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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Search for Flight 370; Digital Globe Satellite Company Has High Resolution Images Of Debris Floating In Indian Ocean; Search Planes Looking For Flight 370 Heading For Possible Debris Site In Southern Indian Ocean

Aired March 20, 2014 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. It is 8:00 in the morning in western Australia where, as we speak, all eyes are on the Royal Australian Air Force Base just outside Perth. That is where right this minute we believe two Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft looks like this one are now airborne.

The planes designed during the Cold War to detect enemy subs and hostile ships now with a very different mission indeed -- to find the debris a satellite spotted more than 1500 miles at sea, to get a better look at it, see if there's more of it and to try to determine whether it came from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Still not clear.

Again as we speak, those P-3 Orions and other ships and aircraft are racing to the area, racing for answers, racing through some pretty nasty weather, racing against deadlines driven by everything from shifting ocean currents and approaching storm systems to the remaining juice in the batteries of the Boeing 777's data recorders.

And we're also learning a lot of new information tonight about what got investigators so interested in this particular debris and why tonight some analysts now have greater confidence that this time, after so many false leads, this could be the real thing.

First let's go to Kyung Lah in Royal Australian Air Base Pearce, in Bullsbrook, Australia.

So what is the latest right now? Do we know how the search efforts are going so far, Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest that we heard, Anderson, from Australian military officials who prefer not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media is that a short time ago we have heard that indeed two of the planes are up in the air. They are racing to that search area right now.

There are two more that are scheduled to leave from this air base later today. We don't know exactly when they're going to leave.

We can't hear them from this entrance. But they leave from the center of the air base, they head out to the ocean. It takes four to five hours to get to this remote area. They circle there for two hours. And then they have to make the long trip back. So what does this search area look like? A remote part of the world? Here's what one local aviation expert told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR IN CHIEF AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: This is one of the most difficult places in the world to find anything. The sea state you're talking 40, 50-foot swells. You're talking three miles deep. This is as bad as it gets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: And that's where they think it is. This is the area that is the size of New Mexico that they have to scope over.

And, Anderson, they are racing against time to try to get this information to hundreds of family members around the world -- Anderson.

COOPER: Is there any sort of timetable for announcements or how announcements are going to be made? I mean, obviously we can't tell how soon we're going to know what this debris is. The information would probably be fed I guess through Australian government channels first.

LAH: Yes. They've been very guarded about what the timetable's going to be as far as releasing those -- to the media and to the public. We know that it's going to take awhile to find out where this debris is. They've got to locate it, then they've got to retrieve it. All of this is going to take days, maybe even longer.

They've got to bring it back, they've got analyze it. They've got to be sure. And then they have to tell the families and the governments. So put all that together, it's going to take awhile -- Anderson.

COOPER: And, Kyung, last night when we were on the air until I think 3:00 a.m. I guess early this morning, and the Australians last night in a press conference have said that they were going to redirect commercial satellites over the area to try to get more images. Obviously the images we're seeing are the ones that were first released.

Have -- do we know, have those satellites gotten any new images? Have they made any more announcements about that?

LAH: Yes, we haven't heard any announcements about that particular request about getting the satellites there. The only thing we've heard is that the Australians have also asked commercial sea vessels in that area to storm to that area. And some have responded. There are a number that are heading that way. A Norwegian vessel is at sea and did work throughout the night using binoculars and lights to look at the water -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Kyung Lah, appreciate the update, from Australia.

And now I want to bring in Jim Sciutto who's monitoring everything that's driving the investigation, how it's all been coming into focus today.

So, Jim, we've been looking at the satellite images of the debris as people have all day long. There's word that there are higher resolution pictures of this debris area. What can you tell us about that? Are those from those commercial satellites?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, we spoke tonight with two executives in the satellite industry who said that in reality the quality of the photos, the resolution of the photos those would have been shared publicly and those shared with the government would not be dramatically different in fact.

They say that the bigger difference with the quality of these photos would be the angle, whether the satellite was just overhead of the spot or somewhat further afield so that it was shooting at an angle which would be less resolution.

So, you know, and listen, it's an answer that surprised us because you and I, you know, we look at Google Earth and you can pick out practically, you know, a license plate. And you look at these images and they look so blurry. So it seems like the bigger factor here was the angle of the satellites rather than the difference between what we would see and what the searchers and the government would see.

COOPER: And I still -- I mean, I guess we just don't know the information about, I mean, if they said, you know, at 2:00 a.m. this morning that they were redirecting satellites, I guess I'm curious to know how quickly it takes to do that if they have already started to get new images and if so when those might be released and if they are actually able to kind of recapture the debris in those new images because obviously searchers haven't found them yet.

What more can you tell us about the investigation? I mean, a whole host of resources obviously being brought to bear now.

SCIUTTO: No question. Well, first on the satellite question. My understanding is that it takes some time. You might be able to redirect the satellites but then you have to analyze the data. It's a big portion of the ocean there. And you've got to search through it with a pair of eyes to see if you find something. So that would take longer -- might take longer than redirecting the satellites on that point.

But in terms of the other resources, you have a whole host heading down there. China alone is sending nine ships. Now this is an unprecedented overseas deployment for the Chinese Navy. Nine ships down that way. You know, the U.S. has the P-8, its most advanced surveillance aircraft. And of the 29 some odd aircraft that are involved in the search internationally, 25 of them are down in the Southern Indian ocean. So it gives you a sense of just where they're really focusing their energy and their resources now.

COOPER: And the confidence they have and the importance they're putting on these pieces of debris.

We reported yesterday the FBI has copies of the hard drives from the pilot's simulator. Any word on that?

SCIUTTO: We have heard that they have greater confidence today. They're going to be able to glean something useful from these hard drives to piece together those deleted files. They haven't said what that is. And they haven't -- we don't know yet if they found any valuable information. But they do have confidence they can at least piece those files together so that they can read them, particularly from that flight simulator that as you're seeing there now that the pilot of the plane, the captain of the plane, had.

And really, if there's a team that you wanted looking at this it would be the FBI team at Quantico. This is a team that finds things on computers that people don't want found on computers, whether it's child pornography or access to extremist Web sites, extremist material, that kind of thing, that's the sort of thing they investigate. So they're exactly the guys and women that you want on a job like this.

COOPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, appreciate the update in the investigation.

Throughout the hour, we're going to be turning to a panel of veteran aviators and investigators. CNN aviation analyst David Soucie is here. He's author of "Why Planes Crash" and "Accident Investigators' Fight for Safe Skies." Les Abend is back, he's a 777 captain and CNN aviation analyst, Mary Schiavo with the Department of Transportation's inspector general, probably the best known agency watchdog over time. Currently she represents accident victims and their families.

And David Gallo was co-leader of the search for Air France Flight 447. He's director of Special Projects in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and was intimately involved in the search and the recovery of Flight 447, the Air France Flight, back in 2009.

David, what do you make of the debris that we have seen so far -- David Soucie. I mean the size of it, obviously the images that we're getting are not very precise.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Yes. And as you were saying, if the satellite's going to be over the top it's going to be a lot more clearer than this. It's never a oblique angle and that's that oblique angle they're talking about. When they talk about repositioning the satellites obviously that gives you a better picture of it.

But as far as the debris goes, I still have hesitations about it because I just can't get it out of my mind, that the dimension is the same --

COOPER: The size of it.

SOUCIE: Yes. The 80 feet is the size of a shipping container. And they come in 20, 40 and 80-foot lengths. So I just can't get it out of my mind that shadow of doubt.

COOPER: This is --

SOUCIE: I want it to be.

COOPER: This is also the part of world where ships wreck, where containers fall over because of bad weather. So it's not -- it would not be totally uncommon to have a shipping container in the water.

SOUCIE: Well -- and not only that but that channel where those two convergences has come together is kind of a gathering area for that kind of debris as well. So I just -- I just have my hesitations about it still.

COOPER: Les Abend, what do you make of the size of it? I mean, some 79 feet long almost. Is that too big to be from a 777? Or, I mean, I guess it depends on the angle of the entry of the plane into the water.

LES ABEND, 777 PILOT: Yes -- no, I wouldn't dispute that at all. But it's different. It could very well be a wing fragment. I've mentioned it earlier today. And that would seem to me like something that would float because the center wing tanks would have probably been empty because you didn't need all that fuel in the center tanks. Most of them go to the main.

So that would have had some air in it and who knows four days later almost coming up on five days whether it's still floating or partially submerged, whatever it may be. But, you know, I have my doubts of course that the airplane is in the water. But -- you know, that's been discussed.

COOPER: You know, are those doubts largely based on the lack of an ELT?

ABEND: Correct. And I know we may get into that discussion later. But yes, it's the fact that a water-based activated ELT did not -- did not activate.

COOPER: Yes.

ABEND: And then that -- you know, it's supposition but that's --

COOPER: You know, David Soucie, you have the ELT right here. Let's just go to it since Les brought it up. This is an ELT that would come from a much smaller plane like a Cessna.

SOUCIE: Sure. Yes. This is like first generation of ELTs.

COOPER: ELT stands for electronic --

SOUCIE: Emergency locating transmitter.

COOPER: OK.

SOUCIE: A locator transmitter. And so this is one of the first ones that came out. This had 121.5 megahertz. And these were very unreliable. Like just barely over 50 percent reliable deployment on an impact.

COOPER: But the new generation that would be in a 777 very reliable.

SOUCIE: Yes. Very much so. They've gone through two iterations since this. They went through 243 megahertz, and now there are 400 megahertz in an attempt to try to extend the range of that.

COOPER: And there's actually two of those ELTs in a 777.

SOUCIE: There are. There may actually be four. There may be two in two different overhead panels in addition to ELT. Depends upon the configuration that Malaysia had. But there may be others seated in life rafts and pockets in life rafts.

COOPER: David Gallo, what would be floating at this point? I mean, you're -- you know better than anybody about the seas and your involvement -- intricately involved in the Air France recovery which debris was found five days later. The aircraft itself wasn't found until two years later under 13,000 feet of water. But given the tough seas in that area, given the amount of time that's passed, what are we looking at, do you think?

DAVID GALLO, CO-LED SEARCH FOR AIR FRANCE FLIGHT 447: Hard to say, Anderson. You know, it's all about the buoyancy. So if there's air pockets and it kept the water out and materials lighter than the water below. You know, so we won't know until we see. There's always a surprise. So I wouldn't make a prediction like that. It's just hard to know.

COOPER: Mary, are you optimistic about this find?

GALLO: You know, we had this discussion yesterday --

COOPER: Sorry -- I was speaking to Mary.

GALLO: Sorry.

COOPER: But, David, give me an answer and then we'll go to Mary.

GALLO: I had my doubts yesterday. And today I'm 50-50. And it may be a wing fragment. I just don't know how you'd get a piece of the plane that big, this long, after the accident.

COOPER: Mary, how about you?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I am. Because of some of the cases I worked on in the past we did have big pieces that floated. The TWA 800, the tail floated. American Airlines 587 off of New York the tail floated. And here, you know, on these composite wings, Boeing takes extra care to seal them.

One of the wings was repaired so that would have had to have been resealed. And we know they were empty if the plane flew this far, the wing tanks were empty. So you have a good sealed piece of the plane that's empty. It should be like a big buoyant piece of -- almost like a big container full of air. I'm hoping that that's what's floating.

COOPER: All right. Everyone, stay with us. Our panelists is going to stick with us throughout this program. If you have any questions about this, follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper. Tweet us using #ac360, with your questions.

Coming up next, Chad Myers on what kind of weather searchers are contending with. It's very easy when you see those images you'd think well, it looks pretty placid. What kind of waves, what kind of conditions are they actually dealing with and how exactly it would impact the search. We're going to talk to Chad about that.

Also how the families are handling the latest word and what's being done to help them prepare for the moment when answers finally arrive. We're going to talk to a psychologist who has been counseling family members. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hey, welcome back. We just got some new information about all the different search assets that are being thrown into the search for this debris. Five Australian aircraft will be involved in today's search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-370. Additionally the United States Navy P-8s Poseidon aircraft is due to depart for the search area. Those area craft and surface ships also racing into the southern Indian Ocean off Australia all trying to get a better look at debris first reported earlier this morning.

They are also contending with the ocean currents and weather conditions. So I want to quickly turn to our Chad Myers who's focusing on that.

So it's morning there off the coast of western Australia. What is the weather like at the search area right now? Last -- early this morning when we were on the air they were talking about low visibility, moderate conditions. What's it like now?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the low visibility right where Kyung Lah was, was that little thunderstorm complex right there. 1500 miles from that thunderstorm, though, into the search area and the weather couldn't be better. What was wrong with yesterday? Low ceilings, the planes couldn't fly high, rain, low visibility.

And, Anderson, white caps. What's the worst possible thing in an ocean when you're looking for a white airplane? White caps. They couldn't literally see anything. They couldn't distinguish an airplane from the white cap. It was just too much what looked like debris in the water.

Today absolutely different. There is absolutely big giant blue H right over the surface area. They will have blue skies, they will have sunshine, they will have good definition. The white caps will be down. The waves won't be blowing off the top. And we'll have very good searching today.

Now just because they didn't find anything yesterday actually doesn't surprise me. They had absolutely impossible conditions. We have good conditions for the next 48, maybe 60 hours. This is a computer exclusive high rez model we use here at CNN, especially for CNN International because we have other channels here.

This is showing a 40-mile-per-hour wind event, 48 hours from now, in the southern search area. And that will cause the same kind of weather, the white caps like we had yesterday. Absolutely ugly.

COOPER: So, Chad, in the search area how deep is it exactly? And the terrain of the sea bed, what's it like there? You also talked about waves. Do you have any idea how big the waves are on the surface?

MYERS: The waves yesterday were 10 to 20. Today there will be five to 10. Now that's a swell. And if you're not familiar with an ocean, an ocean swell especially at 10,000 feet deep is more like this. It goes up and it goes down and you bob in the water. It's not a 10-foot wave that would hit the shore and literally knock you down. It's not steep like that. It's a shallow wave up and down.

And so that actually helps in the discovery of things on the ocean's surface if you're on a ship. Because sometimes that high peak will allow you to see something that you wouldn't see higher on the ship looking for it. So this is the day to find whatever is out there.

COOPER: Incredibly deep, though, I mean, 10,000 to --

MYERS: Ten, 12, yes.

COOPER: Yes, 10,000 to 12,000 feet. A little less than 13,000 feet Air France flight was found in.

Chad, thank you.

Just as a cautionary note, though, before bringing back our panel, there have been debris sightings before. We all know this. They've turned out to be extraneous debris not from an airliner, not this airliner in particular. From left to right there's the debris spotted on March 9th off Vietnam, debris spotted by China on the 12th, and finally the objects from today. So there -- a note of caution in all of this.

We simply do not know what this debris is and won't until there are more satellite images and people actually get eyes on it on the surface of the water.

Back with our panel.

David Gallo, let me start with you since you've spent a lot of time out on the water searching for Air France Flight 447. Put us what it's like out there on the water. It's one thing to see these pictures but to actually be on a ship riding those waves, riding those -- those swells, looking for something on the surface day in and day out, hour after hour. How difficult is this?

GALLO: Well, in Air France we were involved in the undersea search. So the surface search for debris was already completed. But I have been involved in things like that. And it's tough. You know, you've got the wind, the waves as you've heard, the swells can be immense. So it's -- it can be very unpleasant. But you know the teams that are out there doing this are used to that. I mean, in science our expeditions are used to the roughest weather. I mean, we work in the North Pole, we work in the southern oceans. And it's just something you come to accept. And the ship's crews are professional enough to keep the observers safe. And it's just something that comes with the turf.

COOPER: And, David Gallo, we're looking at images from that Air France flight. How -- do you remember how big the biggest piece of debris was? Because it looks like a lot of the pieces are, you know, the size of a desk or bigger. But obviously there was that tail section.

GALLO: Sure. I think that was -- I think the tail section was the largest. I don't think there were any pieces like the ones we're talking about here.

COOPER: OK.

GALLO: I think that tail section was the largest piece. And everything else, you know, there were bits of the galley and the like.

COOPER: OK. Mary Schiavo, you know, obviously the weather not only makes the search harder, it can also cause debris to degrade over time, even make some of it sink, right?

SCHIAVO: Right. Depending upon the conditions, you know, the rough seas, sweltering heat, the rain, all the things make the wreckage disperse further but also sink. And so with a clear day, this would be the day to find it. And any more storms would just cause more of it to be lost.

COOPER: Unless you and I, and David were talking about the ELT, which we have the model of here, again this is a smaller model. There are multiple ones in an aircraft like the 777. But this would be sending off -- if it's working it should be sending off signals to a satellite and also various other frequencies, correct?

ABEND: Correct. Correct. Right. The emergency -- the VHF frequency -- and the HF frequency.

COOPER: And --

ABEND: Emergency frequency.

COOPER: It's supposed to automatically start when what happens? When a plane hits water? Or -- how does that work?

ABEND: Whichever way, and Dave has better expertise than I do on this. But whatever they're designed to do. So the ones that I know they're in the slide rafts are designed to activate with sea water.

COOPER: So they're actually in the rafts that deploy. And you actually take them out of the raft, you said --

ABEND: Right. And they're tethered to the raft. COOPER: You put it in the water, in the salt water.

ABEND: In a ditching situation.

COOPER: And, David, also some of them deploy based on, what, an impact and also deceleration?

SOUCIE: Well, deceleration is the way that you measure the impact or that does trigger just how much deceleration there is. So I'm very concerned about why we haven't picked that up yet. Because once it does arm, whether it's from a deceleration or because it's touched the salt water, there's 16 satellites orbiting the earth all the time. And what they're monitoring is a 406 megahertz frequency.

It's there for ships that go down, the EPRBs that we're talking about on the rafts, emergency position indicate a radio beacon is that piece. And that thing is designed to send a signal up to these satellites. So I'm very concerned about the fact that there were at least two, as many as 10 either EPRBs or ELTs on board that aircraft and yet no signal.

COOPER: And yet nothing.

David Gallo, and I don't know if you know the answer to this because as you said you were more involved in the underwater search but on the Air France flight did the ELTs go off? Did that plane have them?

GALLO: I don't -- you know, I've never heard that, Anderson. So I -- you could go back and look at the reports. Anyone can go online and look back at the reports. But that's the first I've heard of it.

COOPER: OK. David?

SOUCIE: It's a different model aircraft.

COOPER: OK.

SOUCIE: So we don't -- I don't think -- it's not required by FAR, it's not required by IKO because you're relying on the transponder and the tracking systems that the commercial airplane has. So it's not a requirement by the FAR, by regulations.

COOPER: And David Soucie, the topography of what -- of the underwater environment here, do you know much about it?

SOUCIE: I really don't. but I have heard that it is a fairly smooth topography but it's deep.

COOPER: And, David Gallo, I mean, you -- that's your expertise mapping on the seafloor. Have you mapped to similar topography? What's it like?

GALLO: Sure. The main feature there is called the Southeast Indian Ridge, runs east to west through the Indian Ocean. The top of it at about a mile and a half deep and then it slopes off to the north and south and gets down to about three miles. But you know, there's spots on there that can be very rugged. And -- but most of it is fairly gentle volcanic terrain. Not the easiest thing to work. But it's something again that we're fairly used to.

COOPER: And as you've said in the past, David Gallo, can play tricks with sound which is an issue with the pings that should be coming off the black boxes.

GALLO: Sure. Yes. If you've got some rugged terrain, a valley here, a hill here, a mountain there, and some thermal layers, think about the ability to hide a submarine beneath a thermal layer and -- and that sonar can't penetrate that to find that sub. So, you know, it's tough but it's something that's got to be done. It's the best hope here right off the bat is to try to get lucky and pick up one of those pingers.

COOPER: Yes. We've got to take another quick break. When we come back some new reporting on why investigators are gaining confidence in what they're seeing from the search area. I'm also going to try to get more answers on whether more satellites have been redirected. We'll try to get some more reporting on that.

Plus Martin Savidge joins us from the 777 flight simulator. Did Flight 370 have enough fuel to actually get this far south? We'll take a look at that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. Our breaking news tonight, two planes are in the air tonight racing toward a remote corner of the Indian Ocean about 1500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia where satellite has spotted debris.

The question is, is it wreckage from Flight 370? That is the unanswered question tonight. Those two planes will be joined by other aircraft and ships.

Geoffrey Thomas is editor-in-chief and managing director at airlineratings.com. We just heard from him in Kyung Lah's report earlier. He joins me now by phone.

Geoffrey, I understand that you're hearing from your own sources that there are multiple radar returns in the search area indicating that something is there. What more can you tell us about that?

THOMAS: Look, there was some additional radar return yesterday, we understand. We also understand that there was some more satellite data that indicates that there is a little bit more debris than the two major pieces that have been identified. But the major focus of course is on the size of the largest piece of debris, which is the 24 meters, about 65-foot-long piece which one might think could be part of wing or part of the horizontal stabilizer of this aircraft.

COOPER: Let me just drill down a little bit on that satellite information and the radar information you're talking about. Do you know what the sources of that radar information is? Is it radar information from planes or from ships, or from something else? THOMAS: There was additional confirmation from satellites, according to the Australian Maritime Search and Rescue Organization. So there's corroborating evidence out of satellites. There was also some radar returns that were reported off the U.S. P-8 Poseidon out there yesterday although they're not exactly sure what they were. There's some discussion about that being just standard return off the ocean. There's a little bit of confusion around that.

Hopefully, we'll get clarity with the aircraft that's already left. As I'm talking to you now, I think the other one's also airborne, left about 30 minutes ago. And I understand there's another four airplanes going out there during the course of today. It's now 8:30 in the morning where I am. So hopefully within about four hours we'll get some intelligence coming back concerning more details at that debris.

COOPER: And we'll of course be live on the air for that. But Geoffrey, you also mentioned more satellite information. To your knowledge -- and you may not know this so I don't want to put you on the spot -- but they last night early in the morning or I guess it was around 1:00 in the afternoon when John Young gave press briefing this morning, they talked about redirecting commercial satellites. Do you know, has that already been done? Has that information already been looked at?

THOMAS: My understanding is that they have redirected them yesterday and that data is now being processed and sent through. There's a few protocols involved. I'm not sure whose satellites they're using. But there are of course protocols depending on whose country satellites are being used. And then of course the other thing they're very careful about doing is to analyze the data and make sure that what they're saying publicly is as accurate as it possibly can be. And on obviously eliminating false returns or things that are clearly not related to an airplane.

COOPER: Geoffrey, I know you say also the debris field is similar to that of Air France Flight 447 which in your opinion strengthens the possibility that this is debris from Flight 370. In what way are you saying it's similar?

THOMAS: Well, with Air France 447 they found the tail and then they found tiny bits of debris everywhere. Most of the airplane tragically was at the bottom of the sea and there were obviously as we know no survivors. Here we're finding two large pieces on the surface. Apparently, there are other bits and pieces, the detail of which is still very sketchy. And if this is the airplane -- and we have to qualify that -- if this is the airplane then it does not look like a very good outcome. And one senses that it hit the ocean and disintegrated on impact, which is what happened with Air France 447.

COOPER: Geoffrey, do you believe -- you're on the ground there in Australia and know the scene better than anyone -- do you think authorities in Australia have more information than they have publicly shared? Because it was surprising that the Australian prime minister came out and announced the finding himself.

THOMAS: Look indeed, Anderson, I think that's spot on the mark. I believe that the Americans and of course the Australians working as we always have worked very, very closely together have done for decades and decades, there's lots of information that the United States shares with Australia that it probably wouldn't share with anybody else. We have joint defense facilities in this country.

And I was very interested that when we were tasked with the southern area south of Indonesia, very quickly there was a very precise area. And I know the area is large, but in the context of the entire area that's being searched for this airplane, the area identified was very, very small. Two clear distinct tracks of what they believe or where they believe the airplane flew.

And then a couple of days later we're now presented with these images. My sense is that there's a little bit more to this than we are being told. And obviously for very important reasons, I don't think the United States wants to flag exactly how good its satellite technology is. And from a defensive point of view. And that's understandable. But the bottom line is, they're using their intelligence with Australia to try and find the airplane.

COOPER: And certainly the evidence, the huge amount of resources that Australia is putting into this as well as the United States is clearly the best bet they have going right now. Geoffrey Thomas, I appreciate your reporting based on your sources. We'll check back with you. Want to bring back our panel after the break, get their take on Martin Savidge's experience in a 777 flight simulator how far Flight 370 could have actually flown on the fuel it had and if in fact it did end up in the water off Australia what sort of impact it might have had. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back. Tonight's breaking news, long range reconnaissance planes and ships are racing to an area of the Southern Indian Ocean where satellite has spotted debris. The mission now to determine if the debris is in fact wreckage from 370. The location where it was spotted is about as remote as you can get, about 1,500 miles southwest of Perth, Australia. So much of the story has been about what we cannot see.

All this week CNN's Martin Savidge has been trying to give us a perspective reporting from inside a 777 flight simulator. He's helped us visualize what might have gone on, the various scenarios that investigators have been looking at. He joins us again tonight along with flight instructor, Mitchell Casado.

This plane can fly 16 to 18 hours on a full tank, but it was heading to Beijing. It only had about 7 hours or so of fuel. So would it have been able to reach the destination where the suspected debris has been found or somewhere in that vicinity? Obviously the debris has had a lot of time to float.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the same question we had and so that's why earlier today what we did was we programmed everything that we knew of Flight 370, seven-hour fuel load and we pointed it south. There a number of factors we couldn't account for. Headwind on the route, what altitude they may have flown at simply not known. Running that we found the plane easily could have made the region where this debris has been discovered. In fact might have been able to go a little bit further, but eventually of course the engines just quit. It just stops.

MITCHELL CASADO, PILOT TRAINER, 777 FLIGHT SIMULATOR: They do. They just run out of gas and the airplane would start a gentle descent toward the ocean floor.

COOPER: Let me ask you about that if a plane like this runs out of fuel, does it continue on a gradual glide? If it did in fact crash into the ocean, how would that have happened?

SAVIDGE: This was a question I was talking to Mitchell about before we came to air. Assuming -- do both engines quit at the same time or is it possible one keeps going and the other one sputters out?

CASADO: It's quite possible that both engines could fail at the same time and it's quite possible they could fail at different times.

SAVIDGE: So if they fail at different times, don't you have a plane now spinning because of the fact that one engine is driving forward and the other is dead drag on the other side?

CASADO: In smaller, less sophisticated airplanes, yes, 737s, 500, stuff like that, in this airplane we have compensators that account for that. So essentially one engine could be out and one off functioning and the airplane would still continue straight on.

SAVIDGE: So somehow what he's saying the plane would sense it lost one engine and adjust accordingly with the other engine, thereby continuing this kind of flying. If both engines quit it's the slow descent down to the ground.

COOPER: Stick with us there in the cockpit. I want to bring in David Soucie and Les Abend. Both of you looked like you had questions about that.

SOUCIE: I don't know if this is what you were talking about. Question if you had -- if this was flying without communications. It's possible the electric power wasn't there. That correction wouldn't exist. So it's potential that it could have gone. If it had electrical power it probably would have.

COOPER: Les, if both engines went out at the same time, would it be a gradual descent?

ABEND: Yes. If they went out at the same time. I very much doubt it.

COOPER: You doubt that would happen?

ABEND: I doubt it. I'm not sure the system, all due respect to Mitchell, I'm not sure that what they call a thrust asymmetry compensator would actually be effective or be active with that scenario. The airplane may very well have turned, which might explain what it did initially.

COOPER: But Les and David, you were saying there's a lot we can learn even from one or two pieces of debris, you can start to put together the pieces of the puzzle.

SOUCIE: Absolutely. This fuselage when it goes in, you can tell just from a small piece of that fuselage if it was twisted, if it was bent or fit was cracked.

COOPER: And what speed.

SOUCIE: All three of those are different.

COOPER: So you could read from any piece of debris or sizeable piece of debris something about how it got in the water.

SOUCIE: If it was in the stress affected line. There's portions of it that would go around and it might be a piece of it. Likely there's pieces of metal that will give you a lot of clues as to how it hit the ground, particularly like Les was saying if the wing came off you could surmise it may have gone to the right or left. There's a lot of information we can get about that. We may be able to determine it was a fuel outage or intentionally put in. A lot of information you could get not from a small piece, but you have to have a set of debris.

COOPER: And David Gallo, in terms of debris floating, obviously where the debris would be found 12, 13 days after an impact is not where the plane went in I know on 447 it took two years to find the actual plane, and at first I think in one of the areas you guys searched it was in the opposite direction of where you initially had begun to look. So how do you go about trying to triangulate from debris location to where the plane might have gone in?

GALLO: It's very tricky and it is science. There are scientists that work on that, they're good at that kind of thing. One thing they want to know having been through this with Air France, they want to know what that debris looked like in the water. Was it sticking out of the water? In that case like a sailboat would be driven mostly by the winds? Was it under the water mostly like an iceberg, in that case driven by currents? Was it a little bit of both? If you lined up all kind of debris, sizes, under the water, above the water and gave them the same currents and same winds they would scatter over time.

So the trick is to plug all the information about the size, the character, and then about the environmental stuff. What did the currents and winds look like? How variable were they and then the model over time back tracks those. If you're good, all five of those things you set up in the beginning are going to end up back on the same x marks the spot. That means your model is right on.

COOPER: Mary Schiavo, obviously authorities began looking intensely at this area before at least the public knew this debris had been found. Do you think they've already gone through a lot of that modelling on where they think the plane might have gone in on this southern sector? SCHIAVO: I do, especially when the prime minister spoke early this morning or late last night. And the authorities spoke as well. They did say they were working with the United States National Transportation Safety Board and they had been crunching the data and that it was the National Transportation Safety Board that had come up with the different paths and tracks. We had pretty good clues there was an awful lot of work and smoothing on the data going behind the scenes, which is probably giving them that confidence level to be so confident about announcing this to the world.

COOPER: Mary Schiavo, it's great to have you on again. Les Abend, David Soucie, David Gallo, Martin Savidge and our pilot in the flight simulator. All of them are going to be joining me tonight at 11:00 Eastern Time. We're going to be live because we are anticipating again very possibly getting more information from Australian authorities even at the late hour here, 11:00 east coast United States, 11:00 a.m. in Perth, Australia.

Coming up next tonight, how the families of the missing are handling the news about the debris. We'll talk to a psychologist who has been counselling with them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The families of the 239 people on board Flight 370 have been waiting 13 days for answers. The lack of answers has been obviously excruciating for them. It's also created space for hope, which is why the debris that's been spotted in the Indian Ocean obviously is not welcome news even for those desperate for answers. Here's how the family of Phillip Wood was one of three Americans on the plane put it earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD, AMERICAN ON FLIGHT 370: I keep hoping that somebody took this flight for a reason, which means they would have preserved it and tried to hide it someplace, tried to take it someplace. So if this debris is indeed part of that plane then it kind of dashes that wishful thinking to pieces. So I really hope it's not a part of the plane. But if it is, then at least what he can go down another path of deciding that maybe we need to start prepping for another scenario instead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Psychologist, Paul Yin, has been spending time with some of the families of the missing. We've talked to him in recent days. He joins us again tonight. Paul, thanks for being with us. You and your team have been working around the clock I know counselling families of 370. As you told us before, a lot of the families have not given up hope that their loved ones are still alive. I know you've spoken to some of them since the news of the possible debris came in. What's their outlook now? What are you hearing?

PAUL YIN, GRIEF COUNSELOR: Over the last week, it feels like we're waiting for the eruption of a volcano. And yesterday would be best described as a partial eruption. There are some family members upon hearing the news have appeared to have accepted finality that their loved ones are not coming back. So there was a strong burst of emotion coming out, some very, very strong and in some cases ambulances needed to be called in.

And the rest of the families seem to be holding on for the next 24 to 48 hours to try to get the final official clarification. And there are still some family members that are just still steadfastly holding onto hope and hoping that this is not it and eventually we will find them on land.

COOPER: And I've heard you say that some of the strongest reaction actually came from men.

YIN: Exactly. Because in the beginning in the family the women tended to have the stronger emotion. And the men felt like they had to be the strong one to hold everybody together, to support the women. And in fact, what results from that is that their emotion did not have a chance to come out. And when they are finally faced with possibly accepting finality, that's when all the pent-up emotion over the last 12, 13 days just poured out.

And so yesterday of the families that reacted strongly, the men reacted far more strongly than the women. And the women I think over the last 12 days, every day they were pouring out their emotions and the men were just holding it for that one last -- for the one initial burst together.

COOPER: Sometimes on TV you hear people use that word "closure." I just think it's the worst word. I don't think anybody who has experienced loss knows there is no such thing as closure. What do you say to families in this situation? I mean, is it just a question of listening and not even saying much? How do you deal with this?

YIN: Well, what we have decided to do is this. With most of these families, we have identified members in their very small circle of trust who are perhaps more able and we train them to be able to deal with the situation better. So that for the initial burst of emotion, we try to let the family handle it with the people that we have trained. And we would not come in unless they call on us until that first wave, they ride the first wave. And the other thing I need to point out is you're absolutely right. There really is no closure.

COOPER: Yes. There never is in any kind of loss like this. Paul Yin, I appreciate what you do and appreciate you talking to us tonight. I wish you the best. Here at 360 we want to make sure we take time to highlight those who are missing, to tell you about their lives. We've been trying to do that for the last two weeks as best we can. You can find out more about the passengers of Flight 370 on our web site at ac360.com.

Up next, President Obama unleashes new sanctions on Russia.

Plus how did a teenager manage to break into and climb to the top of the tallest building in the United States, the new World Trade Center? Be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's get caught up in some of the other stories we are following. Susan Hendricks has a 360 bulletin -- Susan.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Russia's lower House of Parliament voted today to annex Crimea. Video was posted op social media showing Russian forces using a bulldozer to storm a Ukrainian military base. Today, President Obama imposed additional sanctions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is not our preferred outcome. These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy. However, Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDRICKS: Sentencing day today for Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair who pleaded guilty to adultery and engage in inappropriate relationships with women. His attorney said he did not receive jail time, but was reprimand and must forfeit $20,000 in pay.

And a New Jersey teenager faces charges of trespassing after he allegedly jump the fence and climbed to the top of One World Trade Center in New York. The building is still under construction, but police say the teen used an elevator and stairs to get to the 104th floor -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Susan, thanks very much. That does it for us. We'll see you again at 11 p.m. Eastern, another live edition of 360, an all-new edition of 360 at 11:00 tonight. Also, you can always check -- set your DVR so you never miss the program.

"PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.