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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
Search for Flight 370
Aired April 23, 2014 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN special report. I'm Don Lemon.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
We are going to begin with breaking news tonight in the search for Flight 370. The Bluefin-21 has nearly completed scanning over 90 percent of the search zone. It's turned up nothing. Is it time to ask, what is next move in the search for Flight 370? Plus, a mystery object washes ashore on the coach of Australia. Experts scramble to see if it's linked to Flight 370. We have their findings for you.
You have been tweeting us your Flight 370 questions. And we have got top aviation and security experts standing guy answer them, like this one: "With the Bluefin not finding anything, could the search be called off, 21 million a month to search?"
I want to begin tonight with a live report on Flight 370 from CNN's reporters in the region.
Michael Holmes is in Perth. Miguel Marquez is in Augusta, Australia.
So, Michael and Miguel, two big pieces of news out of Australia tonight that together give us a pretty good idea of where this sort of stands.
So, Michael, I'm going to start with you on the fact that over 90 percent of the search area has been scanned by the Bluefin, and there's absolutely no sign of the plane. What are officials saying about this?
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Don. Mission 11 done, and mission 12 is under way. Search officials telling us only 10 percent of that concentrated search area yet to be scanned.
The news the same, nothing of significance seen. Now, if the story is same with that final 10 percent, it moves on. It doesn't stop. The Australian defense minister, David Johnston, said Australia consulting with Malaysia, China, also the United States, on what would be the next phase in this search, details likely to be announced next week, but it will likely involve that wider arc we have been talking about just to the north of the current area, several hundred miles along what was the suspected flight path. Also likely, more assets could be brought in, powerful side-scan sonar equipment, in this case, one that is towed behind a ship. It's called the Orion. It could get involved. The advantage of it is it sends back real-time data back to the mother ship. You don't have to wait for it to be lifted back on to the surface and the data downloaded like we do with the Bluefin.
Also has the ability to go much deeper than the Bluefin, so those things on the horizon. But once they complete and hit that 100 percent of this current search area, it doesn't stop. It just moves on -- Don.
LEMON: Miguel Marquez, you know, the other piece of news has to do with a piece of debris that washed ashore. It was at one point called an object of interest. It turns out to be another dead end, correct?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is another dead end, but it certainly doesn't mean that people aren't paying attention. Even folks we have been meeting in this various lovely beach community in Southern Australia are talking about when they walk along, they look for pieces of the plane. They have been for weeks, because everybody is focused on this.
The police that we talked to on the way here all said they were aware of it. It had been moved from here up north to Busselton. And then they said it moved on to Perth. Pictures of it taken, sent to investigators around the world in the U.S. and Malaysia, and Canberra and even probably to Boeing itself in order to discount this thing.
Keep in mind the flights are still going up as well, looking for stuff on the ocean surface, P-3s, P-8s from the Americans, New Zealand, Australian air force, an enormous effort. They have covered tens of thousands of square miles of ocean here. They are not giving up -- Don.
LEMON: Miguel Marquez, thank you. And thank you, Michael, as well.
I want to go now to CNN's Richard Quest in Kuala Lumpur.
Richard, Malaysia has completed a preliminary report on Flight 370. And you have information on that. What do you have?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, Malaysia has now sent the preliminary report required by the ICAO Treaty Annex 3.
ICAO is International Civil Aviation Organization, the U.N. body that looks after global aviation, if you like. Under the rules, they had 30 days to send this report. ICAO made it clear they wouldn't fuss if it was a bit late, bearing in mind the circumstances. The report has been sent.
The Malaysians have not released the report to the media, perhaps somewhat unusually. Most -- in most cases, the report is published because it's not a controversial document. It's a statement of facts, what happens. And if there are any controversial or difficult facts, they can be redacted.
ICAO has confirmed to me that there is a safety recommendation in the report, a fairly obvious one, the Malaysians basically saying that the world of aviation needs to look at real-time tracking of commercial aircraft. Well, bearing in mind that was part of Air France 447's report and nothing seems to have happened, and we have spent several weeks now looking for MH370, to suggest in the future that all planes worldwide are tracked in real time, one might suggest, is a pretty noncontroversial suggestion -- Don.
LEMON: Richard, thank you very much.
And you might be surprised by that. We're going to dig deeper into real-time tracking later on in the show.
Now I want to Geoffrey Thomas, the editor in chief of AirlineRatings.com. He's in Perth.
Hello to you, Geoffrey.
What do you make of what Richard just reported, that the Malaysians have completed their preliminary report, but have not released it? They say they have information to hide, but what concern, you know, does this raise for you?
GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR IN CHIEF, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look, unfortunately, Don, it just adds fuel to the fire which is like a furnace of disbelief, particularly in China, as to what is going on.
I mean, if they say there's nothing to hide, then release this preliminary report, as virtually every other jurisdiction does with an accident. They say and they maintain nothing to hide. Well, let's have a look at it. And, as Richard points out, if there's any particularly sensitive parts, they can be taken out of the report that's published online.
LEMON: Geoffrey, the prime minister, Tony Abbott, spoke with reporters about the state of the search. And he said Australia won't give up. But, realistically, where do they go from here?
THOMAS: Well, look, I don't believe Australia will give up. And I don't believe the United States and the other countries involved will give up on this either.
The next stage would have to be pinger one location, which is slightly to the north of where they're searching at the moment. I also believe that the deployment of the towed Orion is probably now overdue, and that should be brought in as quickly as possible, again, from the United States.
And maybe we have to go back to the calculations and revisit them, although I understand that's an ongoing process. They're looking at them over and over again. You know, have we forgotten something? And I'm continually told off the record that we're on the money. We're in the right spot. LEMON: Yes. Remember, early on, he was so very confident. And as we have been reporting, Geoffrey, there's less than 10 percent of the search area left where they detected the pings. At one point, the prime minister and Angus Houston were very confident that these pings would lead us straight to the wreckage. What does that say about the data that we're working off of? Do you think it's accurate? A lot of people have questioned that, whether or not they're searching in the right area.
THOMAS: Look, indeed, Don. And this is not an exact science.
We have to understand that. And we must remember, with Air France 447, it was 18 missions with the side-scan sonar device that they used in that particular search. And it was found about six miles from where they thought it was. So there is a precedent for this not being an exact science. I think we have to give them a bit more time.
LEMON: Yes. There's a precedent for that. But, you know, we live in this modern era now where people want answers very quickly, Geoffrey. And we probably won't get them in this case soon, correct?
THOMAS: Look, indeed. And we're in the era of Google Earth, where we can find our backyard in a flash and we can look at our pool in our yard. We can find our iPhone in a couple of seconds.
But this mystery is really challenging everything we know and everything we understand. And it's a very vexing problem.
LEMON: It's challenging and unprecedented. Geoffrey Thomas, stay with me.
Coming up, rethinking the search. Is it time to change the strategy in the search for Flight 370?
And, later, why aren't we live streaming cockpit data in real time instead of relying on decades-old black box technology? Who could be opposed to that? We are going to have more coming up.
LEMON: Welcome back. I'm Don Lemon.
Breaking news tonight, the Bluefin 21 has nearly completed its 12th mission, 90 percent of the search zone scanned, and yet another dead end when a piece of sheet metal with rivets that washed ashore has been ruled out as debris from the plane.
It raises the question, is it time to rethink the search strategy?
Jean Casarez has more now.
TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Australia will not rest until we have done everything we humanly can to get to the bottom of this mystery.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a mystery no closer to being solved. The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle has searched the targeted area, with no luck. Experts are preparing for the next phase of the recovery effort.
HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER: This requires deep-sea ascents. This requires more probably Bluefin-21s. This requires probably submersibles that will be very, very expensive. But, again, I'm heightened by the fact that there are so many people out there who are interested in coming on board.
CASAREZ: With additional countries now coming forward to help, coordination of this worldwide effort could be tricky.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: To bring in more people at this point will simply complicate and extend the process. It's a very bad mistake, in my estimation.
FABIEN COUSTEAU, OCEAN EXPLORER: There needs to be a spearhead, so to speak, a mission control, if you like, that organizes all these assets. Otherwise, we may be seeing different entities covering the same ground and, therefore, being inefficient and wasting a lot of time and money.
CASAREZ: Ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau says it's about time they increase assets and include submarines.
COUSTEAU: There's a big difference between a robot or ROV and an AUV vs. having people down below searching with their own two eyes, because there's only so much a sonar can do visually speaking. Now, that said, the area they're searching may not be the right area.
CASAREZ: That's why searchers may need to revisit even the most fundamental information, which could mean yet another look at the Inmarsat data used to establish the search zone.
HUSSEIN: It's a matter of looking at all the data, whether it's satellite, whether it's radar. And that is very important as we chart our next course.
CASAREZ: One area that could be eliminated, the search by air. Is it still relevant?
SOUCIE: If that air search finds even the slightest thing, the slightest piece from that aircraft, it would give them some closure on what's going on.
COUSTEAU: It's an extraordinarily difficult decision to make, and on a daily basis at that. I wouldn't want to be the one having to orchestrate this extraordinarily complex search.
CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN.
LEMON: All right. Jean, thank you very much.
Time now for my team of experts.
Jeff Wise, the author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger," David Soucie, former FAA CNN safety inspector and author of "Why Planes Crash," Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kay, a retired military pilot with the British Royal Air Force, Jim Tilmon, a retired American Airlines pilot, aviation attorney Arthur Rosenberg, of course, Geoffrey Thomas back with us from Perth.
David, you say in Jean's piece that additional countries coming forward to help could complicate efforts. What's the alternative, though?
SOUCIE: Well, the idea is that there's a time in investigation when you stop doing and you start thinking.
And that's important, really important. In most of the my investigations, I spent at least 80 percent of our time planning and figuring it out and analyzing data. And only about 20 percent, do you actually go out and do. Now, those investigations didn't involve this type of search, obviously. But with this type of search, it's so important that it's a coordinated effort, that there's a strategy, a plan for how it goes forward.
And just throwing more people at the problem won't fix it. I think it will help. Financially, it will help a lot. People are going to pitch in on the project, bring in some more expertise. But you need to select the people in the team based on their qualifications and their backgrounds and what they bring to the team, not just simply that it's more countries.
LEMON: Jim Tilmon, you're concerned that searchers are working off incorrect assumptions and are looking in the wrong place. Have you lost all confidence in the data that this search area is based on, the satellite data and the ping data?
JIM TILMON, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I never had a great deal of confidence in anything where -- that I can't get some concrete information that I can go to the bank on.
All the things I have heard so far have been based upon assumptions. And those assumptions were fine. We're talking about very brilliant, very experienced experts when we talk about that, except it's still an assumption. I'm just hoping that we will go from assumption to reality. This is it, Jim. This is what it looks like. This is what it tastes like. Let's go from there. And that's what I'm looking forward to.
LEMON: Listen, panel, you guys have all been here. Jim has been saying the same thing since day one. He's actually not -- he doesn't believe that we're actually looking in the right place. So he's on the money. He has been saying that.
You know, what happens, Jeff, when the Bluefin finishes the current search area? Do you find a new place to look for or use different technology to research the same area?
JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I'm really with Jim and David on this one. You know, the Australians assured us that they had reason to believe, very strong reason to believe that these pings correlated with the aircraft and that we would very soon be in possession or at least know the whereabouts of the wreckage. That hasn't panned out.
And so then I think we really have to say, OK, this appears that this was a false positive. We don't know what generated this false positive or how it could have come about. But it seems that it was not the black box pinger. It was something else. Therefore, why did Australia make this assumption? Why did they think this was wreckage?
And, really, I mean, we're all frustrated because we all want to understand. And we have so little data to go on.
LEMON: So, you think it -- you don't think it was a black box pinger? You think it was false data? It was...
WISE: Well, one of those the pingers -- this pinger -- the best ping that they had, this number two, they felt was the best one.
WISE: And it seems to very clearly not correspond with the black box pinger. They searched a very broad area around it. The plane is not in there. The pinger is not in there.
LEMON: Arthur, what's the head shake for?
ARTHUR ROSENBERG, AVIATION LAWYER: I just don't agree with that.
Look, first of all, there were three separate analyses that led us to this area, the Inmarsat data, that half-ping, the correlation between the Doppler shift and other signatures from other 777s flying through the area. That was good data that got us down here.
Separately, we have the pings that they found. We have radar data. Yes, we made certain assumptions about the performance of the airplane. But it all coalesced in this area. This area is not a little area. It's a big area. I say give it a little more time before we jump to conclusions.
But they have less than 10 percent to go.
And, Michael Kay, you know, every word -- almost every word out of your mouth is Inmarsat data, Inmarsat. You believe in the Inmarsat data, but still think that they should be looking, am I wrong, in the northern arc? You're not exactly sure that they're searching in the right area?
LT. COL. MICHAEL KAY, EXPERIENCED MILITARY PILOT: No, I'm in Arthur's camp. I think we have got enough evidence and data, in the absence of absolutely nothing, Don. This is the important bit; 47 days in, it's in the absence of no other data. We have got something from Inmarsat. We have got something from pings. Experts say that the pings could not be confused with any natural sources, so it leads us into this area.
Air France 447 took two years, and we knew there was debris. There is nothing here that links us to the debris field. But we have got to have the confidence to keep on searching.
LEMON: Yes, I understand what you're saying, but if you listen to Angus Houston, and we listen to him closely, if you listen to Tony Abbott closely, you know, Geoffrey, you can back me up on this. They said, we are confident, we're in the right area and we're going to find it soon.
That's what -- well, Tony Abbott said that. Angus Houston didn't go that far.
KAY: Can I finish the point, Don, on the northern arc?
LEMON: No, not really. I need to get Geoffrey because we're going to lose him.
We have learned that this piece of sheet metal found on the coast of Australia doesn't appear to be part of the missing plane. I mean, do you expect more cases like this, Geoffrey Thomas, as time goes by?
THOMAS: Look, as time goes by, I'm absolutely certain that on the coast of Western Australia, people are going to start picking up bits and pieces as we go along.
But getting back to what you're saying, Don, and backing you up here, I mean, everything leads us to where these pings are. And certainly 90 percent of the strongest ping, we haven't found something. But there's ping one, there's ping three, there's ping four. We haven't even touched those areas yet.
There's a long way to go before we write this off as the wrong area. I think we have to give it a little bit more time.
I wanted to make sure I got Geoffrey in there.
So, Michael Kay, what did you want to say about the northern arc?
KAY: I just -- Geoffrey is absolutely on the money. We have not checked this area to the full extent. If you look at the northern arc, that is a vast amount of area. Geoffrey's on the money. We have still got a long way to go.
Let's absolutely do everything we can in the south and then let's have a look at what the options are. And sequential planning and analysis will be going on. Angus Houston won't just be fixated on this area. There will be people looking at alternatives.
And I have got some good news. Geoffrey Thomas is going to stick around with us for a little bit longer. So, we will get to talk to him and get his perspective and analysis.
Next, another lead, another dead end, and the families of Flight 370 are left in the dark. We're going to have a live report from Beijing.
And, later, I'm going to talk to the man who helped find Titanic -- his thoughts on a possible next move in the search for Flight 370, when we come right back.
LEMON: Welcome back. I'm Don Lemon.
The families of Flight 370 continue to wait for answers. They certainly aren't getting many from officials.
I want to go to CNN's Ivan Watson now in Beijing.
So, Ivan, families in Beijing today subject to another round of false hope when the object of interest that washed ashore in Australia turned out to be another dead end.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we asked one woman whose husband was a passenger aboard the plane what her reaction was. And she said, you know what? I didn't believe any of this. I don't believe anything they tell us anymore.
So, no, she was not -- her hopes were not lifted and then dashed by this news. But perhaps more poignant is the same woman has been sharing up until recently a photo of herself with her missing husband at a birthday party wearing little, you know, cute paper birthday hats with the message, "Honey, I can't wait to see you again."
And that underscores the fact that she, as well as many of the other relatives that I have spoken with really do fervently believe that their missing loved ones are still alive, they're still waiting for them at some point to show up.
A psychologist that I have spoken to here who has helped work with some of the families here in Beijing and who has worked with families of a previous air disaster, he's very worried about the -- he's described this to me as quite dangerous, this feeling of hope which can build up people's expectations, he warns, to very unrealistic levels, and setting them up for some kind of a terrible fall.
But, of course, when you talk to these relatives, these next of kin, because they feel that they have not been given conclusive evidence that this plane did in fact crash into the Indian Ocean, many of them still believe that their loved ones are alive and well and walking around somewhere.
LEMON: I want to quickly follow up with you, Ivan, on what you have reported on this incredible tension between the families and Malaysian officials. Malaysia now has a preliminary report, but it's largely being kept secret. Will the families be briefed on it?
WATSON: I think that they would practically kill to get their hands on that report, to see some of it.
And the fact that the International Civil Aviation Organization has said that it's basically up to Malaysia to decide whether or not to share that, this aviation organization is not going to do that, I mean, that's going to lead to more questions from committees that have organized that have been beating this drumbeat of criticism day after day, saying, why won't the Malaysian authorities share more information, share more details?
For example, they want to hear the audio recordings of the final exchanges between the pilot and ground control, the audio itself. And that's not coming out. That's one of their big bones of contention.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Ivan Watson. Ivan had a bit of a technical glitch there, but we apologize for that.
But, basically, we got the gist of what he's saying.
Joining me now is Jules Jaffe. He's an oceanographer with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. And he worked on the search for Titanic and has incredible insight into the difficulties of deep-water search.
Thank you for joining us again, Jules. Welcome back to the show.
And earlier today, there was a lot of discussion about a piece of metal with rivets that washed on shore. We have learned that investigators don't think it is from the plane. But would you expect any wreckage to be washing ashore by this time, 1,000 miles or more from the search area?
JULES JAFFE, SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY: Well, Don, I think Mother Nature always has a surprise. And, you know, that's what we're kind of seeing happen in the last 10 days.
I heard the argument that there was a cyclone about a month ago, month-and-a-half ago. And if you look at the cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere, they're actually clockwise. And, in principle, that could have pushed some surface wreckage down. And then there's another current that might have pushed it back up.
So I don't think that idea that the wreckage could have been there is entirely unreasonable. Sadly, of course, it isn't. So it couldn't have been discounted from the start.
LEMON: Let's talk about the Bluefin-21, Jules. JAFFE: OK.
LEMON: It has now scanned more than 90 percent of the seabed search zone with no signs of the wreckage found. I mean, do you think that the plane is likely to be found in the last 10 percent of that area?
JAFFE: I think the chances are one out of ten. I mean, I've been following discussions on your show and other shows. And I think the pinger is there. I mean, we certainly know that there was a pinger there. And it certainly is disappointing not to find the wreckage around it.
So I guess it's sort of a crap shoot at this point. I really couldn't say. I'm hopeful that we would be able to find it. But I don't really know.
LEMON: So I have -- I want to ask, this is a tweet, and it's from Don C. And it says, "How much of the search area was too deep for Bluefin-21 to scan? When will A.U. release bathymetry-type maps?"
And I mean, I think that's a pretty good question, I think he's been asking, because I think the Bluefin 21 is not able to go as far down as the wreckage could be. So technical terms of a map there. But what do you make about the depths and what he says as it relates to the Bluefin?
JAFFE: Yes, so as you recall, on the first day the Bluefin kind of depthed out. It wasn't able to go the full depth and probably triggered some weight or some other circuit to bring it to the surface. And these depth ratings of these underwater vehicles, of course, are conservatively established because we always like to have a margin of error.
As far as my understanding goes from the information I've heard, mostly on CNN, there wasn't a problem with it not being able to map that area. I think there are other areas that are pretty close to that area which could, in fact, challenge the Bluefin. But the information I heard was that it didn't have a problem mapping that six-mile radius circle that we've seen so much of.
LEMON: Hey, Jules, I want to talk about Titanic, OK? Because you were part of the team that discovered the wreckage of Titanic, '85, back in '85. Was side-scan sonar used in that search? What equipment ultimately found the wreckage? And I think there was an idea of where Titanic was, obviously. So it was a little bit different.
JAFFE: Yes, sure. I mean, the COE spins tales, and exploration and discovery is never predictable fully. And that's kind of what we're seeing over the last ten days.
In the case of Titanic, the original plan was similar to what we're seeing now, except we hadn't invented these underwater autonomous vehicles like the Bluefin or the Remuses. And the idea was the French had this wonderful deeply towed side scan that was developed mostly for geophysical exploration, because Bob Ballard and his French colleagues were a bunch of geologists, and the idea was the French would map it out and cover a fairly large area.
And unfortunately for some reason, the story I heard as part of the team, was that they had very early in their search seen something, but they thought the side scan wasn't quite functioning correctly. So they didn't really figure out where it was.
And so now, 30 days later, Ballard gets on the Woodhull (ph) ship and goes out with the Argo, which was essentially a towed video sled, and now has to look for Titanic without having contact. So the idea is the sonar finds the contacts, and then we go back and check it out optically.
Luckily, or cleverly as you might imagine, within three days, they ran over a huge debris field. So you remember, Titanic, of course, was huge.
JAFFE: So there was a lot of stuff on the sea floor. And ultimately, on the third day, I believe, they ran over a 20-foot boiler. And they had a book and sort of a famous scene where they looked it up.
And so the sonar was involved in the search for Titanic. But the actual discovery, I think, was purely optical. And it's a wonderful story. And -- and very, very luckily for Ballard, he found it.
LEMON: You said purely optical?
JAFFE: Yes, sir.
LEMON: So then, do you think any sort of optical equipment would be better for the search for Flight 370?
JAFFE: Well, not really, because we all imagined that the sonar would find those contacts. And if you think about the amount of area that you can see with sound, which is much more -- the ocean's much more transparent to sound, and you can see with light. I mean, with an optical system, you're only seeing sort of half a basketball court or a quarter of a basketball court. But with the sonar, it maps two beams, one to each side. And you're really seeing, you know, a couple of football fans.
LEMON: Better than a manned -- that's better than a manned submarine for sure, right, as well?
JAFFE: Yes. Well, of course. Yes. It's better because in the manned submersible you would be using your eyes. And the mapping rates would be slower. And you'd have to come up in three hours. So yes.
LEMON: Jules Jaffe, I always want to have you on for an entire show. Thank you very much. Thanks -- will you come back?
JAFFE: Always a pleasure. Just ask.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Jules Jaffe. Appreciate it.
Coming up, what if we didn't need the black box to find out what happened to Flight 370? What if we didn't need it? Believe it or not, the technology does exist. So why aren't we using it? That answer is next.
LEMON: I want you to listen to this. An estimated $234 million could be spent in the search for Flight 370's black boxes. But what if we didn't need the black box to find out what happened? Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The black boxes from Flight 370 are as elusive as its wreckage. Inside them, the cockpit voice and flight data recorders that could unlock this mystery. Now there's new momentum for the idea to avoid having to recover black boxes.
CNN has learned Malaysian authorities have recommended to international regulators that commercial aircraft should be tracked in real time.
(on camera): Is it time for that? Are these obsolete?
MICHAEL GOLDFARB, FORMER FAA CHIEF OF STAFF: I feel there are few people in the world today, Brian, after the Malaysian air crash, who wouldn't say yes. I mean, clearly, this is old technology.
TODD (voice-over): Now the NTSB is reviewing new technology for airliners to live-stream flight data back to the ground as they fly. One challenge the NTSB sees: too many planes transmitting too much information.
JOE KOLLY, NTSB DIRECTOR, RESOURCES AND ENGINEERING: You only can have so much bandwidth, you know, so much ability to receive data, transmit data, and so you're looking for what -- what is the most important information.
TODD: But two Canadian companies have already developed real- time streaming that bounces off satellites. The hardware looks like this when it's installed in a plane. As the jet is flying on the right, the airline's operators on the ground can see information on the left, like air speed, altitude, and location, in real-time. But it doesn't transmit all the time.
RICHARD HAYDEN, DIRECTOR, FLIGHT AEROSPACE SOLUTIONS: It's only activated when a specific set of circumstances occur that are predefined.
TODD: Predefined by the airline. Circumstances like the plane deviating from its flight path, a sudden pitch or roll. These systems don't send back the cockpit voice recordings.
GOLDFARB: We have a cultural problem with the airlines and the airline unions for the pilots. They do not want Big Brother in the cockpit.
TODD: The FAA doesn't require American carriers to outfit their jets with live streaming. And the Canadian companies tell us only a few U.S.-based airlines carry them. They won't say which ones.
Why aren't more major airlines using live streaming?
GOLDFARB: It's always cost. The airlines don't want to put anything else in the aircraft that they can't make use of. And they don't want to carry anything that adds weight and, hence, costs more fuel.
TODD: At about $100,000 per plane, it's not cheap. But analysts say if Malaysia Airlines had had live streaming on that plane, we would at least have some answers now.
(on camera): Experts say there is another possibility. A deployable recorder, a box that would automatically eject from a plane when it's in distress and land separately, either on the ground or in the water. Those already exist in some military planes.
Brian Todd, CNN, at Reagan National Airport.
LEMON: Thank you very much, Brian Todd.
I want to bring in now my panel of experts. Jeff Wise, I don't know if you saw this by Clive Irving today. He wrote a scathing article in the Daily Beast, and it asks questions many people are wondering. He says, "Why are we still dependent on a system that allows all the crucial data about the whereabouts and condition of an airliner to disappear along with an airplane?"
And he goes on to write this. He said, "People are angry. They just can't understand how that is a FedEx package can be tracked to the far corners of the earth, but an airliner apparently can't."
So why do we use technology -- why don't we use the best technology available today? Is this about money, Jeff?
WISE: Well, it certainly is about money. I mean, remember in the case of Air France 447, they had an ACARS system that was transmitting via satellite every minute. It was automatically reporting to the maintenance center back in France.
Malaysia Airlines just subscribed to a cheaper system that didn't report as often. So it was only about every 15 minutes. It was -- were these reports being transmitted.
So if you spend more money, you get to have more frequent ACAR transmissions. Here's the problem: these systems can be turned off. And that's what happened in the case of MH-370. The ACAR system was turned off, and so part of this would be, you know, boosting up the amount of information that's broadcast. Another part would be making sure it's not turned off if you want to avoid this kind of situation again.
LEMON: So David, Richard Quest reporting that the streaming flight information is a recommendation in the Malaysia preliminary report as far as the Air France investigation. I mean, so do you think the streaming black box technology will finally be implemented after this, when people are seeing just how ridiculous it is? How long might that take, if so?
SOUCIE: You know, thankfully there is enough coverage now where it might force regulation. The NTSB has been pushing this for a long time. But they're not the regulatory authority. The FAA is.
And in the international world, the ICAO is. ICAO has done a lot of testing on satellite transmissions, on the sat-com system, how they communicate through satellites. A lot of testing; it's ready to go. There's no reason that it shouldn't be implemented at this point.
But as Jeff pointed out real well, is that if this stuff is turned off, if the FedEx box tracking system was turned off, you couldn't track that package. And this is what happened here. It was turned off. So it was either turned off or it failed by some catastrophic failure. So we have to realize, we do have this now.
LEMON: So Jim, we just saw Brian's piece. And he reports that these systems would cost about $100,000 a plane. They estimate that they may spend about a quarter of a billion dollars finding this plane. Not to mention the anguish of the families. So wouldn't it be worth the cost?
TILMON: After the fact we can all become very, very expert money managers. But during the time when airlines are struggling to try to keep their bottom line intact and struggling to try to compete one with the other and all the kind of things that they have to deal with, $100,000 doesn't sound like a lot to some folks, but I've got to tell you, you talk with the bean counters at any airline, and they say, "$100,000 per airplane? Get out of here; get serious." So I've got to tell you, money is a major issue.
LEMON: But -- yes. But if you're looking at the amount of money that they're going to be sued, for which they'll be sued, I mean, Geoffrey, why are airlines willing to spend money on wi-fi. They're willing to spend it on live TV, other creature comforts. But not on potentially life-saving technology? It just seems counterintuitive.
THOMAS: Look, indeed, Don. But of course, one of the reasons is it's not mandated.
Now, one of the things that ICAO has done as a result of Air France 447, is it has mandated that the black box beacons would last 90 days, not 30 days. So if it was 90 days now, we'd be still looking for pings out there. And -- and probably getting more pings. So that's one thing that has been done. But the airline industry, as has been said, is under so much financial pressure. It needs -- it needs this to be mandated by ICAO for the whole industry to move forward.
LEMON: Arthur, one of the arguments against using live streaming data is too many planes transmitting too much information. Do you buy that?
ROSENBERG: I do not. And there's a very simple solution for it. Instead of streaming all the information that's contained in a flight data recorder, you limit the stream to basic information like air speed, like altitude, like -- like ground speed, like position. And then if an airplane goes off an assigned route or predetermined route; it does something aberrant, this will instantaneously stream position information about the airplane.
It's a relatively simple, straightforward system from what I understand. And in your prior piece, this company in Canada actually has a system that's ready to go. All we need -- all we need is the FAA to mandate that it is a requirement.
LEMON: Michael Kay, you know this, a former military pilot. You've heard in Brian's piece also about these self-ejecting black boxes, which are found in some military planes already. Is that an option that they -- that should be considered for commercial jets, do you think?
KAY: I don't think it -- it is an option clearly that can be considered. But I actually think in all this conversation, we're going from what we've got now to the gold-plated option, which is this live streaming through sat-com. They're all actually interim technologies that have been rolled out through the fleet at the moment. And one of them is the automatically surveillant broadcast, ADSB.
The problem is, there's a single point of failure here. And Jeff and David alluded to it earlier with the ACAR. It's actually the transponder. And the technologies that are being rolled out at the moment rely on the transponder to either transmit or receive depending on ADSB, what we've got now, or ADSB, what we've got in the future.
So I think there's a relatively easy fix. And that relatively easy inexpensive fix is make sure you've got a transponder that can't be turned off. Because with all these wonderful technologies, most of them have an on-off switch. And I think that is a single point that we should be looking at at the moment which should provide an interim fix.
LEMON: Everybody's in agreement here. Mikey, do you think it was turned off or do you think it was a failure or we just don't know at this point? Because everyone's saying it's been turned off, but we don't know. Quickly, Mike. I've got to go to break.
KAY: The bottom line, we don't know. It could have been -- could have been broken or it could have been turned off. And that's part of the problem. LEMON: Thank you, guys. Coming up, my experts answer your questions. That's next.
LEMON: Welcome back. It's time for our experts to answer your questions.
The first one is for Jim. Jim, I really like this question, OK. This one is from Ronald Marks. And he says, "As a former aircraft mechanic, I have questions that I have not seen or covered on the news regarding Flight 370. Could a ground crew load some equipment with the ability to shut down all communications?" Great question.
TILMON: Yes, they could. And that kind of technology is pretty elementary. It's not a big deal for that to happen. And I've said from the beginning, if this was a hijacking, they had to have help. They couldn't do it by themselves.
LEMON: Hello, panel, discuss. I mean, they -- they could have -- I know it's our tweet round, but that's -- I mean, that's very interesting to me, David Soucie, that you can -- that they can do that.
SOUCIE: Yes. Well, and we talked about that even in flight, that it's accessible, the compartment where the UHF, the VHF, the transponder, and the ACAR systems are all co-located. They're all right there. Not only are they accessible from underneath and outside the aircraft before the flight, but after the flight and during the flight. From the cabin, you can get to them, as well.
LEMON: That needs to be worked on. That was a great question. Thank you, Ronald Marks.
This is for Mike -- Michael, this was e-mailed from Reed. "Flight 370, has there been any real effort to disqualify a terror plot in which an aircraft is taken and then used later in an attack? All the best technological efforts have found nothing in the Indian Ocean. Actually, no crash evidence at all, hmm."
KAY: Look, one of the main -- one of the main elements of warfare that we've used for hundreds of years is the element of surprise. And if this, indeed, was a tactic, then the element of surprise is completely gone, because everyone's air defenses are now at a heightened state, because there could be something along those lines.
So I don't -- it's not a card on the table as far as I'm concerned. There are very real potential theories that we should be looking at. And this, I'm afraid, just doesn't qualify at the moment.
LEMON: All right, Arthur. Arthur Rosenberg, we have a question from Christine. "How can the families file suit if they don't know what happened? It could have been pilot error or a hijacking."
ROSENBERG: Short answer is under the Montreal Convention, they can file a lawsuit right now against Malaysia Airlines. There's really no credible evidence yet. We don't have physical evidence of a product defect. I don't think a credible lawsuit can be filed against Boeing or any component manufacturer as of this date.
LEMON: OK. Geoffrey Thomas, this is from Sackler -- Sackville Insider. It says, "With the Bluefin not finding anything, could the search be called off? Twenty-one million a month to search."
THOMAS: Not a chance. I don't believe we'll call this search off. And I believe that we'll prosecute it until we actually find the airplane. I don't think money is any object in our search for closure on this tragedy.
LEMON: All right. Jeff, here in the U.S., Jeff Wise, a tweet from S.S. says, "Is it possible that the jet is down there and the Bluefin 21 missed it?" Absolutely, right?
WISE: Yes, I mean, we don't really know what the terrain is like. We've heard from experts that if there's peaks and jagged protrusions, that it could create a shadow behind which you can't see. And so the short answer is perhaps. We just don't really know about what's down there.
LEMON: We'll be right back with more from my experts.
LEMON: Final question I want to ask you: What rights do the family members have? That's what the families are asking. Arthur Rosenberg.
ROSENBERG: Bottom line, I'd say ICAO and the United Nations have to enter the fray and get the Malaysians to come clean.
LEMON: David Soucie.
SOUCIE: We need to get Congress to put an ambassador back into the ICAO so that we can push this from the United States side to get the rights exercised that they do have.
LEMON: Jim Tilmon.
TILMON: We need to have some method of making sure that the families know how much effort is being used on their behalf. And I think that's phenomenal.
LEMON: Michael Kay.
KAY: Simple, Don -- transparency.
LEMON: That's it. And Geoffrey Thomas.
THOMAS: We need the release of that factual report straight away through ICAO.
LEMON: Jeff Wise. WISE: First of all, the families need to be told what their rights are. The Malaysians haven't even told them that.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you, guys. I appreciate all of you again this evening.
I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for watching. That's it for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.