tv CNNI Simulcast CNN December 28, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PST
that music sounds familiar to you, we used that during the mh 370 disaster. we have another air disaster that we are following right now with breaking news. hello, everyone following us here in the united states and around the world. i'm natalie allen. the story is airasia flight 8501. it's missing, it's been missing for hours. it went missing with heavy thunderstorms in the area around the time it lost contact with air traffic controllers. here's ha we know. we're going to break it down for you. it happened early sunday morning
local time there in indonesia. as the plane was flying from surabaya north to singapore, it's about a two-hour flight. search and rescue operations are under way, c-130s are in the air, there are ships in that area very heavily trafficked area with many ships. so should be many eyes trying to find any sign of this plane. no sight of it yet. most of the path took it over water. the pilot asked to change route because of the weather. asked to ascend to 38,000 feet. there was a storm at 52,000 feet so no way to get up over it. soon after that request was asked for a dieversion for the flight and all communication was lost with the airplane. it is an a-320.
a no-frills airliner. there were 162 people listed on the flight manifest 155 passengers and seven crew most on board indonesians. there were some others. there were three south koreans. one singaporean, and one french person on board. the list included 17 children and an infant. we are also told by one of our analysts from the region that 17 people listed on that flight did not board. there were 17 no-shows. the ceo of airasia, tony fernandez, is now on his way to surabaya. earlier, he tweeted this short statement "thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." we are covering this from many angles. we've been talking with analysts for hours now about what perhaps, happened.
the last hearing from this airplane that it was trying to vector around a thunderstorm and very very dangerous weather in that region right now. cnn's will ripley is joining me now from beijing, he's among our team who are helping us cover this breaking news because will you were covering the mh 370 story for some time and were there in kuala lumpur and strangely enough airasia is based there in kuala lumpur. the similarities will end there, hopefully, it will not be an aviation mystery like we saw with mh 370. right now we just don't know anything. we do know and i want to start with you on this point, airasia lost contact with that airplane and didn't announce it for
several hours. you were saying the one thing that people went through that was so hard to take with the investigation with mh 370 was transparency and communication and openness. >> reporter: and certainly, natalie, in the initial hours, when a plane goes missing, and there aren't a lot of answers, it does take a while for any organization to get their emergency teams in place, get their information, the means to deliver the information to the families. so there are going to be delays in the initial hours. but what families here in beijing, the families of more than 150 passenger, the majority of the people on mh 370 were from china. and what the families here in beijing had to contend with was very limited and slow and incomplete information over the course of days and weeks. and you saw the frustration levels continue to build, and there were waves of emotion, grief and then anger. people who were almost shells.
they were resigned to the fact that they still didn't have answers. and here we are now ending the year which has been a horrible air travel year in asia. and those families, mh 370 families still truly don't know where their families are. there are search operations in the indian ocean that have so far turned up no tangible evidence. there are some includes some educated guesses that they going on. this doesn't seem the case here. unlike mh 370, there were no technical problems and the transponding equipment was switched off. they know there was weather in the area. let's home for the sake of these 162 people's families that they'll be able to quickly put together the information, find this plane and give these families closure that a lot of people in china are waiting for as well as the other countries
of the people from mh 370. >> we are presuming this plane did crash. we don't know if it crashed in tact or not. we've had many analysts talking about what situations might cause it to as far as if there was ice or hail that just caused the plane to freeze. but anyway, there are a lot of questions to be answered. a lot of information to be put out there, and we haven't heard from airasia in a while. are you in kuala lumpur. it's so hard to look at people who happen to be in an airport, and there are video cameras everywhere from people. we're told that they've created a crisis center for these people certainly, they have. what can you tell us about what people have told you about how they were treated early on and how important it is that the families get communication and get information even before the
public. can they expect that? of course this is a completely different airliner. but it's the same region and it's certainly paid attention toe what its neighbors in malaysia dealt with. >> reporter: certainly certainly. in the case of mh 370, we saw as indicated by the tremendous amount of confusion when the plane went missing and the fact that there was confusion about what its actual flight path was. so there weren't a lot of answers to convey. but i think what infuriated a lot of people was that there was confusion. instead of laying everything out there transparently right away, there were things that were held back the radar for example. there was concern that there could be you know you're talking about multiple different countries, different governments, and everybody might have had a tidbit of information and there was reluctance to share it because of security reasons. it took a long time for that to
come together. the fact that people were waiting at the airport in beijing even an hour later it still hadn't been reported that the plane was missing. it was agony for those families to see the flight number and not have any answers. we see the same pictures now in singapore. the board, with the flight number and it says "go to the information counter." it's just it's heart-wrenching and a feeling that people here in china know all too well two kuala lumpur-based carriers have seen planes crash this year and there was another crash that didn't make a ton of news but the transasia crash as well where more than 40 people died. this has been a very painful year for air travel this thisin this part of the world. >> and were you telling us that people in china have just been able to fly more and have access
to fly more. and now we have three planes disasters, associated with this region. and how familiar are you as a correspondent who flies all over the region for cnn, how familiar are you with airasia? have you ever flown it? >> reporter: well i, yeah, i can tell you, reporting in kuala lumpur in the months after mh 370 i did a story about the fact mh 370 was facing very intense competition from budget carriers in asia like airasia. that was the number one competitor that was taking customers away from malaysian airlines because that more traditional airline, the price struck fewerture is different, the amenities, and a lot of passengers who couldn't afford to fly are getting on flights like airasia, no-frills, budget carriers. in this part of the world it really is booming and opening up the air travel world to a whole
generation of people a whole income level of people who never had the freedom before and it lets them go visit their families. in the case of people heading to singapore, we know a big portion of the population there are domestic helpers in addition to students and sailors. perhaps people were going to visit families working over there in singapore. something that they may not have been able to afford to do five or ten years ago. so for every name on that passenger list and we can't stress this enough there is a story, people who love them people who are going to miss them terribly and we need to remember those people and so do the airlines. they need to be transparent and when they have information to share, they need to share that information with the families first so that the families don't have to learn about things on television or the internet like they did far too much during the mh 370 investigation. >> yeah.
absolutely. and as we said the ceo of airasia's on his way right now to surabaya. and perhaps when he gets there we will get more information from the leadership of the airline. will ripley we thank you from beijing for us. we've been talking to many aviation experts for several hours. we've been on the air just a little over five hours now, just talking about what we do know with it this flight and what it was dealing with when we last heard from the pilots. julian bray is an aviation expert based in the united kingdom. he joins me by phone from peter borough, and we thank you, julian for adding your voice to our coverage. we know that there is very little that we do know about this flight except that the last time we heard from the pilot was that they wanted to maneuver from a thunderstorm and
descend to 38,000 feet with a thunderstorm though was all the way at 52,000 feet. so what does that tell you, as an expert what they were dealing with in the cockpit at the time? >> caller: well, good morning from the u.k. the latest theory and it's only a theory and it's pure speculation, obviously, is that he might have encountered icing on the wings, and he requested to be vectored to a new flight that could shift the ice. it could be that or a thunderstorm. it's a tremendous storm. the weather map is red all around the area where the aircraft was. so even if he did divert request the deviation, he probably would go into another storm. now these pilots are very very experienced. and airasia is a very good airline, has a very good safety record. and of course the airbus 32200 well it flies by wire.
it has multiple backup systems. but unfortunately, there are external factors which do affect aircraft and of course it comes down to the pilot, whether he takes that aircraft up and flies into the conditions. because they are given all the weather maps beforehand. >> what you mentioned ice. what could have happened as far as if they encountered ice or icing conditions that could have immobilized the airplane is that what you're saying? >> caller: basically, if you get ice on your wings it alters the whole formation, format of the wings and alters everything and adds weight as well. so if it does build up very quickly, there's quite a lot of weight there and it won't be evenly distributed. we're always dealing request this. but it does look like a very strange weather pattern there. they lost contact with the
signal which is the automatic dependent surveillance system. and he was flying at 32,000 feet when that happened. and there are two pilots on board, so they must have been trying everything to get out of this particular situation. and the pilots in that particular region know the weather patterns. and so they've all experienced them before and there's nothing to suggest that anything untoward has happened on board at the moment. the plain fact of the matter is that contact has been lost. it would have had enough fuel i think, to probably carry it for four hours. we're now several hours since it went down so it must have landed or gone down somewhere. because it hasn't got that much fuel on board for a short flight. >> and also julian does the pilot have the discretion to get
anywhere he or she needs to get to get a, to move away from a thunderstorm? like not just descend, not just descend but turn completely around and go the opposite direction. do they have that discretion? >> caller: well as the last resort. but normally what they do they do things properly and file the deviation to the already-filed flight plan so everybody knows where this aircraft is and they can track it. and then the aircraft will squawk out a number send out a number the code number which will be picked up. there's various website tracking organizations, and you can see these tracks and you can see the individual aircraft so obviously, they've got to make sure that all the other traffic in the sky is absolutely safe as well. so you try and do it by the book. but if something really strange did happen at the end of the day, the captain is master of the particular ship or aircraft and he has absolute discretion.
he might have to answer to an inquiry afterwards but obviously, the safety of his passengers and his aircraft is the number one priority. >> right. what about other conditions? say, not just icing, but what about hail? is there a possibility that hail or something could cause the radar to be inoperable? >> caller: it comes under icing, basically, but it could be bird strike multiple bird strike that put out all the engines. you just don't know at this stage. the weather has been very, very strange right around the world at the moment and these things do happen. thankfully, not too often. it's just unfortunate it all seems to happen in this particular region. but say the airline can, sorry, airasia is by a very very astute businessman who flies this particular operation very
very well. he follows all the rules. his aircraft are state-of-the-art. he supplies a very good service, and he carries millions of passengers. he also owns a football team in the u.k., as well as a record company and a chain of hotels. and they're called the tune group, which is originally based on the easyjet concept, basically. >> you say this airline has a very good reputation as you say, and this pilot had, what 6100 hours of flight time, do we know how much flight time the pilot, he or she, had as a captain of this particular airplane and how significant would that be? >> caller: i don't think that would be very significant, because these days you'll find that most pilots actually fly, they train in simulators and the first time they go up in the air, they've actually got a full
load on board, of passengers. obviously, they'll be assisted there'll be a fully-trained captain with them when they take it up. but the way it is done these days it really is done by the book. you have computer-aided systems, backup systems, systems to die for, basically, which is probably an unfortunate thing to say, but the point is they have them so they can rely on them. now what has happened here is very very strange, because suddenly all contact has been lost. so either something catastrophic has happened and it has ditched, it's gone into the sea, or it could have actually veered off and landed somewhere, but i think the fact that they got the air-sea rescue already in progress and i have to say this time the authorities are being
very quick with the information unlike previous instances in this region. so they are keeping us well-informed. they've set up a relative center and i think you have the phone number there for it. if you don't, i can give it to you, which relatives can call and try to find out what's happening. so they are keeping us all in the loop. and i see that they've gone and turned their facebook page gray all the logos were red, now they're gray. >> we noticed that. >> caller: hmm. do you have the emergency number? >> please go ahead and provide it. >> caller: it is whatever your local country code. 62-212-985-0801. and that is for relatives to ring if anybody on that particular flight if you want
to know more they apparently will be able to tell you there. and they have set up several sensors. now the owner of this airline is tony fernandez who is the ceo. he was a failing airline in about 2001. he put a lot of money into it. they actually fly around 50 million passengers a year. so that's quite something. and it's had a pretty good safety record. almost impeccable safety record so he will be very very upset as will everybody else. everybody in the aviation industry doesn't like to see these things happen. >> hmm -- absolutely. >> caller: it is still a very safe way to travel. >> we've had tweets from tony fernandez. and thank you for giving us more about his background, and, as you say, all the work he has done to bring this airline around. he did tweet that he was on his way to surabaya where the
flight originated. and he also sent out a tweet saying "stay strong." also malaysia airlines tweeted support for asia air. we know they are a competitor as well. >> caller: yes. >> i want to go back to one point. you mentioned ditching. someone has said earlier that i was interviewing, that this airplane the air 320 has some kind of mechanism in order to ditch, to try to ditch. what are the chances we could have seen something like what happened on the hudson, which i know was a miracle. >> caller: yes, it does have a ditching protocol. but the point is it's -- how can i put it? it is it is a last-ditch -- a last attempt, if you like. so you cannot rely on this but let's just assume -- let's be positive about this since we're
sounding very negative here. it doesn't seem that it has ditched. the pilot's managed to keep the nose up and glide just like the hudson river inch dipts. they deploy the chute side to side. and the chutes turn into notation areas, rafts, if you like. so the chutes normally come down and you climb on board those everybody's got a life jacket under their seat and they would have put those on. the crew would have gone into a pre-planned protocol making sure that everybody's off. all the emergency exits would be opened and exit over the wings or wherever. and have you noticed that they always make sure that the big, strong chap or lady is sitting right by the emergency exit. because they usually have to assist the staff, the crew in
opening the pressurized doors. so those pop out, and off they go. so hopefully there will be warning beacons going up. i would have expected some warning beacons to be tracked by now. and that is a slight worry, which might mean that it has actually gone under the water. so if it's actually floating on the water, then the tracking beacons would have initiated. and there's a beacon that's just in front of the tail fin on that particular aircraft. >> all right, julian bray we appreciate your time with us so much speaking with us from peterborough england. and we appreciate you ending our conversation with you on a positive note the ever so slight chance of a successful ditching and we certainly don't
know the fate of this airplane. so why not discuss all possibilities. we certainly want to. we want to talk about the conditions though that were present when this airplane was within its short, two-hour flight to singapore. derek van dam is our meteorologist who has been taking us through this. he's got more on what these pilots were dealing with. and it's right there within that green circle you've been telling us about. >> if's not only the conditions just prior to the moment it lost contact, it's also about this potential search and recovery effort that is taking place for the aircraft flying around the region and the ships and the crafts that are navigating the very turbulent seas of the java sea at the moment. this is the latest satellite imagery, and it's been clear, and it's been widely known that airasia is reporting that the pilots asked to ascend to 38,000
feet to try and divert some of the weather that was ongoing across that region. and what we've done here is we've actually stopped the satellite image at the moment the plane lost contact with air traffic control. and you can see some very rough thunderstorm activity across the java sea. this deep shading of orange and red. you can see clearly on the map here within this green circle that's the area that we lost contact with the airplane. so thunderstorms were definitely in the vicinity. and just look how quickly they formed. within a 45-minute period. very tall thunderstorm clouds, roughly 40 to even 50,000 feet in the air, according to some of the recorded observations coming out of that area. and if an airplane is traveling at 38,000 feet to try and actually go above the thunderstorm with thunderstorm cloud tops exceeding 40,000 and 50,000 clearly it interacted
with that thunderstorm in some way. and we know very clearly, as we remember air france back in june of 2009 that ice, frozen particles and instruments on airplanes do not mix. this is the flight radar 24 tracking website. this is the path as the plane took off from surabaya java heading north and west towards singapore, you can see just before it lost contact with air traffic control, the altitude was at 32,000 and it was ascending according to airasia. now what we see, typically, across this part of the world is a significant amount of moisture. and the more moisture we have available, the more thunderstorms build across the region. so this is the anatomy of a thunderstorm. almost a slice or right through the middle of a thunderstorm, just to give you an idea of what kind of components are inside a thunderstorm and to give you an idea of what piloting encounter
as they traverse through large areas of thunderstorm complexes. we've got very dynamic updrafts and there's also cold air downdrafts. and that is exactly why we experience this turbulence. of course pilots are trained in their airline training to navigate around these storms to make you and i as comfortable as possible as we travel through the air. but with this amount of thunderstorm activity it's almost impossible to miss that area of thunderstorms. remember however, that turbulence is not what brings down thunderstorms, it's the pilot's reaction not turbulence that often leads to engine failures for instance as the auto pilot goes from cruising to manual. now this is again, the anatomy of a thunderstorm. and what we're talking about is ruffle around 20,000 feet is where we experience a freezing level. so if we have thunderstorms reaching well into the 30,000
40,000-foot plus range, any plane going through this part of the thunderstorm is going to encounter ice. and as i mentioned before some pivotal inch sprumtstruments on an airplane that is the pitot tube tube air flow can be restricted and cause serious problems with airspeed indications and the aircraft auto pilot also loses ability to fly. this is the setup with the northeast monsoon across this region. we're tapping into moisture from the south china sea, northeasterly wind flow encountering a mountainous terrain, giving uplift to create the thunderstorm intensity. this is where we saw that constant activity of thunderstorms, and natalie, going forward, our computer models here at the cnn weather
center indicating a very active weather pattern. if there is a search and recovery effort going forward, aircraft around that area need to be careful of similar weather patterns and also the rough sea on the ocean because of the waves that have formed. >> we have a reporter on a ship right now headed to search and certainly, there are two c-130s right now. they are built to sometimes fly into hurricanes aren't they. but commercial aircraft never into a thunderstorm. >> that's right. they try to divert it at all costs. >> thank you for bringing us the latest on the weather situation that they were dealing with. we will continue to bring you more information as we get it. we'll take a quick break. we have another breaking news story, a ferry, dealing with a fire and rescue off the coast of greece. we'll talk about that. a busy news day here, stay with us.
news coverage. it is 5:30 in the evening in singapore, 4:30 in the afternoon in indonesia. and that is where an airasia flight has gone missing, flight 8501. it originated in surabaya in the southern part of indonesia and was on its way to singapore. it's been missing now for many hours as the plane was flying from surabaya to singapore. heavy thunderstorms around the time that this plane, the a-320 lost contact request air traffic controllers. the pilot asked to change the route because of the weather, asked to descend to 38,000 feet. but unfortunately, this plane can't go above 42,000 feet. this thunderstorm was move 50,000 feet.
all contact was lost with the airplane. most of that plane's flight path took it over open water. and if you're looking at the map here that green country, where you see the plane was, not really over but from the perspective of the map, it looks like it. that's malaysia. of so this is the region that has seen two air disasters in this past year. that right there shows where this plane was when air traffic control lost contact with the airplane over the java sea. we know that there are c-130s there, ships in that region. this is a very busy transit area of the sea, very busy with maritime traffic. but so far we don't have any information on any sighting of this plane. there were 162 people listed on the flight manifest 155
passengers and seven crew most aboard indonesians. that's a picture of the plane we're talking about. most indonesians. but there were three south koreans aboard one singaporean, one malaysia and one french person. of the passengers there were 17 children. one of our analysts says there were 17 no-shows on this flight that took off from indonesia at 5:30 in the morning. the ceo of airasia, tony fernandes fernandes, highly regarded businessman is on his way to surabaya. earlier, he tweeted a short statement. it read "thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." then he later tweeted that he was on his way to surabaya. there have also been tweets from
malaysia airlines to airasia. they're competitors, expressing their support and understanding what airasia is going through now with a missing airplane. we will continue to bring you any updates on this story. we'll continue to talk with people and our correspondents. we have a team that's covering the story. president president obama has issued a statement of support for the airline, but he is on holiday in hawaii. so if we hear anything more from the president, he was briefed on the missing plane. we will bring you that from correspondent michelle kosinski in hawaii with the president as they take their holiday there. we have another disaster that we're covering that has broken in the last hour and a half. it's from europe it's a ferry called "fire". it's on fire in the adriatic
sea. there were over 400 people on this ferry. some have been removed from the ferry. let's get more live from athens. what can you tell us about the rescue operation under way? >> caller: it's a really big operation. it's taking place in the adriatic sea. what happened the car ferry on the northern atlantic carrying nearly 500 passengers and crew caught fire in the early morning hours while sailing from greece to italy. the fire appears to have started in the lower deck a car deck according to initial reports coming out, but we don't yet know the exact causes of the fire yet. the ship sent a distress signal about 44 nautical miles off the island of corfu. this was about five hours ago. and the severe weather
conditions are making the rescue operations very difficult. there are enough boats or helicopters. there are enough people to take part in the rescue operations, but because of the severe winds, this has been difficult. only a small number have been evacuated so far, about 35 people have been transferred on board a nearby container ship. we have information from the government a number of ministries have come out, the merchant marine minister has described this rescue operation as one of the most complex of its kind perhaps authorities have ever had to deal with. italian, albanian authorities are also taking part in this operation and other ships, including a big cruise ship are waiting to collect passengers. the rescue helicopters. really it is the high winds making this operation so difficult. we keep getting passengers from
on board the ship calling greek tv stations asking for help calling for help describing conditions on board as dramatic. they're saying that nothing works on the ship anymore and that the fire has not yet been contained. they have been on the deck for a number of hours now. they say they're getting very cold. they're worrying as time passes. and the authorities here are really battling against time. they're trying to get the passengers out of the ship as quickly as possible and the fire continues. and at the same time we have warnings that weather conditions were likely to deteriorate even further in the next hours, natalie. so it's a very difficult operation under way at the moment. >> it certainly sounds like that. i was just about to ask you if there was contact from people on board that ship because so many people have their phones working and are on social media. it's unreal that the fire is still burning and that there are
still so many people on that ship. and any word official word from the government of greece how long how much longer this could take? because it just reminding me of that sewol disaster where they couldn't get the students off in time and it ended up being a huge tragedy. what are you hearing from government officials about how long this could take? >> caller: we don't know how long this could take. we do know that most people are on the deck. we don't have people trapped, at least as far as we know inside the ship. so we don't have a situation that seems to resemble what happened in korea. but the people who are calling are calling from their mobile phones and there are a lot of people calling in asking for help. some of them seem to be panicking, obviously, as time passes their situation gets more
and more difficult. there have been calls, there is a chance that some people may have to jump in the water in order to be rescued. but obviously, we're hoping that we won't get toe that point. the greek prime minister is in contact with his italian counterparts. it's being monitored by both countries. it is a joint operation. there are a number of people very close to the ship. it seems to be very difficult to get the people out for the time being. >> we understand the complexities and the weather being a situation. what a nightmare for the people that are stuck on a ferrinay nathat is still on fire. linda, you've been very helpful, talking with us from greece. if you get any further information please pass it on to
us. 411 passengers on board. it left eeg men sta greece. and as you heard linda report a lot of ships coming to thes are cue -- rescue but many people calling in to tv and the weather is dismal. our other breaking news story, we have been on for many hours now, it's this missing airasia flight 8501. the search is ongoing in the java sea. it was going from indonesia to singapore when it disappeared after radioing a request to change course and to ascend, going through a heavy thunderstorm. we've been telling you about these terrific storms that are
happening in this region that is typically stormy this time of year. it's monsoon season. and now this plane has gone missing. cnn's will ripley is among our team members here at cnn, covering the story. we're covering it from many angles. he is live in beijing for us. we're going to you because you covered the mh 370 disaster. you were there in beijing when people there, families got no information. and it was a disaster for so many people. and we know that airasia is based in kuala lumpur the same as malaysia airlines. this has connections up to malaysia. it seems surreal, but here we are. what is the feeling there in beijing as people hear about this and know what many more families are now going through, until they hear something? >> reporter: surreal is the exact word natalie, to think that now, three, three different
planes from carriers based in kuala lumpur, malaysia one is still technically missing. one has crashed. this one, we presume has gone down but it is still missing at this moment. between those numbers is the more horrific number that there are hundreds and hundreds of families that have something in common in this part of the world, which is that their loved ones boarded a plane and they never got off the plane. they didn't go home, or they didn't reach their destinations. it's gut-wrenching to see the images and photos now of families who still at this moment the plane is over nine hours overdue at this point. they still don't know they suspect. but they don't know. and that is a feeling that families here in china, more than 150 people who were on mh
370. their families still don't know where their loved ones are. if there is one thing we can hope for in this tragedy, it is for answers for the families. we hope that they are given the respect that they deserve, the company will continue to be transparent, to set up all the support systems that they need so they can get from airasia, from the different governments involved quick, efficient and compass nat information. they're hopefully not learning about it from watching the news or reading the news on the internet but hearing from people trained to help with families like this. certainly there are a lot of families in china and malaysia who didn't get that kind of information and help until weeks after the plane went missing, and that made the process so much harder for them. >> well airasia has set up a hotline number for people who want information. it has a crisis center that
they've set up at the airports. we know that the ceo, tony fernandez is on his way to the city where the flight originated there in indonesia. and that's what we know so far. we know that this plane requested a change of course because of the thunderstorm and then that was it. and that's all we know. we were getting this early video. i know you hate to see this. everyone hates to see this that there's early footage before families are wiskedhisked away. the board there when you got to the flight number on the board, it just said "go to information desk". sounded very formal. and we remember mh 370 had that sign that we all have kind of emblazoned in our memory delayed. mh 370. so yes, hopefully these people are getting the support they need right now. because we just don't have any
answers. there have been no announcements from airasia of any announcements that are forthcoming or news briefings or announcements. they held one hours ago about this plane that went missing but that's all we know. you were in kuala lumpur talking with family members who survived. you talked with people who didn't get on that plane, 17 people didn't get on this plane, no-shows. you've flown this before. it's no frills a discount airliner. but a very good safety record and very good reputation correct? >> reporter: yeah. it has a very good reputation, and it is a major player and becoming more of a major player in this region expanding in malaysia. when i reported about the financial problems that are facing malaysia airlines one of
the things you always look at is the fact of low-cost competitors are taking passengers away and bringing new passengers into the fold. families who couldn't afford to fly before but now they can. it's a booming market. of course in this part of the world where there are more people here than in any other region of the world, this is a potentially huge market for air travel, and people who are just going to be flying for the first time. generations of people getting on planes for the first time. something that people in western countries may take for granted. this is new here in the east. but to have now, not only the two laitz airliners go down mh 370, mh17. now we have this 8501. and now you're opening up the world of airline travel to all these people here there are
some who will watch this year, which is about to end, 2014 and even though we know statistically that traveling by plane is one of the safest methods of travel how can you not look at all these horrific incidents in asia this part of the world, and take note of that? it's really it's not something that we thought we'd be talking about here again, natalie. >> it's beyond eerie, for sure. and we hope that this is an aviation mystery right now that we will have the answers to sooner rather than later. the search is going on for the airplane because mh 370, biggest air disaster air mystery ever. and so we certainly don't want a repeat of that. so will ripley we appreciate your perspective as someone who's covered that disaster and flies these skies a lot in asia. i want to bring in a pilot who has flown this exact route
before alastair rosenshine. he joins us on the phone from sussex, england. what can you tell us about this flight path? you've taken it. what's your perspective on where this plane was going and the type of weather that it encounter and that planes often encounter in this region of the world? >> caller: yes, well i have to over this particular route on numerous cases all hoe not to surabaya itself. in this area you have an intertropical convergence which is a pattern of area that circles the entire globe. and it moves north and south with the season. and in january, it produces severe thunderstorms, up to
altitudes, heights, which are well above maximum height an aircraft can fly. so typically, a pilot will try and fly round this sort of weather using the airborne weather radar. that is perfectly normal. very occasionally pilots might try and fly above the weather. now that's not always possible. because thunderstorms can be very large there. but it is sometimes more comfortable to remain clear of an overhang from a thunderstorm or to remain visual so you can see as well as use radar. however, it does compromise your ability to keep the aircraft stable your speed margins are reduced quite dramatically as you go up higher. this aircraft was relatively light. it was halfway through an hour and a half long flight. the fact that the aircraft
disappeared whilest deviating to the west to avoid weather and while it's trying to climb would put the factors as fairly significant in relation to its disappearance. >> so it could have encountered icing conditions it could have encountered hail. can hail i was told could affect the nose cone of the plane which could make the radar inoperable. what could it run into at that height with a thunderstorm higher than the plane that it certainly can't rise above? >> caller: well if you wanted to fly through one of these severe cell one of these see year thunderstorms you have vertical winds that produce severe turbulence icings and hail and lightning. lightning is less of a liis ofess
of a problem for aircraft. modern aircraft can withstand lightning quite well. but turbulence icing and hail if they're severe can affect the flight path the control of the aircraft and, indeed its ability to fly at all. so you know flying through a big thunderstorm in that area is not something i personally would ever like to do. i have flown two or three times through thunderstorms, not intentionally, of course but it is it does provide a horrible ride although obviously, i survived the experiences. so it's not always a fatal thing to do but best to avoid it at all costs. >> let me ask you this, alastair since you have flown in this area before and you talk about the intertropical convergence and this is a
volatile region with this time of year and the monsoon season do pilots require any extra training to deal with these conditions? >> caller: well you see, typically, when you have two pilots flying aircraft like this. and one of them one would be first officer, and generally speaking the captain has more experience than the first officer, and avoiding weather is something you learn in training but the main learning that you will see is actually while flying aircraft in these conditions because they are very bearable and it's almost an art form, avoiding thunderstorms and trying to be clear of weather. there are a number of key facts which you can, which help you to avoid the weather. one is the forecast the actual weather. reports from pilots on that route before. sometimes when it's really bad, air traffic control will give you advice. but as far as looking at the
radar's concerned, you always try and get around most severe areas. sometimes, but especially in the intertropical convergence zone there is little gap between these thunderstorms. and these thunderstorms can grow at a great rate. so you have a small thunderstorm which barely shows anything on your radar which grows at a few thousand feet a minute and cut you out and come at you from below. it is difficult to avoid the weather. normally aircraft do manage to avoid the worst weather. >> right. >> caller: and anybody who's flown in aircraft and in weather knows it's avoidable. >> it's interesting that you call it more of an art form. and you get that sense when you're a passenger on an airplane and the pilot comes on and says it's going to get
choppy or they're trying to vector around stormy skies. how much discretions to a pilot have? we know that this pilot requested a deviation in altitude but is it up to the pilot to get out of the situation and do whatever he or she can do to avoid the thunderstorm? or do they have too get some directions on where to go? >> caller: absolutely. the pilot has prime responsibility for the safety of the passengers and the pilot will do whatever is necessary. now you won't always speak to air traffic control if you can get through to them. you don't want to fly into the path of another aircraft which is even more dangerous than flying into the path of a thunderstorm. if you can't get deviation in a certain direction then you ask for a deviation in a different direction. in my experience it's quite rare that you're unable to deviate on your chosen path when
you speak to air traffic control, except in some companies like for example in china, i was refused to avoid an enormous thunderstorm. and it resulted in having to turn back to the point of departure. that only happened once in my near 30 years of flying. so yes, you can avoid it. but sometimes weather itself makes it impossible to avoid flying around thunderstorms because they're actually too close together to get between them. and when you're between two very large thunderstorms we refer to it as a false gap. you think you can get through it and as you get closer you realize that the two storms are linked. and you end up with a fright indeed. i think it is you know it's high up on the list of probabilities. so you know the, there could
be other reasons that would lead to the disappearance to this flight. >> we just don't know. and we know that the search is going on right now. c-130s are in the air. conditions are terrible. they can't see much and there are ships in that area. it's a very busy maritime area. so a lot of traffic there, but no sign and no word from airasia. and the plane has been missing now for many many hours. we thank you very much for your perspective, aviationist alastair rosenshine. we will take a break and have more on this breaking story after this. >> technology gives you security. technology gives you control and now technology gives you home security and control in a new and revolutionary way. introducing plug & protect from livewatch security, an easy to use wireless security system customized just for your home. control from any smartphone,
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