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Air Crash Investigation; Airstrikes in Yemen. Aired 6-7:00p ET

Aired March 26, 2015 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Killers in the cockpit. This isn't the first time a pilot has been accused of deliberately downing a passenger plane. We will take a closer look at the potential risks to fliers around the world.

And at war. Saudi Arabia is promising more airstrikes against rebels in neighboring Yemen. Will that escalate the conflict into a breeding ground for terrorists? I will ask Britain's top diplomat. He is here in Washington.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, criminal investigators hunting for a motive as to why the co-pilot of Flight 9525 would have deliberately crashed the plane, killing himself and 149 other people.

German police searched the apartment of Andreas Lubitz and they removed some boxes today. The CEO of Lufthansa Airlines tells CNN in an exclusive interview there was no indication Lubitz was unstable or mentally ill.

Victims' relatives gather near the crash site in the French Alps as chilling details emerge. Officials revealing the co-pilot locked the captain out of the cockpit and intentionally, intentionally destroyed the plane.

Our correspondents and analysts are standing by, along with a former TSA chief, John Pistole, as we cover all the news that is breaking right now.

First, let's get the latest from our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh -- Rene.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new details about what happened in the cockpit minutes before the doomed jet was deliberately flown into a French mountainside.

Tonight, data streamed from the plane suggests someone manually set the autopilot to bring the jetliner down.


BRICE ROBIN, MARSEILLE, FRANCE, PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: So we can conclude that in all circumstances, it's deliberate.

MARSH (voice-over): Deliberate, that chilling word from a French prosecutor makes clear the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 was no accident. Both the lead investigator and the Lufthansa CEO say they believe this man, 28-year-old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, locked the captain out of the cockpit.

CARSTEN SPOHR, CEO, LUFTHANSA (through translator): The captain left the cockpit for a short time and sadly could not go back. It seems to be true that the colleague who was still in the cockpit, the co-pilot, did not give the captain access.

MARSH: Flight tracking Web site Flightradar24 tells CNN they have analyzed data from Flight 9525's transponder and have determined someone reprogrammed the autopilot from 38,000 feet to just 100 feet.

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: What it basically did was tell the autopilot I want to start down. My understanding was that 100 feet was set, which pretty much would indicate his intentions, because 100 feet obviously is below the level of the terrain.

MARSH: The plane's cockpit voice recorder revealed the co-pilot was alive up until impact, but he ignored calls from air traffic control.

ROBIN: Apparently, he was breathing normally. He didn't say a word from the moment that the captain or chief pilot left the cockpit.

MARSH: Investigators say they heard the captain banging on the cockpit door trying to get in. The door locks once someone leaves. A pilot can ring to reenter and the pilot inside the cockpit can press a button to open the door.

If that doesn't happen, a code can be punched in on a keypad outside the door, but the pilot in the cockpit can override that by flipping a switch to keep the door shut. There are no rules that prevent a pilot from being in the cockpit alone in Europe.

ABEND: The procedure in the U.S. is to always have at least two people in the cockpit. I agree with the safety benefits as it relates to a potential terror threat. I never once conceived that this safety aspect would be utilized for protecting passengers and crew members from another crew member.

MARSH: Perhaps most chilling, in the final seconds before slamming into a 6,000-foot mountain peak, passengers' screams are heard while the co-pilot in the cockpit remained silent.


MARSH: I spoke with an Airbus pilot who tells me that 100 feet is the lowest altitude setting on autopilot that it can be set for on this particular aircraft.

Now, today, a number of airlines have since changed cockpit rules, requiring more than one person in the cockpit at times. We're talking about Norwegian Airlines, EasyJet, as well as Air Canada.

And, of course, Wolf, we expect others to follow and follow quickly.

BLITZER: I'm sure that's true. Rene Marsh, thank you.

France has asked the FBI to help investigate the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, and his possible motive.

Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, has more on Lubitz and what we are learning about his background. What's the latest over there, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Wolf, French and German investigators will soon, if they haven't already, be looking through the items, the personal belongings of Andreas Lubitz, and analyze everything, looking for clues.

We know they retrieved those items from his apartment earlier today. But what we do know about him so far is only adding to the mystery.

[18:05:02] Friends of the co-pilot who spoke to CNN say they have no explanation as to why Lubitz would have done the unthinkable.


BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, investigators are digging into the background of 28-year-old German native Andreas Lubitz, the man who authorities say deliberately crashed Flight 9525 into the French Alps. The CEO of Lufthansa says Lubitz was an experienced pilot with more than 600 hours of flight experience, a good record.

SPOHR (through translator): He was 100 percent fit to fly without restrictions. His flight performance was perfect. There was nothing to worry about.

BROWN: Lubitz passed his initial medical screening, but the Lufthansa CEO said the airline does not do ongoing psychological testing, leaving open the possibility something could have changed after Lubitz began his job at Germanwings in 2013.

The CEO also raised questions when he said Lubitz had at one point -- quote -- "interrupted his training for several months in 2008." He wouldn't explain why, but said Lubitz eventually completed his training.

SPOHR (through translator): They went to the aviation school in Phoenix, Arizona. They underwent training there. There was an interruption with regard to the training and, after, then the candidate managed to go through. He continued his training.

BROWN: A pilot who was a flight club member with Lubitz said he never showed any signs anything was wrong.

JOERG KAMPFLEIN, FRIEND (through translator): As far as I'm concerned, I'm only say he was a very normal young man. A very normal pilot. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing at all. There were no accidents that I'm aware of, nothing, no incidents whatsoever.

BROWN: Another flight club member said Lubitz enjoyed his training.

PETER REUCKER, KNEW ANDREAS LUBITZ (through translator): He was a lot a fun, even though he was perhaps sometimes a bit quiet. He was just another boy like so many others here. He was well-integrated and I think he had a lot of fun here.

BROWN: Why he would deliberately steer Flight 9525 for nearly 10 minutes into the French Alps remains a mystery.

KAMPFLEIN (through translator): I can't understand it. We have to wait and see for the investigation to continue.


BROWN: And, at this hour, we know the FBI is in a support role. French and German investigators are leading the investigation. They will be looking at anything Lubitz had his hands on. They will be scrutinizing his financial records, his relationships, his medical history and any political views he may have had, trying to figure out what happened here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. They have to figure out and learn the lessons of what happened. Thanks very much, Pamela.

Tonight, a top airline executive is telling CNN what he knows about the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, and his mental state.

Let's go to our senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen. He's joining us live from Cologne, Germany.

You had an exclusive interview with the Lufthansa CEO. What did he tell you, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Carsten Spohr said to his knowledge there was absolutely nothing that would have indicated that Andreas Lubitz was mentally unstable, that he had any sort of issues.

Apparently, also, there's a system in place at Lufthansa where people are meant to notify the airline in case they see something that might be wrong with a pilot or with a cabin crew member. In this case, apparently, no one that Lubitz had ever worked with had ever raised any issues.

Let's listen in to some of the other things that the CEO of Lufthansa had to say, who was really very shocked by what was going on.


SPOHR: That something of this kind would ever happen to us is incomprehensible. And I think we just need to understand this a single case which every safety system in the world cannot completely rule out. I think that's what we take as an explanation, if you want to call it that.

PLEITGEN: But might there have been signs, could there have been indications that this person might have been mentally unstable?

SPOHR: No. The pilot has passed all his tests, all his medical exams. We have at Lufthansa a reporting system where crew can report without being punished their own problems or they can report on the problems of others without any kind of punishment.

That hasn't been used either in this case. All the safety nets -- the safety nets we are so proud of here have not worked in this case.


PLEITGEN: And, Wolf, Lufthansa said that those checks that they have, they have been in place for decades.

And he said that the Lufthansa has been doing very well with them so far. But he also said that, of course, in light of what happened here, they would reevaluate and see if they would have to do more psychological testing to see whether or not their pilots are fit to fly -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. I think all airlines should probably be doing that. All right, thanks very much, Fred Pleitgen.

Tonight, we know the identity of the third American on board Flight 9525. His name is Robert Calvo. He worked for a clothing company in Spain. Crash victims were remembered today with a minute of silence at a German school that lost 16 students and two teachers. And more than 100 family members gathered near the remote crash site as the revelations about the co-pilot's actions were revealed to the world.

[18:10:05] Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is joining us now. He is near the wreckage in Southern France.

Nic, how did it go over there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was very somber and very solemn.

Seven coaches brought those 100-plus family members to the site that the French authorities said was the closest that they could get them to the crash site. The helicopters working on the recovery were literally flying overhead while they were gathered in the field. The field had been readied for the arrival of these families. Flags representing the different nations of the victims of the crash were hung.

There was a wreath of flowers brought in. But also there was a memorial plaque placed in the site. On the memorial plaque were the names, we were told, of everyone aboard the aircraft. And we were able to see from a distance all the family members going individually or in small groups towards that plaque to have a look, perhaps read the name of their loved one that was missing.

A very tough time for the families to come to get a sense of how the recovery effort is going, but also for them a very stark reminder in the mountains there of how steep and how tough it is for the recovery operation. The family members were also taken to a local church for a church service as well, the local people here offering homes for many of the family members to stay in.

But, as we understand, most of them have returned with the help of Lufthansa and French authorities back to their homes in Germany and in Spain, Wolf.

BLITZER: What a sad story that is. All right, thanks very much, Nic Robertson in the French Alps near the crash site for us.

Joining us now is the former head of the TSA, John Pistole. He helped lead the investigation into the EgyptAir flight, Flight 990 crash that was also believed to have been deliberate, a deliberate act by the pilot.

Mr. Pistole, thanks very much for joining us.

When you were at the FBI, before you went to the TSA, you oversaw the investigation of the EgyptAir Flight 990 crash. Remind us what happened in that instance.

JOHN PISTOLE, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: Well, Wolf, as many of your viewers will recall, it was Halloween night 1999 when EgyptAir 990 took off from JFK en route to Cairo.

And after takeoff and rising to cruising altitude, the pilot, similar to this situation, got up to go to the lavatory. And then the co-pilot locked the door, and then put the plane into a steeper dive. The pilot obviously realized what was going on, came out and was able to get back in the cockpit, because we didn't have the reinforced doors back then, pre-9/11, and actually fought with the co-pilot to try to right the aircraft and was pulling on the yoke and was telling the co-pilot, pull with me, pull with me.

And then the co-pilot was able to switch the engines off so the plane actually came up several thousand feet and then the engines went off and then the plane plummeted. By that time, it was around 16,000 feet when the engines were shut off and plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rhode Island, killing all 230-plus souls on board.

BLITZER: At that time, you concluded that that co-pilot, who was tried to bring that plane down, he deliberately wanted to crash that plane into the water, kill everyone. Did you ever figure out why?

PISTOLE: There's a lot of speculation about that, Wolf. At the time, we did not conclude that. We, the FBI, of course, of course the Joint Terrorism Task Force,

had the lead on that aspect of the investigation. But it was NTSB, it was with the Navy salvage operations, who did the yeoman's work, forgive the pun, to bring up all the remains of the aircraft and obviously all the human remains to try to find any physical evidence that would indicate why that aircraft went down.

After the black boxes were recorded -- were recovered, we had obviously much better insight. But it was several months later before there was some additional information that came through some other agencies that led the law enforcement intelligence communities to conclude that the co-pilot had put the plane down in a suicide operation possibly to kill a number of Egyptian military officers on board. As I recall, there were 31 or so Egyptian military officers. The question was, why would he want to do that? That was an open question that was never resolved.

BLITZER: I remember that very, very vividly. There are obviously differences between that EgyptAir crash and what has happened now with this crash. But there are a lot of similarities, aren't there?

PISTOLE: Yes, it's eerily similar in the respect of the pilot stepping out, the co-pilot in this instance being able to successfully lock the pilot out.

[18:15:06] But it really gets to what some of your previous guests have been talking about in terms of the motive. Why would this fairly young co-pilot want to do that? And so there's all types of steps that the French and German authorities along with the entire U.S. intelligence and law enforcement and Homeland Security apparatus is working on to try to help flush out that information about what motivated this person.

Was it something that he simply was mentally ill? Obviously, the CEO of Lufthansa indicates everything appeared to be fine. Co-workers say the same thing. So, the question is, at what point did he form the intent to commit this act? And one of the things they have to look at, in addition to all the physical searches of his media, of his apartment, all those things, is, did he actually try to gain employment with Germanwings or Lufthansa in order to do something and was simply waiting either for a signal from a terrorist group or somebody else or was it something that was simply triggered by something that just happened recently?

Was there somebody on the plane that he had an argument with? Was there a jilted girlfriend? Or was he jilted? So, all a number of things. They need to look at the passenger manifest to see if there's any causal connections that might help identify what that motive may be.

BLITZER: Should there be a rule worldwide, the entire aviation industry, a rule requiring that there always be at least two crew members inside a cockpit? In other words, if one of the pilots has to go out, somebody else should go in, a flight attendant, so there's never a case where there's only one person in the cockpit? PISTOLE: Yes. Of course, that's what we do here in the U.S. and

there is ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, publishes standards and recommended practices, SARPs, they call them, that cover that. But it is a recommended practice. It's not a required practice.

Between FAA and TSA, we actually also have it as a recommended practice, but all the U.S. carriers and those coming into the U.S. follow that procedure that if a flight crew member comes out, another one has to be in there primarily from a medical emergency perspective, but obviously this is also of concern now.

BLITZER: If somebody has a heart attack or stroke, you want somebody else inside the cockpit.


BLITZER: Stand by, John Pistole. We have a lot more to discuss. There's new information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Much more right after this.


[18:22:05] BLITZER: The breaking news, the crash of Flight 9525, that it was a deliberate act by the co-pilot.

We're back with the former TSA Administrator John Pistole. He helped lead the investigation into a similar case involving the crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 when he worked for the FBI.

Mr. Pistole, is there any other explanation you can think of besides a deliberate desire by that co-pilot to take down that plane, kill all those people on board, that would result in the pilot getting locked out of the cockpit, the plane descending until it crashed into the Alps?

PISTOLE: It sure there doesn't seem like there's any other explanation, Wolf.

And, of course, the first thing that most people in the business would ask is, what's the terrorist intent to do harm to Western or particularly American aviation going back to 9/11? And, of course, Richard Reid in December of '01 with the shoe bomb and then the liquids plot out of the U.K. in the summer of '06, and then going up to the Christmas Day bomber, the underwear bomber from Christmas Day, 2009, and then the cargo plot out of Yemen the following October 2010, another unsuccessful underwear plot from the spring of 2012.

There's clearly intent by whether it's al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, that's had this goal for years now, ISIS, ISIL, maybe not so much, other A.Q.-affiliated groups, maybe not so much.

That's the first question. Is there any indication through all the examination of information that's being done that would link this co-pilot to a terrorist plot? If not, then you have to just do that scrub of the individual in such a detailed way that it gives you some confidence that you will be able to determine what his motive was.

BLITZER: Yes. At this point, the experts say they haven't seen any nexus to terrorism. But they're certainly investigating all the things that you bring up.

John Pistole, thanks very much for joining us.

Let's bring in our aviation correspondent, Richard Quest, our aviation analyst Peter Goelz, our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, our safety analyst David Soucie. Geoffrey Thomas, the editor in chief and managing director of, is joining us as well.

Geoffrey, the U.S. has a two-person rule in the cockpit when one pilot goes, for example, out, wants to go to the bathroom, a flight attendant goes into the cockpit, so there's not just one person there. Is it possible to require that across the aviation -- the entire worldwide aviation industry?


I think that the rest of the aviation community across the globe is going to follow the U.S. example on this and certainly this Germanwings disaster has really shaken the industry. And I think every authority across the world will be taking a good hard look at their procedures, because the public confidence has to be -- the public has to be assured that the pilots are flying the plane, there's going to be two people there, so something like this just can't happen again.

[18:25:10] BLITZER: Peter, explain how it's possible that in this particular case, a co-pilot can lock the pilot out of the cockpit.

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, inside the cockpit there's a three-position button. In the up position, the cockpit door is open. Middle position, it's normal. It means somebody from outside the cockpit can enter through the use of a keypad and the approval of someone in the cockpit. Then, in the lock position, it's impregnable for a minimum of five minutes.

BLITZER: This is a result of 9/11, when the hijackers got into the cockpit, killed the pilots, and crashed those planes, as we all remember.

GOELZ: Absolutely. We reviewed it. People dug into this. Probably Mr. Pistole was involved in it. What was the best procedure? It will be reviewed now.

BLITZER: Richard Quest, the investigators say that from the cockpit voice recorder that they did find, this guy Andreas Lubitz's breathing sounded normal, didn't indicate that he was having any medical problems that would leave him incapacitated.

Here's the question. Can they conclude with 100 percent certainty that -- is the audio quality good enough to make a conclusion like that? RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Once it's enhanced --

and it will certainly be that -- maybe not from an initial hearing.

I was surprised when the prosecutor said that. He had only had the tape for about less than 12 hours. But once it has been enhanced and they are able to listen to all the tracks, then, yes, absolutely, Wolf, they will be able to say that the breathing was regular, the breathing was normal.

But what is interesting of course is that -- I think it was Tom Fuentes I think who said this, that in many cases where people are about to do commit heinous acts -- forgive me, Tom, I think I'm taking your lines. But where people are about to commit heinous acts, they do exhibit a certain calmness, a certain peace, which seems inexplicable to the rest of us.

When I heard the prosecutor speak this morning, what I interpreted was that he wasn't having -- that the co-pilot wasn't having a heart attack, wasn't having a stroke involved. One can only imagine and speculate what he must have been thinking and doing, because he was the man, according to the prosecutor, who turned the autopilot and set the deadly course of the aircraft.

BLITZER: David Soucie, do the flight attendants normally have the training that would be necessary to override a controlled descent, autopilot descent in the cockpit if the pilot, for example, or the co- pilot starts to deliberately want to take that plane down?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: You know, I don't think they are, Wolf.

And we talk about this two-person rule as being something that may have prevented this. There's no promise it would. It would decrease the probability, I suppose, as to whether it could happen or not. But I think this is the part of the safety management system that we need to look very closely at, before you implement a safety fix, you have to make sure it's the right one that's going to mitigate the problem at hand.

I'm not convinced that that is, nor am I convinced aviation psychology exams on pilots is going to prevent this kind of from happening either. There needs to be some very, very close look at what it is that actually happened here. Once we know that, then you come up with a mitigation strategy to make sure it doesn't happen again.

As the CEO said, although their safety net systems failed, they have gone for a long time without any failures of this kind. There's a lot to look at here. That's what the safety management system at all airlines have is for. You can bet that's what they will be using over the next two years or so before they come up with a final fix for this.

BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, the FBI has now been called in to investigate to learn more about the co-pilot. Specifically, what is the FBI doing? TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They will be assisting the German

and French authorities in trying to determine what was this co-pilot thinking, what was the motivation? Is he tied to an extremist group or not? Did he exhibit suicidal tendencies or mental distress of some kind, financial problems, marital problems, whatever?

They will be looking at his head basically.

BLITZER: The FBI will have a major role in all of this as well. I want everybody to stand by, because we will have much more on the breaking news, the coverage we're following of the crash of Flight 9525.

We will dig deeper on past incidents where a pilot was accused of downing a passenger plane deliberately. What more can be done to make sure this never happens again? Stay with us.


[18:34:28] BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news. German police have been searching the home of the co-pilot who's now being blamed for deliberately crashing Flight 9525 into the French Alps.

Not the first time something like this has happened. CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us now with more on what he's learned -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This crash is sadly far from the only case in which a pilot apparently intentionally crashed a plane and killed everyone on board. In truth, it takes very little effort to come up with a half dozen similar cases from the past two decades.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Egypt Air 990 takes off from New York to Cairo, climbing for 20 minutes. Then the captain goes to the rest room, and that's when investigators believe the co-pilot dives the plane, plunging almost 15,000 feet in a half minute. The captain rushes back, fights to save it. But all 217 people aboard die on impact. That was Halloween 1999, but the similarities to the crash in the French Alps are eerie.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: This is hard to comprehend for most people. Nobody can imagine this.

FOREMAN: Yet, it happens. Silk Air Flight 195 went into a river in 1997 killing 104 people. Indonesian authorities could not determine the cause. But America investigators said the captain did it on purpose. Why does this happen?

DANIELLE SCHREIER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: We really do not know very much.

FOREMAN: Clinical psychologist Danielle Schreier (ph) notes that, while many suicides occur quietly and privately, as people grapple with mental health issues, sometimes there's an element of rage against the world, perceived insults and injustices, making suicidal pilots somewhat like school shooters.

SCHREIER: They think, this is my time. And I can go out, and now you're going to actually talk about me. That's the mentality of you see what you did to me because I'm paying it back.

FOREMAN: And on it goes. In Morocco, 44 people died when authorities say a pilot smashed his plane into a mountain in 1994.

In Namibia in 2013, authorities say a pilot locked his partner out of the cockpit and purposely crashed, killing 33.

And even in the current case of the missing Malaysian jet that disappeared last year, one persistent hypothesis, though there is no proof, is that one of the pilots took the plane to its doom.


FOREMAN: Statistics tell us that such incidents remain extremely rare. But the fact that they persist points out that no one has yet figured out how to stop them.

One of the problems may be, according to psychologists, that pilots are educated enough and highly functioning enough that they know how to hide mental health issues for a long time before they surface, on top of which many times they want to protect their jobs and their careers. They may not seek help, even if they realize something is going wrong. We don't have all the details here, Wolf. We know those are some of the concerns when these terrible accidents occur.

BLITZER: Something went terribly, terribly wrong in these cases. Tom Foreman, thanks very much.

Let's get back to our aviation experts. So Richard Quest, if the pilot -- the co-pilot in this case -- was indeed trying to commit suicide, why would he do this in what's described as this controlled autopilot descent? Why wouldn't he simply put that nose down and dive, similar to the Egypt Air crash that Tom Foreman was just talking about back in 1999?

QUEST: I wish I had an answer, because I've been asking myself that question. There is none.

And you know, you can arguably say that would have been the quickest way, to have just put the nose down and be done with it. We don't know. And this raises the whole issue of what you know in the cockpit, when you know it, whether there should be cameras streaming in real time, Wolf.

Because even though the result would have been the same, we'd have seen what was happening.

And it raises this question of psychological telling that Tom Foreman was talking about. This particular crash, this incident has gone to the core, the heart, if you will, of so many very, very touchy subjects in aviation. Whether it's pilots who have resented certain things, whether it's airlines who have not wanted to do things for particular cost reasons. Many -- I'm mixing my metaphors here. But many chickens have come home to roost with this particular incident.

BLITZER: Peter, the way this plane crashed into the side of the French Alps, it was obliterated. Tiny pieces, basically. Are they going to try to recreate that plane, as they have done in other crash incidents?

GOELZ: Probably only to a very limited extent. They'll try and mark off where the nose of the plane is, the tail, where the two wings are, the four corners. But if they do -- when they recover the data recorder and they match that up with the voice recorder, there will be no real reason to reconstruct much of it.

I think they will take a look, see if they can find the cockpit door. Other than that, I don't think much is to be gained from reconstruction.

David Soucie, they did find the cockpit voice recorders. They still haven't found the flight data recorder. That's still missing. How important is it right now, based on what we know?

GOELZ: Well, it would be important if we could tell if that lock switch -- excuse me -- on the door had been moved to that position.

But in this case, because this was a retrofit on this aircraft, I doubt that that's in the flight data recorder. In future aircrafts -- aircraft, I'm sure they'll put that in there. But that won't help us much at all at this point.

BLITZER: Are you surprised, Tom Fuentes, that John Pistol, the former TSA director -- used to work at the FBI -- he's still speculating about a possible nexus to terrorism?

[18:40:06] TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, What happens to all of is that if you're an engineer, you look for an engineering problem. If you're in 40 years of law enforcement like John Pistol and myself, you think a human is behind this, a criminal act, an act of suicide.

So your background and experience from prior crashes does point you in a certain direction. And in this case, we have the airline basically saying that they believe the co-pilot did it on purpose.

BLITZER: Should there be these psychological profiles routinely, Peter, for these pilots every six months or so, just to make sure there's not a problem?

GOELZ: I think that's going to be the major takeaway from this tragedy, that the whole medical and psychological process of evaluating pilots has got to be looked at. It's got to be strengthened. We have to think of really creative ways to accurately assess psychological conditions without ruining a guy's career.

There is a great reluctance on the part of pilots and understandably that if they reveal certain things, they're going to get tagged within the company, and their careers are going to be damaged.

BLITZER: What do you think about that, Richard Quest?

QUEST: I think Peter put his finger on it. I mean, I'm not a huge fan of the idea of regular psychological testing. I think what you will end up with is a vast infrastructure of testing, retribution. You'll end up with weird results, and you'll end up with careers being destroyed.

And as many will point out, the history of success of psychological testing is not that great to start with. But there does need to be a strengthened, enhanced way for both self-reporting and for others to report that allows the issue to be dealt with without being done in a recriminatory or, indeed, any way that could harm somebody's career long-term.

BLITZER: Guys, I want all of you to continue to stand by. We're getting other information. The crash victims, they came from 18 countries, including Britain. When we come back, I'll get reaction to the news that the crash was deliberate from the British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond. He's here with us in THE SITUATION ROOM.


[18:46:33] BLITZER: We're back with breaking news. A criminal investigation now unfolding into the co-pilot of Flight 9525 who is now being directly blamed for intentionally crashing the plane into the Alps. Four British citizens were among the 150 people on board.

Joining us is the British foreign secretary, Phillip Hammond, who's visiting Washington -- three or four British subjects?


BLITZER: Three British, that's what I thought. Three British subjects.

And we're told -- show their pictures. Maria Bandres Lopez, traveling with her child, Julian among others.

It's an awful situation. What needs to be done to protect people, let's say a pilot or co-pilot goes crazy and whatever, decides he wants to kill himself and bring that plane down?

HAMMOND: Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is a line that's running. We have to get all the information. We've got to understand exactly what did happen and if there are lessons that need to be learned from that, then we have to learn them. We need to implement solutions fast.

But let's get the full picture before we jump to conclusions.

BLITZER: If, in fact, though, this co-pilot decided he was going to kill everybody, should there be, for example, international guidelines requiring all airlines around the world to mandate, for example, that there must be two people in the cockpit at any one time or that there must be regular psychological evaluations of pilots? Got a worldwide agreement on that.

HAMMOND: Well, there are worldwide aviation organizations and practice guidance across the world. But I think we need to understand exactly what has happened. Clearly, if there's a problem here, everybody will want to fix it and fix it fast.

BLITZER: Saudi Arabia, organizing a coalition. I assume you support what the Saudis are doing, going after those Iranian-backed Shia, Houthi rebels, seemed to be taking over a big chunk of Yemen right now. You with the Saudis on this?

HAMMOND: Yes. I was in Saudi Arabia on Monday, and we have given them an assurance that we will provide political backing to the action that they are taking. The legitimate government of Yemen is represented by President Hadi. The Houthi attack is an insurgency that has to be halted and pushed back.

BLITZER: The whole notion of the Iranian involvement seems to be so concerning to the Saudis. Adel al-Jubair, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, he was here an hour or so ago. They're really concerned that Iran is spreading its influence not only in, let's say, in Yemen but in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, maybe Libya, elsewhere.

HAMMOND: That's exactly the picture the Saudis see. They see Iranian influence all around them, in Bahrain as well, to the north in Iraq and now to the south in Yemen. And they are concerned about the impact. And, of course, they have more than a million Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. That's a source of concern.

BLITZER: This could be an all-out war that's about to take place over there.


BLITZER: It could be.

You are heading from Washington, you're going to go to Switzerland --


BLITZER: -- to meet with the Secretary of State John Kerry. Is there going to be a deal with the Iranians on this nuclear program?

HAMMOND: Well, we hope so. We have made good progress over the last couple of weeks. I met with Secretary Kerry last Saturday in London, and I will be going back to Lausanne this weekend. There are still going to need to be some big decisions that the Iranians have to take to move towards this.

BLITZER: Like what, for example? What do they need to do?

HAMMOND: Well, I'm not going to go into the specific areas where we still have significant gaps. But we've made lots of progress. If the Iranians are prepared to make that leap to immediate our red lines now, we can get a deal done. [18:50:01] And it's in everybody's interest to do this deal.

BLITZER: Is there any connection to what the Iranians need to do to for example stop promoting terrorism or issues like that? Is that part of the nuclear deal?

HAMMOND: We have delivery kept the nuclear file siloed. We are trying to do a deal here to prevent Iran getting a nuclear weapon to ensure that Iran's use of nuclear power is purely peaceful. That is separate from the other agendas.

If we get a deal, it will not stop us addressing Iran's bad behavior around the Gulf region.

BLITZER: You know, the concern that's here in the United States Congress, the concern the Israelis have, some of the Arab states, like the Saudis, the Emiratis, others have. But you're basically aligned with the Obama administration on this issue?

HAMMOND: We're working very closely with the U.S. administration and German and French colleagues and, of course, with the Russians and the Chinese. But we've got to be clear about this. We're not under any delusion that doing a nuclear deal will stop the Iranians from interfering, meddling from other countries around the region. We will keep the pressure on the mode of that behavior.

BLITZER: Tell us about Jihadi John, this British subject, Mohammed Emwazi. Have you actually confirmed that Jihadi John is Mohammed Emwazi?

HAMMOND: We have an ongoing police investigation into the murder of hostages in Syria. And in view of that ongoing police investigation, I can't comment any further on speculation about the identity of this Jihadi John.

BLITZER: Because everybody now believes that this is the guy who beheaded all those hostages, including several Americans.

HAMMOND: Yes, but it is an ongoing police investigation. So, I can't confirm or deny that suggestion.

BLITZER: Can you tell us whether or not you're anxious to find this guy?

HAMMOND: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Jihadi John?

HAMMOND: Absolutely. This is a murder investigation. And the police are clearly looking for the murder.

BLITZER: Because the U.S. in a situation like this, when they go after someone of his nature, they don't necessarily need to find him, they just want to kill them. Is that the British position as well?

HAMMOND: We work closely with the U.S. in Iraq and Syria. And we're working with them from the very beginning.

Last time you interviewed me six months ago. You asked me this very same question. I gave you the very same answer.

We're working with the U.S. authorities to track down the murderers of British and American and Japanese hostages in Syria. And we will bring them to justice.

BLITZER: In targeted assassinations, killings like the U.S. does with drones, hell fire predator missiles, the British, you're ready to do the same thing.

HAMMOND: We will seek to bring them to justice.

BLITZER: We'll leave at that. Thanks so much, Minister.

HAMMOND: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it. Good luck with the mission in Switzerland.

HAMMOND: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're back in a moment with more on the deliberate plane crash. The pilot's, co-pilot I should say, state of mind and what happens next.


[18:57:21] BLITZER: Tonight, the criminal investigation is only just beginning into the motives of a co-pilot who is now being officially blamed for intentionally crashing a German airliner into the French Alps, killing himself and 149 other people on board.

We're back with our aviation analyst Peter Goelz, and our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.

You know it's already creating some momentum, the speculation intensifying that MH-Flight 370 which disappeared that maybe similar situation, pilot or co-pilot deliberately perhaps may have wanted to bring that plane down. You've heard of this revived speculation.

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Absolutely. It's human nature. To say, yes, this is the only explanation that works on MH370. But we don't have the evidence. And Tom can verify that. The FBI has worked with the folks in Indonesia, they've got nothing.

BLITZER: If they ever find the two black boxes, the flight data recorder, the cockpit voice recorder, they may have a better understanding what happened to that plane.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they may. We'll have to see if that ever happens. But, you know, in this particular case, it could happen they don't find a motive with the analysis on the co-pilot. They don't see anything obviously wrong with him or any motive that comes up. It's possible. BLITZER: You go into a 7-Eleven, there's camera there. They can

record everything that's going on there. But you go into a plane, there's no video recording and potentially could be streaming live back some place on the ground so we know what's going on. Why don't we have that?

GOELZ: Well, that's the most disappointing part of this whole past year of a number of aviation tragedies, is just the slowness of ICAO to act and the industry to act.

BLITZER: That international organization.

GOELZ: That's right.

They should act on these things. They don't -- they don't need to study them anymore. They don't need to have another working group. What the passengers of the world's airways want is they want concrete steps so that these kinds of questions are answered in a more timely manner.

BLITZER: The technology is there. The technology is there to stream what's going on in the black boxes live back to some reporting place on the ground as well.

FUENTES: Yes, everybody wants cameras on police officers and I don't know of a case where police officers killed 149 people at one time. So, here is case that pilots have hundreds of people under their control, in their care.

BLITZER: They got to do this. The technology is there. It's a little expensive. It's really critically important.

Guys, we're going to stay on top of this story. Thanks very much for joining us.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please go ahead and tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNsitroom. Please be sure to join us once again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.