occasion, we searched for six days for a missing helicopter in the Victoria area, and it was only on the seventh day that we got a break from someone who had been camping in the area, seen it, phoned the information in. We refocused some significant distance and found the aircraft. So this is the normal business of search-and-rescue operations, that new information comes to light and refined analyses take you to a different place. I don't count the original work a waste of time.
YOUNG: Sorry. Can I -- can I move on please?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The press release said the new data is still subject to refinement. Is one, one shown on the map, the one after refinement or before that? Are you still working on that or based on this route?
DOLAND: The new area is based on the refined data. That's the best information we have on careful analysis at this point. I'm just warning that it's possible that further analysis may change that again. We, at this stage, don't expect significantly, but there are no guarantees in that area. This is the best available information and analysis.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you explain to us just a little more detail about the data you've refined. We've had various things, like the succession of pings that came out once an hour or whatever and various radar. The idea that the aircraft appeared on radar on a number of occasions. What are you actually refining here?
DOLAND: We're refining the relationship between assessment of aircraft performance, so not just speed and fuel, but the overall performance of a 777 in a range of scenarios. We are looking at the data from the so-called pinging of the satellites, the poling of the satellites. That gives a distance from a satellite on the aircraft to a reasonable approximation. And bringing those to assessments, the various projections of aircraft performance against the information about distance from satellites at given times of the aircraft, which is an arc, and so it's trying to find the best end point and look beyond that where the search is best, therefore, located.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When an aircraft like this runs out of fuel, do all the engines stop at once and it just drop straight down? Does it fly?
DOLAND: There are a range of scenarios that had to be fed in. That's one of the reasons why the search area is a very large one. This is something that we probably should underline. I'm sure Mr. Young would have a comment on this, as well. This is still an attempt to search a very large area and for surface debris, which would give us an indication of where the main aircraft wreckage is likely to be. This has a long way to go yet.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Gentlemen, there were indications that the plane had changed course several times. And this was one of the reasons that foul play was suggested. Can you just explain the current thinking on that? Is it still the belief that it changed course several times?
DOLAND: The radar data that I was talking about was related to that, those in initial stages where there was changing of the course of the aircraft. The best assessment, from then on in, is that the aircraft headed south consistently into the Indian Ocean. And what we've been doing now is working out the most likely flight path based on the information available to the international team.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To narrow down the search area, what lead do you think is most credible, aside from the debris? This question is for ATSB. Are you currently looking at other leads from the emerging investigation on radar or satellite data?
DOLAND: The question about search, and so Mr. Young, I think, should answer it first.
YOUNG: Can I start by saying the two primary methods that we've had so far are these analyses, which are about the movements of the aircraft. And that, in fact, is the best information that we can have. Anything we can have about the movements of the aircraft creates the greatest degree of confidence. We've also had satellite imagery. Satellite imagery has been followed up. It's actually not produced any sightings for us. But that may change in the future. And we also use sophisticated oceanographic modeling to determine where objects will move.
In terms of keeping the search area confined, knowing what happens to the water is very important. Recall, please, this is 21 days after the event was expected to happen. Over that 21 days, there will be a significant amount of random dispersion of objects. So the search area steadily gets bigger over time. We've been fortunate with the previous search areas that the water movement was low, not much movement at all. And therefore, the search area didn't rapidly get bigger.
And in direct answer to your question, we will put down marker buoys that report back their movement by satellite, to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, into that search area so that we know with accuracy where the water is moving. And that provides us the best way to keep the search area confined rather than simply accept that it's going anywhere and the search area gets bigger. I'm sorry that's a complicated issue.
DOLAND: All the information that is currently available to the investigation that is relevant to the likely movements of the aircraft has been made -- and the analysis of that has been made available to the search. We will continue to do that. We are not, at this stage, but we will continue to consult with our international colleagues, seeing other lines of inquiry or information that will add much information to what's currently on the table.
Thank you, everyone.
YOUNG: Thank you very much.
DOLAND: Thank you, everyone.
COOPER: OK. Australian officials from Canberra, the capitol, on tonight's breaking news. The search area has been shifted. That's the polite way to say it. The old search area that we've been following for the past week, that's been abandoned. They're not searching there anymore. They've moved about 680 miles to the north because of assessments of 370's flight path have been refined, in their words. You heard there from Australian Maritime Safety officials, again, saying they have abandoned the search area that they've been looking in for the past week. They were asked, has it been a waste of time. No direct answer to that. The response was, it was the information we had at the time.
Richard Quest, all that satellite data, which we just showed, they don't even want to say it's debris.
QUEST: Since he said -- since he said that the ships are being moved to the new zone, and the four planes are already there, and the later planes are going there, so nobody is going down to look at those satellite image objects, we must assume they're basically saying no, it's not relevant anymore.
QUEST: What I'm confused about tonight, amongst other things --
-- the debris -- the new search area, we had assumed, before the news conference, that this was the debris field allowing for drift of 20 days.
QUEST: But he said in that press conference that this was the crash point.
COOPER: I believe what he said was -- he indicated THAT they were both. Which either he misspoke or the only other interpretation that I can come up is he believes the debris, given the currents here, which are not as strong as in this other area --
COOPER: -- are closer to the crash point.
SOUCIE: I'm sorry. But it's only 700 miles away. There has to be somewhere for it to flow in that area. I can't imagine it being that different where, now after 21 days, 20 days, it's going to be that close to where the crash site is.
COOPER: Miles O'Brien, what do you think?
O'BRIEN: He said it included 21 days of moving, taking into account the actual weather and currents. And he said it was an inexact science. So to be sure. I'm beginning to wonder now if we should put any faith in that Inmarsat track that we've been investing so much time and conversation in, which includes these two separate turns. What it was just a 180 after some event, and it went straight down to what we're talking about now. That once again puts us right smack into some sort of mechanical failure or some decompression or something else.
COOPER: We have to take a quick break. Our coverage continues. We're going to 1:00 a.m. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. At the top of the hour, early morning in New York, early afternoon in the search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. A brand new search area. All that stuff, all those satellite images you've been seeing for the past week, all the talk about 122 pieces of debris, all those images that you're seeing on your screen right now, those have all now been discounted. Those have all now been abandoned. The entire search area that authorities were looking at for the past week, no one is searching there anymore, I mean, three or four hours ago they were still talking about searching there.
Now, the entire search area has moved some 680 miles to the north. The good news, is it's closer to Perth, Australia. It is an easier flight for planes to get to, that means planes can spend more time over the search area.
The other good news, the weather conditions are said to be better, not quite as choppy, not quite as dangerous as the other further south search area. But the bad news is essentially this past week has been a waste of time.
This past week of all the manhours, all the flight hours and efforts to find all those satellite images, to get eyes on all of those satellite images, now they're essentially saying they're not even calling the images debris anymore. That is where they're at.
They're essentially, in so many words back to square one. I want to bring back to our panel CNN safety analyst David Soucie, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest, David Gallo, co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447, director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and former Transportation Department inspector Mary Schiavo, currently represents accident victims and their families, and aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien.
So now we're just, since we're starting at the top of the hour, people may be just be joining us and haven't been following us.
Miles, just bring us up to date. We've just had this press conference from Australian officials in Canberra in the capital. And though they don't come out and say this has been a waste of time, they do acknowledge they have abandoned now the search area that all the world's attention has been on for the past week.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: A waste is a waste by any other name, I mean, this is time that has been wasted. There is no question, you know, obviously the good news in all of this is that they're responding to new data that they have received.
But what really struck me, of course, the speed issue is important.
We talked about the speed issue days ago. And it was -- I had said frequently that it would probably fall short of what you might expect of an airliner flying at its normal altitude. But this -- the other thing that is interesting is they said, and it is almost a direct quote, we're now working on the most likely flight path.
Now, we have been spending an awful lot of time, all of us all over the world, putting a lot of credence in this Inmarsat track that came up, which includes a little bend, and the bend includes three turns.
The first turn is a turn that would be explainable for a myriad of reasons, decompression, fire and all kinds of emergencies. You're turning back to land and you're trying to get down to a lower altitude. We've been told it was 12,000 feet.
But then there were two other turns that didn't make any sense to anybody who knows anything about aviation, because if you're having an emergency, you're going to back to land and you're going to land at the airport. You're not going to take a jog around Indonesia.
What is that was not true, what if all the assumptions that were built into that Inmarsat graphic and that track are not true, since we're re-setting anyway?
I bet if you drew a straight line from where that first turn occurred all the way down to this new search zone you may be right in the bull's eye zone. And that opens up -- it really takes a lot of focus away from the idea that there was a deliberate act. Not saying it is not --
COOPER: And Mary, this is going to -- I mean, as Miles is raising questions about the data, you listen to Australian authorities talk about what kind of calculations this investigative team in Malaysia, where this information, this new data is coming from. And they say it is data from polling the satellites.
But it is also data of likely performance of the aircraft which is essentially from the manufacturer. So essentially, they're just kind of -- I mean, I don't want to say making stuff up. But they're guessing, which is what they have to do. And I'm not being critical of them. This is an inexact science. They're just trying to guess because they don't have the information. But they're essentially just kind of saying, OK, well, if it was going this fast, then it would have gone this far.
MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER I.G., DOT: Well, and they said -- they gave us another clue. They said they took it from the last known positions. They took it from the turn, they took it back across Malaysia and Indonesia and they took it from -- Miles was saying this days and days ago, maybe two weeks ago, that I bet if we just took their last positioning and after the turn, which might be very explainable, that might be where they ended up.
This is back where a lot of people were a couple of weeks ago. But it is also taking known data points. I actually think it is taking some of the mystery and some of the speculation, if you will, out of it and going back to what they do know and applying some good data, I hope, from Boeing.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: The interesting thing, of course, about this, Miles and Mary, is that if those dogleg turns out over the Strait of Malacca are not true, and we don't know, but if the plane just did do one U-turn and go back across the peninsula, it takes it right over Indonesia, right over the land (INAUDIBLE), and raises the question what on Earth was the Indonesian authorities doing?
COOPER: Why are you saying it may not have made those turns, the three turns that we think it made?
QUEST: Because they're re-visiting all the data now.
COOPER: And the new search area is not indicative of those three turns.
QUEST: We have to go back and basically say what of the original data is accurate and true?
Of these pings, of these turns, what can we now say is valid?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I think it is a stretch to start discounting the -- all of the data just because there is change in this. You have got to evaluate every piece of the data. You don't just throw out the baby with the bathwater. You have got to do it logically and say here's a few things that we have to do, and let's stick with these, and then calculate it.
But to say all over the fact there are -- just discount everything we've done entirely and give up and say, well, I guess we didn't know anything, let's start over. I don't think that is what they're doing here.
COOPER: David Gallo, as you've been reflecting on this, what else jumps out at you from that press conference?
DAVID GALLO, AIR FRANCE 447 SEARCHER: Yes, I heard a lot of inconsistencies as you did. And again, these are the spokespeople, so they don't know all the intricacies, and probably a lot of the detail.
So I have to give them some space there. But again, I have got to hope that whatever is going on behind those closed doors that they know more than we're hearing about, because it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
I don't know how they get from -- I don't know how they -- I don't know how they do this.
COOPER: You know, it's interesting, Miles O'Brien, there has been a lot of talk about, you know , speculation in the media over the last week or so. But then when you hear the actual people who are involved with this, talk about how they come to the analysis that they're releasing, it does seem like speculation.
I mean, they're essentially guessing at the speed. They're guessing at things based on what they the aircraft should do. They don't know whether it was on auto pilot, they don't know if it was under human control, if it was under human control . The speed could vary, that would radically change search areas.
So within the pool of investigators again, they're -- I mean, again, I don't want to say guessing, but they are essentially coming up with various hypotheses.
O'BRIEN: Well, yes, and let's remember who was talking here. These were Australian authorizing and they made it very clear in that particular news conference that it's really the Malaysian authorities' responsibility to be releasing this kind of information.
But they did say very specifically we're now working on the most likely flight path. So are we back to square one on that? That's the question I'm asking. It would be nice to hear from the Malaysian authorities. It would have been nice to hear from them a lot over the course of this. We don't have our own sense of the radar information.
We don't have radar information synced up with the air traffic control communications. We don't even have the maintenance records of the aircraft. We have precious little information to go on.
And we have been hanging our hats very heavily on a satellite, a geostationary satellite that handles very basic text transmissions to provide a track for this aircraft and, in so doing, have been spending a lot of time putting a lot of -- there has been a lot of talk and a lot of suspicion placed on some sort of foul play. And now maybe that isn't the case here.
COOPER: We're joined now also by 777 captain Les Abend, who's been with us for a long time.
Les, you're -- what do you make of this radical change now?
LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: You know -- I have been contemplating this for two days now, what has been bothering me about this fuel. Richard and I had a brief conversation this afternoon.
And I think the information is being conveyed slightly in error from the standpoint I don't -- the bottom line was I saw this fuel calculation that I looked on performance charts confirmed by a very credible Boeing source that has the same performance charts, and saw that the airplane would burn slightly more fuel if we contend that the airplane descended to 12,000 feet.
That being said, because of the thicker air, it is going to go slower and therefore not get as far when it runs out of fuel.
That is my contention; I think they're going to the right place for the wrong reasons, if indeed the airplane went down to 12,000 feet. And these turns could have been over -- just coincidental with waypoints that happened to be -- COOPER: So let's just talk about what we don't know. We don't know whether it was under human control, we don't know whether it was on auto pilot. We don't really know the altitude that the plane was flying at, right?
QUEST: That was my point. But if -- I mean, let's get rid of the 12,000 feet scenario just for the purposes of this. If it stays at altitude of 35 -- over 35,000 feet then you're talking about that higher fuel burn, aren't you, Captain, to get -- and you're talking about increasing -- where it came down.
ABEND: It will -- yes, higher -- if it is a higher -- indeed it's a higher speed, but I'm still not convinced that it was. But, yes, if it is a higher speed at that altitude, it would consume a little bit more fuel. A little bit more fuel.
COOPER: A lot to consider here, everyone stick around, we have a lot more to cover. We'll going to hear directly from the Australian officials who shook everything up just moments ago, you can judge for yourself what to make of this. Stay with us.
COOPER: Welcome back, if you're just joining us, breaking news, Australian authorities announce a major shift in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The new search area -- that's right, a new search area is nearly 700 miles northeast of the previous one, the one that they had been looking for, look all over in the past week, the one that all the satellites were focusing on and we were looking at all that satellite data that supposedly showed debris. They have now basically discounted all of that. They're moving all their assets further north. Here is how the news broke from Australia's capital just a short time ago.
JOHN YOUNG, GENERAL DIRECTOR, AUSTRALIAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY: We would like to update you on some credible information AMSA has received from the ATSB, which will see the search area refocused today. The AMSA search for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been shifted to an area north following advice from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.
An international air crash investigation team in Malaysia provided updated advice to the ATSB, which has examined the information and determined an area 1,100 kilometers to the northeast of the existing search area is now the most credible lead as to where debris may be located.
The new search area is approximately 319,000 square kilometers in area and about 1,850 kilometers west of Perth. The Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organization, AGIO, is retasking satellites to capture images of the new area.
Weather conditions are better in the revised area and 10 aircraft have been tasked for today's search. They are two Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orions, a Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream 5 jet, a Japanese P-3 Orion, a Republic of Korea P-3 Orion and a C-130 Hercules aircraft, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion, a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force Ilyushin 76, a United States Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft and one Australian civil jet, acting as a communications relay.
Four of the 10 aircraft are overhead in the search area as we speak, with a further six planes to fly over the area today.
A further Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion has been placed on standby at the royal Australian air force base in Pearce in Western Australia to investigate any reported sightings.
Six ships are relocating to the new search area, including HMAS Success and five Chinese ships and Success is expected to arrive in the search area late tomorrow night.
Additionally, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration patrol ship Haixun 01 is in the search area. And I wanted to add we in AMSA know Haixun 01 quite well, she visited Sydney and Cairns last year in order to support a regional maritime safety conference and we had the opportunity to do a search and rescue exercise with that ship.
A United States towed pinger locater and a Bluefin 21 autonomous underwater vehicle have arrived in Perth to assist with the location and recovery of the black box. These will be fitted to the Australian defense vessel Ocean Shield which will arrive in Western Australia in the coming days.
And the depth of the water in the search area is between 2,000 meters and 4,000 meters random.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Young.
MARTIN DOLAN, CHIEF COMMISSIONER, ATSB: The ATSB, as Australia's transport safety investigation agency is working with a range of other international expert organizations to analyze available data relating to the flight of MH370 and to determine the best area to search for the missing aircraft.
The key pieces of information being analyzed relate to early positional information from the aircraft and its later polling of a satellite through its aircraft systems.
The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data about the aircraft's movement between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost.
These continuing analyses indicates the plane was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance it travelled south into the Indian Ocean.
The international investigative team supporting the search continues their analysis of the data. This could result in further refinement of the potential flight path of MH370.
Radar and satellite polling data has been combined with information about the likely performance of the aircraft, speed and fuel consumption in particular, to arrive at the best assessment of the area in which the aircraft is likely to have entered the water.
The information provided by the international investigative team is the most credible lead we currently have in the search for aircraft wreckage.
However, this information needs to be continually adjusted for the length of time elapsed since the aircraft went missing and the likely drift of any wreckage floating on the ocean surface.
Finally, let me stress that under international convention, Malaysia has investigative responsibility for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. At this stage, the ATSB's main task is to assist in the search for the aircraft.
COOPER: Australian officials announcing this really dramatic shift, some 700 miles north of the previous area last week. All assets have been focused on, where all coverage has been focused on, we're back with our panel.
David Gallo co-led the Air France flight 447 investigation and from Woods Hole.
Do you know much about the undersea area in this new search area? I mean, he was saying it is about as deep as the old search area, which was certainly extraordinarily deep.
Do we know much about the topography there?
GALLO: Well, there is an east-west trending ridge, an underwater volcanic mountain range that runs across the Indian Ocean there, called the Southeast Indian Ridge. And at the crest of it, it is about 2,500 meters, and then off to the north it gets gradually deeper, down to about 4,500 meters. That is kind of what I heard them say, Anderson, so it will be similar to the old place.
COOPER: And, David Gallo, is it your understanding that they believe this is an area to look for debris and they believe it is in the same general area or I guess the area is large enough that they believe the crash site may also be in this area?
Or do you think this is just --
GALLO: That is kind of --
COOPER: That's what I heard.
GALLO: Yes, that's kind of what I -- that's kind of what I heard and kind of what I -- then I didn't hear that.
I have to say one thing, I always wince a little bit, when we call it debris. (INAUDIBLE) but there will undoubtedly there will be human remains mixed into that along with bits of the plane. So it always gets me a little bit, having done -- worked with the aircraft.
So I am confused about what they actually mean by that. And I wonder what about those Inmarsat points that we talked about yesterday? What, they just now totally irrelevant?
And the debris that has been sighted, really, that much debris, we're not going to have a look at it to see what that stuff might be?
COOPER: Well, also, Richard, the fact that they -- there were a lot of satellite images of some objects in the water over the last week and we're seeing some of them on the screen. Those took days to analyze, to release, some of them were four days old or more. They're just now re-tasking new -- all the satellites now for this new area.
So is it going to be several days before they even start to get satellite imagery that they can work off of for this search?
QUEST: I think it will -- might be slightly quicker, because there will be a greater urgency about it. Remember, a lot of the information came about when people were looking at things and they had to think about it and they were not sure about it. People -- so now there is a greater urgency to move the satellites and to start looking at existing data.
There will be pictures already of that area from the last few days, that various satellite agencies will now be going back to revisit because they never looked there before.
One point, we've just been talking among ourselves, if I may. And we've just been given another document, which is from the website, from that search area, which actually has --
COOPER: We're putting it on the screen here.
QUEST: -- but have the speeds now, now, under the old document, the speed that they were working on was either 400 or 450 knots. That was the speed. Now they say it was going --
COOPER: The speed they believed the aircraft was going at.
QUEST: Potentially. Now we have 400 knots. A route for 400 knots, we have a route for 469. And we have a route for 475 knots. In other words, they're giving us the data, aren't they, Les, about what speed they believe --
ABEND: And is that based on a tail wind? A head wind? That would be interesting to know.
QUEST: But what does that tell you as a captain about how high the plane would be flying if they're talking about a speed of --
ABEND: And those speeds are only possible at the higher altitudes, right. So they're not counting in the 12,000 feet that we heard a while back.
COOPER: Right. ABEND: But I think what is important that David Gallo touched on also was, we need to distinguish between the impact debris field and debris that we're getting on the satellite. So I think it is possible that the debris we're still looking at may still be out there and it may still be potential airplane pieces.
COOPER: What you're saying, you believe -- which we're showing the screen, the images that we've seen over the last week, you believe those still may be potential airplanes?
ABEND: It is possible.
COOPER: But then why wouldn't they continue to search in the area because the impetus is to find debris.
ABEND: But the time is of the essence to find the impact area for the -- for just the reasons to find those black boxes that are hopefully pinging.
COOPER: David Gallo, is that how you would go about this search? I mean, is it -- is the impetus to find the debris first and to start to triangulate and figure out backwards?
GALLO: After Air France 447, what -- we put an awful lot of emphasis on the last known position and to look around there. So we're looking at the middle of the haystack, and if there is a good last known position to start with that then let any kind of debris guide you back to that area, maybe refine the size of the haystack you're looking in.
So I thought yesterday we had something that was akin to a good last known position, maybe start there. But now I'm totally confused about where to begin and what they're doing, I don't really know.
COOPER: But David Soucie, they clearly don't believe all the images on the satellites which we have been talking about now for a week. They're not even calling it debris anymore.
COOPER: And in this press conference they said we shouldn't even call it debris. They don't know what it is. But they don't have any assets looking for any of that that anymore which would seem to indicate they're not putting any stock in the importance of any of have.
SOUCIE: Right, they've totally said we're looking in the wrong place. It is that obvious.
But this new place is interesting to me, because we talked about the Inmarsat pings before and maybe discounting those because they were less confidence in them, but they're not.
If you look at how this was set with the new speed and you re-plot those Inmarsat points, it pulls that over to the right. It's just -- because of the way it was calculated, changed the scale, as Les said earlier, it kind of changed the scale where it went, so it realigns that path. So that makes sense now.
COOPER: You're looking at this map which will be a little more confusing. The yellow area with the stripes, and the areas to the right of it, that is the old search area. The area in red, the square, which is 1,044 miles off Perth.
That is the new search area. That gives you the sense of just the -- what 680 miles or so looks like in relation to Australia; we have to take another quick break. We'll continue with our panel and also check in with our correspondents in the region at search headquarters right after this.
COOPER: Welcome back, a night of really dramatic developments, our breaking news, the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is moving, shifting to an area nearly 700 miles northeast of the previous one, the old search area all but abandoned.
I want to bring Paula Newton at search headquarters just outside Perth, Australia.
Paula, we really can't understate how major this shift is, nearly 700 miles.
Have you already started to see planes go off to this new area?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I was just on the tarmac a few hours ago, they were ready to get their briefings about the new search area, so that it was defined more clearly. Now as much as we're puzzled, Anderson, about what is going on. On the ground here, the new information has reinvigorated them.
One, the issues that you already discussed, better weather, closer to shore. And they really do feel at this point that they're on a mission for the families, I mean, Anderson, as much as we go over all the scientific facts, what have the families been telling us? They've been telling us we want proof, we want proof that we can see and pictures in our hands that this plane did crash into this area of the world.
And I think they feel like they need to spot it. They need to see it in the water, they need to bring a new pieces up. And then they will continue on from there.
I just wanted to add, too, Anderson, we're talking about a lot of the information that we have. I know everything that we've already done seems like it was a waste of time. They said quite clearly, look, it's not a waste of time, this is the way search and rescue is conducted.
On the other hand, we're not dealing with full information. Many people have already talked about it before, it's worth nothing again, most of the intelligence we are not privy to. Whatever information the Australian and Malaysian authorities have, we'll never see. It is just far too sensitive and classified. And perhaps the families are hoping that, look, this new, what they call refined search mission will actually give them what they want, which is some type of proof that what the Malaysian authorities say happened to the plane actually happened -- Anderson.
COOPER: Paula Newton, I appreciate that.
You know, it is important to point out, and Paula talked about the importance of the debris for the families. And certainly that is a major priority, but also just from investigative standpoint to begin to learn what happened to the aircraft they have to start finding the debris, not just to figure out where the aircraft itself is.
But it will actually help them start to figure out perhaps what happened to the aircraft itself.
SOUCIE: And you will be surprised how much you can learn just from a small piece of debris. If there is charring on the inside, if there's any kind of carbon deposits on the inside, whether there was a fire inside, whether it was smoke. Even after it floating in the water for this long, there is an enormous amount of information we can get off the debris.
COOPER: David Gallo, on the 447 investigation, when -- on some of that debris, they were actually able to start to figure out how the plane actually entered the water, correct?
GALLO: Yes, we had a good idea that it belly smacked, hit belly first, and then everything after the wings were pretty much compressed upwards, compressed and then everything forward of the wings were in fairly good shape. So it was pretty clear that the plane came down tail first.
COOPER: Mary Schiavo, clearly, another -- you can look at this as a negative that this has been a waste of time for them to be devoting so many assets in the area, that they've now all but abandoned and in fact have just abandoned. The (INAUDIBLE) well, look this is how investigations work. They don't have the information, they're trying to do the best they can.
Clearly there is this group, though, this international group based now in Kuala Lumpur, which is trying to kind of -- they brought together experts from all around the world from all different companies and (INAUDIBLE) to try to sort through all the data that exists and that is what -- that's the group that has come up with this latest information.
SCHIAVO: Right, and I think the response actually tells us something in how they're responding, whatever this data is, and whoever found it and put it together it's obviously very compelling because they have abandoned the old search and they're combining it together.
They say it could be the debris in the press conference I also heard them mention the site perhaps of impact.
And so it seems to be very compelling because they are speeding there, they've abandoning the old one and they're heading there. And that is encouraging that they feel that strongly about these new coordinates. So perhaps it is the one.
COOPER: But Richard, and, again, authorities kept saying this in the press conference that we just heard and in the question and answer session, as well, that this is the best information they have currently, but the information could change again.
QUEST: Right, and it shows just how tenuous anything that they're working on actually is. And I'm not saying that as a criticism and I'm not saying that in a blameworthy fashion.
There are the extremities of what they can do with the information. And the moment you take -- it is fine for everybody to say this Inmarsat data is not very good, and it is all a bit ropey and it's two tin cans and a bit of string.
But the moment you take that Inmarsat data away, you are left with almost nothing. So when he says we were searching at that zone here, that is what we had at the time. It is not a waste of time. It is very discouraging but it is not a waste of time.
Time and again, the Malaysian prime minister, the Malaysian transport minister, the Australian prime minister have all said the same thing with these leads, it is the best we've got. They don't have a plane, they don't have debris.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have got nothing and you say it is the best we've got, it is not a lot.
COOPER: And it does show you just how they are really operating with very little information, Les.
ABEND: But it is a glass half-full situation. And that I'm kind of encouraged by the fact that now maybe we're actually refining the impact area and the search and deploying assets properly .
COOPER: And certainly the good news on that, again, closer to Australia and closer to Perth and an easier flight for these planes, they get more time over the search area and apparently better weather conditions in this area.
We have got to take a quick break, we'll have more with our panel just ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back to breaking news, Australian authorities announce the search area for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has shifted to the northeast in a big way, almost 700 miles, almost exactly due west of Perth. They talked about that and answered question, including this one about whether this new analysis casts doubt on the information from all those satellite pings from the doomed 777.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DOLAN: The previous analysis had a range of possible assumptions about aircraft speed. And those assumptions have now been refined. And what is tested is the aircraft speed and therefore likely positioned against the arcs that come out from the distance satellite, the polling data.
So bringing those two together brings the most credible path for the aircraft. It is an iterative process. It is being refined over time. What we have now is the most credible location to the entry of the water and therefore the place to search.
QUESTION: The area that you've refined is still very remote, but it seem less remote that you were searching before.
What does that mean for like your sortie rate and things like that, your ability to actually search the area? Does that mean you can put more planes over the area in a shorter space of time?
YOUNG: We'll certainly get better time on scene. We started nearly 3,000 kilometers from Perth so taken quite a lot off that. And now we will get -- you might recall we were talking in terms of one to two hours on scene. And we're now doing much better than that.
And the other benefit we get from moving further north is the search area has moved out of the Roaring 40s which creates very adverse weather frequently. I'm not sure that we'll get perfect weather out there, but it is likely to be better more often than we've seen in the past.
And we will see what that does in terms of satellite imagery when the re-tasking of the satellite starts to produce new material as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that is some of the press conference earlier today.
Again, it is confusing because they talk about the point where the plane entered in the water. Later on they mentioned the term crash point. But clearly they have to re-position satellites. They don't have underwater vehicles at this point to actually look for anything under the water where the plane might actually be. They're solely looking now, or they're going to be looking today -- it's 12:42 there in the afternoon. They're going to be looking on the surface.
QUEST: Because that is what you have to do. That is traditional.
COOPER: But they must believe there is -- would still be debris in that area.
QUEST: Yes, they, for some reason -- I mean all, for the last week we talked about reverse drift, reverse engineering, which way the currents are moving.
But he said clearly tonight, the entry point, the crash point, all of which leads -- I mean, (INAUDIBLE), but all of this leads us to assume that there can't be that much discrepancy between the crash point and the debris field as a result of currents and tides and the like.
COOPER: Which, David Gallo, is that your understanding of it as well? Because he said in this area the weather is better, the conditions are better. So perhaps there would not be as much currents taking debris far and wide.
GALLO: Yes, I think so,, Anderson, I know that the modelers I talked with last week just took a preliminary glance and thought that the previous place had a bit of a lull in it that may have restricted objects from moving around too much.
I don't know much about this one, but that is what he led us to believe, yes, that they were very close together.
COOPER: What -- I mean, already we know planes are being re-tasked to go to this area. Ships are, as well. It is 12:40 there in the afternoon. It is one thing to think OK, they're going to this new area, they could find something quickly.
But again, this is a huge area still that they have to go by and they don't have satellite images as far as we know that they have -- they may have satellite images, but they have not zeroed in on this area to kind of analyze what might be there.
Right, and to get the nice quality images we need from the digital globe satellites, which are 0.5 meter satellites. We're going to talk 24 hours. I talked with the digital globe person before. He said, again, those satellites are moving around the globe, taking these pictures at 1,700 miles an hour.
And then they have to download all that information to get those high- definition images. It takes a long time. So he is talking 24 hours even after they take the picture, 24 hours just to download them and then they have to do the analysis.
COOPER: You know, David Gallo, I talked to Commander Marks from the 7th Fleet in our 11 o'clock hour before the press conference; we're going to replay what he said just shortly after the break.
He said that they were not frustrated. That this is what they train for, this is what they do.
You have been out on the water searching for 447 once the debris was found, searching underwater.
Personally, do you get frustrated? What is it like to be out there every day, searching for this stuff? It is maddening I think for people watching this who would feel very caught up in it, to have this roller coaster of, well, we think now the debris is over here, here is some satellite imagery. And now we've learned, oh, all that stuff is being discounted. We're moving on.
GALLO: Sure, I mean, I think the teams on the ships are probably saying that. But they all agree. I agree with Commander Marks. At the end of the day, you're out there for a purpose and that's to provide some relief to those, the anguish of those family members. So it is all part of the job. So I think they're prepared to put up with this.
COOPER: And Mary Schiavo, this certainly -- I mean, you think about family members now hearing this new information. That will probably raise all sorts of questions for them about the reliability of the statements made by Malaysia's prime minister.
SCHIAVO: Well, it will, not just because it is new information, it's different information. It now throws out part of what they were told before.
But if we're having difficulty understanding how data points can change so rapidly and how they could be so far off, I'm sure the families will have those same questions, too.
But there is another point, it's not just that we're going to help ease the anguish for the families, it is important to solve the mystery for aviation safety and for aviation security. So there are three reasons that they're out there doing that. And I'm sure that the folks out there on the ocean doing this know that.
COOPER: Yes, it will help with every accident and every investigation. We learn something to try to prevent it from happening again.
I want to thank our panel. We're going to hear next from Commander Marks with the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet from the Indian Ocean.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight, a major shift in the search for Flight 370. New developments concerning the eyes in the sky, looking for wreckage, a second U.S. P-8 Poseidon is joining this one in the search, flying in from Okinawa, Japan, assisting American and international aircraft and ships, including some from the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet.
A short time ago before the press conference from Australian authorities , I spoke with a fleet spokesman, Commander William Marks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What can you tell us what you know about this latest news that the search area is shifting some 684 miles to the northeast?
COMMANDER WILLIAM MARKS, U.S. NAVY 7TH FLEET: There were a couple of points that come to my mind. First, it looks to me to be closer, a lot closer for the aircraft. So instead of traveling 1,300-1,400 miles just to get three or three and a half hours' search time they should get a little bit more search time.
Other than that, not yet, but that is how it looks from my initial indication.
COOPER: So can you just --
MARKS: The second thing --
COOPER: -- sorry; go ahead, Commander.
MARKS: -- so is -- the second thing is, our oceanographers now have to re-map the estimate of how the winds and currents at seas may have affected the debris, and reverse engineer wherever we find the debris, to the area we think the plane may have crashed.
We work very closely with oceanographic experts at the Setter (ph) Space Center with the Australians, and what we do is we're waiting for a visual confirmation of the debris field. And the satellite imagery is helpful, but I have to caution, not to be too optimistic until we actually get visual confirmation.
Once you do, our oceanographers reverse plot the wind, the current and sea state, and that will help us determine a much more specific point where we think this plane may have crash-landed. That way we can get the pinger locater out there.
COOPER: So, Commander Marks, help me understand this, because I'm an idiot in science, in this kind of thing. But I mean, for days now, we've heard about satellite data from a variety of different countries, showing in one case 122 pieces of debris, in other cases several dozen pieces, whatever it may be, but multiple sightings of some sort of debris in the water.
I assume those had relatively specific coordinates and that is where the -- and that is where your efforts and Australian efforts and New Zealand and the whole multinational contingent has been looking.
Now this is shifting 600 miles away.
Does that mean that whatever that debris that was shown up in those satellites further south is now -- that there's -- that it is not stuff from an aircraft?
MARKS: Great question, and you know we asked those same things here in 7th Fleet. Couple of points, one that -- the satellite image comes in from all different places. It could be commercial, could be military, could be other government agencies.
And then the second is it is timely. And so you never know where it may be if that indeed was debris.
And then the third thing is, these are just, you know,, if you look at it, they're just little specks on the screen. And so without visual confirmation, you really don't know if it is debris or not. And so I encourage the flights to keep flying; we moved our second P-8 into the theater.
And in my opinion, the -- it is critical to keep flying these missions in order to get visual confirmation on debris. And that way we can reverse engineer the winds and currents and sea states and to try to get a position on it.
COOPER: You have been dedicating yourself to this since you were tasked with this. And a lot of people under your command have as well, from a lot of different countries, as well.
Is this frustrating for you? I mean, have you heard from people on your command who have been working around the clock on this to now feel like, oh, wait a minute, the area we're looking in, we're now going 600 miles away from that. Or is that just the nature of the job?
MARKS: You know, it is not at all frustrating because we train for this every day. And these planes, the P-8s, it is built for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare, so its mission every day is to go out and search and patrol. So to the pilots and to the air crew, this is what they train for.
And they know they have different missions. Some days it may be ISR, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, some days anti-submarine warfare, and then some days you're looking for aircraft debris. So they understand it.
We have a continuous 24-hour presence, not just in this area, but north of Japan, all the way to south of Australia, all the way from Hawaii to the India-Pakistan border.
So we're not frustrated. This is one of our missions. And we're very proud to be doing it.
And another thing is, to see all of these countries come together is so encouraging. You know, this part of the world is known for having a big melting pot of different governments and ethnicities and religions, and it's a critical part of the world. That's why we're rebalancing here. And to be part of this is something we're proud of and hopefully we can help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Commander William Marks, with the U.S. 7th Fleet, we'll be right back.
COOPER: The search area for Malaysia Flight 370 has now shifted, the searchers covering fresh ocean, closer to land, but not yet closer, not yet, to any answers.
That does it for our coverage on "360." See you tonight at 8 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern on Friday night.
Our live coverage, though, continues next, with CNN International's Natalie Allen.