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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Germanwings 9525 Data Recorder Found; Friends Remember Emily Selke; Accusations against Bowe Bergdahl; Breaking News about Flight 9525. Aired 8-9pm ET

Aired March 25, 2015 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:14] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We have breaking news that truly could change everything we now know about the crash of Germanwings flight 9525 with 150 people onboard including three Americans. Reporting in The "New York Times," citing a senior military official and evidence from the airbus A320 voice recorder suggesting one pilot had left the flight deck prior to the crash and was unable to get back into the cockpit. The Times quoting the official, an investigator saying, quote, "the guy outside is knocking lightly on the door, there's no answer. And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer. You can hear he's trying to smash the door down."

Joining us now on the phone is retired airline captain Jim Tilmon. Joining us also as well is Peter Goelz, former managing director of the NTSB, also CNN safety analyst, David Soucie, former FAA accident investigator and author of "Malaysia Airlines flight 370, why it disappeared and why it's a matter of time before it happens again." And with us as well CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest.

Richard, let me start off with you. This "New York Times" report, there are couple of different ways to read it. There's nefarious way of reading it which is one pilot has another pilot locked out of the cockpit, doesn't allow him back in and brings the plane down or something happened to that pilot inside.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And if you look at what "The New York Times" is reporting, in the first part of that story, it talks about how the two pilots had an ordinary calm, cold, and pleasant conversation. Then one pilot leaves the cockpit and then the supposed lockout happens. It could be nefarious, but I think the suggestion and more to us agree that the pilot who remained inside the cockpit had some sort of medical emergency heart attack.

COOPER: But you're basing that solely on the fact that there was a calm conversation previously?

QUEST: No. I'm basing in on the fact that it's more likely than to find a pilot. That's one thing to commit mass suicide aboard 150 people. The chances of that are extremely remote. The chances of the first option (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Medical emergency. QUEST: Yes, a medical emergency. It does raise the question, though,

why there was only one person in the cockpit. If one pilot leaves, somebody else is supposed to go back in, a member or crew so there's always two people there to prevent this from happening.

COOPER: And David Soucie, do pilots not have keys to the cockpit?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, it's a no alone zone for a reason. Meaning that in order to unlock that door, it has to be unlocked from the inside. Regardless, there's a dead bolt you can put in there too. But when there's closes, and there is no way out, they're locking it. You can have a key, you can have a code. But most likely it's the fact this door was shut and that pilot was alone in there, which is against all procedures.

COOPER: So pilot is not supposed to be alone in the cockpit.

SOUCIE: No. When that pilot, with the other pilot leaves, the procedure is the flight attendant is supposed to get into the cockpit with the pilot so he's never alone.

COOPER: For this very reason.

SOUCIE: Exactly. For this reason, yes.

COOPER: Jim Tilmon, what do you make of this?

JIM TILMON, RETIRED AIRLINE CAPTAIN (via phone): Well, I think that the gentlemen that makes good sense. My concern is why would remaining in the cockpit answer the door? And he did that once and that pilot did have something that they did want to do, awful. Or, as you say, maybe had a heart attack. Who knows, but that's never should happen. There are all kinds of protocol to prevent this from happening. Because the door, you can't not get down, you can't kick it down, you do any of that - I mean, it's bulletproof. So somebody went up to the cockpit had to find one way or another, decided to or couldn't do anything else. Failed to open that door.

COOPER: Peter Goelz, I suppose others could say, well, maybe there was some sort of, you know, mechanical emergency that the pilot in the cockpit was dealing with, but that doesn't explain why that pilot wouldn't at least say something or try to yell out to the pilot who was outside the cockpit which would then have then been picked up by the voice recorder.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE NTSB: No. There's two things I want to point out. One is when the BEA, the French investigative agency had their press conference today, they were extraordinarily careful in what they said. And they said, you know, that they had picked up sounds of voices, of alarms, of sounds within the cockpit. But they were very careful. And the Times report tonight is not knocked down by the BEA. They were asked to comment and they could have said, this is outrageous, you know? But they did not. So I think we've got to give some credibility to the Times report. But you know, during my time at the NTSB, there were two cases where

pilots, we believe, deliberately flew airplanes with heavy passenger loads into the ground. Now, you know, I hope that that's not the case again. But --

[20:05:15] COOPER: What was the reasoning in the investigation? Was it ever determined why those pilots decided to do that? I mean, obviously, it's hard to know with suicide, but what was in their minds?

GOELZ: Yes. They were extensive background investigations on both of these events. One is the silk air accident of the 737. The other was the Egypt air crash of 767. And in both cases, the pilots involve involved that we believe, the NTSB believed, were involved in doing commanding the plane into the ground or into the ocean. Both had some serious issues going on in their lives at that time. One was going to be fired within the next week upon returning to Egypt. Another had some severe financial reversals and had lost a number of friends in an accident recently. So there were warning signs in both of their backgrounds once the investigation took place.

COOPER: Well, I mean, this is just a dramatic turn of events, this information that The "New York Times" has been reporting.

I want to bring in Nic Robertson who is at the staging area of the crash site for the recovery operation. What exactly do we know about the two men flying this plane or at least the two men supposed to be flying this plane?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's interesting here, Anderson, it seems at least at first initially looking at this report is that we've heard some interesting details from Lufthansa, from Germanwings, about the pilot, you know. That it had been flying this aircraft for 10 years, that he had 6,000 flying hours.

But when you look at that and you weigh up, well, we haven't heard so much about the co-pilot. It is that normal to hear so little about him and focused and attention just been on the pilot, the expectation was that he would be in the cabin, he would be flying the aircraft, therefore, you know, he's the one with so much experience. If you're the airline, you would talk about him. But now it does seem to shift the focus on, well, the co-pilot, the first officer, how much experience did he have and why hasn't this been part of the discussion by the airline until now, Anderson.

COOPER: And David Soucie, is there anything we can tell from the way this flight descended over minutes, dropping 27,000 feet over the course of that eight minutes about yesterday. The talk was some sort of mechanical failure. Does the way this plane descended give any indication on what may have happen to who was at the control?

SOUCIE: Well, in my opinion, it's not in any kind of parallel with the two suicides that Peter Goelz was just talking about. Because in those accidents, it was quick. It was abrupt that it was changed, direct change in altitude. The other one with more erratic and it may change a minute went down. So this is indicative of that, unless it was just a command that was put in and left there in this, you know, sat back and did nothing which it was something that was suicide. It doesn't make the pattern of a suicide.

COOPER: Right.

Richard, I guess that does argue against the notion of suicide, although, again, to try to sort of think rationally about somebody who is kind of planning suicide enough, and again, we don't know the case here, but the person could have just brought the plane right down into the ground.

QUEST: Look. If you were going to do it, you just going to push it down and it goes forward, you know, all the way. This gives more credence to the idea that something happened, some sort of movement in the cockpit that nudged the side stick. Remember, the (INAUDIBLE) in the side stick, not the wheel. Not just the side stick or pushes the controls in some way and the process begins that there can't be arrested because obviously the person outside (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Peter, is that what would have had to happened? That something would have to have been be hit in order to start the plane to descend like this? I mean, what is the process to actually get the plane to descend? Say if the person had some sort of medical emergency, I mean, how much -- what does it take to get the plane to start to descend like that?

GOELZ: It would not take much. And you know, if they did have an emergency, we'll know that. There will be some sounds of that taking place and Richard is right. It wouldn't take much. I mean, he could slump forward and it has a side stick command. He could slump against the side stick and push it forward. And that would probably do the trick. But, you know, this is just a terribly shocking revelation.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, we literally just heard this moments before air. In terms of the investigation, David Soucie, obviously, you've worked on investigations like this, what happens now? I mean, is it just greater analysis of that voice recorder, of all the data recorders?

[20:10:00] SOUCIE: That's what where they are going to be focusing on. The flight data recorder at this point has less important if they find something conclusive with the cockpit voice recorder. But it is still going to be pursued. It still going to have to find out what the command was. Was it a manual entry command or was it and auto pilot to start that descent? That is going to start to put clues together.

QUEST: But suddenly, many pieces of the (INAUDIBLE). So we don't know if it's correct, but suddenly, pieces of the jigsaw come together, Anderson. Notably, no response from the cockpit during the 10 minute descent. Well, we now - I have a pretty good idea why. Because whoever in there was either incapacitated, unconscious or dead.

COOPER: And is it impossible for the pilot who was outside the cockpit to, in any way, contact a tower from outside the cockpit?

QUEST: Pretty much, yes. You could have a cell phone, there's a sat phone, the plane would have had one. But of course, the sat phone, well, where would it have been? In the cockpit.

SOUCIE: The only way is through a maintenance channel. There's a maintenance communication system. I'm not sure if this aircraft had it or not but most of these airbuses have a communication system for maintenance reporting back to the home base, which would be one possibility.

COOPER: Jim, does it make sense to you why a pilot would leave the cockpit at this point of the flight? I think we lost Jim there.

Peter, does it make sense to you why a pilot would leave the cockpit at this time?

GOELZ: We've all flown extensively. I see it happen and not regularly, but it's not uncommon. And there are somewhat looser regulations when you're off the continental 48 states. I've noticed overseas that the pilots still get up and use the restroom, get a cup of coffee.

But, you know, the one thing, one more point that I want to make and see what the other gentlemen think of. I mean, this really leads to the argument for cameras in the cockpit that are real time streaming. And this has been debated. The NTSB has recommended it. This is going to be an absolute where camera in the cockpit will be - would have been absolutely critical in determining what really happen.

COOPER: What is the argument against that?

QUEST: I'm giving smile at Peter's excellent suggestion because pilots are vehemently against it.

COOPER: Why?

QUEST: There's, the preponderance of views, it's guarded as being spied on. It is one thing to have your voice being recorded through our time loop. But pilots traditionally do not like the idea of a camera in the cockpit watching their every move, even that it was on the loop of a two hours and it was --

COOPER: I got to say, though, as a passenger, does it really matter what pilots want or don't want? I mean, just in terms of safety.

SOUCIE: In terms of pilot union drives a lot of that. It dies affect safety. But the point is, nowadays, this argument was made several years ago, many years ago when this first came up. And Peter, I think was on the board at the time. And when that happen, the technology wasn't quite there yet to be able to do it. Nor did you see it in the workplace, in the regular workplace like here. But everything we do here is on camera. Everything we do in every workplace nearly is on camera somehow.

So that culture has changed. And I think now would be the time to push it forward and get that because it is extremely important.

COOPER: It's also interesting, Peter, and I guess - I mean, I guess it makes sense from a security standpoint from that a pilot wouldn't have a key that would allow them into the cockpit because then that, you know, if there was a hijack situation and the pilot is outside the cockpit, then that key can be taken and somebody could get in first.

GOELZ: Well, that is right. And you know, there - I know back after 9/11, there was considerable debate about whether they should have a hidden key where the one of the flight attendant should have a way to get in. But I think it was determined, I remember attending a couple of working sessions on it where they decided that new procedures would be put in place to on how you flew the plane if a hijacking took place. Well, under no circumstances could you leave any way to get back into the cockpit. That that was simple too dangerous.

COOPER: You know, Nic Robertson, you spent a lot time covering MH 370, obviously, which to this date remains a mystery. Hearing this new information, though, for investigators it will really help them focus in a very rapid way. I mean, it really changes the entire nature of the investigation at this stage.

ROBERTSON: Well, it certainly puts (INAUDIBLE) and increase (INAUDIBLE) into finding that still missing data recorder. But you know when you look at MH 370, and I absolutely deferred to your panel of guests who are experts on this field and I am not. I cover the occasional air crash. But when we talk about the (INAUDIBLE) suicide died at the aircraft, and the Egypt suicide died of the aircraft, very sudden and rapid down with trajectory. This similar absolutely to the ten minute sort of downward trajectory of this aircraft.

However, when you bring into question what happened in MH 370 which the most intelligent analysis at this time seems to be an aircraft flown on the series of maneuvers with a possible intensions, and this is - it is still unknown. But with the possible intention of disappearing the aircraft.

It raises the question of what that other person along in the cockpit might have - they might choose to do something which doesn't conform with what we would have considered a suicide (INAUDIBLE) in the past. That maybe the game on that has change. The world has moved on and change substantially since though it is terror in the Egypt suicide incident.

[20:11:00] COOPER: Right. I mean, we simply --

ROBERTSON: I absolutely defer to our panel on this. They are the expert. But these are the things that come to mind.

COOPER: What would have changed with the finding of the flight data recorder? Because, you know, you talk about the possibility, OK, if it is a medical emergency and the pilot slums forward. He hits. How much will the flight data recorder may clear?

QUEST: It will tell you. The flight data recorder will - I mean, you take the two together. It is not one or the other. But you will see on the flight data recorder the inputs that were made. Now, you won't know that he is drop dead or that he slummed on it. But you will save the captain's stick move forward by x degree.

COOPER: And it could be a symbol of that moving a stick forward and not actually in putting things.

SOUCIE: But on this control, it is hard to move it forward without moving it to the left and the right if you are not being intentful. If you lean over and slummed over, you hit that control stick to be able to hit, straight where you are going straight and that heading didn't change, that's peculiar. And I'm kind of backing on that because of that -- Which ever way something else that we don't know about.

(CROSSTALK)

SOUCIE: And the flight data recorder would give us that information.

QUEST: Whichever way this pans out nefarious, medical emergency, if it turns out that the substance of the Times report is correct, and that it was one person locked out of the cockpit while there is another person did something or died or whatever inside, then there is no question at this moment that regulations was broken. The procedures failed and it should (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Well, also, it also changes what the passengers may have known was happening. I mean, yesterday, the thought was well, perhaps they didn't know until the end what was happening. If you have a pilot banging and yelling on the cockpit door, that certainly alert at the very, you know, least the people in the front of the plane that something terrible is going on. And if it is going on for eight minutes, that's not a good sign.

SOUCIE: You know, (INAUDIBLE) racer would tell you that this, what we are discussing right now is impossible. That there have been two consecutive failures. The failure of the exit. There - he shouldn't have exited. When he did exit, the flight attendant should have gone back in. And then that happens. And just out of the blue, when that accident happens, when that strange thing happens twice in a row to have in advance, now you have a medical emergency on top of that? How often you have a medical emergency --?

COOPER: So you are actually now coming around more to something nefarious?

SOUCIE: I think I am. Because statistically, it doesn't make sense. It really doesn't.

QUEST: It's an enormous leap to go there bearing in mind the small number of cases there have been that the nefarious option.

SOUCIE: How many cases of heart attacks in a commercial aircraft have there been?

COOPER: At the moment that a pilot leaves the cockpit and nobody else comes in. (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: There's a lot, obviously, we don't know. We got to take a break.

Nic, thank you. Jim Tilmon as well. Richard, David Soucie, Peter Goelz, we are going to be returning to all of you throughout the next two hours. We're on until 10:00 east coast time tonight.

Coming up, two young women remembered the friend that they lost onboard this flight, flight 9525.

And later, Bowe Bergdahl's attorney is on the program. Why he thinks his client shouldn't go to prison for leaving his post. Bow Berghdal is charged today with desertion and more. Details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:21:57] COOPER: Well, the breaking new tonight, stunning information. Evidence from the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the wreckage of Germanwings flight 9525. "The New York Times" reporting that one of the two pilots had been locked out of the flight deck, first knocking and then trying to actually break down the cockpit door. The Times citing a senior official and investigator familiar with what is on that voice recorder.

Now, whether that means the pilot inside the cockpit was trying to keep his colleague out or simply was incapacitated, we simply do not know. And with us now on the phone is former U.S. air marshal, Darelle Joiner.

Darelle, what do you make of this?

DARELLE JOINER, FORMER U.S. AIR MARSHAL (via phone): You know, I think it's pretty -- you have situation as the pilot or the co-pilot actually what it was locked out of the exit cockpit door which tells me that potentially that he was locked out from the inside. I believe some of the reinforced doors that there's a second lock mechanism that can be controlled from the inside.

So I mean, clearly this speaks to potentially the pilot passing out because I think they have some type of code where they're going to make sure that, you know, they're keeping everything safe. Because he or she goes outside could potentially be under duress if something wants to go down within the cabin and the pilot inside would remain safe.

But if that was the case you pass out and you're pretty much out of luck, you're not going to be able to get back inside or if there was some type of a plan or somebody possibly went inside when the co-pilot came outside, he decided to get back in or potentially if the pilot who was inside actually had a plan to do some harm to the aircraft. He too would have that opportunity to do so once the co-pilot is outside the door.

COOPER: And Darelle, I mean, it is impossible to actually break down one of these doors because we know according to this --

JOINER: Well, you know, impossible, maybe. It's reinforced. It's definitely going to make it more challenging than a regular cockpit door from some of the older school airplanes before the reinforced doors. So definitely it's going to be challenging. And then if there is some intent where (INAUDIBLE) to take the aircraft down at him, pretty fast pace. And not, you are also trying to stand up, going against the forces of the aircraft at the same time. So I think that's going to actually create a little bit more challenge as well.

COOPER: And that is one of the confusing thing about this, Darelle, as we are talking now before. Because if somebody -- if the pilot or the pilot had the controls then wanted to actually just bring the aircraft down immediately, he could have actually brought it down in a much more violent and a much more immediate, you know, rather than an eight-minute descent from 27,000 -- going down 27,000 feet over the course of eight minutes.

JOINER: You know, I think it can go both ways, Anderson. I mean, and this, I'm speaking that I don't know the guy or guys in a situation like that. If your intent is on a suicide mission, if in fact, you're going to take a slow death or you got as fast as possible.

I think if that was the case, you have somebody potentially inside who knows that everybody on the outside can't get in. So he could have taken their time. But also it could also be the other end of the spectrum where he or she could have passed out and wasn't able to come back and still have the -- pilot wasn't in control of the aircraft.

[20:25:14] COOPER: Yes. Darelle, I also want to bring in our panel. Jim Tilmon, Peter Goelz, David Soucie and Richard Quest.

And again, Richard, we were talking about this before. But it is very difficult to put one's self in the mind frame of somebody who may have wanted to bring down a plane and to say well, they would have done it this way. We really have no idea. I mean, if somebody, it's very possible, as David you mentioned, somebody want have wanted time to think about things before --.

SOUCIE: We do have two incidents of that happening before. And in both of those incidents, it was not this type of a flight path. So we do have some --

COOPER: Were those in the days, though, before reinforced cockpit doors?

SOUCIE: No.

COOPER: They were afterwards?

SOUCIE: Yes.

QUEST: We don't know. We don't know whether it was nefarious or we don't know whether it was medical emergency. And we can't know. You know, we will have to wait for a further information from the transcript. COOPER: But it seems, even though the flight data recorder has not

been found, the cover for it not the actual data recorder, one can rule out much of what was discussed yesterday about a mechanical failure that a pilot would have been wrestling with because that is something which, no matter how much they were wrestling with something, they could have opened up cockpit door.

QUEST: Yes.

COOPER: And for the very least, answered to the pilot yelling let me in.

QUEST: The switch is literally to the side and it's very simple. And they do it 100 times a day. So yes, they can do it in their sleep.

COOPER: So there's actually a switch to allows the cockpit door to opens.

SOUCIE: It's just behind. It's almost in the middle console. And it is just to the --

COOPER: So they don't have to get up and turn around?

QUEST: No. Cockpit door release.

COOPER: Jim Tilmon, I think you're back with us.

TILMON: Yes, I am. I am back. And I wanted to suggest some things to you.

Number one, I'm not an airbus pilot. But I understand that the way the flight management works that it sounds to me like it would be very difficult to just accidentally bump the control or even slump down on it and have the airplane go into a controlled descent, maintaining the same airspeed, maintaining the same heading only thing changed was the altitude. That's one thing.

The next thing is we don't know if someone else didn't enter the cockpit. At least I haven't been told that. We don't know if there was somebody else in there legally, got in there legally. We don't know who that would be or we don't know what that person's purpose would be in the final analysis.

I'm concerned that we are going down a rabbit hole here with the feeling that we have the captain outside, the co-pilot in the airplane. And I hope that's the case. If it is not, then we, again, are going into a bad area.

But if we have an airbus guy here on the panel, I want him to respond to this thing about the law you're in and whether or not you can attack just bump it or accidentally move the stick and have it just and all those other things. Remember, the only thing that changed was altitude all the way down to the ground.

COOPER: And David, that was your point earlier which is to not have any deviation from the flight path other than the descent. SOUCIE: If it was an accidental bump, it wouldn't have maintained.

And you can look exactly. It was 26 degrees. That -- maintained that all through this period. So even before and after this bump supposedly. So you would have to bump it exactly correctly and hold it there for enough time where it acknowledged the descent and then let it go of it and let it stabilize at that descend. So it's just very peculiar to me. I don't think it quite fits that as Peter had said.

GOELZ: Yes. I mean, here's the point, gentlemen, I mean, that we need to consider. If and when we find the data recorder, it will tell us definitively what happened. Because if it took a series of steps, which I believe it did, to put this plane into a controlled dive, then that would argue against a medical emergency. I mean, did he remove the plane from autopilot? You know, if there was a series of steps that would be reflected in the data recorder, then that raises a very --

COOPER: And Peter, you are often as possible that is what was required a series of steps.

GOELZ: I think I'm agreeing with Captain Tilmon. It is most likely you would have to have a series of steps. Because the plane was wings level, steady flight, straight in. But if there was more than one step, then we have a very serious issue.

COOPER: Everybody, we just got, by the way, got a response from Lufthansa. A spokesman telling us the company did not have any information about the "New York Times" article. In so many words they are saying, no comment.

QUEST: If we are --

GOELZ: Which is not a denial.

COOPER: Right, yes.

QUEST: If, as Peter makes the point, and Jim makes the point in this, that you are going to say your several steps, therefore, the medical emergency option becomes less likely, therefore, you move to, quote, the nefarious option, then it's almost as if you want to have a moment of silence for the gravity of what one is now dealing with. In the true definition of the word, the enormity of what we're dealing with. Because in that situation, you are talking about somebody who committed suicide and at the same time committed 149 murders.

COOPER: And again, we do not know at this point. I think it's really important to just say that. And I think a lot as Peter mentioned, a lot will depend on that flight data recorder and learning about it. But I keep thinking about the pilot outside that door banging on the door yelling to try to get back in, realizing something, realizing the plane is going down and then the word kind of spreading among the passengers as they hear the pilot banging on that door. I mean, it's just a horrific, horrific ...

QUEST: Horrifying. COOPER: Circumstance.

QUEST: We've moved into -- this evening with this news, we have moved a quantum leap into a different situation.

COOPER: And literally, this breaking news occurred, we just got "The New York Times" report shortly before going on air. Again, we're trying to follow this throughout the evening. We're going to be on until the 10:00 hour tonight. Because no matter what now has occurred, the two scenarios, at least the two scenarios that we've been discussing, it radically changes what exactly occurred on board this flight and what brought this flight down. There's a lot more to talk about in the time ahead.

Also coming up next, two young women remember the friend that they lost on flight 9525.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back again. The breaking news tonight. "The New York Times" reporting that one of the two pilots had been locked out of the flight deck. First knocking and then trying to break down the cockpit door.

[20:35:01]

COOPER: This is as the plane is descending. Eventually crashing. "The Time" citing a senior official and investigator familiar with what is on the cockpit recorder. Medical emergency or something else. We simply do not know. Was it a nefarious desire on the part of the person behind the controls or did they become unconscious due to some sort of medical emergency. Now, meantime, the process of airlifting remains from the crash site has already begun. So, more tonight from Lufthansa, the airline is commissioning two special flights tomorrow from Dusseldorf and Barcelona to Marseilles and is offering to take family members as close as possible to the crash site.

150 men, women and children were killed on board that flight. People with entire lives ahead of them. Three Americans, we now know, including Emily and Yvonne Selke. In the words of a family statement, two wonderful, caring amazing people who meant so much to so many. So many, including Emily's two close friends, Meredith Perry and Haley Holmes join us tonight.

COOPER: Does this even seem real to you at this point?

HALEY HOLMES, FRIEND OF AMERICANS KILLED ON FLIGHT 9525: No, not at all. I just keep saying over and over it's surreal. You always see these things on the news and you think it's horrible. But you never know anyone involved. You never know anyone. The chances that are so slim. And even yesterday morning, I woke up and on my phone like I had a text from my friend. And I had a breaking news alert about the plane crash. And I remember thinking, wow, that's really sad and I opened my phone and I went about my day until I found out. And it's just ...

COOPER: How did you hear the news?

HOLMES: Meredith called me. She heard from Emily's cousin who called to let her know and then she called to let me know.

COOPER: You three were best friends in college?

HOLMES: Yeah, yeah, Emily and I lived together for two years and Meredith was my best friend in freshman yeah, so that's how she met Emily and then we all hung out together.

COOPER: What was Emily like?

MEREDITH PERRY, FRIEND OF AMERICANS KILLED ON FLIGHT 9525: She was probably one of the best people I've ever met. She put good in every situation. She saw good in everyone she met. Whenever you were down, she had something to brighten you, to say, you know, it's going to be OK. Just keep your head up. And that's who she was.

HOLMES: I know her specialty was pictures. Like she would always text us animal pictures, cute pictures all the time. You never expected when she was going to do it. But it was good. And that is everything about her. She was just good and attracted good people. And was so honest and so there. I mean, she had to be because she lived with me. So, I didn't really give her a choice.

PERRY: But that's who she was.

HOLMES: Yeah, she wanted to be there.

COOPER: And she loved music. Because she majored in the music industry.

HOLMES: Yeah, we majored in music industry together. Her passion was really festivals. She loved festivals, going to them, planning them. That was something that she really loved.

COOPER: Was there a type of music that she loved more than ever?

PERRY: Her favorite band is "Modest Mouth."

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: She loved it.

HOLMES: She loved all music, though. She's a huge music fan.

PERRY: Yeah, huge music fan.

HOLMES: Start singing - anything?

COOPER: Is that right?

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Is that something she wanted to do later in life, do you think? HOLMES: Perform.

COOPER: Perform or work in the music industry?

HOLMES: Oh, I think her goal - her end goal was that she would love to work with festivals, with planning festivals. I don't think if she ever wanted to be a performer. We did a songwriting class and she was pretty unhappy about having to do that.

COOPER: Did you know her mom as well?

HOLMES: Yeah.

PERRY: Yeah.

HOLMES: She was amazing person as well.

PERRY: Yeah. She was very -- it's hard because a lot of people think about the tragedy of losing a young life and they kind of forget that there was someone else there. And Yvonne was an amazing person as well. She was so caring, even in our lives and I remember when I graduated, like she gave me all these gifts and she -- it was just little things, like about my hometown. And stuff that I know that Emily told her that she just remembered. And she was that kind of person. She was dedicated to the people that she loved. And it just made her such a lovely spirit to be around.

COOPER: Have you been able to talk to anybody in the family?

HOLMES: Yeah. We've been in contact mostly with her cousin who is the one who told us and kind of, she's been our point person through it.

PERRY: Emily's whole family, everyone I've ever met is an amazing person. They're all very kind and loving. And they left behind Emily and Yvonne left behind a really amazing big family that loved them a lot.

COOPER: I mean if there's any - there is no consolation. I mean they - at least they were together. And she wasn't alone.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's kind of a horrible thing because you don't want to say, like, it's better that two people are gone than one.

[20:40:00]

HOLMES: But I suppose it's a small comfort to know that they weren't alone. Yeah. Yeah.

COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know about Emily?

HOLMES: I think what people need to know about Emily and Yvonne is not -- I've seen articles saying like the five things you need to know about them. And it's so hard because I don't think there's five things to know about them, to put a person's life into five bullet points. It makes no sense to the people that know them. And so I think what people need to know about them and what people should know about them is that they were two - not two Americans on a plane, not a mother and daughter on a plane, but two, Yvonne and Emily. Two amazing, loving people who left behind friends and family who love and miss them a lot. And I think that's the thing that people need to know about them.

COOPER: And you always will.

HOLMES: Yeah.

COOPER: Thank you so much for talking to us.

HOLMES: Thank you.

PERRY: Thank you.

COOPER: Horrible loss. Again, we'll continue to bring you any late word tonight on the possibility of one of two pilots had been locked out of the flight deck of the aircraft. We're going to jump back into it. As we learned morning, again, we're on until the 10:00 hour tonight on the East Coast. There was, as you know, other very big news tonight. Just ahead, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl charged with desertion for leaving his post in Afghanistan before he was captured by Taliban militants. And before his release was secured in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. More on that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We have more breaking news tonight. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl story to get another dramatic turn today. Nearly a year after he returned to the United States as part of a controversial swap for five Taliban prisoners, today the U.S. military charged Bergdahl with desertion and a charge called misbehavior before the enemy for leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009 before he was captured and held captive by the Taliban and his associates for five years. Now, he could face life in a military prison. And here's part of today's announcement of the charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLONEL DANIEL KING, U.S. ARMY: Sergeant Bergdahl is charged under the uniform code of military justice with one count of Article 85, desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty and one count of article 99, misbehavior before the enemy by endangering the safety of a command, unit or place.

[20:45:12]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, also today we're learning more about the graphic details of Bergdahl's five years in captivity in his own words. It's the first time we've heard this. Barbara Starr joins me now live from the Pentagon. His lawyer released a letter and it really is very dramatic what Bowe Bergdahl is saying. Describe what he talks about in the letter about his captivity. BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's the first time

we've heard it in his own words. Graphic physical details being beaten with a cord, he tried to escape several times, he says, but he was caught. Once he just had no food, no water. And he says his body just gave out. He talks about being very, very ill. And let me just read you one thing that he says in this long letter of details. He says, "I was kept in constant isolation for the entire five years with little to no understanding of time. Told I was going to be executed. Told I would have my ears and my nose cut off." Very graphic details of what this man went through. But the military is making the point, his lawyer says one thing, the military will tell you he still will have to be held accountable for these charges. He left his post in a combat zone. That is not acceptable in the U.S. military obviously. His lawyer is going to try and make the case that there's been so much publicity about this that Bergdahl may not be able to get a fair hearing on it and that he's not someone who committed the act of desertion. Anderson?

COOPER: His attorney also included some documents pertaining to Bergdahl's military record, essentially showing positive military reports prior to his leaving.

STARR: That's right. And one was very striking. Back in May of 2011, let me just read you one of the documents. And it says, "The Secretary of the Army has reposed special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and professional excellence of Bowe Bergdahl." He is, therefore, promoted from specialist to sergeant. Now, the military will tell you that when someone is held in captivity, did they get their regularly scheduled promotions. He also has several hundred thousand dollars in back pay. What all of this is going to, again, it is becoming clear the defense will make the case, look, you promoted him. Yes, it was standard procedure. But you promoted him. You said he was patriotic. The National Security Adviser Susan Rice, said he served essentially with honor and distinction. How can you now charge him with desertion? This will be a very interesting case to follow for the next several months. Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah, Barbara, thanks very much. In the next hour, we're going to have my conversation with Sergeant Bergdahl's attorney Eugene Fidell.

Up next, more on our breaking - late word tonight on the possibility that one of two pilots of flight 9525 had actually been locked out of the cockpit prior to the crash, was banging on the door and trying to break down the cockpit door to get back in.

Also ahead, the lives lost and how they are being remembered by those who loved them tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are returning to the breaking news reporting in the "New York Times" on the possibility that one of the two pilots aboard Germanwings 9525 had been locked out of the flight deck, locked out of the cockpit and was actually banging on the cockpit door trying to break it down to get back in as the plane was going down. We're talking about how easy it would have to be - to let him back in if somebody wanted to or been able to. This is a look at a switch inside a cockpit for opening that door. On the left side of that console, which is right beside either crew member. Back with our panel Richard Quest, David Soucie and Peter Gholes. So essentially, David, there's two options for that switch.

SOUCIE: Right. There's three positions. There's off and this is the control that bolts that door shut. There's the off position, there's the normal position, then the locked position. So, when someone leaves that cockpit, we have - we're working on the procedures right now to find out if Lufthansa had the procedure if you're - the cockpit, you put it in the locked position. If not, if it was in the normal position then the co-pilot would have been able to access the cockpit at that point.

COOPER: From the outside. With the ...

SOUCIE: Correct. Correct. So, in this case from the information we have from the "New York Times" it was - it had to have been in the locked position, or if not he could have overridden that and come in, if it was in normal position.

COOPER: And I think in that picture what - upper left where it says cockpit.

SOUCIE: Yeah, upper left, there's a kind of a toggle switch there on the upper left. This has been modified because the printer was installed in this in the location it normally is.

COOPER: You know, I've been ...

SOUCIE: It's slightly different.

COOPER: Some tweets from people and it's a good question about if the plane is going down over the course of eight minutes and it's a gradual descent and there's a pilot banging on the cockpit door yelling to be let back in, what about cell phone calls from passengers at least telling loved ones something is going on?

QUEST: Look where it was. It's over the Alps.

COOPER: No cell phone towers.

QUEST: There's no cell phone towers. It's - I mean you're still - five miles up to begin with and there's no cell phone towers that you can be able to get a signal. So, and, of course, the passengers would have obviously realized the plane was descending and they would have - if this report is true they would have certainly seen that the front - the commotion as he was hitting the door and that would have transmitted itself right through the aircraft before very long.

COOPER: It's a chilling thought. The crash of flight 9525 claimed 150 lives and that's important to continually remember. There are families, there are friends had no warning, no inkling that they would never see their loved ones again. And we began to learn more today about some of the victims, and how they are being remembered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A moment of silence for opera singers Maria Radner and Oleg Bryjak outside the Opera House in Barcelona where the two had performed in a Spanish production of Wagner "Siegfried", a classic German opera. Both singers were returning home to Dusseldorf.

MARIA RADNER (singing)

COOPER: 34-year old Maria was born there and on the plane with her husband and 18-month-old baby. Oleg, 54 years old was part of a German opera company based in the city. Oleg and Maria, both internationally known singers, the opera world mourning the loss of the performers both professionally and personally.

STEPHEN HARRISON: I broke the news to the ensemble and we had a piano dress rehearsal of "Aida", and I summoned everyone to the stage and told them the tragic news and they were stunned.

[09:55:04]

HARRISON: People started crying. So that we just couldn't go on with the rehearsal.

COOPER: Three Americans were also on board the flight, two of them mother and daughter. Emily Selke, a recent college graduate was traveling with her mother Yvonne, a U.S. government contractor. Emily was a music industry major in college who graduated with honors. She recently worked for a company that provides office spaces. Emily's distraught father told "The Guardian" the two loved traveling together and loved being in each other's company. In the statement, the family said they were deeply saddened calling Emily and Yvonne two wonderful caring amazing people who meant so much to so many.

Another pair of family members traveling together, Carol Friday and her son Greig from Australia. They were on holiday together in Europe, 29-year-old Greig wanted to find a job teaching English in France. Carol just celebrated her 68th birthday on Monday the day before the crash. The family of Carol and Greig said they were in deep disbelief and crippled with sadness.

UF: They will forever be with us in our hearts, memories and dreams.

COOPER: Marina Banderas Lopez-Belio was in her native Spain for a funeral and was on her way home to the U.K. She was traveling with her seven-month-old baby Julian. Marina bought their airline tickets last minute. She just wanted to get home as soon as possible.

Paul Andrew Bramley just finished his first year studying hospitality and management in Switzerland. He spent a few days in Barcelona with friends and was on his way home to the U.K. with a stopover in Dusseldorf. Paul was about to start an internship in his home country next week. His parents said he was a kind, caring and loving son. He was the best son his mother said. "He was my world." Also on board the plane 16 students and two teachers from the same high school in Germany returning home after a week in Spain for a Spanish language exchange program. The head master of the school said he first hoped the students missed their flight, but then received the news that all of them were on board. The community left stunned.

Our condolences, of course, to the victims' families and friends. Our live coverage continues into the next hour. We're going to have more on the new - the new "New York Times" report that one of the two pilots on flight 9525 was actually locked out of the cockpit before the crash, banging on the door, could not get back in. Even tried to smash the door down. Latest developments on that ahead.

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