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and hello to everyone joining us from the u.s. and around the world. i'm natalie allen at the cnn center. if you are just joining you, we are breaking you breaking news a missing airliner somewhere in the java sea is a missing airliner. it's been missing for many hours. it took off around 5:00 in the evening and was to land in singapore. it's just after 6:00 in the evening in singapore right now. it has been missing now for some nine hours since 7:24 this morning is when they lost contact with that plane. so that's how long this mystery has been ongoing. search and rescue operations are under way. it is airasia flight 8501. again, this happened early
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sunday morning, local time. the plane was flying from surabaya indonesia city there in the south. it left at 5:30 in the morning, as we were just discussing with our guest, heavy thunderstorms were in this area at the time the airplane lost contact with air traffic controllers. the pilot had just recently asked to change altitude for a die diversion in the route because of weather in the area. soon after that request was made, all contact was lost with the plane. that graphic is showing you about the area where contact was lost with this airplane. most of the plane's flight path took it over open water. we also have been showing you a picture of the actual plane. it's an airbus a-320. there were 162 people listed on the flight and fest 155
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passengers and seven crew that is the actual plane we're talking about. most on board are indonesians. but we're also told that there are three south koreans, one singaporean. one person from france and one from malaysia. we've also learned among the passengers, there were 17 children, including an infant. the ceo of airasia, highly regarded businessman, who really brought this airline back many years ago made it extremely viable. it's a no-frills budget airline. he tweeted a short statement "thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." we are looking at footage as people learned that flight went missing. we are told that there are care centers set up for families and
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there is a number for families to call. but right now, no word on what exactly has happened to this airplane. and even though there is a search by sea and air, conditions are still extremely poor. this is a time of year when they get hammered by thunderstorms. it's the monsoon season. and no word yet on any sight of anything that has been found. julian bray is an aviation expert based in the united kingdom. he joins me on the phone now from peterborough. we spoke with you earlier. it's interesting if people are just joining us that we have another air disaster in this region of the world that saw the mh 370, which is the biggest, still, mystery, aviation mystery in our history. and now we have this. what do we know about the situation with this airplane? what does it tell you about the weather?
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all we know right now is that weather is high on the list of probabilities that it could have been a factor. >> caller: yes, and i have had a look at the weather maps and there are three very large red areas on the weather that they were going to fly into. they want to try and fly away from it but i'm afraid looking at the happen, they could have actually flown into another weather system there. there's also the question of icing. the flight may have contracted icing on the wings and it changes the profile of the wings. that is a problem there. he was flying at about 32,000 feet when over when the signal was lost. now that is automatic dependent surveillance. so this is a fly by wire
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aircraft. it's one of the safest aircrafts around the airbus 32200. we are hoping for the best but all options have to be considered. >> when you say you checked the weather and there were three red spots, does that tell you, although pilots are trained to get away from thunderstorms, they can do any maneuver they care to even a 180, to turn away from a thunderstorm but that this pilot may have encountered a point of no return? >> caller: it seems looking at it that it came across very, very quickly. so he might not have had time to do anything. he's obviously requested a diversion from his flight plan or deviation. and so that was probably going through. then something else might have actually affected the aircraft. now we've talked about the weather, but we can't rule out other factors as well.
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there might have been a multiple bird strike for example. but this is a very robust aircraft and even if one or two engines go out, then frankly, it is still, it can still fly. it can still glide. something has happened here because all contact has suddenly been lost. >> yeah. and you were saying even a lightning strike it isn't as much of a threat as say, icing or hail. couldn't hail cause the ray dome on the front of the aircraft cause the radar not to work and other systems? >> caller: that's in the older aircraft because the equipment they've got now is not just dependent on what is in the nose cone. so there are other systems they can use. and he'll have some information, have some knowledge of this. only if the whole nose cone fell off, but that is highly
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unlikely and this is pure speculation. there will be investigation, the search has already started. but the point is that we are trying to find a complete aircraft with passengers on board, and hopefully they're still safe. so we have to consider all the options. now it's what it's about a two-hour flight. so they probably carry about four hours' worth of fuel. you would have burned some of that off. so it must be down somewhere. if it's not on land it's in water. and that's what they have to look at. so they go back through all the tracking systems. we've been this route before haven't we they'll be looking at satellite, trying to track everything track flight levels the pings the data they get back from the aircraft to find out exactly what has happened. >> yes, and so far, no word on any pings or beacons or anything from this aircraft. and what do we know about the
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java sea, the area where this plane is believed to have been over when it disappeared, as far as reflecting back on mh 370 search and the depth that they were trying to comb to find anything. what do we know about this part? >> caller: this particular area has always been a bit of a stinker as far as weather goes and the pilots in the area are highly experienced, because they know the conditions and they can actually react to those conditions. and the air traffic control people there are very very experienced as well. so they do work closely together. these people actually know each other. they've been going the same route for years or months or whatever before they move up. and the whole point is that they do work as a team. and i think events of the last year have actually sharpened them anyway. and you'll find that they've all got enhanced systems, enhanced
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satellite systems, there are things on the aircraft that individual airlines don't have to sign up for. but it's there anyway. a few more subscriptions have been sold so they are up to speed on all the data that's available. >> you talked about this being a very tricky area as far as the conflewance of thunderstorms. one of the pilots i've spoken with said it's not an exact science avoiding a thunderstorm it's more of an art form. would you agree to that as far as what pilots are up against? >> caller: i think if you'll ask any of your weather forecasters, it is right. it is an art. and as soon as you get a map of the area you get your weather map, it moves on. it's simply a snapshot taken, to
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say right, when we got this this is what was happening. we can computer model it and suggest that that storm will go left right, center up or down but they don't really know. because there might be other factors that have not been taken into a computer program. so this is where local knowledge, just as sailors do they read the weather. they read the signs, and they know what is about to happen because there's instinct. they can read these signs, simply by looking out the window. now that might have happened. the pilot might have seen something and said that's why i want to go that particular direction, but the weather map could have shown something else. we're not quite sure what happened because we haven't actually got the conversations back yet from the flight recorders and things and hopefully we won't need to have those, because we're still hoping that somehow it has either come down safely somewhere and that we can actually rescue everybody that's on board. so we have to keep that hope
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alive that things are going a good way for a change. >> certainly, certainly, we will. because there are a lot of families hoping and praying for the best here. let's talk about the hours that we do know. this pilot has some 6100 hours. we don't know how many of those this pilot was captain of this particular plane. 6100 is that a good deal? >> caller: that is a very very good flying career. and so the jet's flown about 23,000 miles, it's a relatively new aircraft in aviation terms. you've got to remember these aircraft are constantly being renewed. components are being renewed. they swap them out. it's like a lego kit, if you like. you put it in. you can very quickly take off
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parts. they can even taken gins engines off in a couple hours and replace them. it would be up to date on all its safety checks. there is a regime. there's nothing technical on that particular aircraft. and it's a good old workhorse. >> that's good to hear. what do you hope julian to hear as far as other information we could learn about the path of this plane, other tracking mechanisms that might have been engaged when this plane disappeared, and what do you hope will happen in this investigation, in this search that will alleviate some of the issues that we saw with mh 370 earlier this year. >> caller: it's funny you should bring up mh 370, because this actually caused a sea change in attitude forwards these control
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systems. i suggested earlier that they would actually be subscribing for the full satellite packages that come with these aircraft but they're options unless you pay a subscription you don't get the full data from them. just as from the 370, they were getting the pings from the satellite system but it wasn't one they were actually subscribed to. and that turned out to be a main fact for search of that particular aircraft. it's the tips of mountains if you like. so the waters around the land mass there, if you hold onto the analogy of the tip of the mountain goes very deep. you don't have a shallow beach that goes. it just goes right very deep indeed. so this creates very strange weather conditions locally, and you get wind shear, which is a very sudden gust of wind. and this is a very very strange
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weather map out there. and it needs very experienced pilots to fly these particular routes and they are. and they are well-prepared for it. >> well julian bray we thank you again for your perspective and your expertise, joining us from the u.k. thank you so very much. because there's just so much we don't know right now, and we appreciate the experts that we have called upon in the past several hours to help us out with this. we want to go to another expert in the studio with me. and that's our meteorologist, derek van dam, with more on what was going on during this asian flight. and you've been talking about this all of the analysts back up what you say about this particular region of the world. the pilot i spoke with what about 20 minutes ago, saying of all the places he's flown, this is the trickiest for the thunderstorms that they see and the path that they take. >> yeah.
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natalie, put yourself in the pilot's shoes. for instance just take a moment and look at this particular map, and you'll see how challenging it must have been to navigate through this complex of thunderstorms. you can just see how widespread the thunderstorm activity is across the java sea at the time that we lost contact with the air flight airasia flight 3501 roughly 7:24 in the morning local time on sunday morning. significant amount of thunderstorm activity. they're used to at this time of year of course pilots train, before they get their pilot's license, to avoid thunderstorms at all costs. we want to keep our flights for you and for me as safe as possible and as turbulent free free as possible. but trying to navigate around thunderstorm complexes this thick around surabaya and
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singapore, this particular route we are discussing and trying to navigate this thick of thunderstorm activity is nearly impossible. so chances are they encountered some rough weather. but we do know that the pilot did ask to ascend to 38,000 feet. and this is really crucial. because what we're talking about is the tops of thunderstorm clouds even on our satellite imagery, starting to reach the upper levels of our troposphere. we're talking about freezing temperatures. any kind of interaction with a thunderstorm at that high of an altitude we are talking about a possibility of ice, icing on the wings, icing on some of the crucial components on airplanes, including the pitot tube this is something that measures pressure and velocity of airplanes, and when ice interacts with this pitot tube basically, you lose your airspeed indicators and
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aircraft auto pilot loses its info and ability to fly on auto pilot. so ice and aircraft do not mix. this is the flight radar 24 traction website. this is the path of the flight right before it lost contact with air traffic control. look at the altitude 32,000 feet. i'm going to step off the screen just for one moment and i want to show you something. this is an image i've been showing all night. but this is a turbulence forecast. aviation experts and pilots look to these type of weather forecasts to help them indicate where the highest probability of turbulence will be located at any given time. this is the time when we lost contact with the flight. that area highlighted in red, this is java and that area in red indicates a high probability of turbulence.
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that's what the weather conditions that the pilots experienced. and this is the current weather that was reported at that particular time. cumulonimbus clouds 53,000 feet elevations. that is significant. and that also gives an indication of how strong and turbulent these thunderstorms were. but the more moisture we have available, the more thunderstorms build across this region. here's the anatomy of a thunderstorm by the way to give you an indication of what kind of influence this plane feels when it goes through a thunderstorm of this size. what we have in between a thunderstorm is updrafts helping build the thunderstorm. we also have a counteracting that cold downdrafts and we talked about with one of the analysis is wind shear. so that change in wind velocity with height causes all kinds of concerns with airlines and aircraft flying through thunderstorms. that's why we try to divert and vector ourself the around these
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thunderstorms. when we fly at altitudes of roughly 20,000 feet those water droplets are super cooled and can attach to instruments. not a good mixture. anywhere where we see the red, that's monsoon air flow. it's interacting with this mountainous tr rain ousous terrain and giving this uplift that brings the rainfall. we have an active weather pattern going forward. you can see that in our precipitation forecast. this is something we want to consider for the search and rescue operations that will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. the aircraft going in that region are going to be encountering dangerous weather and also the ships in the vicinity have to watch out for rough seas as well.
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>> that's what we're dealing with. we have a reporter on one of those ships that hopefully we'll be able to talk with. we don't know what's happened to this airplane. it hasn't been heard from in hours. and weather being a high probability of a factor at this moment. you're a meteorologist. you don't work in a control tower, because you do follow aviation and travel. aren't airplanes delayed taking off if they sense that there's just too much out there? they need for it to pass? >> of course. that's what air traffic control is all about. but the depth and diameter of a radar of air traffic control can only show so far ahead of the airline or airplane. so what they need to do is the pilots need to rely on the onboard system in the belly of
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an aircraft or the nose. this is supposed to give the piloting several minutes warning so they can divert and move that aircraft around thunderstorms like this so they don't feel the effects of turbulence. remember turbulence isn't necessarily what causes these planes to crash. it's often the pilot air after they fly through turbulence that causes engine seizure. >> one international pilot fold me a few moments as that hail can cause the radar to be inoperable. so if they're just relikeying on ra radar, that can be ominous. >> ice sticks to everything. if you have an aluminum body ice can stuck to that and restrict airflow and engines, not a good thing. >> thank you again. earlier in our coverage we heard
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from our own aviation correspondent richard quest. he called to say how airasia will likely handle the investigation. here's richard's perspective. >> caller: it will be it should be for an airline like asia and i suspect airasia the parent company in this will be running most of the operation. it's far more experienced. it is effectively the running operator of airasia in indonesia. even though it doesn't have a controlling stake, but it will be a very well-ordered well-rehearsed planned. you have to understand airlines, like few other companies, practice for the major events. they will have a special room where certain designated people maybe the chief executive. the chief engineer there will
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be people from public relations, people from handling from engineering, they all have specific designated seats in this room. i mean think of it as a war room figure it as secure it will have phone lines in that are dedicated to this goal. and that's sole their sole mission at this moment is to find that aircraft or its pieces and to start in put in place the recovery and rescue operation. because we you know get details now of the manifest although i think it's very early to be publishing the manifest, but it looks as though the manifest is now being published by indonesian authorities. the question of relatives, care and comfort, the question of setting up places for people to go all these issues are involved. i cannot emphasize enough every
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airline has the bible that tells them how to do it and the senior staff practice it regularly. >> as you talk about airasia taking the lead in this and because the plane disappeared in indonesian airspace and that the indonesians will be taking the lead in the search and rescue operation. what are your thoughts? >> caller: well look i can hear through an expert who would pour scorn on them and yes, the ntsb and the australian agency they are by far and away the most experienced investigators into these sorts of incidents, but that should not deny the fact that other countries can, and do do it. now what they will have to do
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of course is call upon the, call upon the experience of more experienced organizations. so let's go through this chronologically, the french investigating authority, they will be involved because it's an airbus aircraft no question about it. the niip in the u.k. will be involved. the ntsb the ntsb will be invited along as well. so the idea that indonesia will just do this on their own is fanciful but they will be the authority. they will have to send the black boxes away. as indeed malaysian airlines
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did. >> what about air assets? do they have the air assets necessary for this type of operation? there's a search and rescue operation under way right now we're told. >> caller: absolutely. the effort required for search and rescue are military. and if they don't have them there are plenty of other countries nearby who do. this is not a particularly difficult or challenging operation. other than any other sea. it's going to be difficult because it's in the water, the middle of the water, but they will be experienced in doing this. you have also the neighboring countries who can offer up assets when necessary. the international body which puts these things together the incident that happened in the indonesian flight information region the airline is an
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indonesian airline. it was flying from indonesia. this is an indonesia incident investigation, and they will be responsible. but, with passengers from elsewhere, there will be many organizations that will be involved. people just tend to forget that in these situations. it's not just one person who runs up the flag and says i'm doing it all. >> richard quest there. and we do know the ceo of airasia is flying to the city where this plane originated flight 8501. perhaps he'll say something when he arrives there and investigates. but, again, the search is ongoing. no sign of this airplane has been found, and conditions are very bleak where the search is taking place in the java sea there. we'll continue our coverage of this story. we have another breaking news story out of europe. a ferry on fire and rescue of
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woman: do you think he's on his way? man: he doesn't even know that we're here. is he ok? please tell me he's ok. laura... ok, try to call him again. there's no signal. try! nothing's working. well, just try. everything's down. this is so bad. i miss him. he's out there by himself.
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narrator: make sure you know where to find your family in an emergency. start your plan at and hello again from cnn news center. to those joining us in the u.s. and around the world, i'm natalie allen, and we're following two breaking news stories involving transportation disasters. we have a missing airliner from indonesia. we're following that story for you. airasia 8501 has been missing since it took off this morning. it is now just after 6:00 in the region. we also have a story out of
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europe that we're following. a ferry that is on fire. it was in route to italy from greece. it's an italian-flagged ferry on fire in the adriatic. a rescue operation is under way. we are joined now from athens with the latest developments. and earlier, you were telling us that many ships are assisting in trying to rescue people off this ferry and that the fire was still ongoing. what's the latest you have for us now? >> caller: the fire is ongoing, and there are many ships trying to take part in the operation, but unfortunately, the weather conditions have not changed. and this has been the main problem all along here. we've been having severe weather conditions to deal with. the rescue operation is under way. 150 people were originally transferred on a rescue board in order to board a container ship that had been nearby when the
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fire broke out. but only a small number of those, about 35 people have managed to get on board the container ship and this is due to the really severe weather conditions. the rest remain on this rescue boat unable to approach the ship. the greek government has acknowledged how serious the situation is. the merchant marine minister says actually described this rescue operation as one of the most complex of this kind perhaps authorities have had to deal with. the other ships that are in the area including a big cruise ship that is ready to collect passengers they're trying to approach but are not able to do so. the rescue helicopters as well but it is the high winds making these operations so difficult. they've also been taken into nearby hospitals on the islands. the port city.
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the authorities managed to get the people out, many of them have been on the decks for a very long time. they're very cold. they're scared. they've been standing there for a long time. there is concern as to whether their health conditions may be deteriorating as time passes. >> and linda, you said earlier that people are using their cell phones and they're calling the media there in greece and talking about the ordeal and what they are experiencing. what are they saying? >> caller: well they want to draw attention to what's happening. they're worrying that they're not getting all the help that they can. they're calling greek tv channels asking for help. they are saying that the conditions are dramatic. they say the fire is not out yet, that it is approaching. and that it's not being contained. so they're just worried about what comes next as the state that they're on is becoming smaller and smaller.
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they are asking for help. some have said you know are we going to have to jump in the sea at some point. we can understand that in itself is a daunting idea when we're looking at winds of 55 miles per hour blowing in the area at the moment. so there's the account that we're hearing from people extremely stressful and they show that people are starting to panic by now. >> i can understand. any word on how this fire broke out? is the ferry listing? is it taking on water? anything you're learning about that? >> caller: we haven't heard anything about water at this point. the fire started at one of the lower decks, probably a car deck but we don't have exact information on the cause of the fire yet. we just know that it hasn't been put out yet, which is the main issue here simply because until rescue operations are possible this is obviously becoming an issue of time as well time is
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really pressing authorities to get the people out. >> people may recall the sewol ferry disaster where the school children were told to stay on the ship and they ended up drowning. it was a horror. this is a completely different situation. but do you know who's on board this ferry? are these locals? tourists? children? any word on that? >> caller: we know that about half of the nationals are greek. there are a lot of italians as well. this was a regular ferry service between the two countries. in terms of tourists we don't have any passenger lists or anything like that out yet. i think most of the efforts so far are dealing with the emergency situation and rescuing the people but i'm sure as the day evolves, we'll have more on that. >> you said the winds are gusting up to 55 miles per hour.
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we can certainly understand why ships can't get to this ferry to try any rescues. what about the temperature there? >> caller: low temperatures and also as you can understand really big waves as well. and this is also one of the concerns for the authorities right now, you know. that's one of the reasons why they're so keen to try and get people out as quickly as possible and let's not forget that we have dozens of people that are on a rescue boat right now in these weather conditions and of course there's a lot of concern for their safety. >> oh, what a nightmare. we so appreciate all of the information that you've been bringing us. thank you, linda. if you get anything more please get back in touch with us so we can speak with you, again, thank you so much again, an italian-bound ferry from greece
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caught fire somehow. it's still somewhat on fire. they've rescued more than 100 people. but 400 are on that ferry. and as you just heard they're using their cell phones to send their own s.o.s. distress signals out. some are worrying whether they should jump into the sea, which is very very volatile right now. a terrible situation there in the adriatic. again, the ferry was on its way to ancona italy, and we'll continue to bring you developments on that story as we get it. our other major story we continue to follow here. we've been doing so for about seven hours live for you, the search and rescue teams focussing on the java sea looking for missing airasia flight 8501. this plane took off at 5:30 in the morning local time from
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surabaya, indonesia for a two-hour flight up to singapore. but it encountered heavy thunderstorms in the area and it requested a deviation. the pilot asked for a different route because of the weather. baugh but somehow, after that request was made it lost all contact with air traffic controllers, and now more than ten hours later, there has not been one sighting or anything on this aircraft. most of the plane's flight we are told took over open water there in the java sea. this is a very busy area for maritime traffic. so hopefully there are many people in ships. we know there are c-130s doing flights, trying to look for any sign of this plane as they try to figure out what might have happened and whether there is any potential for a rescue.
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this is what we know about who was on board, 162 people listed on the flight manifest 155 passengers seven crew. most on board, indonesians, but also three south koreans, one singaporean, one malaysia and one french person on board. among the passengers are 17 children and one infant. president obama on holiday with his family in hawaii has been briefed on the situation. we learned that from our correspondent, michelle kosinski who's keeping tabs on any u.s. involvement in trying to help with this situation. we haven't heard anything about that yet, because it's early on. but the ceo of airasia, tony fernandes is on his way to surabaya where this flight originated. and he tweet add short statement a while ago, saying "thank you for your thoughts and prayers. we must stay strong." he followed that up with another
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tweet saying he was on his way to surabaya. they've created some areas for the families who are devastated and probably terrified of what has happened to their loved ones. and we're just waiting to hear any word from airasia. there's been no hint of a possible briefing but if we do get word of that we will let you know what time that is expected. and we will certainly provide live coverage. among our team members on this story, cnn's will ripley. he is live for us in beijing. and will and i have been using the word surreal over and over because as you can see from the map you have indonesia, singapore and malaysia. so these are similar waters in the region where mh 370 still unsolved unsolved. that airplane out there somewhere and now we have this. and people watching there that suffered so much there in
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beijing, who never saw their loved ones again, probably feeling the fact that they certainly hope this is one air mystery, right now, that will be solved. and hoping against hope like they did on mh 370 that there is some sort of miracle and this plane is okay. >> reporter: sure because until they have the answer the closure, they really don't know what has happened yet. now there are obviously a lot of differences between the flight 8501 and mh 370. because 8501 as you've been reporting, was heading into very bad weather. there was no weather on the day mh 370 disappeared. there was no distress call and no technical problems apparent with the aircraft. it simply vanished. so there was a tremendous amount of confusion. and sadly for the families here in beijing who were waiting at the airport who looked up at the list of flighting and kept
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seeing "delay", next to 370, they weren't even told that the plane was missing until an hour after it was supposed to land here. and then you know the information that came out in the coming days and the coming weeks was excruciatingly slow. there was a lot of complaints about a lack of transparency on the part of malaysian airlines. one person would say one thing and someone else would come out with something different. and for families who had, you know 239 loved ones on mh 370, it was infuriating. it was devastating. we saw those emotions. we saw tempers flare. we saw people run the gamut of grief and anger and hopelessness. and to some extent those feelings so many months later as we enter the final days of 2014 they are numb but they're still there for so many people. and so to have another airliner
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in this part of the world, the carrier based in kuala lumpur. you used the word surreal. and it's tragic that we're going to close out this year with another group of 162 people and their families and their loved ones going through this yet again, natalie. >> i know. it's such a terrible terrible ordeal. and you and i were talking earlier, remember that board there at the beijing airport that simply said "delayed", for mh 370. and for the singapore airliner today, if you panned over from the flight number it just said "see information counter." but we are told that the families are being taken care of right now as best one could expect. and, again, so different from mh 370. so far, all we know from this flight will is that they were having some issues in the
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weather. certainly no questionable cockpit maneuvers that everyone was trying to make sense of early on with mh 370. but you're a correspondent for cnn in that region. you're flying to north korea, to seoul, to japan. you were in beijing, in kuala lumpur covering mh 370. so you're very familiar with this airline and from all we've heard, it has a stellar reputation. it was a relatively new plane and the pilot had 6200 hours of experience. what's your experience? >> reporter: it's becoming a major, yeah i was just saying it's becoming a real major player here in malaysia. airasia offers fares significantly lower than malaysia airlines. and when we reported about the financial trouble that malaysia airlines has experienced, in part because of losing 370 and 17 we talk about their major
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competitors, like airasia that frankly have opened up the world of air travel to a whole generation of people in this part of the world who had never been able to fly before. obviously, here in china a country that is booming, growing in prosperity people are able to travel. they're able to go on vacation but also in other countries in yas that may not be booming such as china but they can still afford to get on this plane. and if you look at the demographics of the passengers that were on flight 8501 airasia 8501 you see that the majority of them have indonesians heading to singapore. we know from the embassy in singapore, that there is a very large group of domestic workers that live there. could it be domestic workers, the families of domestic workers meeting them for the upcoming new year holiday. could they be students
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professional sailors stationed there. that's when you look at the makeup of people the indonesians living in singapore, that's what the cross section looks like. and all of those names on the the passenger manifest that was released those people have families waiting for them families right now that don't know what has happened. and just like the families here in china and all of the other countries involved in all of the air tragedies this year it's that same gut-wrenching feeling that you take for granted that you put your loved one on a plane and expect that it's going to land safely. and it didn't happen again, this time. the fourth plane in asia major air disaster that we're reporting about, two malaysia airliners, the transasia airliner and now airasia. >> we'll wrap it up with you, will sense ofince you've covered this story and the other air disasters. what are the key things that
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people will be looking for and how airasia handles this early on from how mh 370 botched it early on? >> reporter: if there's any lesson learned from mh 370, and you have to give malaysian airlines credit for it the way they handled flight 17. it was much different. but the key for families in this time is transparency. even though frankly, the airline, the government they're not going to have all the answers right now. they're still searching. they don't know what happened. they haven't found the flight data recorders. but what they can do is set up a crisis center, a line of communication with the families. it makes me happy to hear that they have moved the families in the airport away from the media. because frankly, as i saw in kuala lumpur in mh 370, when you have a bunk of cameras and reporters swarming around people who are in one of the most
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difficult times of their lives, things get emotional, volatile heated. and all of that energy feeds off of each other. get these people in a safe place where they can sit and be taken care of try to wrap their heads around what has happened and get information as it comes in before they have to hear about it anywhere else natalie. >> absolutely. will ripley for us out of beijing, live. thank you again, will. we want to talk with a former pilot. desmond ross was a former pilot and joins me on the line from sydney australia. let's talk about this area that pilots fly in and out of all the time. and i kind talking to many pilots and aviation analysts who say among the areas you fly in and out of on our planet this one can be extremely tricky with the massive thunderstorms this time of year with the monsoon
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season which is especially dangerous. have you flown this thisin this region before? >> caller: i've lived and operated in this area for a good 20 areas in one way or another. i lived in indonesia the last ten years. weather can be very violent. we get massive thunderstorms, and the monsoon is in full swing at the moment. will produce thunderstorms that will climb as well as 65,000 feet which is above the area where aircraft can reach. military aircraft can get up that high on occasions and go over it but civil aircraft would divert around such a thunderstorm. it wouldn't try to climb over. it would avert to the left or to the right of the storm and try to avoid it. but at this time of the year you can have a situation where there's a network of storms. it's pretty hard to avoid them all, weaving through the area. >> so it's a constant it's a consfants maneuvering.
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we're told that this pilot, perhaps, ran into a series of three thunderstorms. could to have been a situation where the, he or she just couldn't find a way out? it suddenly that these shift very quickly and could be surrounded? >> caller: well they don't sort of move that quickly. and you've got very effective weather radar on aircraft these days. air traffic control has similar weather information available. but also on the night deck of the aircraft there's a very good radar system that will give the pilots at least 150 nautical miles range in front of the flight. and they can see what weather is forming, and they can plot their track. if it's so bad that they think that they couldn't get through it they might want to consider turning around and returning to their base their point of departure. there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't do that.
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i've heard some really strange things said on television today, some others talking about emergency authority and the captain of the aircraft is ultimately responsible for the safety of that aircraft. and no one is going to argue with him if he decides to take a particular maneuver or my through a -- fly through a particular area. >> the pilot, he or she, has full discretion. >> caller: of course they are. they may have to discuss if with the financial people at the airline afterwards because of the additional costs. but at the end of the day, the most expensive thing that can possibly happen is to have an accident. safety is number one. and there's no reason to think that they would think otherwise. they have an excellent safety record. they've not lost any aircraft. they've not had any previous incidents that i'm aware of.
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>> yes. yes. that's all we've heard is that they have an excellent safety record and the airline is highly regarded. but what about a situation with ice or hail? couldn't hail make the onboard radar inoperable? and then are the pilots flying blind if they're surrounded by clouds and they don't have visuals on the storm? >> caller: yeah they would have to be a massive thing. the radar sensors are protected. they're under the skin of the aircraft on the nose. unless the nose of the aircraft is so severely damaged that the ray dashdar couldn't funkction. i don't think that's likely. unless he got into such severe weather that it could bring down an aircraft. these aircraft are not easily brought down. it would be an absolutely massive event would bring down an aircraft one of these modern aircraft.
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the airbus boeing this airbus 320 is comparable to the boeing 3727. they are tested at the factories before they are released for commercial service. and the, they're designed to withstand immense forces and turbulence and wind shear and all sorts of things that can happen in flight. next time you go flying have a look at how the wings are moving they flap, in a way. but there's flexibility in the wings, and that's all designed into the aircraft to make them durable and make the ride smooth and comfortable to the passengers. >> and that adds to the mystery of why this plane has disappeared. >> caller: we might know more tomorrow morning. >> we hope so. thank you for joining us from
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sydney australia. airasia, flight 8501 took off at 5:30 this morning from surabaya two hours straight flight to singapore, encountered what many are saying is three major thunderstorms at a high altitude. 52,000 feet was the altitude and requested a thing of-- change of route, and has not been heard from as yet. that is the exact plane we're talking about. so far that plane is just lost and people are searching by air and by ship. thank you so much for joining our special breaking news coverage. i'm natalie allen. we will continue here right after this. not all toothbrushes are created equal, oral-b toothbrushes are engineered with end rounded bristles so brushing doesn't scratch gums and angled perfectly to remove 90% of plaque for a healthier smile. trust the brand more dentists and hygienists use. oral-b.
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