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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

AirAsia Flt 8501 Search Back Under Way; 7-Year-Old Sailor Gutzler Survived Small Plane Crash; Mother Remembers Daughter Who Died in Plane Crash; Jury Selection Begins in Boston Bombing Trial; The Mystery of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Widow

Aired January 5, 2015 - 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. Thanks for joining us.

Right now searchers are battling some of the roughest conditions imaginable, racing to find more pieces of AirAsia 8501, with some reports, some reports saying that crews have located the plane's tail section and potentially the black boxes. That would be a major development.

Later, we will tell you the story of the girl who is the only survivor of a plane crash that claimed the lives of sister, parents and a cousin. Tonight, how the 7-year-old girl crawled through the cold and dark woods more than a mile to get to safety.

Plus, what potential jurors saw and heard as the alleged Boston marathon bomber goes on trial.

We begin, though, with breaking news and all the other major develops. AirAsia investigation recovery effort.

The search getting back under way after very rough weather put a stop to it yesterday. A captain in the Indonesian Navy reportedly said the tail section might, and we say might have been found. Now if confirmed, which so far it's not, it would be a major development because, obviously, the tail is where the airliner's cockpit and flight data recorders are located.

The investigation tonight yielding new theories about why the airbus A-320 fell from the sky over a week ago on flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore. Meantime, there are the new theory on the table tonight about what triggered the crash, Indonesian officials pointing to engine icing as the plane flew through some of the same king of brutal weather that's caused so much trouble for recovery crews.

Our Paul Hancocks is back from the search area at sea. Kyung Lah tonight has the latest on the investigation. We begin with her.

Kyung, what are you learning?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're learning that there is extensive work happening in Jakarta to prepare for the next phase of the investigation. That being analysis of what is found at sea. There are going to be two laboratories here looking at that. The first will be a DNA lab. That lab, if people cannot be positively identified in the search zone, those remains will be brought here. Families over the last ten days have been giving DNA samples. The other one, the critical one will be looking at the wreckage. That wreckage will be reassembled once it's all recovered here in a Russian hangar. They are going to look at what happened to the plane, was there any pressure malfunction? How was the experience on the plane? What kind of force was experienced on the plane?

And, of course, Anderson, you are talking about those black boxes. Once those black boxes are recovered and brought here to Jakarta, what they will be looked at is those final moments in the cockpit, the voice recorders telling people, the investigators here, why there was no distress call. The other being what happened with the data, the data recorder, telling us about the final moments aboard that plane -- Anderson.

COPPER: And Kyung, there are questions now about whether the airplane actually had authorization to fly that particular route on Sunday. Correct?

LAH: There is an extensive probe, trying to look at this exact question. What we have learned is that AirAsia was allowed to fly this particular route four days a week. It was not allowed to fly on Sunday. Why? Because that capacity from Surabaya to Singapore, Indonesia was near capacity. It did not have the right to fly on Sunday. Yet, it managed somehow without permits to take off.

So, this is raising some alarm bells, not just about AirAsia, but about Indonesian air safety overall, this probe looking at who allowed it to take off? Why was it allowed to take off? And why did no one stop it --Anderson?

COPPER: All right, Kyung Lah, appreciate the update. Thanks.

Paula Hancocks of firsthand the challenges out at sea and the job this issues aboard one of the search vessels. She joins us now.

So the search for the wreckage, the victims, it has been slowed down, as you said, by this rough weather. What was it like to be out there on a search vessel?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, you can see it's gorgeous here. But, of course, it's 100 nautical miles to see at least to that search location. As we went out on Sunday, the conditions really deteriorate pretty rapidly once you get out ton to the open sea, the Java Sea. The waves become very significant. You can see the swell. There were bursts of rain. Although we understand that that could get worse as the week goes on.

And you can really see how difficult it would be for the divers to be able to get into that water. And, as we know, the divers have said they've been in and they had zero visibility, which obviously is no way to work when you're trying to search for bodies and debris.

Now, I was standing on the deck with the crew. They were looking out to see if they could spot anything. And it is incredibly challenging. You see something, which could be wood, it could be rubbish, it could be seaweed and then a second later it disappears behind a wave. And it doesn't always reappear.

So it really is incredibly challenging for these teams to try to find things floating on the water. No one of the crew members did spot something. They called it in. He wasn't sure what it was. And the captain has said that another ship went to the area and found a seat. So, certainly, eyes on does help -- Anderson?

COPPER: And how long does it take to get out to the area by ship and how long do the ships stay out there for?

HANCOCKS: Well, the ship we were on was a search and rescue vessel. It wasn't a large vessel by any stretch of the imagination. It took us eight hours to get to the outskirts of the search location. We were basically dropping off a pinger locater to one of the larger ships.

Now, the larger ships can cope with these conditions far better. They can stay out on site which, of course, is vital so that they have as many daylight hours as possible. And of course, with a spotlight, they can work through the nights as well.

So they have these smaller boats are resupplying them, taking the much-needed equipment to be able to get under the water and see and hear what's down there. The captain of the ship that I was on was nervous. He said he had a moral dilemma. He had a responsibility to those on board to keep them safe. But he also felt the moral responsibility to help look for debris and bodies. He said in any other condition or any other situation, he would not have gone out on those waters -- Anderson.

COPPER: Paula Hancocks, appreciate your efforts. Thanks very much.

Few people know the challenges of conducting this kind of search better than David Gallo who co-led a similar effort to find Air France flight 447. He is a CNN analyst and he joins us now along with CNN safety analyst David Soucie, author of the new book "Malaysia airlines flight 370, why it disappeared and it's only a matter of time before it happens again.' Also with us, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

So Richard, the weather clearly is one of the major obstacles right now. And the monsoon season in this area goes, I think, until April.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And they are going to be looking for any opportunity they can to make whatever searches they can. They know they're in the right area. I mean, you know, that is the only piece of encouraging news. The reports of sonar, "Reuters" reporting, that sonar has located something which might be the tail section or the out section of the plane.

But really, it is a question of now, just managing to get down and actually see what is real and what is not.

COPPER: And David Soucie, I mean, the report as Richard just said about from one ship, and it is just from one ship, that they may have located the tail of the plane. That really, in many ways, the key to this search.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It could very well be. However, in this aircraft, it's not the same as the 777 as to where they're both located in the far back tail. These are separated, one in the back of the tail but the other is forward of the restrooms in that aircraft.

COPPER: So you wouldn't get both?

SOUCIE: They find the tail, not necessarily no. It could be broken off into two parts and completely different areas. So, it's going to be very, very challenging search.

COPPER: David Gallo, when you're dealing with these kinds of conditions, and we saw the rough conditions on the surface, what are divers facing when they try to retrieve something like the black boxes? What are the conditions like underneath?

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST: Yes, it's horrible. I mean, visibility near zero. I've heard them say they literally can't see their hand in front of their face. So approaching something like a fuselage or entering it is going to be absolutely impossible. There is also some things that can snag them. It is just not the best and they'll probably going to wait until things settle down quite a bit before they try something like. I just hope that these are the pieces of the fuselage, to begin with.

COPPER: Because I mean, David Gallo, it is -- you talk about the danger for the divers and I think people who don't dive maybe don't realize. When there's no visibility, I mean, you're talking about, you know, tons of twisted steel that's sticking out from all different directions. Divers could easily get caught up on that.

GALLO: Sure, horrible. I mean, they could get pinned against the, you know, some piece of metal or God forbid they need help. They get stuck that gets them out of there. But even to live something like the black boxes as they got to be able to see them first, or a piece of fuselage that got to be able to work around it.

So I think, and it is going to be days if not weeks, maybe a month, before the visibility settles down. I mean, that seas can get calm fairly quickly but this other stuff will take time before it gets much better than it is.

COPPER: Richard, what do you make of this report that they may not have had the permits to fly on this particular day, given the high volume of flights? Because we already know there's a request to change altitude. And I think the early reports, at least, were one of the reasons that permission was not finally given is because of other flights flying on the same route.

QUEST: The reason -- AirAsia Indonesia did have permission to fly every day during the week. And that permission was reduced to four days a week because of the number of capacity in Surabaya and Singapore. They hit the roof that they were allowed. COPPER: Or too many planes flying?

QUEST: No, no, no. There was too many seats -- too many people were running that particular route. In other words, the bilateral only allows so many seats a year to be sold.

COPPER: So not a question of too many flights in the air at any one time?

QUEST: No. This was the question of reducing the number of seats because they were hitting capacity and, therefore, Indonesia AirAsia was reduced. It was totally --

COPPER: And that's hitting capacity as set by --

QUEST: But they did agreement between Indonesia and Singapore that allows airlines to fly this number of flights. What is extraordinary about this you're told you can fly this many people to x and I can fly this many people to Y.

But what's extraordinary is that the route planner of Indonesia AirAsia, wouldn't have known in great detail what h or she is entitled t block? And that the airport, when shut you in the take off and about this because bilateral are all happen all the time except on open skies situations. You are told you can fly this many people to X and I can fly this many peoples to Y.

What the is that the route planner, Indonesia AirAsia wouldn't have known in great detail what he or she is entitled to plan and that the airport, when scheduling the takeoff and landing slots didn't know.

COPPER: So it raises questions about the sort of the organization of -- or the management of these things?

QUEST: I think it's extraordinary that an airline is flying a plane on a day when the regulations says it's not allowed to fly it. There may be -- and I think what's happening here is you're seeing a difference between AirAsia, the parent company in Malaysia, the big bait and these affiliates as they're called, Indonesia to AirAsia.

COPPER: David Soucie, this model airbus, the A-320, I mean, it is obviously a very popular aircraft type, used by airlines all over the world, including in the United States.

SOUCIE: Right.

COPPER: Supposed to be able to fly through bad weather. That's what, you know, I think that's what it has so many people surprised, that it could just fall out of the sky at cruising altitude.

SOUCIE: Well, this was more than bad weather, Anderson. Part of our safety system is to allow aircraft to fly through bad weather. However, the mitigation is when you prevent it from getting into these level six thunderstorms.

Aircraft don't fly through thunderstorms. They avoid them. And that's how you mitigate this and reduce this risk from happening. And I just can't fathom how this aircraft was allowed to get into the thunderstorm that far without air traffic control saying something about it.

It also goes back to this fact that they didn't have the authority to go. I think Richard is right and spot on on this, except that it goes even deeper than that. Because remember, they sold tickets to this flight. They knew they couldn't have this flight. But they sold tickets to this flight. And that was allowed not only by the authorities but also by the airline itself.

This goes much deeper than just saying, hey, you can't fly this thing and they say, OK. No, they knew they couldn't fly this thing. And it went far enough to where they were selling tickets on a flight that --

COPPER: Well David Soucie, are you saying that this flight should not have even been allowed to take off, not just from the scheduling matter, reaching the limit, but from the weather? Because I mean, they hit this weather relatively close to Surabaya, not too long after they were up in the air.

SOUCIE: Well, there is two different issues and I kind of mixed the two in that last statement there. But I want to make sure I cover this piece about there was deep enough that they sold tickets to it because selling tickets to the airline, that's done months in advance. And they knew months in advance that this flight was not going to be available to them.

So what it tells me is this lack of oversight at Indonesian level. Of why did they not know this and why did they allow it to happen? There needs to be safety in there. But as far as flying into this weather, I don't see that it should have flown into the weather either. It should have been around it or it should come home. I think there was pilot push here and that desire to get there when it really had no chance of getting through that storm. Richard?

QUEST: The Indonesia can hardly come out, the authorities in Indonesia, and simply just to say this plane, I did not have permission to fly on that date. And traffic control, the regulators, the entire infrastructure in Indonesia needed to deal with this. We know that there have been problems with it in the past. Many have been put right. This has raised a very worrying issue. But this has raised a very worrying mission.

COPPER: Richard Quest, thank you. David Gallo, David Soucie, as always, thank you.

As always, quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR so you can watch "360" whenever you like.