tv Way Too Early MSNBC May 19, 2016 2:30am-3:01am PDT
it was heading to cairo's airport when it simply vanished. that happened about 2:45 a.m. cairo time. now according to officials, the plane was about ten miles or so into egyptian air space when it disappeared from radar trackers. i was the flying at 37,000 feet at the time. there were 56 passengers on board, three children. seven crew members as well as three security personnel on board. 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 we hope a rescue, but then it could move to recovery operation. france has also offered to send planes and boats. egypt's military is reporting that it received no message, no signal whatsoever from that plane after it disappeared from radar. we are getting pictures of the
family members arriving overnight. a crisis center has been set up at this airport. we are told there are 15 french nationals on board of those 56 passengers. joining me from chicago nbc news correspondent tom costello who is our aviation correspondent. i know i called you an expert and you demure that, but you are darn knowledgeable even though you're not an aviation expert per se. but that having been said, with regard to this plane, the a-320, 37,000 feet cruising altitude. plausible explanations, you have looked at two as to what may have happened. why don't you talk about those right now. >> well, let's throw out a third. so what we have talked about already is catastrophic in flight breakup of the fuselage. we talked also about terrorism as a possible cause. there was -- you may recall this airasia plane that went down in december of 2014. it was flying between indonesia and singapore, i believe if memory serves and they had a
rudder issue. the crew didn't follow procedures to deal with the rudder issues. and instead, they disengaged autopilot, then they were taking competing actions. as it relates to how to properly control that plane and the plane crashed. 162 people on board. it was going from -- in fact, it was headed to singapore when that happen and it went down in the java sea. there's the possibility of another explanation, but what has terrorism experts very interested in this particular incident today is that it disappeared from radar at 37,000 feet. didn't slow down. it didn't decelerate. it didn't -- it changed altitude. it just went away, at 37,000 feet. 519 miles per hour. that would suggest something cataclysmic happened. the crew wasn't saying that they had a problem, wasn't asking for help. wasn't advising to figure out what the problem was. none of that. it was radio silence. they simply went -- it simply
went away at 37,000 feet. so that makes it very suspicious that it could be a cataclysmic failure, a breach of the fuselage. given the airbus record, unlikely, or that it was a terror attack. we talked at length about isis in the sinai claimed responsibility for taking down that metrojet liner. the russians saithat they we were -- a bomb did in fact bring down that plane. you know that isis claimed that they had put a bomb in a can. i don't know that it's ever been confirmed that that is how that bomb was placed on the plane, but russian authorities thought it was in fact a bomb that brought down the metrojet liner and we have also got u.s. and british authorities believing a bomb brought down that metro liner over the sinai. was it a bomb in that can as isis purports to have claimed responsibility?
we may never know absolutely for sure. but that has been the leading theory all along. that is yet another piece of evidence and yet another reason why there's so much talk right now that terrorism has to be among the front considerations for this accident or this loss of the aircraft today. >> so tom, when we think of disasters like this that happen over water, what comes to mind of course mh370. but there's a difference here in that this disappeared over the mediterrane mediterranean. you have multiple nations that have radar trained on that area, given the close proximity of these nations. as opposed to mh370 when it was flying over the south indian ocean, aren't there areas there where radar drops out because there are not places from which to launch the radar? >> absolutely. if you're more than -- i'm sure somebody is going to correct me, but it's 120 miles off shore is when you generally would lose radar coverage. but in the mediterranean, you know, all those countries and
all of those islands and the militaries have got the mediterranean covered. so the difference being with malaysia flight 370 the thinking is that that plane flew into the south indian ocean. there's no radar coverage out there whatsoever. limited satellite coverage there as well. you know, i think that they will probably find this plane today. i think that they'll probably find egyptair 804 rather quickly. hopefully the underwater pingers will help them to identify, locate the flight data recorders, the black boxes and bring them to the actual wreckage. but i think it's entirely possible in the coming hours we'll have reports from somebody there on the surface of the water reporting that they found debris. i'm sure you have again to the mediterranean through your travels with nbc and you know that there's a lot of stuff floating in the mediterranean. not only is it heavily traversed for shipping, and military purpose, but also all of these people who are trying to flee
either libya or syria or whatever. and you have massive amounts of people on boats and, you know, many of those boats just kind of fall apart in the open waters. so discerning what is -- discerning what is real wreckage from a plane versus what is just the junk floating in the sea may be difficult. >> that may take some time, but there are 30 days of a shelf life, that battery, so that ping should be emanating for quite some time. making it a little bit easier at least for officials to find whatever records there may be. tom, thank you very much. let's go right to my colleague, emin mull what gene who is with me. we know first of all that tourism has been a hugely important component to the economic survival of that country. so when egypt puts three security officials on those planes, they're trying to ensure the safety of the passengers.
>> yeah, egyptair in particular -- egyptian aviation, the airports, travel generally in egypt has been the subject of all kinds of problems throughout the course of the years. i mean, we have seen that they have been deliberately targeted in terrorist attacks as in the case of the metrojet back in november in which the plane was taking off from sharm el sheikh. although it was a metrojet airliner, it was still leaving from egyptian air space and security. in this case it's different. you have an egyptair flight leaving from paris. certainly there's a lot of questions given that the security situation in paris, in the context of what paris and france must have gone through is heightened. egyptian airlines, it's common for them to have flight marshals. it's like we have in the u.s., the people on board, particularly flights to europe, particularly flights that are
going to be high traffic, high tourism destinations, very important and value for egyptair like france perhaps even london and germany, they'll have field marshals on those -- or air marshals on those planes. that's not a surprise to me. >> i'm curious about the disinformation or the lack of cohesive information between egyptair and the egyptian military which is assisting in this investigation. >> yeah. i mean, i have covered several of these type of incidents including terrorist attacks as well as, you know, incidents. i can tell you that the egyptians don't have a good track record of getting information out there accurately. and more important, in a very transparent way. if you recall after the november attack that took place in the sinai peninsula, at the time, several said that this was an accident, they felt it was an accident. but nobody was able to substantiate it. it only took several months
afterwards for them to at least for the russians and others to acknowledge you had the claim from isis this was a bomb. so in this case what you're seeing in egypt is a competition of information over power. you have the egyptian military which is leading the search and rescue. their information is going to be reported back to headquarters. that's not going to get leaked out very easily. they're very professional in keeping that line of information up the chain of command. the issues that will go to the very top of the egyptian military before it gets leased and that's going to delay the process. because they don't come out and speak very openly sometimes about some of this information. on the other hand, you have egyptair dealing with the international press. they're trying to deal with the families and the relatives of those that may have been affected. they're trying to get them information. so you're getting a lot of mixed signals and mixed communications as to why some of this information is inaccurate. >> yeah. >> that really complicated things. obviously for the journalists and people reporting on this story because the egyptian officials themselves sometimes are not the most transparent when it comes to initial
information they're finding out and then trying to verify. >> well, we should say that the egyptian aviation ministry is scheduled to have a news conference in less than two hours from now at 7:30 a.m. eastern time, 1:30 local time. ayman mohyeldin, thank you so much. i know you're standing by to bring us more information. joining us from denver, senior air safety investigation, greg feith. good morning to you. already some concerns this morning about the amount today where the contact was lost with this plane. 37,000 feet. put that into perspective where this plane was in its flight some 15 minutes or from the scheduled landing. does that seem right to you, that it would be at that altitude? >> they would have been preparing to begin their descent into cairo, being at that distance about 150 miles out. they'd begin their descent shortly, so they most likely were preparing to talk to air traffic control, make sure that they've got their descent clearance and their approach
clearance going into cairo. and then of course running through the checklist for the descent. so autopilot's flying the aircraft. they're monitoring and preparing now for the descent and then whatever approach air traffic control is going to give them fine the -- into cairo. >> at what point does the pilots take over from autopilot? if it was on autopilot, but a mere 15 minutes from the landing, but it did depart charles de gaulle 15 minutes behind schedule, i'm thinking of when i'm on planes it seems like they talk about some initial descent a good 30 minutes or so before the planes actually touch down. at what point do pilots engage? does the autopilot take it from
that cruising altitude down somewhat or is it then all under pilot control? >> no, the pilots will reprogram. there's a computer on the airplane called the flight management system. so the pilots will program their entire route of flight from start to finish into the box. they'll talk -- they'll enter in their altitude, their cruise altitude and then when they are given a given to descend, of course, they'll reprogram the fms and hit the execute button and they will descend. if they step down in cairo -- let's say they're at 37,000 feet, they may have them step down to 30 and then down to 25 on the approach coming in. so the automation is still flying the aircraft. it is being programmed by the pilot and of course monitored. if there's an anomaly, if the airplane won't capture a particular radio or a heading or
the airplane goes into an unexpected roll or a pitch, then of course the pilots will intervene. they will basically take the automation out of the loop and then go in and hand fly the airplane. they go back to what we call raw data or raw flying or hand flying the airplane. >> okay. greg feith, thank you so much. we'll ask you to stand by as we continue our coverage here. let's bring in meteorologist bill karins. good morning to you. let's get a sense of what the the weather was like in this area at the time. wore pushing nine hours -- we're pushing nine hours ago, so it was dark, middle of the night. any reports of odd disturbances? >> we haven't heard of anything. no reports of turbulence or bad weather in the region. this satellite loop goes back 12 hours. go back to the beginning of the loop, there were some clouds over southern portions of italy but that was it. the radar contact was lost north of egypt and it was clear then and now. we're in the middle of the day in this region so excellent
visibility for any of the search vessels that are in the air or down at the surface. and the other thing people are wondering about is the temperatures in the west -- eastern portions of the mediterranean are very warm. these are 68 to 70 degree water temperatures here. if the plane did happen to go down in this area, alex, people can survive, you know, 12 to 20 hours in water before hypothermia would set in. also the depth in this area, the water goes down to 3,000 feet. so between 2,000 and 3,000 feet and that's significant. the deeper portions of the mediterranean is where we lost the radar contact. it's not as simple as shallow water. it is a fairly deep there too. >> can i ask you about any potential involvement with something like wind shear? i mean that's not something that would happen up at that altitude is it? >> no. that's more for landings and for takeoffs. the only thing that in clear air with no storms around, there's clear turbulence which can be
viole violent. but other planes would have reported that too. we would have heard about, you know, that it was there. so you never know until it's all said and done until we get that black box, but looks unlikely at this point. >> bill karins thank you for weighing in. let's take a quick break and we'll have the latest on the missing plane. we do know that the greek military has joined the search and rescue operation. officials say they're sending a transport helicopter and two naval ships. i have a blog called "daddy doing work", it's funny that i've been in the news for being a dad. windows 10 is great because
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is the bureau chief from athens, greece. what do you know in terms of details? >> well, the greek military has been involved for the start. the plane seems to have disappeared from the radar as soon as it exited the greek civil saviation -- aviation air traffic area and entered the egyptian one, so it was quite close to greek areas. 20 minutes after it vanished from the radar, greek military transport plane was scrambled to the area to start the search. there's also a second plane that's joined it. there are two helicopters on stand by on a nearby island in case they're called on for a rescue and recovery operation. and there's a frigate on its
way, should be arriving about now. >> alina, so there was communication with the greek aviation officials there, it was exiting the air space. did they ever make contact -- 804 ever make contact with egyptian air authorities? >> as far as the information from the greek civil aviation, it appears not to have done. the director of the greek civil aviation authority said that they were -- that just before he left the greek air space, they gave him the coordinates he was to follow. and then ten miles before exiting the greek air traffic control area, they tried to make contact with him again and the pilot didn't respond. and they continued to try and contact him 3:39 a.m. greek
time, which is an hour ahead of the egyptian time. and that's when the plane disappeared from the radar. he says that they contacted egyptian civil aviation authorities and they hadn't had any contact with the plane as we. >> from the associated press, athens, greece, thank you for that. we'll take a short break on "way too early" and we'll have more on the potential crashing, the disappearance of egyptair 804.
welcome back, everyone. 55 past the hour. i'm alex witt. we'll bring you the very latest on egyptair flight 804 which has disappeared with 66 souls on board. we know 30 egyptians, 15 french and other members of the passenger manifest from the middle east and the far east as well. in terms of egyptair's recent history there was also major drama after an egyptair flight from alexandria to cairo, it was hijacked a couple of months ago by a man who claimed to have the explosive belt. that suspect identified as al mustafa ordered the plane to be diverted and there was a standoff. right there you see the pilot dangling out of the cockpit window by a rope and dashing off the freedom. the hijacker was upset over a personal matter. officials say he demanded to speak with his ex-wife or that she be delivered a letter.
as each demand was negotiated, more hostages were released and all made it off safety, the suspect was arrested. that was the airline's eighth hijacking. that does it for me and "way too early," coming up next on "morning joe" the very latest on missing 804, plus former defense secretary bob gates will be their guest. "morning joe" just moments away. the second lasts all day. we give you your day back. what you do with it is up to you. tylenol®. with usaa is awesome. homeowners insurance life iurance automobile insurance i spent 20 years active duty they still refer to me as "gunnery sergeant" when i call being a usaa member because of my service in the military to pass that on to my kids something that makes me happy my name is roger zapata and i'm a usaa member for life. usaa. we know what it means to serve.
good morning and welcome to "morning joe." we've been following breaking news all morning. it's been nine hours since egyptair flight 804 disappeared. it took off at 11:09 paris time. it was headed to cairo airport when it vanished 2:45 a.m. cairo time. according to officials, it was about 10 miles into egyptian airspace over mediterranean sea when it disappeared from radar trackers. it was reportedly flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet at the time. weather conditions were said to be clear in the area when the plane va