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PIERS MORGAN LIVE
Mystery of Flight 370
Aired March 28, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is Piers Morgan Live.
Tonight's breaking news, we're standing by, the government's standing by, the families are standing by waiting for what could be an answer to the mystery of Flight 370.
Any moment now, a ship could pick up this object and others like floating in the ocean. This is not a day's old image captured by satellite. This was spotted from the air by search planes and very soon we could find out exactly what it is. But is this a sign that finally the search is in the right place?
We're following every clue for three weeks. We still have far more questions unanswered but anything that's indisputable is a human toll of the mystery that's become a worldwide obsession.
Then I'll talk to the son of one of the passengers if he thinks he's close to getting the answers about his mother's fate. I'll also talk to two friends of the pilot. They say the man they knew would never deliberately crash a plane.
Our Big Story is of course Flight 370. We're covering every angle with CNN's reporters all over the globe. Atika Shubert is in Perth, Australia, Sara Sidner is in Kuala Lumpur, David McKenzie in Beijing and Richard Quest is here with me in New York.
I want to begin with Atika Shubert in Perth. Atika, obviously a dramatic development that actually happened during our show last night where the search move suddenly in the 700 miles north and we've got this photograph from New Zealand air force from a plane on a satellite. What is the significance of this picture potentially?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very promising lead but at this point we don't know if it's actually debris from the plane. It is a floating object in the water. You could kind of see it's rectangular in shape.
And the plane that's spotted that was actually a P3 Orion from New Zealand and the lieutenant that saw it gave some brief comments as soon as he landed here. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. JAMIN BAKER, ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE: Yeah. It seemingly sounds like we are getting into an area of interest. Obviously, we don't if these are associated with the aircraft yet but I assume that it looks like we are seeing a lot more debris and just, you know, floating on the water so we could be on something here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: Now, it has to be said there are at least five different objects sited yesterday. One of them even turned out to be a fishing buoy.
So people have said we should be cautious about this. It does looks promising but we really won't know what it is until a ship gets out there and actually physically takes a look at this object. There is one Chinese ship out there in the search area right now. Another five are expected to get there later this evening. Piers.
MORGAN: Atika, thank you very much indeed.
We'll go to Sara Sidner now who's in Kuala Lumpur. Sara, a continued focus on the pilots of Flight 370, what can we learn now about this aspect of the investigation?
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting, you know, investigators have to do their jobs of course. They have to look into the pilots. They have to look into the passengers. They have to look into the mechanical records of the plane.
So they're busy doing just that. Looking through, for example, the simulator, seeing if that tells them anything. And the FBI has been involved in looking at it. But it's interesting to know that behind the scenes, every now and then a source will come forward and say, OK, the pilots, you know, look at the pilot, there might be something sinister there.
But in front of the cameras and on the record, what we're hearing is a lot of praise for this man. People are calling him a gentleman, calling him someone who is excited about aviation.
Let me let you listen to one of the people who helped build his simulator, the simulator which he apparently seemed to really, really enjoy. He loved it as if it was a game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THANOS KONTOGIANNIS, AVIATION SIMULATOR EXPERT: I couldn't believe that the man that had passion a simulation like that had wanted to build, took the extra mile to build something like that would do something stupid or like sinister.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And this is what we've been hearing time and again from people who have come forward, who will stand up and talk on his behalf. We do know that all of this talk about some sort of sinister action on his part is killing the family. Those are quote from the sister and of course his wife, his son, all of them having a very difficult time with this. Piers.
MORGAN: Actually, quite a bit difficult and also important I think to reiterate that at the moment, there is nothing that incriminates either of these pilots in any plan to do any wrong doing whatsoever.
SIDNER: Right. That's absolutely true. I know there's been also a lot of talk about exactly how they have been looked up from the perspective of the airline and whether or not they were fit for example to fly.
We heard from Malaysian Airlines yesterday and they basically said, look, they have a test every year, a yearly physical if you will and in that physical they also asked psychological questions. And so yes, indeed, they are given somewhat of a psychological test by the doctors who are doing their yearly physical.
And so, you know, you can only go so far with these things but at least they're able to talk to someone if they want to. We have not been hearing from other people how work for Malaysian Airlines. Lately, it's been quite difficult actually for us to get information from Malaysian Airlines. We've contacted them several times. They were very, very fast in the beginning and now they're responses are starting to slow down quite a bit. There's a lot of media as you might imagine, Piers, you just talked about it yourself, you know. The world is watching this and everybody just wants to know the answer to one thing.
And time and again, the authorities here have said, we know the one thing that the families want answers to we don't have. We cannot so far find this plane. They are hoping that this debris that you just heard Atika talk about that is off the waters of Perth has something to do with this plane because frankly these families are exhausted. I mean, exhausted emotionally and physically and they just want some proof as to where their loved ones went. Piers.
MORGAN: Sara Sidner, thank you very much for your continued excellent work.
Let me go to David McKenzie now in Beijing. David, more protest today by families of these passengers and crew onboard this missing plane. Understandably, I mean three weeks now and they still just have no closure. What could you tell me about what is going on there with these families?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Piers, three weeks and three weeks to the hour in fact and we had this confirmation that the plane had vanished. And since that time, the family members have been in this terrible situation of lead, leads going away, wanting to know information and then getting that information. Now, it appears they had enough.
In a briefing with Malaysian authorities, one man stood up an said, "You know, we've got your information. You're not giving us even the simplest of answers back." And so everyone walked out and lead to a very embarrassing situation of the Malaysian authorities giving a briefing to nobody. Now, they say, some family members wanted to go to Kuala Lumpur to ratchet it up and give pressure on the authorities and certainly not everyone is united in these hundreds of family members. But there is a portion of them that are very angry and very agitated and want answers, answers that we've all been saying they cannot be given right now. Piers.
MORGAN: David McKenzie, thank you very much again. Excellent work from you all through this.
I want to bring in CNN's Richard Quest. Richard, here we are. I remember three weeks ago. I recorded the show that day. I went home. I've got a late call. I came back to the office. We went live for the hour and we had no idea what was happening. But the idea that three weeks later, we would still not have any real idea of what has happened to this plane. It would have been completely ridiculous then.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: I would have said that you were mad if you would sat with Richard in three weeks time they will, not only will they not have found the plane, but they will now be looking 2,000 miles in the absolute opposite direction from the way the plane was going.
I would have said you were stark raving mad. But the truth is, this is being unprecedented. It is unique. We have -- the depth and lack of material and data and anything to go on is extraordinary. And that's why I think we have to be a lot more understanding, not the families obviously, they are grief stricken. But those of us who can take one step back, Piers, I think we have to be a lot more understanding of what the investigation is doing and how it sat (ph) at the edge of technology.
MORGAN: Obviously, last night, we were live on air and suddenly this dramatic development, a new report saying they had new data and now it hasn't come back. As a result, moving the whole search nearly 700 miles northeast.
People are saying, well this is ridiculous. Why were they in the wrong place? But it's a very complex, difficult investigation.
QUEST: Right. And (inaudible), what did he famously say, "Sir, what do you do when the facts change?" I change my mind. And that's exactly what they've done here. The facts have changed. They can no longer support what they believe. But this is another thing that you have to give a certain amount of credit. They haven't suddenly said we were wrong going in the southern corridor. They still maintain their rights in the southern corridor. They've just got the wrong part of it and they just.
They didn't waste time searching down there this week. They knew no better. There was nothing else to go on.
MORGAN: And now, we'd have time to think about some of the other aspects of these developments the other night. In particularly, the speed of the plane, what are you reading into how that may change the constructive of what we think happened here?
QUEST: Well, there's a strong argument or there is an argument that would say because of what we now know that does it move back to us mechanical away from nefarious.
I don't think you can say that one way or the other. I think both options are on the table and you're best to take a middle line on it. The change or the highest speed was at the early parts of the flight over the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca. We still do not know the turn. We don't know that it wiggled around in Indonesia. We don't know anything really about that. And all we now know is that it didn't fly as far because of what happened at the beginning.
MORGAN: Let me ask you something, Richard. I mean, as a result of this. Can we assume at the very least going forward that no plane will ever be able to just disappear again like this?
In other words, are the airlines all getting together and saying this is clearly ridiculous what has happened here, desperate for these families. It's made the airline and Malaysia look incompetent and so and so on. Is it (inaudible)?
QUEST: Yes. I can answer that -- I mean, I will be at IATA at the annual meeting of airlines in June which is in Doha this year. I've spoken to airline CEOs who privately say, "Yeah, but the problem is what do we put on the plane?" You know, "What's the cost of streaming the data?" What do ICAO require us? What do they regulate us, wants us to do? How do we get them, all these sort of issues? But there's no doubt in my mind in five years time you and I need to talk again and I'm telling you they will have changed the rules that there has to be constant vigilance, they have to know where the plane is at all times.
MORGAN: And finally, I mean, the significance of these pictures today is they're not waiting four days of satellite images thousands of miles up. We're actually looking at images taken by planes over a sea.
QUEST: That's the significance. And the Chinese ship is there tonight. It is already starting to look. One point to note, an interesting diplomatic issue going on here, the Australians have already sent a diplomatic note according to reports to all the countries involved just reminding them that any debris or objects picked up have to be returned to Western Australia where the decision will be made what to do.
MORGAN: Because it's in their jurisdiction so therefore they will have that responsibility legally, right?
QUEST: Malaysia has given primacy in the area to Western Australia. So if everybody thinks the Chinese or anybody else thinks that they're going to do it over their own investigation to declare what it was. The Australians have reminded them they are treaty bound to take it to Western Australia.
MORGAN: Richard Quest, great to see. QUEST: Good to see you, sir.
MORGAN: When we come back, the anguish of the families. I'll ask about his mother who was on the plane if he thinks he's any closer tonight into getting the answers he needs as we wait for word on those objects spotted in the search site.
MORGAN: Back with breaking news is daylight of Australia's west coast and we're waiting for word from ships in the search zone. At any moment, they could pick (inaudible) and they'll tell us what happened to Flight 370.
It has been an agonizing three weeks for the families of the 239 people who were onboard the plane. Steve Wang's mother was one of the passengers. I've spoke to him in the week and he's back with me now.
Steve, thank you so much for joining me again and my continued condolences to you (inaudible) torment that you've been going through. Let me ask you straight away, what is your view three weeks on now about the way that you and the other families have been treated by the Malaysian authorities?
STEVE WANG, MOTHER WAS ON FLIGHT 370: Well, for the three weeks, they haven't given us any useful information. And all of the information we got earlier and NATO from the TV so we don't know why there are (inaudible) want to tell us and made a story about the latest news but they haven't found anything. And for the (inaudible) cared about, they always give us the answer to that. I cannot expand it. I'll check it later something like I can't comment here or something like that. And they shown us not sincere to all the family members.
MORGAN: Obviously, last night, Steve, that the whole investigation, the whole search moved dramatically about 700 miles further north. What did you feel when you've heard that news? Did you feel like they'd be wasting their time or do you think that it's such a complicated investigation that this is bound to happen?
WANG: Well, I used to say that it is just a (inaudible). And I would really say that it is based on some of the speed but the speed can change. But (inaudible) the Malaysian government think that it is correct and I don't know what they can expect in it now. I'm looking (inaudible).
MORGAN: I mean, for you and the families to be told, you know, for the last three weeks that they think the search areas are in a certain place and then to see it move so dramatically. Do you feel hopeful that they may have got it right this time? Or you're now at the stage where you just don't know what to believe.
WANG: Well, I think there are -- maybe just one percent of the possibility that they will be alive but I do believe that there is still hope.
MORGAN: And do you believe, Steve, that the search area now from what you've been seeing on television and what you may have been hearing, do you think they may finally be in the right place?
WANG: I don't know. I think maybe yes, maybe no but if nothing found I think it might change again.
MORGAN: And Steve, tell me this, on a human level, how are you coping with this? I mean, this is your mother, you know. To world, this is an extraordinary mystery story, but to you it's very real and very painful. Your mother is on that plane somewhere. What have you been going through? Describe it to me.
WANG: Well, it is hard to say, you know, sad and angry and anxious and I can't describe it. It is so complicated.
MORGAN: I can't even imagine what its like for any of the families and the fact you've had so much wrong information it must make it a hundred times worst. Steve, it's great that you come back on the show. It's important that people hear from the families and I'm very grateful to you and I wish you all the very best. I like you and we'll cling to any tiny bit of hope as long as there is hope and I just will say a prayer for you again tonight.
WANG: OK. Thanks.
MORGAN: Next, what are we reading now about the pilot of Flight 370? I'll talk to two men who knew him well. When you hear what they have to say, you may change your mind about what you think happened in the cockpit and we'll bring you the earliest words from the search zone the moment we get it.
MORGAN: Our breaking news, was standing by for word on those objects floating in the search zone, ships could pick them up any moment. This could be the biggest clue yet to fate of Flight 370. But there still have unanswered questions including what happened in the cockpit.
Well joining me now two men who know the pilot very well, Peter Chong a friend of Captain Zahari Ahmed Shah. And on the phone, Nasir Othman also another friend of the pilot. Let me start with you Peter Chong if I may.
And again, I will extend to you my deepest condolences to you about what has happened to your friend. We don't know for sure that he has perished in this. But what we do know is that he has been the focus of huge attention. How do you feel about that as his friend? A lot of aspersions being cast about his possible involvement in the plane being taken off nefariously, what do you feel?
PETER CHONG, FRIEND OF THE CAPTAN SHAH: I thank you for your words of comfort. Definitely all this -- remained speculation and as far as my feelings I'm am actually very disappointed that we have seem to be loosing focus on this search itself but rather trying to find the fault -- on to the pinning of the fault onto the pilot. And I repeat, it's purely speculated. And we have to show compassion to the family going through this difficult time. And with all these kind of speculation it makes even more different for the families. Not just the pilot, as well or everyone else onboard and I think it's very, very unfair and the timing is just not right.
MORGAN: And tell me, Peter. Tell me about your friend Zahari, what kind of a man is he?
CHONG: Captain Zahari is very dedicated pilot, responsible, and a professional pilot with, you know, 30 years experience, 18,000 flying hours. There cannot be a better pilot, you know, and as I always have mentioned, if I get to choose a pilot on a plane onboard, I would choose Captain Zahari as my pilot. I've got no doubts about that.
MORGAN: Can you think of anything that you have ever heard and say or have heard about him which would lead you to think he could ever possibly have been involved in a deliberate plot to take this plane away or to hijack it or to crash it?
CHONG: As I mentioned, Piers, this is purely speculative. And I do not want to contribute anything into this speculation. I do not -- I think there's more than enough speculations done. I do not want to contribute anymore to it.
MORGAN: I understand that and I respect that. Let me turn to Nasir Othman.
CHONG: Thank you.
MORGAN: Mr. Othman, you've been a friend of Zahari Ahmed Shah for about four decades since your school days in Malaysia's Penang State. What is your reaction to this frenzy focus on his possible involvement in some criminal activity here?
NASIR OTHMAN, FRIEND OF THE CAPTAIN SHAH: Hello?
MORGAN: Did you hear me Mr. Othman?
OTHMAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you but it's quite distant. Hello?
MORGAN: I will ask you again. What is your ...
MORGAN: What is reaction to all the speculation about your friend ...
MORGAN: ... Captain Zahari?
OTHMAN: I feel very sick for him. I feel very sick of him, -- he's not around to defend himself and it's not fair to him. That's what I think.
MORGAN: You've known him for four decades, what kind of man is he?
OTHMAN: Right. He's a very caring person, he's very (inaudible) person, very careful, he's the kind that makes things lively. He's a very nice man.
MORGAN: He's a father of three children.
MORGAN: Would you describe him as a strong family man?
OTHMAN: Yes, yes, even with his grandson.
MORGAN: People have tried to make a lot of gossip and innuendo about the fact that he had a flight simulator in his house, did you know about that and you think it's remotely suspicious?
OTHMAN: No, I don't see anything wrong with that. What's wrong with having a simulator at your house?
MORGAN: Do you think from all that you know about him, Mr. Othman. Do you think it is conceivable that your friend could ever have been involved in some kind of criminal action here?
OTHMAN: I think he's the last person to do that kind of thing.
MORGAN: Let me get back to Peter Chong, we got a slight problem on that line there.
MORGAN: Peter, are you still with me?
CHONG: Yes, I hear you.
MORGAN: There's obviously -- until we are able to analyze wreckage, find the wreckage, analyze it and so on this speculation will continue. What do you feel generally as a friend of Captain Zahari about the way the whole investigation has been conducted?
CHONG: All right, the investigations, we are getting very little information coming out. So in a way I feel for the family that, you know, they are not being feed enough information as to the investigation itself. For the search and rescue and now in search and whatever else they're trying to find. Information is coming out but most of them are still, the search process still being going on. So I would really ask that, you know, that we all exercise patience and for our friends all over the world, let's continue praying.
We still keep that little bit of hope going, the candle of hope is still lighting and let's continue the prayers and reduce the speculations. Let's respect and sympathize with families that are onboard.
MORGAN: I completely agree with you, Peter Chong and Nasir Othman, thank you both very much. We should also say prayers for both those pilots and their families. They're going through exactly the same hell as everybody else here. And we have no absolutely no reason at this stage to suspect them of any wrong doing and it's just not fair to do that. Thank you both very much. Joining me now is David Soucie, a former FAA Safety Inspector and author of "Why Planes Crash", Les Abend, he's a 777 captain, CNN Aviation Analyst Miles O'Brien, and Colleen Keller, a Senior Analyst for Metron, who worked in search for Air France Flight 447.
Let me go to you David Soucie, we've talked everyday for seems like forever about this and we're still -- I don't know, are we any nearer do you think solving this mystery tonight?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: You know, what I'm gleaning from these events of going to this new location is that the team is finally starting to accept that they don't know everything, you know, you don't know what you don't know until you know you didn't know it. It's a circular objective to try to figure out how to find out what it is that's real and what's not.
So when I see now that they've made a conclusive change in those search locations to this new search location and given up on the other, it means if they're getting confident about how their team's working together and the information that they have.
MORGAN: Miles O'Brien, I mean it did seem to be a very dramatic moment last night when we were on air just debating the previous search site and suddenly everything moved and it seems to have just gone lock, stock, and barrel up now 700 miles north. You know, you've covered these things for a long time and nothing I would imagine quite like this. Is it rather than being hopeless that they've been in the wrong place? Is it now very hopeful that everything has been geared now to this new area?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATOR ANALYST: Well, I think we sort of have to think that way don't we at this point, because the alternative is not very good and that the families themselves have got to know that at least they're heading the right direction. I'm listening to friends and families of people in the back of the plane as well as in the front of the plane, you know, your heart just goes out for them, for them to be thinking that all this time has been spent looking in the wrong place.
So let's hope this is it, you know, it's nice that there's a piece of debris found by an aircraft, that means at least we'll be able to check it out. We sure have learned a lesson about how much crash there is in that part of the ocean, haven't we?
MORGAN: Absolutely. Colleen Keller, you revolved directly the hunt for Air France 447, specifically probability mapping, analyzing all the data that's available to generate the most likely location of the wreckage. What do you make of this sudden dramatic change in where they are searching?
COLLEEN KELLER, WORKED ON SEARCH FOR AIR FRANCE FLT. 447: Well, this is quite familiar territory. We see this kind of thing often in searches, new things come up and they move to the newest lead. I really would have like to have seen those pick up at least one of the pieces of wreckage or whatever was floating in the water before we move to another location. I haven't seen the real data. I just have to assume that they've have done a confident analysis on these and they've decided that this is the best location. I don't know why they didn't do it sooner, but hopefully we'll find something at this point.
MORGAN: I mean people, Colleen, will be -- they will be incredulous that here we are three weeks later and suddenly the entire search operation moves the length of Great Britain.
KELLER: I haven't seen the data. It seems like it should have been a simple analysis, but somebody should have looked at, you know, what was the last known point and the velocity at that time and recalculated how far the aircraft could have flown. But that's definitely something that should be considering. So if this is where we -- it puts us then let's get in the water and pick up some debris.
MORGAN: Les Abend, you're a pilot, you flown 777s and you're an expert in all these. What do you think and what's going on in the last 24 hours?
LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: You know, I'm encouraged by the fact that they've refined their calculations. I think, you know, I think David will agree that a lot of these is all based on assumptions and I think that they refine their assumptions. I mean, I think personally that this radar data maybe very correct but the airplane actually got down at 12,000 feet.
MORGAN: Well, let's talk about this, from a pilot's perspective, what is the significance of the 12,000 feet? And what does it tell you about what may have happened before this?
ABEND: Yes, what it tells me is that the captain decided he had a problem and that he needed to get to the airport to this closest alternate airport. He may have picked the peninsula, one airport there. And he knew he had to get down, he didn't have a lot of time, you know, a lot of altitude -- he had a lot of altitude to in those ...
MORGAN: Would it lend to you more credence to the theory of some catastrophic event out of the pilot's hands or could it still be that a pilot or co-pilot or somebody onboard putting them up to it and, you know, at gun point or whatever has made them do this deliberately?
ABEND: To me, it's a catastrophic event. I mean, just nothing adds up with reference to the character references of the captain, you know, the co-pilot we haven't heard a whole lot about. But all that other stuff doesn't add up and there's just far too much knowledge that somebody from the back of the airplane or the pilots themselves could have accomplished all the things that we saw.
And I think that we're dealing with a situation that we're going to have difficulty understanding, but it's mechanical.
MORGAN: Let's take a short break. Keep my stellar panel together. We'll be back after to discuss more of the developments on this in the last few hours. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MORGAN: Our breaking news, ships on the search zone we're waiting for word on those floating objects that could finally give us some answers to the mystery of flight 370.
Back with me now my team of experts David Soucie, Les Abend, Milles O'Brien and Colleen Keller.
In the break there, you two are having a fascinating discussion about a potential theory of what you now think may have happened.
David, tell me about this.
SOUCIE: Well, Les and I have been talking about dropping down to 12,000 feet and taking some assumptions into that that it did go down to 12,000 feet. If they're using a flight change button that would set to -- preset to that for emergencies. It could have been pressed and gone down if there was a mechanical failure onboard the aircraft.
So what I'm thinking along the lines up here and Miles keep me honest on this because I know that there's some holes in here and we'll probably get there. But what -- the only thing that make sense to me, the most common, most probable in confidence that I have in the data is that this aircraft had some mechanical failure onboard, namely the lithium batteries.
If the lithium batteries started on fire, I remember we talked about and Mary has brought this up before, now it has halons, so it can -- as a capability of putting out those fires that are going on. But there's another hazard that comes in with that, if you put out the fire, the lithium batteries are going to continue to produce the gases that come out of those -- it's not the fire that produces the gases, it's the heat. So if the halon extinguishes the fire, but the hydrochloric acid and the sulfuric acid which are in vapor form still continue to exude.
So if those lithium batteries were stored in the front, I'll be looking for evidence of that because that -- those two gases together could be deadly.
MORGAN: And Les, does that make sense to you?
ABEND: Yeah, it does. But what -- in addition to the supplement to what David is saying is that if it went -- got into the unique compartment, the lower compartment that has all the avionics and so on and so forth, that doesn't have halon to it. It has a system that automatically shuts it down and reverse and if it sense a smoke, it will reverse the airflow.
Now, if the pilots put on their oxygen mask, the problem is if they don't recognize that they have a toxic situation, they may not go and select the emergency button which puts oxygen in their face at high pressure and they maybe sucking in ambient air.
MORGAN: Let me get to Miles O'Brien, what do you make of this theory? O'BRIEN: I've -- if this theory is as good as any theory we've heard. And, you know, there's another thing too, there was emergency air where (ph) in this directive, which had to do with the wiring bundles which were a part of the crew oxygen system.
And we have not gotten the maintenance records for this aircraft for these publicly. We don't know that that AD was complied with. It's likely it was, but that's something to consider. What if they put on those oxygen masks and they failed? Then you do have an incapacitated crew. Very quickly, they've selected altitude, they've selected the redline speed, the fast as you can go with that altitude, which is what you do in an emergency. And off you go over flying the emergency field and into the ocean.
That's a perfectly viable scenario at this point.
MORGAN: Colleen Keller, let me bring you in here, about the -- what is going on right now with all these planes in Japan, in China, in New Zealand, in Australia and so on? Are they throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at this now? I mean, this is a much bigger rescue operation and even the one that you are involve with Air France 447.
KELLER: Yes, well there's more assets involved in this one then the Air France search. I think it's time to throw the kitchen sink in there, Piers. I mean, let's give it all that we've got, you know. We have a very limited time on the beacons, on the black boxes. If we don't get some towed pinger locators in the water in the general right area, we're really going to be hurting for finding this wreck.
So I think that they -- we need more, we need as much as we can to get out there and find something, we need to pick something out of the water.
MORGAN: And Colleen, what is the time scale here? I mean people talk about the pings, the black boxes and so on, having a ticking clock before they just ran out time and power. How long have we got with three week in?
KELLER: The manufacturers recommendations are 30 days guaranteed on the batteries, we were told in the Air France search, they had up to 40 days. Of course, as you go pass the 30 day limit the battery starts to die off and the signal starts to decrease in power, which means you have to get closer to it to detect it. So 30 days is ideal, 40 days is probably all we're going to get.
And if we can't detect them with the pinger locators then it's just a search with a soda straw basically, looking through a camera or using side scan sonar which is very inefficient.
MORGAN: And Colleen, just because I know you been through all these before with Air France 447. If we go pass 40 days which is 19 days away, would you start to feel very pessimistic that this could ever be resolved?
KELLER: Well, Piers, I'm kind of pessimistic now. It's still a very wide search area and we would get extremely lucky to get on top of those pingers. But that's all that we've got right now, we've got to go with that. If it comes down to using the unmanned underwater vehicles looking, you know, a thousand foot left and right, we're really going to be grasping at straws.
But I do sense there's a big will to do this and it maybe that the money gets put up to do this for several years until we are sure that we can't look anymore.
MORGAN: Several years, wow. OK. Let's take a short break. Let's come back and talk more about the implications and maybe that last sensors, it could be years before we can actually get to the bottom of this.
MORGAN: We're waiting for a word from ships in the search zone. We expect them to pick up those mysterious floating objects very soon.
The experts are back with me, David Soucie, Les Abend, Miles O'Brien and Colleen Keller.
Colleen, that's a little bit of cliffhanger there that it could be potentially year before we resolve this. And we speak from some experience having dealt with Air France 447. Why is it so difficult this one?
KELLER: The answer is, Piers, it's just such a big ocean out there and the sensors that we have to use are so limited in range. It's just -- it takes a long time to deploy them to the bottom of the ocean and to drag them along in the tracks. And we have logistics problems, they get snarled up with thing, the sea stake gets too high, we can't deploy them because the waves are too big. The list just goes on. The sea is a very unfriendly environment and very difficult for search operations.
MORGAN: Miles O'Brien, I talked to Richard Quest earlier and I was saying, you know, that you -- can we assume at the very least, no plane will disappear again like this. Do you share his optimism that this is likely to not happen again?
O'BRIEN: Nothing happens that quickly in aviation. There's good reasons for that, you know. You don't want to buy the necessarily leading edge of technology if it isn't proven, because after all lives are at stake here. However, in this case the technology is there, it's not, it's just a matter of really in the grand scheme of thing, pennies to do this.
But the airlines are reluctant to spend pennies, because they operate on such thin margins. So it's really up to regulators to rule over, to step up and say this is important and it's frankly outrageous in this day and age that we don't know where every airliner is at any given time. There's nothing technologically or for that matter, financially that should stop that.
MORGAN: Yeah, I mean, David Soucie what still strikes me is and completely baffling me about this is if you drop your phone anywhere in the world, someone finds it, you know, they can track it, they can -- and then you got this vast new plane that just vanished for three weeks.
SOUCIE: There's -- Miles said it's about the regulators, the regulators deciding to go ahead and support this. Back before in regulated years, the regulators can say, "Hey, this is has to be done." They put it in place. The airlines would say, "It's too expensive for me to operate." So we would grant them the option of increasing their rates to cover these safety issues, since the regulation 1978, that doesn't exist anymore.
As a safety inspector, I had to justify financially why it is that it's good to do this?
ABEND: This already exist on the North Atlantic. I mean, that technology is already being utilized and has to be utilized -- well, of course it's regulated. But it's just doesn't -- it doesn't make sense to me that it would cause that much more ...
MORGAN: I mean, the thing that strikes me is, you know, when I fly say across the Atlantic, I can't use any WiFi. But if I fly in from New York to L.A. I can use WiFi (inaudible) don't do this. There's still this, in my view, slightly factious thing that it maybe damaging to the plane's radar because there's been no evidence of any of this ever damaging as far as I'm aware.
Is it not time that we just WiFied all planed for this kind of eventuality where if one passenger had been able to befool (ph) them all perhaps went under whatever what was going on was that I would have send a message to somebody.
ABEND: Well, they do. The technology is called ADSB, OK. Which basically tracks airplanes by -- the airplane itself generating a signal and this is part of the next gen of air traffic control. So the technology is already there, you don't need WiFi in other words.
SOUCIE: I'll tell you why. If I could swipe a card on the back of the seat and say I'd like to have flight following and pay $5? I'd probably do it.
MORGAN: Yeah. Yeah.
SOUCIE: I mean, but yet the airlines can't seem to do that.
MORGAN: What if I could -- if I was flying from New York to L.A. or the other way. I could send an e-mail to somebody. We're in trouble. Something's happened. There's a fire. Whatever it is, if one of the passengers had been able to do something but they were completely WiFied out so that option wasn't available and yet the technology is clearly there for all planes to be that way.
And it seems to me planes, there's still the airlines, they're still worried about doing it because there may one day be a crash although there has been as far as I'm aware because of the WiFi, right?
SOUCIE: No. And within the FAA, it felt to me like there was a conspiracy than action. And there's a lot of reasons as Miles pointed out to not jump to the first leading edge technology. But when it comes to wanting something done, it needs to be done. It's a matter of safety. You're not going to put anybody out of business for telling them to spend an extra $10 on every flight. That's not going to happen.
So hiding behind the cost is not working for me. It's the ICAO that needs to step in, it's the FAA needs to work with ICAO and also all the other organizations, VAA, VEA. Let's get it together and let's figure out what's going on and quit waiting six years. We had to wait six years now. We still don't -- the black boxes only ping for 30 days in record ...
MORGAN: Well, if I said to you after Air France 447 that a plane like this would disappear for three weeks years later. You'd be horrified.
SOUCIE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I heard, you know, earlier, Richard Quest was talking about that and I appreciate his desire to believe that five years from now it'll be different. I don't have that confidence. I think that something needs to change in the system. It's a systemic issue, it's not just a one time shot.
MORGAN: Well, David Soucie, Les Abend, Miles O'Brien and Colleen Keller you'll have the ignominious honor of being my final ever live guest on Piers Morgan Live and I will explain why that is at the case after this short break.
MORGAN: This is the final "Piers Morgan Live." After three years, two months, 11 days and over 1,000 shows, I'm departing to spend more time with my cricket bat. I would like to thank my amazing team. For (ph) their (ph) great skill and tireless enthusiasm, my friend and executive producer, Jonathan Wald (ph), and Jon Ferreter (ph), my irrepressible manager, who landed me this fascinating, unpredictable, challenging, but hugely enjoyable job. We won some, we lost some, but we gave it everything we had, and I've loved every minute -- well, almost every minute.
And also I want to thank you all for watching, even those who implacably disagreed with me, or just found my funny accent annoying. Regular viewers will know that the issue of gun control has been a consistent and often very controversial part of this show. And I want to say something more about that before I buy out.
I've lived and worked in America for much of the past decade. It's a magnificent country, a land of true opportunity that affords anyone, even British chances (ph) like me, the opportunity to live the American dream. The vast majority of Americans I met are decent, hardworking, thoroughly dependable people. As my brother, a British army colonel says, you always want an American next to you in the trench when the going gets tough.
But that's where I think guns belong, on a military battlefield, in the hands of highly trained men and women, fighting for democracy and freedom, not in the hands of civilians. The scourge of gun violence is a disease that now infects every aspect of American life. Each day on average, 35 people in this country are murdered with guns, and another 50 kill themselves with guns, and 200 more are shot but survive. That's 100,000 people a year hit by gunfire in America.
Now, I assumed that after 70 people were shot in a movie theater, and then just a few months later, 20 first-graders were murdered with an assault rifle in an elementary school, that the absurd gun laws in this country would change, but nothing has happened. The gun lobby in America, led by the NRA, has bullied this nation's politicians into cowardly, supine silence. Even when 20 young children are blown away in their classrooms. This is a shameful situation that frankly has made me very angry. So angry in fact that some people are criticizing me for being too loud, opinionated, even rude when I debated the issue of guns.
But I make no apologies for that. As Sir Winston Churchill said, if you have an important point to make, don't try and be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver, hit the point once, then come back and hit it again, then hit it a third time, a tremendous whack.
My point is simple. More guns doesn't mean less crime as the NRA repeatedly tries to tell you. It means more gun violence, more death, and more profits for the gun manufacturers. And to those who claim my gun control campaigning has been anti-American, well, the reverse is true. I am so pro-American, I want more of you to stay alive. But I've made my point. I've given it a tremendous whack. Now it's down to you. It is your country. These are your gun laws. And the senseless slaughter will only end when enough Americans stand together and cry, enough.
I look forward to that day. I also look forward to seeing you all again soon. Thank you. And God bless America. And while I'm at it, God bless Great Britain too. Good night.