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Signal Detected in Flight 370 Search; 21 People Slashed, Stabbed at School; Obama Gives Keynote Speech at Civil Rights Summit

Aired April 10, 2014 - 08:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We have major breaking news in the search for Malaysian Flight 370. Just moments ago, we learned that the plane's altitude dropped to 4,000 to 5,000 feet for a short time as it crossed back over Malaysia. A source tells CNN the final words heard from the plane were spoken by the pilot, not the copilot, another clue there. And the Malaysian air force did, indeed, scramble planes after the flight was reported missing.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of news to be working through. Those are just some of the new developments this morning.

Also this comes after Australian officials sat said another under water signal was detected in the Indian Ocean. We have full coverage on the latest developments for you.

Let's start with Nic Robertson live in Kuala Lumpur -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we've now been told by two sources that five pilots of Malaysian Airlines who knew the pilot and copilot aboard Flight 370, listened to the flight recordings between air traffic control and the cockpit, the last recorded message that says "Good night Malaysian 370." This is new information.

They also say there was no third person in the came from the pilot. This is new information. They also said there was no third person in the cockpit, no sounds of distress, anything abnormal when that comment was made. Two minutes later the transponder on board the aircraft was switched off.

We also now know that the aircraft dropped in altitude once it flew back across the Malaysian peninsula, dropped in altitude for a distance of about 120 nautical miles, dropped to about 4,000 to 5,000 feet. That's a best assessment made using Malaysian military radar. We also understand that after the Malaysian air force heard from Malaysian airlines that Flight 370 had gone missing, they put in the air what they're calling search aircraft according to one source. Another source said they were jets, but search aircraft put in the air to see what they could find as a precautionary measure. In some days before the military was actually able to determine the full extent of what they could discover on their radar. Chris.

CUOMO: Nic, thank you for that piece.

We go from what happened originally to now how do we find the plane. New information there as well -- a new under water signal is giving hope that the crews maybe closing in on the flight's location. Remember, every additional ping they pick up is allowing them to triangulate and squeeze the search area smaller.

Erin McLaughlin is following that part of the story live from Perth, Australia -- Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, some potentially good news out of Perth tonight. Australian officials tell CNN one of their sonic buoys in the vicinity of the Ocean Shield has detected a signal that may or may not be a ping, but saying it looks promising.

They're taking the information and analyzing overnight to know for sure. This could be significant, because it could mean that the batteries of the black box pinger have not yet expired. It could also help them, as you mentioned, narrow down the potential search field.

Now, these sonic buoys are actually pretty interesting. They were developed especially for this search. They're dropping them by the dozens onto the ocean surface, equipped with hydrophones that go beneath the surface, detect these signals, send those signals back to the planes for analysis.

Now, Australian officials also telling CNN today that the HMS Echo, the British vessel, is speeding on its way to meet help with the search for pings, because as we know, Kate, time is of the essence.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Erin. Thank you very much for that update.

Let's talk about all these latest developments more with Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general of the Department of Transportation. She's also an attorney who represents victims and families after airplane disasters.

And David Soucie, CNN safety analyst, the author of "Why Planes Crash." He's a former FAA inspector.

Hello, again. Another hour, more new breaking news and developments in this search. It's really unbelievable.

Mary, I want to get your take. I have a lot of questions, we all do, about this dip in altitude. From cruising altitude to 4,000 to 5,000 feet for a period of time. What do you make of this? MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it can be suggestive of a number of things, but right off the top of my head, of course, two things. One, you're out of the way of other commercial traffic which travels in much higher attitudes, and you're down and out of the way of other traffic and also you're down to an area, an altitude where you don't need pressurization.

You know, the rule of thumb certainly for general aviation pilots is 10,000 feet. So you're below that and you and your passengers will be able to breathe without pressurized cabin, without oxygen. Two reasons right there why you may want to get down and out of the way of other traffic.

BOLDUAN: And also, and Nic Robertson's sources say, David, that they believe this maneuvering was done in order to avoid a high-traffic area, as Mary is suggesting as well.

I wonder, though, how they do it and how long they make this dip seems difficult. Is it? If you go from cruising altitude to 4,000 or 5,000 feet, sustain that for only some 120 nautical miles before going back up to cruising altitude. That seems unusual.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It's even less than 120 miles. You're plan doesn't go straight down or straight back up.


SOUCIE: So, you're talking about the descent to 4,000, and it climbed to 4,000 within 120 miles. Remember, you're flying at 400 knots, that doesn't give much time to get down there. So, how long was that altitude? I don't know. What they do know is that's when it supposedly went off radar. That's how they know it was below 5,000, and then it came back on radar at this point.

So perhaps it was making that descent before that point and coming out after the -- that's what I would assume, because to do that in 120 miles would be very difficult to do.

BOLDUAN: And we, of course, need to be careful. We don't know the why. There's no way of knowing why this happened, but does it suggest to you anything of how this happens? Is that maneuver, David, something that can be pre-programmed into the plane, or is that an emergency maneuver?

SOUCIE: Well, both. It can be programmed in as an emergency maneuver. So, the flight level change button that changes the altitude, brings it down, is set up for an anticipated depressurization or some event. We've got to get lower, smoke in the cockpit for example, you want to get lower so that you can literally open the windows and air out the cockpit. So that's the reason you want to go down there.

The flight change, you can set what altitude you want it to stabilize at. So, if you set 5,000, it would go to 5,000. You'd set the airspeed you want to be at when you get to 5,000. So, it's going to -- you hit that button in an emergency situation, you put your mask on, you push the talk button so your microphone is on in that mask.

And then you push the flight level change. It drops to 5,000 feet and starts to level out as it does the throttles, the auto throttles come back up to maintain whatever speed you have in there. So, that's that.

What I don't have an explanation for is going back up to 35,000 feet. If they're trying to avoid an air traffic route, and I haven't actually looked at where those air traffic routes are overlaid on a chart, but I wouldn't imagine there's a 120 mile route we're trying to avoid, and now we're underneath it now, let's go back up.

BOLDUAN: We can go back up.

SOUCIE: It doesn't make sense to me.

BOLDUAN: Another thing that we're learning also this morning, Mary, is that Malaysian officials say that they did scramble search aircraft, is how they're describing it to Nic Robertson now. This comes after Malaysia Airlines reported to Malaysian authorities that 370 was missing. The interesting thing is -- the left hand might not be talking to the right here in terms of where they scrambled the aircraft to.

SCHIAVO: Exactly. It brings up so many questions. This fact alone causes me to think of so many additional questions I'd like to ask the investigators, not the least of which is how far did they follow them, where did they go, what air space did they enter?

By the way, did Indonesia pick up the scrambled jets or tracking planes when they entered their air space or did they just break off at the edge of Malaysia air space? And just what went on up there and who saw them?

BOLDUAN: And one thing that is settled, I guess, finally this morning, amazing that it has actually has taken this long for it to be settled. Who spoke the final words in the cockpit? We've now learned that the captain spoke the final words in the cockpit, which were "Good night Malaysia 370". That's settled. We do know that.

Did we learn anything from that other than it's something to establish in the course of investigation, David?

SOUCIE: Well, I think that, yes it is. But what stands out to me is this period of time, it's almost 12 minutes between, before that was said. So, what that indicates to me is that would be the right amount of time to do the exchange, to say I'm relinquishing control, I'm no longer the pilot flying. I'm now the pilot not flying.

So, that would make sense in that communication and the checks that happened during that would have occurred during that time. So, it's possible that the pilot was the pilot flying until that moment of which it was transferred over, then he became the pilot not flying. But I don't know that it has a relevance at this point until we find out what was going on in that -- BOLDUAN: You pointed out earlier, David, and we have to leave it here, it is confounding. The more information we find, as Mary as well point out, the more questions, of course, that are raised when we now hear about this dip in altitude and when it comes back up to cruising altitude. The course, the path that it's taken, the lack of communication -- there's no communication from the cockpit within that period of time, it is confounding.

It doesn't answer really anything for us other than maybe communication was cut off. Maybe something else was going on. We just don't know. The investigation continues.

David, Mary, thank you so much.


CUOMO: All right, Kate.

The other story we're following this morning is what happened in Pennsylvania, 20 high school students and a security guard became the victims of a vicious knife attack. The suspect, just 16, allegedly wielding two eight-inch kitchen knives, slicing and stabbing at whomever was in his way.

Miguel Marquez is in Murrysville, Pennsylvania with the latest.

Miguel, what do we know?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we know the worst injured went through surgery again last night and is still clinging to his life. The only way police say anything changes today on the legal front is that individual dies today. But it sounds like he's holding on for now.

We also know that the FBI descended on Alex Hribal's home here. They seized his computer, a cell phone, other computers from the house and other documents, trying to understand what happened.

This happened a little after 6:00 a.m., a very, very vulnerable time because everybody was at their lockers, out in the hallways, not in the class ways when they can hunker down and protect them. And when this happened, it was slow for some students to realize something was going on and they need to get out of the school.

It was then an assistant principal tackled him, another assistant principal, a female, subdued him and a security officer was able to get cuffs on him until police arrived. As they subdued him, the only thing he told them, he wanted to die.

Chris, Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Miguel, thank you very much. We'll continue to cover that story, for sure. Thanks very much for the update.

President Obama is traveling to Austin, Texas, today for a very special anniversary. He's going to deliver the keynote address at a civil rights summit marking 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, the event taking place at the LBJ Presidential Library.

That's where our Suzanne Malveaux is live in Austin with much more on this.

Good morning, Suzanne.


Really amazing when you think about it. Three days, four U.S. presidents -- we have seen Carter, we've seen Clinton. President Obama will be here today to give the keynote address. We're also going to see George W. Bush, all this to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was a historic occasion, of course, historic legislation, barring discrimination during one of the most tumultuous times in our country.

But there are a number of things that will also be tackled today that we anticipate, two very important questions. One is, what are the civil rights issues, most important pressing issues today? Is it gay rights, is it immigration, is it health care?

We heard from President Carter talking about that he still believes it's women's rights, the fact that you having sexual slavery in this country alive and well today.

The second issue, the second point is why can't we get anything significant, anything big done in Washington? What can we learn from the civil rights movement?

We heard from President Clinton yesterday, and he said he believes politicians just don't -- they have not engaged in the art of deal- making. That they're not actually able to give up the power, if you will, or even take a chance, a risk that they might lose their seats to do something big in this country.

(INAUDIBLE) it was a different time with LBJ, with Johnson. He had 40-plus years of experience with Congress. He was a former Senate majority leader before he was vice president and president. Had a real different relationship with Congress. He had a movement to support him, to back him and, of course, a very big personality.

So, there's differences in the leadership today. But those are the two things that the president, of course, is going to be dealing with moving forward, how do we get those big things done in this country and also a tribute to what was done 50 years ago -- Kate, Chris?

BOLDUAN: An important day to mark that. Suzanne, thanks so much for the preview.

CUOMO: Power was with the people then and today. It's just about recognizing it.

BOLDUAN: Yes. CUOMO: All right. Coming up on NEW DAY, new signals from the ocean floor that could lead to the missing plane called Flight 370. We also have a new timeline on the dramatic altitude drop. And new information about what Malaysia's military did and did not do when the jet went missing.

We're talking to former FBI assistant director about what it means. Stick with us.


CUOMO: We are following breaking news in the search for Flight 370. There's a lot of it this morning. Investigators confirming the jet dropped to as low as 4,000 feet as it crossed Malaysia. Also, the Malaysian air force did indeed scramble aircraft, in quotes. Why? We don't know whether they were fighters or search planes. That's still an open question for us this morning. Obviously they lead us to two very different conclusions.

Investigators are also telling CNN it was the pilot who spoke the final words from the cockpit, not the copilot. Also, a sonobuoy has heard a sound that could be from the black boxes, maybe shrinking the search area even more.

Let's get into this with Tom Fuentes, CNN law enforcement analyst and former assistant director for the FBI.

Tom, good to have you.

The difference between military jets and search planes. Relevant?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think it is relevant because it lets you know what the authorities believed was happening right at that time that they believe they had to go look for this missing jet because it probably crashed as opposed to someone was invading their air space and they needed to defend Malaysia. So, it's a huge difference.

My concern with the reporting is that the sources that state things as if that's the absolute fact as we know it. Then a few days later that fact changes or the analysis changes and it makes a big difference, especially when it comes to -- you know, it's one thing to have new mathematical algorithms applied to studying the Inmarsat satellite to determine the arc in the Indian Ocean. That's new territory, something that hasn't been done before.

But studying these pretty simplistic radar systems is not rocket science. The radar technicians, both from Malaysia and the others that have looked at this material have been looking at it for more than 30 days.

So, I don't understand how all of a sudden there's this theory or that theory. Every time they come up with a theory they seem to know exactly what the pilot was thinking. He was avoiding radar detection. That's why he flew around Indonesia. No. Check that. The next day, he flew down to avoid crowded airspace, which is very, very logical. You know, before long, we're going to have that the jets and the Malaysian Airliner had a dogfight in the air. I think there's so much confusing information coming out, I'm not certain it's coming from the investigators or sources who claim to be on top of this investigation.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's test it. Let's start with the last point. It goes from 4,000 feet back up to normal flight altitude. What does that tell you?

FUENTES: Well, how do they know it went to 4,000 feet? They're saying it disappeared aye off their radar or something. You know, we're not certain how effective their radar is to know these precise calculations.

CUOMO: All right. They didn't find out the military, by their own admission, for a significant period that something was in their air space. Well, if it's been that long, why would you scramble fighter jets? Obviously, if there was a threat, you would already have been hit.

And then they would then start their search efforts looking east when we believe that the military jets or whatever planes they were, were sent west. Does this lead you to a conclusion that maybe no planes were scrambled? Maybe this is a bluff to show faux competency and reaction?

FUENTES: Well, I don't know that. As far as scrambling jets, we can't exactly throw rocks at anybody because we knew we had hijackings in progress on 9/11 and scrambled jets and they arrived in New York City in time to see the flames coming from the World Trade Center. So, we weren't exactly defending our own air space effectively either on 9/11.

So, I mean, on that, I'll give them benefit of the doubt on that. But what I'm saying is if you were scrambling search planes and the last time they saw that radar or had the transponder go out, you would think they would be searching either over the Gulf of Thailand, the South China Sea or on Malaysia itself, that it crashed online.

Now, all of a sudden, they know certainly and they're claiming to have known it that night, that that plane got as far west as the Malacca Straits. So now what? The jets are scrambled, the search planes. There's too much confusion in the kind of reporting that's coming out. When the reporting comes out, they suddenly are able to assign the thought processes of the pilots along with the movements of the airplane.

CUOMO: Well, they couldn't even get his voice straight. When it comes to what the pilots did and didn't do and what comes out of the investigation, I think that's the weakest aspect of this. I think that, so far, and we've obviously covered it every day, there's no information that really is suggestive of nefarious intent.

Forget about the cockpit. You've got his flight simulator, you've got his computer, you've got all his friends. You would know something about who this person was talking to or what he was planning if there was some type of plot at this point I suspect.

But back to whether or not they scrambled planes at all, why do you start the search north and east if you know you scrambled planes west?

FUENTES: I don't know. I don't know. That's a good question. I think it questions whether the facts being put out are accurate.

CUOMO: There's pressure for information, there's pressure to redeem, there's pressure to justify their actions. It may make them put out information before they think it completely through. The problem to that is you have a very scrutinizing press and you got 239 families who are desperate for the right answers. And every time you mislead them, it's very painful. True.

FUENTES: When you say they are putting out information, information is coming out through back channel, not being officially put out by them.

CUOMO: That's right. That's fair clarification. We don't know who it is all the time, especially when it's not our reporting.

Tom Fuentes, appreciate you putting your head on this situation for us. As always.

FUENTES: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY: developments coming fast and furious in the flight for 370 now that there's word of another possible signal detected from a black box. We'll be covering that.

Plus this, what could have caused a 16-year-old student to go on a stabbing spree at his Pennsylvania high school? We're going to talk to Dr. Drew Pinsky about that.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

We're monitoring breaking news in the search for Malaysian Flight 370. First, CNN has learned the plane's altitude dropped substantially, much more than previously thought as it crossed back over Malaysia. Also, a source says the final words from the plane were spoken by the pilot, not the copilot, as initially thought.

And also this information came after -- all of this information came after Australian officials said another possible under water signal was detected. That would be five in generally the same area since Saturday. Important developments all around.

Let's bring in David Gallo, co-leader in the search for Air France Flight 447 and the director of special projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Leaning of your expertise of underwater searchers, specifically on this one, David, I want to talk -- we have learned a lot, much more than we ever thought we would about the towed ping locater. How it works and what it does.


BOLDAUN: And what you use it for.

GALLO: Right.

BOLDUAN: I don't think we know as much about the sonobuoys. Explain the same. How do they work? Why do we use them?

GALLO: Well, they're basically listening devices. The beauty is they're dropped from an aircraft.

BOLDUAN: Why is that a beauty?

GALLO: Well, a ship can go about 10 miles an hour, 12 miles an hour, and when towing the TPL, it's towing about two miles an hour. So, that's a very --

BOLDUAN: You're showing an example of the sonobuoy being dropped from a plane right now.

GALLO: Yes, the sonobuoy from a plane -- the planes going hundreds of miles an hour, so it can get out to a place lot quicker, you can drop multiple sonobuoys, and you can set them all up so they're all listening at once. If there's a sound to be heard, many several of those, in a good day, will pick up the same sound at the same time.

It's in a way like if you had several people in a room and there's a sound and everyone points to the direction, it helps you locate where the sound came from.

BOLDUAN: So, we know the towed ping locater --

GALLO: Right.

BOLDUAN: That can work at a maximum depth of some 20,000 feet.