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tv   First Look  MSNBC  May 19, 2016 2:00am-2:31am PDT

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it has been now eight hours since egyptair flight 804 disappeared from radar. that plane took off from charles de gaulle airport about 11:09 p.m. local time in a 04 disapped from radar. it took off at 11:04 and headed to the cairo airport when it simply vanished. it happened around 2:45 cairo time, just vanishing from radar screens. according to officials, the plane was just about ten miles into egypt air space when it disappeared from the radar trackers and it was reportedly flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet at the time. that would be a high cruising altitude. according to egyptair, there were 56 passengers on board that flight including three children. also seven crew members and three security personnel on board on behalf of egyptair. none of the passengers are reportedly american citizens. right now, egyptian armed forces are conducting search operations with a number of planes and naval units and greek military
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sending in two ships to help. we hope it will be a rescue before it turns into the recovery operation. egypt's military is reporting it has received no message or signal whatsoever from the plane after it disappeared from radar. we are getting some images now of family members of passengers on board that missing flight arriving at charles de gaulle airport overnight. a crisis center has been set up at this airport. and we should note that 15 french citizens were on board this flight. 30 egyptians and the rest a smattering from middle eastern countries and once again, no americans on board egyptair flight 804. joining me right now is tom costello, our aviation expert. where is this leading you after talking ago this for the last six hours or so, when you look at where this plane disappeared, 37,000 foot altitude, no peep from any crew on board. i know it's somewhat speculative at this time, but there are a
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couple of educated guesses you could take. >> well, listen, the lack of a distress call or mayday call is concerning here. that would suggest that the pilots didn't even have time to get on the radio and say mayday or say oh crap or whatever they might say. that would suggest this was very fast indeed. that whatever happened it was immediate and it was cataclysmic. they had no chance to respond. so that really leaves with two really leading theories. not the only theories, but theory number one, there was some sort a breakup in flight. a catastrophic breakup involving the fuselage and the plane literally came apart in air. number two, this plane may have been brought down by a bomb. the reason i'm less inclined to go with the theory it was a cataclysmic breakup in flight involving the fuselage we're dealing with the a-320. there's not a history with that plane. this is a work horse of a plane,
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relied on by airlines around the world. more than 6,000 currently in use around the world. one of these takes off every 2 1/2 seconds, quite literally. and it is made of a composite material that's incredibly robust and is incredibly reliable. in addition to that, the avionics system called the fly-by-wire system with multiple redundant computer systems. all of that leads me to believe it's unlikely that they would have suffered a cataclysmic breakup in flight so quickly that nobody could get a radio call off. and that the plane would just disintegrate at 37,000 feet. the more likely theory it seems at this hour and it's very hour would be the possibility of an explosive on board. we know that al qaeda and isis and other related groups have already attempted to bring down planes using explosives and
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succeeded just last october 31st with that metrojet liner killing 222 people on board and they packed explosives into the literally empty soda can, then they had a detonator in some fashion connected to it. the russians were the ones that determined early on that there was explosive residue in the wreckage, in the debris field in the desert of the sinai. it was that conclusion that drew the world's attention to the -- to al qaeda and isis which then claimed responsibility for it. so it's very early days, very early hours. and i think the immediate task is on the water, right there in the mediterranean. you've got multiple navies operating right now. multiple ships and boats and coast guard, they need to be listening for the pingers, the underwater pingers from the flight data recorder, hoping they can find the black boxes. >> i want to go back to the air
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france flight 447 when it crashed over the atlantic en route to paris. it happened on june 1, 2009. that was a cataclysmic crash, no one recovered from that but it took two years for the black boxes to be recovered. how long first of all, tom, do pings operate in water? how long will that battery keep it going and with the depths of the mediterranean, they don't parallel those of the atlantic, don't they? not that far off the coast line of egypt. >> boy, i'm no oceanographer, i would have to hit the google on that, but i can tell you that 22,000 feet is the depth at which the pingers operate. they operate at 30 days -- that's the hope, 30 days. there was an initial report from the egyptians and then confusing information from the egyptians as to whether the military did or did not pick up a sick
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natural. it could have been an elt -- an e emergency locater transmit when the plane hits some sort of a blunt force and as a result, that sets off the elt. but then water would kill the elt pretty quickly. the second possibility would be that it could be a pinger. again, lots of confusion going on right through as to whether there is or is not any signal coming from the region that's that they're listening for right now. you have to think this is some of the most heavily listened to underwater regions in the world. given the naval operations and how sensitive everybody is between the israelis and the egyptians and the americans and the russians. i mean, everybody in that neighborhood is operating ships and submarines and the like. >> but tom, without a human component, that being someone stepping up and taking responsibility and offering a plausible explanation for what has happened to this plane if indeed it is something that's as
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a result of terrorism, without that, if the pingers, the black box flight data recorder are not found, can you ever know exactly what happens to a plane like that? i mean, can radar tell you -- >> it's awfully tough. well, radar would only tell you this plane disappeared from radar at 37,000. not a gradual trajectory down. it will be very difficult if they have no wreckage and if they have no black boxes to determine what actually brought this plane down. i think they'll find it though. this is not the south indian ocean where they believe malaysian 370 went missing. this is the most heavily trafficked water on the globe. i think they'll probably figure out where this plane is. i suspect that very quickly somebody there will find some pieces of debris. whether that's a floating cushion or a wing or unfortunately it could be bodies. and the like.
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let me answer a question that i have already had via tweet and e-mails. is it possible that somebody could have survived if this plane came apart at 37,000 feet? highly, highly, highly unlikely. because at 37,000 feet, you simply don't even have enough oxygen to breathe. we had this long conversation with the metrojet liner, but could anybody have survived if the plane came apart for example on the malaysian airlines flight 17 shot out of the sky over ukraine and the thinking is no. at that altitude and at that speed, you would have been rendered unconscious and perished. >> all right. joining me from london, kelly cobiella. i know the french minister met with the family of those aboard the flight.
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what were they told? >> well, they were told that the french foreign minister, the french government stands behind them, they are the priority and finding the plane is the priority. and the french minister as well as francois hollande telling them their anguish -- they share their family's anguish at this time. no official cause, no official explanation for why this plane disappeared as yet. but everyone is assuming the worst, because of as tom mentioned the way this disappeared simply vanishing off of radar. there are crisis centers set up at charles de gaulle airport as well as at the airport in cairo. relatives are gathering at both places at this point. french and egyptian nationals made up the motion of that manifest. 30 egyptians, 15 french on board
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that plane as well as a number of europeans, africans and people from the middle east. we understand that the french foreign minister was going to meet with the families at the airport and we're hoping to hear from him again shortly. we have not yet heard from him. but the french also pledging any kind of support the egyptians may need in terms of search and rescue. as we have been talking about, there are already greek ships, aircraft in the area. there are private merchant aircraft heading to that region, about 170 miles north of the egyptian coast in the mediterranean. south-southeast of crete. of course the egyptians are heavily involved in searching this area for any sign of this plane. interestingly though, alex the last known communication with this plane was just as it was exiting greek air space. and then dropped off the radar just as it was entering egyptian air space. so obviously officials hope
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they're searching in the right area at least. >> yes, that last communication with greek authorities, everything seemed perfectly normal and calm on board egyptair flight 804. kelly cobiella in london, thank you for standing by. we'll continue to speak with you about the latest developments. let's go to nbc's bill karins. let's talk about the weather in the area. granted it was a night flight, but we have not heard mention of -- unfortunately, we don't have bill quite yet. we'll ask him about the weather there, but with regard to the details of one, what we do know at this point, 66 people on board the plane, ten of whom were egyptair officials. three security officials and another 56 passengers as kelly was reporting 30 of them egyptian and we want to stress no americans on board this flight. we have had that confirmation by the passenger manifest. this is an a-320 plane that has
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been described as a work horse and nbc's tom costello returns with us. this plane was put into service in 2003. that doesn't make it an old plane, does it? >> no, not at all. i would say relatively, you might call it a teenager. that's not an old plane. it had about 48,000 flight hours on it according to airbus. it was traveling -- you know, we talked about the 37,000 feet number. now we're hearing from the greek air traffic controllers it was traveling at 519 mile per hour. it was very much in cruise mode when it was at -- over the greek isles inbound into cairo. all of this transpiring very quickly indeed. a couple of headlines if you're just waking up and joining us. this plane went off radar at about 2:30 a.m. local time, about 8:30 a.m. on the east coast. and just vanished. not even a trajectory on the
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radar of it, stepping down. it was literally just gone. that's evidence suggesting whatever happened seemed to have been instant and catastrophic. the french investigative agency, bea, says it will be involved in this investigation. that's predictable because this is a french built aircraft. made by airbus and built in toulouse, france. it had just been serviced we believe in france as well. so that makes perfect sense that the french would be involved in this investigation from the on set. by the way, the bea reputation is sterling. they are considered among the best in the world along with the ntsb at looking at crashes, deciphering what the evidence is and then looking at the possible causes and probable causes into specific accidents. and lastly, as it relates to the airbus a-320 and how widely flown this is, i just want to make the point, there have been very few incidents or accidents involving the airbus a-320. the few that we are aware of
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usually involve some sort of pilot error. but a mechanical error is just highly, highly unlikely given the track record of this plane. and this was actually as you may recall the airbus a-320 was the miracle on the hudson plane which held up remarkably well when two flocks of geese were ingested into the engines and captain sullenberger had to land it on the river and it did not come apart as he landed it on the hudson river. it was water tight, all the people survived. that incident alone, of course it wasn't traveling at 519 miles per hour but it speaks to the integrity and how well built it is. >> pilot error, when the plane is at cruising altitude and on auto pilot, pilot error should not be a possibility.
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>> absolutely. unless if they were to some reason disengage, but that's highly unlikely given the redundancies involved in the airbus system. >> tom costello, thank you for standing by as we continue to cover this. we are following the latest breaking news relative to the disappearance of 804. we'll be back in a moment here on msnbc. you're watching "way too early." it's not a quick fix. it's my decision to make beauty last. roc® retinal started visibly reducing my fine lines and wrinkles in one week.
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at 18 past the hour, we have been following breaking news all night. missing egyptair flight 804, that plane took off from paris, charles de gaulle airport with 66 people on board including passengers and crew. it was heading to the cairo airport in egypt when officials say it simply disappeared from radar. right now, egyptian authorities are telling nbc news that search operations are under way over the mediterranean sea. there's been no immediate indication of whether terrorism was involved in this plane's
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disappearance. let's bring in msnbc's senior digital editor cal perry. he has been covering this story all night for us. the area that we're talking about in egypt, when we talk about the metrojet crash which was brought down by reports of a soda can filled with some sort of plastic explosive, i had said to tom costello earlier that seemed somewhat intricate and expert to -- and he corrected me, he said actually not. a high schooler could probably put this together. >> i think it's intricate for people like you and i, certainly, but isis has been putting out magazines with instructions on how to build this. if you have the instructions it's something you can probably pull off. hard to imagine but certainly something that's out there. this information is out there. i think what we're seeing is a deteriorating security situation not only in the region but in egypt as well. you mentioned that metrojet crash, there was a disgruntled employee, who hijacked the plane and that might explain why there are three security officials on
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that passenger manifest. we know that egypt has raised the security apparatus in the wake of the attacks. they're desperate for tourism to return. >> absolutely. we have to note that this plane took off from paris, charles de gaulle airport, i mean, certainly in the wake of what happened in belgium they have stepped up security in addition to that which happened right there in paris in the airport's backyard in november. >> this has to be the fear of western security officials this morning is that somehow, somebody was able to either penetrate that security at charles de gaulle airport or maybe this was an inside job from egyptair. that has to be where investigators are starting. certainly we're in the very early hours of the investigation. we don't know. but it's an educated guess. we know that the search is well under way in the mediterranean for this airplane and there are merchant vessels now joining this ship. there are private vessels now joining this search for this airplane. you can see how on the screen, this is the latest digital
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imaging we have of the search under way. >> thank you, cal perry, for bringing us the latest. let's bring in peter newman of king college, london, joining us by phone. welcome to you. let's get your thoughts of this being the likelihood of being terrorism, this plane simply drops off the radar with no communication from anyone inside that cockpit. the last known communication ten minutes prior to the disappearance off radar when it was exiting greek air space, entering egyptian air space and officials said everything seemed normal. >> yes, it's too early to tell of course precisely what you just said, the sudden disappearance of the plane off the map. without any sign of distress, without any technical problems being reported either by the crew or automatically seems to indicate that something brutal happened. indeed there have been a number of senior french officials who have come out and said that it's
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very difficult to think about anything but an attack in that sort of scenario. but we will have to see, but everything right now seems to go in that direction. >> okay, let's talk about the security at the charles de gaulle airport. it has been stepped up certainly at major airports throughout europe for some time, security has been on the heightened alert in the wake of terrorism attempts around the globe. but how difficult would it be if we're talking about something like the size of a soda can which is what reportedly what brought down the metrojet over the sinai peninsula, how difficult would that be to get through security? >> i think it would be as difficult as any airport in the united states. i think the machines that are being used, the processes that are in place at charles de gaulle are almost exactly the same. which means that if you get through with wherever you want
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to -- whatever you want to bring on board, but it's not usually a risk that terrorists are taking. what i think the french authorities are very worried about, very concerned about is the possibility of an inside job which means someone who's working at the airport or someone who is a member -- a crew of the egyptair smuggling this on board in the same way in which it happened last year in sharm el sheikh in egypt when another egyptair plane was brought down. and here again we're suspecting that it was an inside job. it was someone who worked at the airport who brought this explosive device on board and that's the biggest fear i think that the french authorities have right now. >> something like that could be pretty easily placed inside the cargo hold, that's for sure. all right, peter newman thank you for you insights. i'm sure we'll check in with you again here on msnbc. still ahead, the latest on the breaking news we're following for you. an egyptair flight 804 from paris, bound for cairo, vanishes
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with 66 people on board. we'll have bill karins joining us with look at the weather conditions in the area at the time. "way too early" is back in a moment.
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we want to take a look at the history of egyptair, just a couple of months ago there was major drama after an air flight from alexandria to cairo was hijacked by a man who claimed to have an explosive belt. the man ordered the plane be diverted and then of course that dramatic video of the pilot dangling from a rope outside of that cockpit window before dropping to the ground and dashing to freedom. it turns out the hijacker was upset over a personal matter. and officials say that he demanded to speak to his ex-wife or that she be delivered a letter. officials say as each demand was negotiated more hostages were released. all of the passengers and crew did make it off safely. the suspect was arrested that was egyptair's eighth hijacking. so that was the most recent incident with egyptair, some two
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months ago. we are dealing with something entirely different this time. new, different information is still coming in. the french foreign minister is expected to speak once again this morning. there were 15 french nationals on board, france saying this morning it is in constant contact with egyptian officials. we'll be right back with the very latest. uy a new gym bag. before earning 1% cash back everywhere, every time and 2% back at the grocery store. even before he got 3% back on gas. kenny used his bankamericard cash rewards credit card to join the wednesday night league. because he loves to play hoops. not jump through them. that's the excitement of rewarding connections. apply online or at a bank of america near you.
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