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tv   The Hunt With John Walsh  CNN  December 27, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PST

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hello, everyone. we continue our live news coverage. i'm natalie allen from cnn news center. welcome to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world. here is the very latest on the missing airplane that we have for you right now. an airasia indonesia flight en route from the indonesian city of surabaya to singapore is still missing. an indonesian transport officials tell cnn flight 8501
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lost contact with air traffic controllers early sunday morning. the pilot asked to change route because of the weather. and soon after contact with that airplane was lost. the airline says search and rescue operations are under way. we do know 162 people were on board the airbus a-320, an airplane like you see right here. 155 passengers and 7 crew. most indonesians were on the flight, with three south koreans, one singaporean, one malaysian, and one french person on board. we've also learned of the passengers 16 were children and there was one infant. the ceo of airasia tweeted this short statement -- "thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." they still don't know what happened to this airplane. we are told that rescue operations are under way, trying to find it, and this has been
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the live scene from the singapore airport, where that flight was expected to land many hours ago now. it was expected over five hours ago. still missing. weather has been the headline as we talk with experts, aviation analysts about what might have been happening in those skies. and derek van dam joins us now. you and i were just talking 24 hours ago about the exceptional weather this region has been getting, and it was indeed getting some at the time of this short flight. >> yeah, that's correct. that flight being -- should have lasted about two hours, but it encountered some severe convection, or in other words thunderstorms. this is the latest from the flight radar 24 website. this is the path from surabaya to singapore. there's the missing plane, airasia flight 8501. i want you to pay attention. this is just moments before it
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lost contact with the singapore airport. the altitude roughly about 32,000 feet. now there are reports that the pilot asked to ascend to around 38,000 feet. and this is crucial. let me explain why. i'm going to step off screen here just to show you an image that one of our weather producers have brought up recently for us. and this is what is called a turbulence forecast. it highlights areas where turbulence is expected to take place over various flight patterns across the world. it also reports on current conditions. this is the time, or roughly about the time of the last point of contact, which was roughly about 7:25 sunday morning local time. now, this little box here indicates that there were thunderstorm clouds towering to about 53,000 feet in an area where turbulence was extremely likely. this is java just off the island of where the plane actually took
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place. so if we consider the fact that thunderstorms towering to 53,000 feet, the airplane requested to get to 38,000 feet, it didn't clear these thunderstorms. so it clearly made its way through some of the most turbulent parts of the thunderstorms that were present at that moment in time. what we have here is a satellite image taken at roughly the last point of contact with airasia flight and you can see we've highlighted with this green circle the convective or thunderstorm activity that was present at that moment across the java sea. this is roughly about 7:30 local time. and this dark shading of red and orange just to the north and just to the east of this circle indicates that thunderstorms were developing across this area. here's surabaya, where the plane took off, headed northwards toward singapore. and as we advance just a few more slides, you can see how
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quickly the thunderstorms developed. that shading of red, by the way, is infrared satellite imagery telling us that the cloud tops were extremely cold and very, very high. we recall what took place in june of 2009 with the air france flight 447, that devastating tragedy that took place. the final outcome was that this plane traveled through thunderstorms and the ice from the upper parts of these thunderstorms blocked a very critical part of the airplane, which was called the pitot tube. this measures the speed of the airplane. and if the speed starts to contradict itself the pilot is going to take it out of autopilot and try to re-establish the airplane. unfortunately, that led to engine failure and the plane ultimately failed. now, this isn't necessarily what had taken place here with our current missing plane, but speculatively speaking this is a very possible scenario. we have got thunderstorms across
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this region, and it's all due to the northeast monsoon that we've been covering for the past several days. natalie mentioned it a few moments ago. a separate topic has been the excessive flooding that's occurred near the border of malaysia and thailand. it is thanks to this northeasterly wind encountering the land mass across this area. so what we're seeing is an abundance of moisture from the south china sea helping build these thunderstorms. the more moisture available the more thunderstorms start to build. all we need is some sort of updraft to get the thunderstorm forming. and this is what we saw at the time that last contact was reported with the air asia flight. this is the anatomy of a thunderstorm. roughly about 20,000 feet in the air. this is the side view of a thunderstorm. roughly 20,000 feet we start to notice temperatures below freezing. so any liquid would freeze above this particular altitude.
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so if we've got thunderstorms towering at 53,000 feet, the airport trying to ascend to 38,000 feet, it's going to encounter ice nukeleeeye across this area and that could have a negative effect on the pitot tube i talked about just a moment ago. something to consider. here is the future cass going forward over the next two days. still a very active weather pattern. and this is going to hamper what could be a search and recovery effort going forward. >> and what are the conditions then right now, derek, for that? because we're told that assets are in the region searching for the plane right now. >> if it's in the form of planes or helicopters going to this region, they're going to encounter severe thunderstorms, strong gusty winds. if there are boats traveling toward this region near the java sea to search for the potential of a downed airplane, they're going tone counter some rough sea conditions. you see, when thunderstorms form like, this they also have a lot
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of wind attributed to them. and what we're talking about is the compounding effect of that wind pushing up waves and creating very choppy seas. search and recovery efforts are going to be very, very difficult. by the way, the java sea across this part of the world, roughly 151 feet deep. that's 46 meters deep. so depending on whether this plane speculatively speaking is on the surface, it could make recovery a bit more easy. but if it's at the bottom they have to trofl roughly 46 meters to the ocean floor. >> and i want to ask you too, derek, talking about the high altitude of these thunderstorms at 52,000 feet, is that unusual? >> no. that is very difficult with thunderstorm developing. we even get thunderstorms, natalie, that tower 60,000 feet into the atmosphere. that happens quite frequently. especially across this area. this is known as the intertropical convergence zone.
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this region is susceptible to thunderstorm development. it's all because of the dynamics that occur across this region. the northeast monsoon encountering land mass and various other aspects creating the thunderstorm activity. remember, natalie, that turbulence can form from all kinds of factors, that being wind, thunderstorms, flying directly through a jet stream or flying very close to a mountainous region. and this area is indeed very, very mountainous. so we've had all those factors in place. so weather is certainly a formidable threat across this region. >> yes, it is now as well. all right, derek, we thank you so much for all of that information. i want to bring in now alan deal. he's a former accident investigator for the ntsb, faa and air force with 40 years' experience. he's also the author of the book "air safety investigators." alan, you've been with our coverage, you've been listening to derek's weather forecast. what does that say to you when you consider what we do know
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about this flight in that the pilot asked for a deviation? >> apropos. clearly this pilot was seeing something on his on-board radar screen. these air buses, all modern airliners have on-board radar. and what they try to do, he knows he can't top that. the airbus will not fly at 55,000 feet or some comfortable altitude over that kind of -- they call it convective build-up thunderstorms. he knows he's going to have to go way around it or try to weave its way through. it looked like he decided that 38,000 feet might give him a little margin. he's probably seeing less turbulence, less rain, less lightning, less hail, and icing as derek mentioned are all factors that are weighing on this pilot and co-pilot as they try to maneuver through this maze, if you will, of weather.
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the other thing, natalie, that i don't think derek mentioned, these on-board weather systems only see the first curtain of water. the radar doesn't normally penetrate the airborne water. sow don't quite know what's behind that curtain. i happen to have an airline transport pilot license. i've never flown an airbus. but having used this kind of radar occasionally, it can be a real challenge. i know this pilot had 26,000 orders and the co-pilot had 2,000 hours. they're not inexperienced. i'm just curious how much time he had -- i assume these are male. these people are flying through this kind of weather because that -- there's a learning curve when you're trying to navigate through this very challenging weather. >> you talk about the on-board radar system. only shows the first curtain of water.
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but as flyers we all hear our pilots telling us that they know there's turbulence up ahead because other airplanes are reporting these situations. are they talking with one another? are they getting this information from ground control? >> i don't know what kind of weather radar they have over the java sea. derek is talking about satellite radar, and generally speaking that is not on board most airliners. the picture, the 360 degree picture that derek was describing is typically not something pilots have. there are subscription services, they may have had access to it. but even that is probably not detailed enough. the on-board radar is from your point of view. and as you're trying to navigate through these so-called build-ups you're relying on that on-board radar rather than the kind of presentation that derek was able to make based on the satellite information. they do get weather before they
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leave. they do get what are called pi-reps, pilot reports of other aircraft flying through the area. derek mentioned the air france airbus that went down due to icing. that was over the south atlantic in 2009. the pitots iced up and the pilots were unable to control the aircraft. but there's even a closer situation, analogy if you will, from what we know. and that's the air algi relative. it was a mcdonnell douglas, a similar type of aircraft made in this country that crashed in north africa and the pilot had requested deviating around weather. that was last july. july of this year. so we do see, you know, weather does pose a problem. lightning and icing and turbulence and so on. but things can get out of hand. of course we do know what
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happened. the only potentially good piece of information is this airbus 320 is equipped with something called a ditching switch. and basically, if they had to set it down in the water, i'm not saying they landed intact, but if they had to there's a switch you can throw. and this is of course the same kind of aircraft that sully sullenberg landed in the hudson with. he didn't have time to throw the switch but the aircraft will float. so there might possibly be a good outcome. we don't know that this aircraft broke up in flight like the air algier flight. or in the case of the air france crash in 2009 that derek mentioned, that aircraft was flown into the water. one small correction, the engines didn't fail. the pilots just misinterpreted the data and literally flew the aircraft at 12 -- 11,000 feet per minute into the atlantic ocean. obviously, that aircraft disintegrated. we found debris floating right after the -- you know, within
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days they located debris on the aircraft accident. >> alan, i heard you say something earlier about -- we'll move off the weather in a moment because weather a factor in the area. weather believes perhaps to be the reason he or she, whoever the pilot is, for the deviation. but i heard you say that an airplane at these levels, we are talking about ace, can inject hail and could possibly therefore go down intact. >> well, as a matter of fact, not far from where you're sitting new hope, georgia 1977 there was an aircraft like that air algier crash that literally flew in the vicinity of a thunderstorm and both of its engines encountered, sucked up, if you will, hailstones and both engines failed and it crashed in new hope, not far from atlanta there. this is back in 1977. so hail can bring aircraft down.
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certainly severe icing can. these aircraft can carry a certain amount of what they call air frame icing. there's limits to all these things. that's why the pilot experience and pilot skill are so important. and airbuses are a great airplane. it's got a good safety record. i'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with the airbus design. but we do know there's limits. we have seen hail bring down aircraft. lightning has occasionally brought down aircraft. and certainly icing over the years has caused accidents. >> and let's talk about the fact that as far as the plimt information goes, and this is extremely preliminary, we know how these things can change, that there doesn't seem to have been any mayday call from the pilot. what would that tell you? >> well, sometimes -- we all know that pilots are supposed to
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aviate, in other words, fly the airplane, navigate and communicate in that order. and that's true. if they're fighting a controllability problem or problem with their instruments like the air france situation, they may not -- the air france guys, and they were both guys, flew that aircraft for i think it was three minutes till they hit the water. so they don't always communicate their problem. and you know, natalie, the reason is they know that the controllers for the most part, they can't do anything. they're going to have to solve this problem themselves. so they did communicate we want to deviate, we want to climb to 38,000 feet. presumably that was to get around some weather phenomenon they were seeing on their radar scope, which is basically a computer screen, but we -- there's a lot we don't know. and the fact there's no mayday call doesn't mean that they were incompetent or the plane broke up immediately. we just don't know.
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they could have been -- i'm an aviation psychologist. they could have been task saturated dealing with some kind of emergency, perhaps a loss of engines, complex icing situation or even instrumentation failure that derek alluded to when he was talking about the air france aircraft. airbus has replaced those pitot tubes -- i call them pitot tubes. i think he called them pitot tubes. but in any case, those tubes have been replaced on the airbus. my understanding is some of the tubes, these are air speed detectors, basically, natalie, and they have been replaced on the airbus. hopefully, we won't see that in this accident. but clear ly right now we're looking at a recovery situation. and with some luck there may be a possibility of putting the aircraft down.
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but just because there was no aircraft that doesn't mean the aircraft disintegrated or some other nefarious thing occurred like was speculated with 370. pilots get real busy, they don't always make the mayday call when they're troubleshooting and -- >> you can certainly understand that. they're trying to save that flight and communicate is the third thing as they say they are to do. what about the fact, alan, there were other planes in that region? we heard our richard quest say this is a very busy air route. as far as other planes being in a thunderstorm, of one that we're hearing about that this plane was trying to vector around, is it that? being in the wrong place at the wrong time and not being able to find a way around or under or over? >> these situations are very dynamic. derek explained how the weather, it's changing literally minute by minute. so an aircraft going through, you know, 15 minutes ahead of
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you may have had a much smoother ride than what you're encountering. that's why they get the big bucks, the pilots. i don't know that these guys are highly paid. but they're dealing with a very dynamic situation and certainly the fact that other aircraft have flown through the area indicates there probably were safe routes through this weather. but you know, the window can close on you. so many times we've seen one aircraft land. this is over a 40-year period i'm talking about, natalie. not an every day situation. in dallas we saw a learjet land at dallas-fort worth airport. minutes later a much larger lockheed jumbo jet was making an approach to that same runway and it got caught in what's called wind shear and it crashed at the airport. so you've got to keep in mind this is a very dynamic
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situation. and the fact there's a lot of traffic in that area doesn't necessarily mean those other aircraft reports can assist you. you're hanging on that radar i suspect and trying to stay out of the severe stuff. the worst, if you will, the turbulence. lightning, icing, perhaps even hail. a lot of things can happen when you enter the world of weather. >> absolutely. and i'm certain that is a lot of the practice for a pilot. i certainly remember the wind shear story from dallas because that was a new term we all learned when that happened. the pitot tubes. that was another new term we heard when that disaster happened. we certainly don't know the outcome of this situation here. but let's turn to the weather for a moment just to talk about this airline. if people don't know this airline, what do you know about airasia and their flight safety record? >> well, i frankly have to confess i know very little. i haven't done the internet
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search like richard i think did or others have done. it's a startup airline. my understanding is it's owned largely by malaysia. and it's got new equipment. the pilots, they -- 6,000 and 2,000 hours is a reasonable amount of flight time. these are not rookies certainly. but one thing that i am a little bit concerned about, i'm not -- right now i'd have to go back to my international civil aviation organization guidance. it's called annex 13. we don't even know who's going to be running this investigation. but i don't want to criticize the malaysians. they certainly have been beat up by everybody over the 370 disappearance. but the problem, if one of these countries that has an involvement with this airline is in charge of the investigation, that's not a good situation. in the united states the national transportation safety
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board is an independent organization. it doesn't work for the faa. it reports directly to congress and the president. we talked about -- i know richard in other segments has talked about various organizations that have this expertise. many countries do have accident investigation groups. but the question is are they truly independent? we don't want somebody that owns airasia -- i don't think it's ethical for somebody who owns this airline to be running the investigation. that's why the u.s. congress made the ntsb separate from not only obviously all the american airlines, all the different u.s. airlines, but also the faa. it used to be part of the transportation department. and congress said no, there's too much potential for conflict. we've got an air traffic control situation here now. i'm not saying they got -- i'm not even suggesting, natalie, that they got substandard service out of these controllers in jakarta.
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but certainly we have seen in the past when the country that owns the air traffic control system does the investigation or owns the airline, there is an innate conflict of interest. so i'm just hopeful that president obama will offer the assets of the national transportation safety board, which does more of these accidents than anybody else in the world. there are other groups in other countries, in france and britain, australia, canada that certainly are competent. i'm not suggesting that only the ntsb could do this. but certainly they've got more experience probably than anybody else and i just hope the president will make it clear to whomever, whichever country is named as the coordinating country under the international civil aviation organization rules, that we offer our expertise and we do it quickly -- >> right. because i want to ask you about that, alan, because there was criticism for mh-370 that it just took too long to get
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international help and that might have been critical in the fact that this plane wasn't found and this plane was being searched for in the wrong region at first. >> i agree with you. an sxam pl where things did work well is where we lost -- not we but the egyptians lost a 767 over the atlantic. and president mubarak called up president clinton and said would you give me your go team. and even though he -- frankly he didn't like the conclusion, if you remember. there was a conclusion it may have been a pilot suicide. and the pilot it turns out was a president of president mubarak's. the point is if you can't live with the answer don't get the ntsb involved because they're going to do things, they're going to put in a full go team as it's called of specialists. air traffic control, engine air frame, human factors. obviously the companies that
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manufacture the aircraft and enswrinz and the avionics, electronics, will also be a party to the investigation. but things need to happen fairly expeditiously, and you need the expertise and the independence. and that's one thing i think is very critical. we'll have to watch, natalie, the next several days how it evolves. obviously this is separate from the issue of the recovery effort. the on-scene countries. and i've worked with the singaporean air force. they're very competent. i understand they've already got two c-130s. these are giant search and rescue transports that can be helpful. i'm sure their search vessels and derek pointed out the sea state, the weather on the surface is not going to be very benign. and these aircraft that are part of the search armada are also going to be facing some challenges. that's different. that's recovery rescue. but when it comes time to do the investigation i just hope
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president obama will offer the assets of the safety board to whichever country is involved. and i do hope they will accept it. unlike malaysia, which slowly allowed some of the outside investigators. eventually they kind of turned to the australians and other countries, but that took a lot of time. and you don't have a lot of time when you're trying to do this kind of investigation. >> this is certainly a time for cooperation and countries to come together to help one another. listen, we can't thank you enough. alan diehl speaking with us for some time now. you're the author of the book "air safety investigators." and we appreciate your expertise, alan, once again. thank you for joining us on our coverage. in case people are just tuning in to this story, it has been several hours now that this asia flight 8501 was to land in singapore. it was en route from surabaya,
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there on your screen, showing you the map there from indonesia to singapore when it went missing. the plane lost contact at 7:24 a.m. indonesian local time, more than five hours ago. it was scheduled to land just a few minutes later. it had 162 people on board. 155 passengers, seven crew members. the pilot had asked to change the plane's route. a deviation. because of weather. we've been giving you the breakdown in great detail about the thunderstorms in the area at that time. air asia says that search and rescue operations are under way. we just heard from dr. diehl there that two c-130s are involved. and we are awaiting additional information from the airline. airasia has released a list of the nationalities of those on board. 156 are indonesian. others foreigners. three from south korea. one is from singapore. one from malaysia. and one from france.
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and we know of the passengers on board there were 16 children and one infant. a little more on the airline airasia. on its website the airline describes itself as no frills. constantly looking for advancements that will lead to lower costs but not at the expense of safety. our paula hancocks reported to us from seoul that it is known as a budget airline with a good record. its fleet is made up entirely of airbus a-320 aircraft. the airline flies to more than 100 destinations across 22 countries with its main hub and headquarters in malaysia's capital, kuala lumpur. and this is interesting to us. airasia quickly updated their company pages on social media. both their facebook and twitter page logos, previously just a short while ago they were red. now you can see that circle is gray. there have been no further updates posted on those pages
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but we'll continue to track any information. we'll take a quick break. more on this mystery from asia in just a moment.
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welcome back to cnn live coverage. i'm natalie allen. we continue to follow the breaking news out of indonesia. search and rescue operations under way for a missing airasia airline. flight 8501 was en route from the indonesian city of surabaya to singapore when it lost contact with air traffic control
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early sunday morning, more than five hours ago it was expected to land. the pilot asked to change its root because of the weather. and soon after contact with the airplane was lost. these are pictures of that missing plane. 162 people listed aboard the airbus a-320. 155 passengers and seven crew. most indonesians as we mentioned with three south koreans, a singaporean and a french person. also 16 children among the passengers and one baby. the ceo of airasia tweeted this short statement -- "thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." if we hear anything from the airline, any news conferences, any updates for information, we will bring that to you immediately because we are staying with our breaking news coverage for some time. joining me now on the phone is former inspector general of the u.s. department of
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transportation and cnn aviation analyst mary schiavo. mary, thank you for joining us. we turn to analysts at this time in these hours when you just don't know what happened to an airliner. let's talk about what we do know. the weather factor and the question that the pilot asked for this deviation to go to 38,000 feet and the pilot was dealing with a thunderstorm at 52,000 feet. just that situation right there. let's look at what this pilot, these pilots were dealing with. >> those are very, very important clues and very important pieces of information for the search and rescue operation. because with that request we know obviously that the pilots were facing a bad weather situation, they needed that deviation. the on-board radar which this plane has, a fairly new airbus. they would be able to see -- they couldn't see the kind of weather radar that you would have from a weather operation at
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the base or the kind of weather that they could be advised from air traffic control, but it's a good weather radar. and they would see it's a forward-looking radar. they would see what's ahead of them. so they were obviously facing something important enough to try to get that deviation. those are important clues. and what we do then when we start to do investigation or what we try to do when we do commentary for cnn is we look at other accidents for clues as to what that might tell us about this one. and there are other accidents in the past that had this kind of situation where the pilots were face weather. a very formidable weather formation. very high altitude clouds. and they present problems for icing. the winds themselves can wreak havoc on the plane. if you have strong enough winds and the winds change direction very quickly in some instances in these weather situations it's even possible to have engine compressor stalls, which means you would have problems even keeping the engines -- power
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through the engines which of course are viet toll get that air flow over the wings. and in a couple of priors, both air france 447 and an accident down in venezuela, west caribbean airlines, the pilots faced this icing and these terrible shifts in the winds and didn't realize soon enough to take corrective action. there's a combination of factors, not just weather but at this altitude the weather certainly was a huge component, and in accidents we often see a combination of weather and pilot error. we have some important clues. but it's just vital to get those search teams out there, and it's going to be tough in this weather. >> right. they are out there. we're told there's two c-130s right now. but yet, their visibility very poor with the weather there still very much a factor in this. so we're looking at just about over seven hours since this has been missing. let's stay with this weather
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situation for a moment, mary, because how much are the pilots on their own dealing with what's around them and their radar systems they have on board that plane? don't pilots get information from other pilots that have just flown through regions? do they talk with anyone else outside that airplane when they're trying to figure out the weather system? >> well, they can. they do have comm lines where they can communicate with other pilots. but in this situation the primary communication within with air traffic control and also with their own airline. they do have communications back to their airline, and they can seek advisories from their airline on both through computer communications and through radio telephone communications. they have lots of sources for information about the weather. and it's clear they had assessed it in a situation where they needed to change their routing with the other planes in the area. other planes had gone through
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it. that's a clue that others had made it through just fine. but with this kind of storm build-up it can change very, very quickically. and also planes just a few miles apart with experience vastly different conditions. and it also depends on the input the pilots put on the controls. on the air france 447 had they realized the dire nature of the situation of course they could have made control input. same thing on the crash i mentioned, the west caribbean airways. so the weather's highly significant. and though others were going through it they could have faced even ten miles behind another plane, could have faced a vastly different situation, depending exactly where they were on the storm system. but they have a lot of information as i mentioned. they can get information from air traffic control, from their own airline, to other information from other pilots. but it's really them. they are the ones that are up there and they have to thread
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their way through this weather. of course it's good to -- a lot of carriers, depending on what they know in advance will simply cancel flights or recruit hem in advance. but this weather system might have built up very quickly. they didn't know that. but when they're up there they're on their own. that's why the pilots have complete control over the flight. so they were clearly asking for the deviation for the reason of what they saw on the radar and what they were experiencing. but with the weather build-up that high, up to 52,000 feet, i mean, this plane could -- i think the ceiling, the operational ceiling's probably about 40 on this plane. so there was no way to climb over it. and if the weather system was broad and far ranging they might not have had a lot of options. 38,000 feet would not have gotten them out of this weather. >> yeah. and with 38,000 feet flying at
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that level, what does it say to you that there was never any communications that this flight was under duress, a mayday call at 38,000 feet. that would take some time for that plane to descend if it had encountered some type of catastrophe. >> well, or they got in trouble in a hurry and they didn't have time to make additional communications. the air france 447, which we've mentioned a lot, they didn't realize how much trouble they were in. and they didn't make the calls indicating that in the west caribbean crash it happened very quickly. when they finally got the voice cockpit recordings they were talking about it. they said they were encountering icing, as did air france 447, but they didn't respond quickly enough. they didn't have all of the equipment on that was on board the plane. and in that case some of the remedy for the problem, they were losing air speed, they
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needed to get their nose down, they literally needed to dive the plane to keep their air speed up, but then that put them right back in the terrible weather. so you know, i think we're guessing here, but hopefully we're getting based on prior accidents. it looks like weather certainly did play a factor, but you look toward what the pilots were trained to do. 6,000 hours is a fair amount of training but you also have to be trained in a lot of different things. you have to be trained in various upset events. you have to be trained in various dire circumstances really. and that often makes a difference as to what they're able to do. there's been a lot of talk about ditching. i don't think so. in this kind of situation ditch is probably not what happened. they're probably out there searching for -- they need to be searching the water but not necessarily for a plane.
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they need to look for any clues that are out there on the water. but it's just -- the sullenberg style save of that plane on the hudson river literally was one in a million or one in a 100 million event. and they were both trained for it. they had both been trained in water landings. and that's not training that you get typically. so i think it's a weather situation. and in this kind of situation, not saying that's what happened here, but often we see a stall, meaning that the air flow over the rings is disrupted, the pilots don't realize the situati situation. and then you know, the plane can have a lot of situations happen, but from where they were at that altitude down to the water, that's about three minutes. so it was a terrible -- you know, it could be a very awful ride down, even if they were trying a ditching. >> and considering that, what
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are these rescue and recovery teams up against? and considering the weather factors. and how important is time being of the essence here to locate this airplane? >> well, time is of the essence for so many reasons. in this particular airspace there should be radar coverage. they should be able to see on the radar exactly where the plane went. the malaysia 370 situation was unusual in that, you know, first they said there was no radar and then four days later the malaysian military said they had radar showing it was -- had crossed indonesia and was going a whole different direction. there's really no excuse for any kind of delay in modern aviation where you have radar coverage and there should be entire radar coverage here. so they should have a good idea and they should be searching getting all the data right now as to where that plane was last
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spotted on radar. and that's where they need to go search. now, the planes, you know, the c-130s and depending upon how they're equipped, i mean, we have aircraft like that that can literally fly through hurricanes. but we don't know what in particular they have out there searching, and they need to get of course search crews on the water. they have to have ships to do that. and in order to do that you need that radar. you've got to have whatever information, both indonesia, singapore, if their coverage was far enough. and that's what's going to help them pinpoint it. and it's so incredibly vital because nobody wants a repeat of 370 br you can't ever find it because you didn't look soon enough. >> i'm glad you brought that up because for people just joining us they might be thinking is this -- this is somewhat surreal that we're talking about a missing airline r in the asia
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area when we had the mh disaster this past year and here we go again. let's tick off what you hope will not happen as far as countries coming together not only for the search of the plane but you remember the disaster from the communication of the airlines to the people and we've certainly seen people in that singapore airport, we don't even need to tell you or even consider what they're going through. i think we all get the idea. >> well, here there are two important lessons as a takeaway from malaysia 370 and to some degree malaysia airlines 19, the shootdown. and that was there was withholding of information that is certainly not helpful and not necessary. we're not talking about -- it's not a national security situation where you have to withhold information. this is a jetliner.
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and withholding information concerning military radar as a jetliner, there's just no excuse for that because you're not giving up any military secrets. by that everyone knows there's military coverage. so for any failure to cooperate and provide any information, it's just cruel and unnecessary for the families. but here we also know because of the requests for the change of altitude and because of the fact that there were so many storms in the area at this point there's just no indication of any terrorist or hijack situation and there are a lot of clues why that's not a likely scenario because in most cases terrorist hijack situations occur in very good weather, not bad weather. september 11, 2001. they checked to make sure. they didn't start the terrorist operation until the weather was clear. so here it does look like that is not a somewhere they're
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looking for. they're out there looking for a plane in distress most likely. so those are a couple things, the lessons takeaways from 370. doesn't look like any kind of hijack or terrorist event. and that secrecy is the enemy of finding this plane. you've got to have that information that every country can contribute. >> right. 24 hours from now i know it's early in the morning for you, and thank you for staying with us on a holiday weekend to help us cover this story. 24 hours from now what do you hope that officials know? >> well, i think right now even now, not just 24 hours from now i hope they have the radar information and that people were at their radar post. it's important to have radar but also important to have eyes on the radar sow don't have to go back and reconstruct it later. i think that's what happened in ma lashsz. i don't think they were at their posts and had real-time information. i think they went back and reconstructed it. so within 24 hours i think they
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need to have the cooperation of of indonesia, singapore, anyone in the area with radar information so they can pinpoint exactly where they need to look for this plane. obviously for the family's sake we would hope that something else had occurred, that the plane maybe had its communications knocked out and somehow it made it somewhere else. but there's no indication of that right now the indication is they need to gather that radar data and get to the last radar hits from that plane and start searching. and 24 hours from now hope we have full cooperation of all countries that can possibly contribute to that situation. >> mary schiavo, as always, we appreciate your expertise and your time. thank you for helping us out during our coverage. as mary just said, they need the cooperation of many countries in this region. and we all remember the mh-370 and the countries involved in that. and one of them was china
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because they had people on that malaysian airliner, many of the people from china. we want to go now to cnn's correspondent will ripley. he joins me now live from beijing. and will, we did just see that notice there in the singapore airport where we zoomed in on flight qz 8501 and it says "go to info counter." and here we are again with some sort of air mystery that there are fears is a disaster. what are you hearing there? >> this is a city, natalie, that knows that horrible gut-wrenching feeling all too well of a plane that's supposed to arrive, people waiting at the airport for their loved ones. carrying things for them. you see people when they get off a plane, they have flowers, they're excited to see their
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family. and then the plane never arrives. it's a horrible feeling. more than 150 families here in china went through it. so many families from so many different countries earlier this year went through it with mh-370. and frankly this is at a time when air travel in asia is becoming much more accessible for a large number of people. because of budget carriers like air asia. this is the first time that a generation of people here who were grounded because the cost was too prohibitive are now able to book tickets and they're able to go places. whether they're going on vacation, whether they're going somewhere to work or to see their families. and yet this year we have -- we've had asian airline after asian airline encounter tragedy, with a plane going down, and it's heart-wrenching every time it happens, natalie. and after covering mh-370 i can certainly -- your heart just really goes out for these families. and the not knowing right now. you know, knowing that likely that there is wreckage but not
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having an answer for sure. and that feeling, for these families may last in the coming hours until they can confirm. but for the families here in china they're still waiting for answers on m hchlmh-370 all the months later. it's really unreal. >> we wait for something from airasia. certainly they are under duress trying find out what happened to this airplane and getting the search ongoing. you were there in kuala lumpur afterwards, and you saw firsthand the strain on the families and on the airliner during something like this. what comes back to you thinking, as you just reflected on what people might be going through now and what lessons you learned about how you deal with people in a situation like this. and as we do know, the malaysia
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airliner was a complete mystery. this, what we do know is the pilot was dealing with weather. >> yes. and in the case of mh-370 there were no weather issues. it was a mystery. there was a lot of confusion in the early hours about the actual direction that the plane took. and frankly there still is confusion. in the search area, in the southern indian ocean they still don't have an exact area to look. they're going off of satellite pings, the transponders in that plane were turned off. this is a much different situation where hopefully for the families involved in airasia tragedy they'll have some of those answers shortly. one major difference, though, that we can already see is the difference in the transparency in the fast distribution of information from the airline, from the governments that are involved out to the families. you saw the passenger manifest released in just a matter of hours. it's already been put out.
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so we now know how many people on board, the kourpts they're from. the men and the women and the 16 children and the one baby that were on the airasia flight. but those were answers -- certainly the cargo manifest. that took weeks and weeks to be released in the case of mh-370. and i remember, natalie, in kuala lumpur a feeling, the tension and the anger from those families who were there trying to get answers. they weren't getting the answers that they needed. we saw some really dramatic moments where there was pushing, there was shoving, there was wailing, people were sobbing, they were surrounded by cameras, it was a very charged, very sad situation. and after that you saw in those subsequent weeks malaysia airlines assigning grief counselors to each individual family member. that was the case in kuala lumpur. that was the case here in beijing. making sure that families' needs were attended to. and what we're seeing now is also information being put out quickly. resources being made available for these families so they can be the first to know when there
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is information to tell them. that's the big difference i think we will see in crashes from here on out because it was just so devastating and made more difficult and devastating for the families of mh-370 because they weren't getting the answers for a long time. >> right. so many people were trying to come up with answers. it was certainly an emotional beyond emotional debacle. thank you so much, will ripley, covering the angle out of beijing for us. we also have a correspondent in seoul, south korea and many others on our coverage team here. we've been going at it for several hours. we'll continue on as we hope to hear something from the airliners. we were just talking about the malaysia airlines disaster. they had two disasters, as you know, in year. mh-370 disappearing in march and then mh-17 shot down in ukraine in july. the airline has just sent out this tweet about the airasia situation, and we want to read it to you. " #stay strong airasia.
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our thoughts and prayers are with all family and friends of those on board qz8501." let's take you back now to our meteorologist derek van dam. you have been giving us so much vital interesting information about what perhaps this airliner was flying through, derek, when they made the call that they needed to deviate and find a different route. >> no doubt, natalie there, was extreme rough weather in the area at the last point of contact with this particular missing plane. but pilots, keep this in mind, pilots are trained to fly around big thunderstorms. they want to prevent an uncomfortable flight for you and i. they want to make it as comfortable as possible, avoid areas of turbulence, which would be thunderstorms. it's just that these thunderstorms can form so quickly. the typical life span of a thunderstorm, for instance-s typically 45 minutes, and it can shoot up to altitudes of 40,000, even 50,000 feet.
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and that is really critical when we consider the altitude that they were ascending to when they asked to deviate around these thunderstorms. what we've done here in the cnn world weather center is we've stopped the satellite imagery. we're having trouble finding some of the radar imagery from this region, but satellite is important and it tells us certain clues of what took place at that last moment of contact which was roughly 7:15 in the morning on sunday local time. and you can clearly see there was several complex thunderstorm activities forming across the java sea. this is java. this is surabaya where the plane took off. it was heading in a northwesterly direction toward singapore. and this green circle is the area where the last point of contact took place. i'm going to advance the slide just a few hours to show you how quickly these thunderstorms formed across this region. that shading of red and deep oranges indicating the coldest cloud tops of these supercell
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thunderstorms. again, they can range anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000, even 50,000 feet at times. this is important. let me explain why. we've tracked the path of this particular missing airline, or airplane, i should say, just before it lost contact with the airports in singapore. keep in mind the altitude was roughly 32,000 feet. this is important because we've also noticed on some other websites that there is a turbulence forecast that gives actual current continuations at the time that the airport went missing. and what we're finding is reports that this storm cell was towering over 50,000 feet in the air. so this altitude of this plane did not have the ability to clear these storms. so turbulence certainly could have been a major factor. natalie? >> we'll continue to explore all possible factors. thank you, derek van dam for us in the weather center. our breaking news coverage will continue right after a short break. ♪
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make the best entertainment part of your holidays. catch all the hottest handpicked titles on the winter watchlist, only with xfinity from comcast. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com if that music sounds surreal to you, it does to me as well. hello, everyone. thank you again for joining us. i'm natalie allen at cnn news center. welcome to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world because we continue to bring you breaking fuse on a missing airliner. it's been missing now just shy of eight hours. search and rescue o

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