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Audio Signals Detected by Chinese Ship; Massive Search for Flight 370; Flight 370 Might Have Turned to Avoid Radars; Black Boxes Technology; Chinese Government Worried about Flight 370 Passengers' Families Health

Aired April 6, 2014 - 06:30   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Now, in the meantime, a British Navy vessel is rushing as we speak to that area where a Chinese ship reported twice picking up electronic signals beneath the surface. Now, the HMS Echo is due to arrive there in less than eight hours at this point.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And authorities say the signals, a brief one on Friday and one on Saturday that lasted 90 seconds were about a mile and a mile or a quarter apart and would be consistent with the pings from the Malaysian Airliner's flight recorders. And meantime an Australian ship The Ocean Shield picked up a separate acoustic noise, as it's being characterized about 300 nautical miles away and authorities are treating all these reports with caution.

PAUL: Now, the Chinese ship's discovery of those pulse signals was first reported by state media. The information was shared later with the Australians and, of course, they are the ones who are leading this search in general.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Erin McLaughlin is in Perth, Australia. Erin, why did it take so long for the Chinese to share this potentially critical information?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a very good question. The Chinese did have a reporter onboard the vessel first breaking the news really to the world. That is the first that the Australians, Angus Houston, the man leading the search effort heard of this second acoustic event. He was then notified via officials in Beijing making a phone call.

Now, the first acoustic event, however, that the Chinese reported, they reported through normal channels, Houston said, in that press conference. Today he said he met with the Chinese ambassador for two hours last night. This was one of the topics of discussion. Out of that, he said that he concluded that language, language is an issue, therefore, they are pointing a Chinese-speaking representative to the joint agency coordination center. But given the fact that China has so many assets in the area, some eight vessels total. You have to wonder why a Chinese-speaking representative was not a part of this to begin with. Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right. Erin McLaughlin in Perth, Australia. We'll continue to have this conversation about communications between these countries. Erin, thank you.

Let's bring in CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest now and former senior FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole. Richard, let's start here with this - the most recent discussed flight path evading Indonesia's radar. How easy would that be -- and essentially, do pilots know where one country's radar ends and another country's radar picks up?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they will certainly know where a country's radar coverage will end, civilian radar, maybe not military radar, because that will be -- there will be handed over from one country to the next. The moment I saw this map of the turn and then the twist around the top of Indonesia and that was on the very first in (INAUDIBLE) sat map that we've got some weeks ago, that, to me, was always the most telling point moving from mechanical to nefarious. That to me spoke volumes of the way, in which this plane had been flown.

Remember, we have already been told, and we've been told several times, that the plane has been flown deliberately. Now, the authorities have been extremely careful not to say nefarious, not to say criminal, although there is a criminal investigation under way, but they always said deliberately. And the moment you look at that dotted line around the northern tip of (INAUDIBLE) -- and Indonesia, you start to see just the nature of what's being alleged.

PAUL: So, Mary Ellen, as a profiler, what is this potential route tell you, what does it indicate to you and what do you say to these reports, this is the second one now, coming from authorities who say this was an intentional turn?

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER SENIOR FBI PROFILER: Well, if the information is correct, I have a couple of observations. If it required an expertise from a pilot, someone flying the plane that knew what he was doing, understood the plane, understood how to fly the plane, then I would assume that that person is also aware of the flight pattern that they're taking and that there's nothing else out there. So, his knowledge is either good or it's not good. It's reported that this indicates his knowledge is good, so he's aware of where that plane is going to end.

So, it's not as though whoever is flying, it is flying around -- and I wonder where I end up. Based on his skill level, whoever is flying it did know where it was going to end up and secondly, it would also suggest to me that this is someone who - once they are flying this airplane is thinking strategically, in other words, his cognitive skills are really good because there's nothing to indicate from what I heard so far that the plane is in an erratic position where it's going up and it's going down and to suggest that someone is filled with fear or anxiety or concern, but they're thinking clearly. They are able to manage this airplane.

So, those are the two observations that really become pretty apparent to me if this information, again, if this information is correct.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Richard, let's put this map back up, please. I'm looking at the dotted line here and I see after this plane takes that hard left turn, can we put the map back up? It goes over the Malaysian Peninsula and then if the new map is correct, kind of goes around Indonesian radar. It does go over the peninsula. So, if they're trying to, you know, avoid being detected, again, maybe they don't have an -- there is no alternative, you're the aviation expert, I'm not. Would that be another route through this area that they could even skip Malaysian radar, as well?

QUEST: No, there isn't. Because if it had gone any further north, keep that map up and you'll see. Go any further north and you'll hit Thai air space. And although the plane was definitely tracked by Thai military, we know that, they've already told us. In fact, there was a rumor they were planning to shoot it down if it entered Thai air space. It avoids Thai air space. In fact, Victor, you put your finger on the biggest scandal in this whole incident.

And it is that the plane was able to fly, in my opinion, anyway, it was able to fly back completely across Malaysian air space. It was tracked by Malaysian military radar and nobody thought to send a plane up there to see what was happening. And we are, there are rumors that the pilot took the plane down to 12,000 feet. That's never been confirmed by the Malaysian authorities. It wouldn't have made much difference. 12,000 feet, you're still on civilian radar at that level and certainly on military radar. And you have to remember, the whole area, the countries involved in this area all have regional tensions of one description or another and so the place bristles with military hardware and radar.

So, the fact, I mean, look, the fact he -- or he, the fact whoever was involved, if they did it, went across the northern tip of Indonesia would not have evaded radar. It would have still been covered and we know it was still covered by radar. We know that, because, of course, we know the distances, we know the last known plot of the flight. And all those -- it's a sort of facts.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. All right. Our Richard Quest and Mary Ellen O'Toole. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you. So, news about audio signals detected by the Chinese ship are certainly giving some hope to the passengers' families because as you know, they just want answers. You can't help but just feel for these poor people as they're waiting for this information about what really happened. We have some details for you, next.


BLACKWELL: The breaking news in this search for missing Malaysian Airline Flight 370 this morning is that we have new information that the flight may have flown around Indonesia's air space, possibly to avoid being detected by radar.

PAUL: Now, over the last two days, a Chinese ship has picked up two signals similar to those emitted by black box pingers. They still do not know if it came from the missing plane, but a relative of one of the missing passengers said that they will "wait patiently" for confirmation. CNN's Pauline Chiou is following how the families are doing today. Pauline. PAULINE CHIOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christi, the Chinese families here in Beijing are aware of the latest developments with these possible pings and many of them watched the news conference out of Australia. But in general the families are exercising caution because there have been so many false leads in the past, with one relative saying, yes, this is a new clue, but there seem to be new clues every day. So, let's just wait until there is some sort of confirmation. Now, the Chinese government is worried about the health and the emotional state of many of these relatives because they're exhausted. They've been suffering, they're frustrated. So, the Chinese government has offered to take any of them to the outskirts of Beijing for some fresh air on Sunday and also to get some health checks at a sanatorium. Some of them have taken advantage of this offer, especially knowing that they won't get any sort of definite data, definite confirmation about these possible pings until Monday at the earliest. Christi, Victor.

PAUL: All right, Pauline Chiou, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Well, 13 ships, 12 planes, a huge search today for Flight 370. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is in the severe weather center. We know that there is some rough weather in the area, is it helping or hurting -- today's weather -- is it, how is it affecting the search?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, it's not having too much of an effect. We may see some minor little glitches out there. We do have this tropical cyclone. It's just on the west and southern fringes on that search area and it's carrying winds of about 50 miles per hour right around the center and the seas are about 16 feet. It's moving quickly, though, at about 30 miles per hour. But right where they're searching, right in the middle of that box, the weather is much better than it is right here on the fringes. And so, that's good news. We will see more cloud cover, so, we know that we're searching mainly on the ocean surface, which is good news. We're not needing those planes as much since we're looking for that ping but we are going to see a little bit of cloud cover today and it looks like the rain is going to hold off. And the other good news, the winds have really cooperated over the past couple of days and it looks like the winds are going to stay pretty low as we get into Monday and into Tuesday and we'll be holding steady between ten to 20-mile-per-hour winds. Some areas the winds will be even less. And so, very good news as far as that is concerned because, you know, we have been searching out here when winds are 40 and 50 miles per hour and it definitely doesn't help. So, that's a little bit of a break if you would call it that when you're out there in the Indian Ocean, guys.

PAUL: We hope so --

BLACKWELL: Some good news.

PAUL: Jennifer, thank you.

BLACKWELL: We'll continue our coverage of the search for Flight 370 in a moment. But another big story we are following, President Obama has now offered words of praise for the people of Afghanistan. Long lines turned out at election polls and the polling places despite threats of violence. Afghans voted yesterday on the successor to current President Hamid Karzai. Preliminary election results will be announced later this month. And this will be the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history.

PAUL: In Washington State, searchers are still looking for victims in last month's deadly landslide. We know 29 of the 30 victims have been identified now. But there's still 13 missing. Officials are hoping that warmer weather today is going to help their search efforts.

BLACKWELL: All right, here in the U.S. sports fans Kentucky Wildcats fans have a reason to celebrate this morning, with just seconds left on the clock that happened. Freshman Erin Harrison (ph) sink a heart- stopping three-pointer to give his team the win over the Wisconsin badgers. That happened last night and the wildcats will face UConn for the NCAA championship title on Monday in Arlington, Texas.

PAUL: So, we've been talking about these audio signals that were detected underwater giving some hope that Flight 370 might soon be found. Australia giving new credence to the reports as well. But I know a lot of you are sitting there going why is it so hard to find these boxes even with these latest technology? We'll explore that in a moment.


BLACKWELL: We've got more now about the sounds detected by these Chinese and Australian ships in the Indian Ocean. Possibly these sounds could lead them to the missing Flight 370.

PAUL: Yeah, everybody has at least confirmed that that 37.5 kilohertz they have been hearing is consistent with those you would hear from the plane's black box. If they are confirmed to be from M-370, it would be almost a miracle.


PAUL: I mean everybody is saying that. And I know you're sitting at home thinking, why is it so hard to find these black boxes with all the latest technology we have? Well, Brian Todd explored that for us.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It can descend 20,000 feet below the surface, can detect this sound coming from the black box's pinger from two nautical miles away. But experts deploying the towed pinger locator right now is a Hail Mary pass.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're asking a big, big ask, you know, it was never designed to do this.

TODD: Officials at Phoenix International, the manufacturers of the Pinger locater agree that these conditions are far from ideal. To be most effective, it needs a starting point, a confirmed piece of wreckage from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

(on camera): If they haven't found debris, is it pointless to use this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your question pointless is not a good description. It is very, very difficult if they have not found debris to even know where to start.

TODD: The pinger locator's limitations, it's passive. It listens for signals from the pinger, it does not send out signals to pick them up. Obstructions like underwater hills or mountains can impede it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Weather is a big factor. If the boat is doing this on the ocean waves, now you're attached to -- umbilical to this thing, so this thing goes up and down and is much less stable in the water.

TODD: The first towed pinger locater was designed in 1976. In the last 18 years, it's been used four times in major commercial air crashes. In 2009, it passed right over the black box from Air France Flight 447 in the Atlantic. In that case, the pinger locater failed to find the pinger. The manufacturer says that's because the pinger had broken off from the black box, it may have been damaged. But in three other cases, success. On 1996 Bergen air crash in the Caribbean, the Egypt air crash in the Atlantic in 1999, and the 2007 crash off an Adam Air jet off Indonesia. The black boxes were found, but the search areas were relatively small. Malaysia Air is the fifth attempt and it's still a long shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got nothing to lose. It certainly got a better shot out in the Indian Ocean than it has alongside the dock in Perth.

TODD: An official from the manufacturer expresses confidence telling us, if that pinger on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 is working and they are searching in the right area, they'll find it. The ping locater's record, he said, speaks for itself. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


PAUL: OK, so, Martin Savidge next is going to take us inside the 777 simulator to talk about those pingers and, also, this flight path, this new one and he's feeling pretty confident about it. He's going to show us why.


PAUL: So glad to have you with us. Two big pieces of news we're covering in the Flight -- the search for Flight 370. First of all, Australia officials now coming out and saying, they are putting a lot of credence into these two pulses that were detected near the search area for Flight 370 from that Chinese vessel yesterday. Yesterday they -- they had said they weren't sure, they hadn't heard anything, but they are this morning now saying they're taking this very seriously.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, that's the word from Angus Houston. Also, another development overnight, analysis of neighboring states radar tracks from a team there in Kuala Lumpur now says that Flight 370 quite possibly was diverted around Indonesia, not going across northern Indonesia, but look at this map, taking the path around Indonesia possibly to avoid Indonesian radar. Again, that's based on analysis of neighboring states radar tracks. So, what does this mean? Let's turn now to CNN's Martin Savidge and flight simulator instructor Mitchell Casado. Good morning.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Mitchell and I, Christi and Victor, have been talking about this ping and where it was located. And I have to say, you know, I have been skeptical about it until Mitchell pointed out to me exactly where this ping was said to have been identified by this Chinese vessel and it's really very much on the route that we've been talking about.

MITCHELL CASADO: That's right, Martin. It's actually just a little to the east of the search area. Not far at all. We are pretty much right on that line.

SAVIDGE: If you remember, of course, there were the two southerly tracks that have been detected thanked to the intercept pings and they have been sort of tweaking that and refining that information over the past couple of weeks. So, we now find that this location of the pinger is right off of that track. In other words, they were right in the neighborhood. So, I think that at least its location gives you a strong sense that they could be on to something.

CASADO: I agree.

SAVIDGE: The only other issue I should point out is, you know, there was often talk of that eighth kind of partial ping and if they had determined where that actually came from that would be vital because I believe that the experts and pilots think that that final ping was probably at the point where the aircraft failed. And if it's true that it did go into the ocean, then that would have been right about that moment, so that ping would be closest to what you would anticipate to be the final location of this aircraft. Whether this really proves to be the answer or not, we don't know. We'll pass it back to you, Victor and Christi.

PAUL: The mystery continues this morning, but we are getting fluid information coming in and so glad that we can share it with you. Good morning, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you, welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. You are watching CNN special breaking coverage of missing Malaysia Flight 370. And we begin with the two major breaking developments overnight including startling new details about the jet's possible path. A senior Malaysian government official tells CNN that Flight 370 may have been flown on purpose along the route designed to avoid radar detection.

PAUL: And this comes from new analysis of radar data that shows the plane flew north of Indonesia. Again, here's a look at the map here. North of Indonesia and around Indonesian air space after it made that mysterious left turn we've been talking about and flew across the Malaysian peninsula.