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Co-Pilot's Neighbor Speaks Out; Flight Path Altered; Former Malaysian Pilot Speaks to CNN; Putin Signs Treaty Making Crimea Part of Russia

Aired March 18, 2014 - 08:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. Time now for the five things you need to know for your new day.

Number one, radar in Thailand may have picked up Malaysia Flight 370 after it went off its route. The search has expands now to 2.24 million square nautical miles.

Vladimir Putin signing a treaty that begins the formal process for Crimea to become part of Russia. Earlier he told his parliament that Crimea has always been a part of Russia and cannot be divided. He also says there are no plan to divide the rest of Ukraine.

Oscar Pistorius' defense is trying to paint a picture of a chaotic, disorganized crime scene. Testimony has focused on crime scene photos that seems to show key evidence, like the blade runner's gun, was tampered with or moved around.

Federal prosecutors in New York will argue against a defense motion to have admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed testify at the trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law. Mohammed is being held at Guantanamo Bay.

President Obama awarding long delayed medals of honor to 24 Jewish, Hispanic and African-American veterans. Among them, Retired Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris, who served in Vietnam. He is one of these three servicemen who are still alive.

We are always updating the five things you need to know. So go to for the very latest.

Now let's go back to Kate Bolduan in Malaysia.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: John, thanks so much.

So as we continue to follow breaking developments this morning in the search for Malaysia Flight 370, much of the focus has been on the pilots and, of course, what happened in the cockpit. Well, I was able to track down and speak with the next door neighbor of the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid. The neighbor says that he would often see the Hamid family, but they have not been at the house or seen at the house since Saturday. That's the very same day police searched the home. And like so many others, this neighbor, he was hesitant to speak to media, hesitant to speak to us and he did not want his identity revealed. Take a listen to this NEW DAY exclusive.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The family of Flight 370's co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid, reclusive since the crush of media attention flooded their home on Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask (INAUDIBLE) to go inside?

BOLDUAN: Their relatives now infamous last words from the cockpit, "all right, good night" are still shrouded in mystery. First Officer Hamid is seen here flying a 777. His reflection in the console just weeks before the Malaysia Airlines flight went missing.

BOLDUAN (on camera): How do you know the family?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know about this family around five years, I think. Around five years.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Along the streets of Shah Alam, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, the co-pilot's neighbor, a taxi driver, says he doesn't believe the 27-year-old co-pilot would play a role in the flight's disappearance.

"He is a pilot and this is a respected career in Malaysia," he said, "so it is an honor to have a neighbor like this."

The taxi driver describes the co-pilot as ambitious, someone who loved sports cars. "After he became a pilot, he bought a GTI Golf, and then he bought a BMW. He is a big fan of cars and I don't think he would do something crazy," he said.

The neighbor says the Hamid family kept to themselves, saying he also viewed the father as, quote, "someone important." But he can't forget the recent conversation he had with his neighbor when he said simply, "my son is lost."

BOLDUAN (on camera): When the father talked to you, how did he seem, how did he act?

BOLDUAN (voice-over): "He was clearly worried, but he was, as a Muslim, he seemed calm and able to accept it," the driver said. "His father asked me to pray for him, pray for his son to be found, for the plane to be found, and I assured him that his son will be fine and that they will find the plane."

The media intrusion now impacting the surrounding community. The co- pilot's next door neighbor says the constant attention has forced his own wife and two children to leave.


BOLDUAN: And when I asked the co-pilot's next door neighbor that we spoke with how he thought the Malaysian government has been handling this crisis, he told me simply that he does believe that the government is inexperienced and also acknowledges that he thinks they've been slow to respond. But he also said, and we have heard this from other folks, that this is an unprecedented crisis that they are dealing with. But it is important, we have not heard much about the co-pilot and from this neighbor learning a little bit more about one of the men who have been such a focus of this investigation and continues to be.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, a new report suggests Flight 370 was intentionally programmed to turn off course by someone in the cockpit. We're going to be live inside a Boeing 777 flight simulator to see how that could have been done and who could have possibly done it.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY.

We're following these new developments and details this morning in the search for Flight 370. A "New York Times" report says the decision to divert the plane off its route came from the cockpit computer. That change would have had to be made manually. Joining us once again from a 777 cockpit simulator in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Martin Savidge and, of course, the pilot, Mitchell Casado.

Good to have you gentlemen with us.

Give us what we know from this "New York Times" report how it's changed sort of our focus of what went on inside the cockpit.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Yes, actually Mitchell and I were talking about this vary scenario yesterday. But we're focused on this piece of avionics. It's called the FSM, Flight Systems Manager. And essentially think of it as the brain of the plane. It does a lot to things to help the pilot and co-pilot fly the aircraft.

But the biggest thing it does is navigate. You would pre-load this much like your GPS for your car. You'd set in where you wanted to go and essentially you put in waypoints and it gets you to where you want to be. In this case, Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. However, it is, with the right knowledge, easy to reprogram, as Mitchell can show.

MITCHELL CASADO, PILOT TRAINER, 777 COCKPIT SIMULATOR: Absolutely. So this is the FSM. So we have our flight plan in here. And you can see it's on a magenta line. We're following the magenta line. All we'd have to do is pick a waypoint that we would have to know, of course. So I'm going to do that now. And just a couple of key strokes, no big deal, and I punch it in the scratch pad here, put it in the computer, execute it, and now the airplane is going to be programmed to go to a different route. And that's all it take. It's a significant change of course.

SAVIDGE: But one of the things we should point out is that the aircraft does it very subtly. This isn't going to be some violent motion. PEREIRA: Right.

SAVIDGE: That passengers would know. But the aircraft is beginning to make the turn and will go very strongly off the original course to Beijing. It's on a whole new route and it's all done by just a couple of key strokes.

PEREIRA: So with those key stroke, Martin, is there any communication that is sent back to a home computer? Would there be an alert sent out that the course had deviated?

CASADO: You know what, the key strokes themselves, not so much, OK. It's more the position on radar that's going to change. So the controllers who are cognizant of all this air space and are paying attention to this, they're going to notice that that blip, transponder on or off, is going to be moving in a different direction than what they have on their flight plan.

SAVIDGE: Yes, it's not like, you know, putting in those strokes, making that change, sets an alarm off.


SAVIDGE: But it should be noted in some way.

CASADO: Absolutely.

PEREIRA: Now is it pretty difficult to reprogram that? It does take a fair amount of skill? Or is it something that you could teach Martin how to do fairly quickly, Mitchell?

CASADO: Ah, you know what, Martin's a smart guy. It's made to be easy to use because of the -- we don't want to be focusing on this during the flight too much. We want to be head's up.


CASADO: But it does take knowledge. You have to know what to do. It's just -- the actual physical component is very simple, but -

SAVIDGE: You know, in essence, Mitchell could tell me what to do, but it would be -- unless I had practiced it somewhere else off of this airplane, to come in and just sit down and figure it out, I -- a civilian wouldn't be able to do it on their own.

PEREIRA: All right, Mitchell Casado and Martin Savidge in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Thanks for taking us inside that simulator once again. So interesting.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Mich, thank you very much.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we have an exclusive interview with a Malaysian pilot who flew the missing airplane. We're going to go from the simulator to the actual plane that we're looking for right now. What does he know about that plane, its condition, his experience? That interview when NEW DAY continues.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY everyone. Joining you live again from Kuala Lumpur following all of the latest on Flight 370.

Pilots around the world have been trying to figure out where the Malaysian flight ended up and, of course, how the plane got there. Our Kyung Lah spoke with a former Malaysia Airline pilot who's been at the controls of the missing plane. She's joining us now with more of this interview.

A fascinating conversation and one everyone wants to hear because I want to know what the significance of what he said. What did he tell you?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The very significance is that we've actually never talked to somebody who has intimate knowledge of this particular plane. He has flown the actually missing plane, this 777.


LAH: And what he says is that he does not believe it was catastrophic mechanical failure. He doesn't believe it was the pilot. He's known this man for 30 years. Here's what he does say.


NIK HUZLAN, RETIRED MALAYSIAN AIRLINES PILOT: I know for sure. I flew this plane.

LAH: You flew the missing jetliner?

HUZLAND: Yes -- how many times. Yes, how many times.

LAH: And so what do you think happened being someone who's actually been behind the controls?

HUZLAN: Yes, very, very strange because the lack of communication is the one that's really, really puzzling. The way the pilot did not communicate if there was an emergency. I think from the second or third day I come to my own private conclusion that there must be some form of unlawful human interference. It could have been anyone on the airplane.

LAH: If you're convinced it's not the pilot, does your attention turn to the co-pilot?

HUZLAN: Well, like I say, unlawful human interference. We see like a human is involved. So we start going down -- personally, we start going down.


LAH: While going down the list, what he's talking about is actually going down the passenger list, going down the crew list that everybody has to be looked at individually. That's what he talked about.

BOLDUAN: So, he said two things that are so fascinating. He thinks that what evidence we have now, this was not catastrophic. This has to have human intervention involved. He also said it's not the pilot because he's known him for so many years.

I wonder and it's been part of the discussion, what are the protocols that they have in place? Because you wonder how did someone get in?

LAH: Now, these cockpit protocols are standard for Malaysia Airlines. That's what this pilot says. And he is retired. He just retired two years ago. So he's quite a recent retiree. And the protocols have not changed, he does not believe, since he retired.

The cockpit protocols have changed since 9/11 just like they did in the United States. The way they changed is that the doors are a lot thicker, that you have to ring in order to get into the cockpit. There's a security camera -- like a Go Pro right at the top of the door. And he also says that there is a key pad entry, that not anyone can come in. There's a key pad entry.

BOLDUAN: So it sounds to me it's pretty tough to force your way in.

LAH: It's very tough. He says that it is possible. Nothing is impossible if you're determined. It's possible he believes that if someone did rush into the cockpit, it certainly was probably a determined set of people. He also believes that if they did, something must have happened inside the cockpit because you only need a few seconds to send a distress signal.

BOLDUAN: And he also said to you something along the lines of the fact that there's so little communication coming from the cockpit is troubling.

LAH: Very troubling. That's what he's talking about. Four to five seconds in order to send out a voice or a signal that you can touch with your fingers in the cockpit. Nothing -- and so that's what's so troubling.

BOLDUAN: From the man that knows this plane better than anyone, he seems to be as confounded and perplexed by this missing plane as almost everyone else.

Kyung, fascinating interview. Thank you so much for bringing that to us. She just did the interview and she ran over here to try get it to us. So thank you Kyung.

You can watch more of Kyung's interview tonight on Erin Burnett's "OUTFRONT". Much more to come from Kyung on that interview.

Chris, back to you in New York.

CUOMO: All right. We have breaking news out of Moscow. That's where we have been breaking news about Russian President Putin. He has just signed a treaty. The treaty makes Ukraine's Crimea region a part of Russia. The Kremlin says that as of today's signing, Crimea and Sevastopol are now officially part of the Russian Federation.

Let's bring in CNN' Fred Pleitgen, he's joining us live from Moscow. Fred, the obvious question here is, Ukraine's constitution makes it a sovereign, makes Crimea part of it. Can Russia do this unilaterally? Well, I guess they just did it.

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they certainly just did it. And they said that they're not backing down. The signing ceremony as you said Chris took place, I would say, about 30 minutes ago. And on the Kremlin's Web site, it says that as of that signing in their mind, the Crimean Peninsula is now a part of the Russian Federation.

It also, however, says that there still is a ratification process that all of this has to go through. It has to be ratified by the government, by the parliament. And also there's still constitutional issues because the Russian constitution actually has to be changed because the Russian constitution says how many states Russia has. Of course now that will have to be amended.

But as far as the Kremlin is concerned with the signing of this document, the Crimean Peninsula is considered part of Russia. And that also means, this is something that's also stated in that document is that everybody who's a resident in the Crimea Peninsula will become a citizen of the Russian Federation.

However they do say there is an interim period where people can decide to leave this part of Crimea. But of course, the big question is what do you do with all those Ukrainian troops who are still on the ground? And as you said, the Ukrainians say this is by no means something they recognize, neither the United States nor the European union, nor anybody else in the international community for that matter. So this is clearly something that is going to cause a big, big international stir -- Chris.

CUOMO: Right. I mean at the top of the food chain, U.N. said -- the Security Council said this vote, this referendum was illegitimate because of Ukraine's constitution. But you raise the issue, what happens with Ukraine's troops that are in that region now? What will Russia do? We'll keep an eye on it -- Fred.

Thank you for being there. Appreciate it.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back we're going to sort through the latest developments in the Malaysian plane mystery. Did fishermen really spot a plane crash? What's their story? Does it make sense? We'll test it straight ahead.


CUOMO: Time for the good stuff. Are you ready? Today's edition, meet Ty Sturgeon and his faithful horse, Edward. Ty has a more interesting name than his horse. That's unusual. He's a 19-year-old cowboy and he's going to ride Edward across not just his native Arkansas but all the lower 48 states.

PEREIRA: How about that.

CUOMO: He's doing it for the charity Western Wishes, a sort of make- a-wish foundation with a country flair that makes wishes come true for kids facing adversity.


TY STURGEON: I like helping people. And I just -- originally I thought it would be a cool thing to do. I mean really -- I'm wanting to do this for -- you know, do it for these kids and they deserve it. And I believe in what I'm doing. And I think it can be done.



CUOMO: Of course it can. Who hasn't thought of doing this? It's no small fete. The ride is going to take two full years to complete.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anything that makes you a little nervous or scared about this trip?

STURGEON: Oh yes. Every bit of it. It's going to be one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.


PEREIRA: Just a man and his horse.

CUOMO: Right. And he's doing it for a good cause. He's hoping to raise a million dollars for Western Wishes. If you'd like to help Ty up, of course you would --

PEREIRA: That's great.

CUOMO: Please visit

PEREIRA: Cheer him on.

BERMAN: Let's hear it for Edward the horse.

PEREIRA: You know, we didn't talk about Edward.

BERMAN: He has to have a big effort.

PEREIRA: There's a lot of effort on Edward's part.

CUOMO: You got (inaudible) with the horse thing.


CUOMO: She always wants to consider that angle. You win JB.

All right. That's all for us. Kate is back in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. You'll see her there but right now time for "NEWSROOM" with Miss Carol Costello.

PEREIRA: Good morning Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO: Good morning have a great day.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.