Fox News
March 14, 2014

Who are the pilots of the Malaysia Airlines plane?

Guests: Mark Weiss, Lea Gabrielle, David Soucie

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 14, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: This is a Fox News Alert. With all these reports that the plane was deliberately diverted, we must ask, well, who are these pilots? Now, the video you see on the right of your screen right now -- well, that's one of the pilot's YouTube pages, and it shows him standing right in front of his own home flight simulator. Should we find that troubling?

Joining me now with reaction, are FAA crash investigator, David Soucie is with us. Also former pilot of Boeing, the 777 himself, Mark Weiss, and FOX News correspondent and former Navy fighter pilot Lea Gabrielle is with us. Good to see you all.

All right, let me start with you. You flew the 777.

MARK WEISS, FORMER BOEING 777 PILOT: Yes.

HANNITY: All right. So the latest really is that, in fact, this was deliberate sabotage of this airplane and that it was diverted. The transponder was turned off so they wouldn't find it. That is something that the pilot would have the ability to do, right?

WEISS: That's correct. And right now, I think really what we have is still a lot of speculation. So that's really what we're going on. But based upon the apparent evidence of what we have, this looks like somebody deliberately turned that aircraft off its intended flight path.

HANNITY: Way off its flight path.

All right, Lea, let me go to you. By the way, fighter pilot -- I'm very impressed and admire all the work our military does with the flights.

Let's talk about what new information we know today. There's been a series of reports, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, that, in fact, it went off course, flew for another four or five hours. And in fact, there are safety mechanisms within the 777, where mechanical data is being sent back all the time through satellite imaging, right, through satellite...

WEISS: Well, it's a data link.

HANNITY: Right.

WEISS: Yes.

HANNITY: And who would receive that?

WEISS: Typically -- it depends on the airline. It would either be the manufacturer, the engine manufacturer, or the airline themselves. And they use that for maintenance, for the health of the engine.

HANNITY: So they want to know -- they can know at any given time as it's sending back information, that at this point in the flight, how the engine, for example, is performing.

WEISS: That's correct.

HANNITY: OK. So what do you glean from these reports today?

LEA GABRIELLE, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sean, what I've really been digging into is there's this report that the pilots may have deliberately taken or someone may have deliberately taken the plane on a particular course.

Now, that's a Reuters report. And what it basically says is that the plane looked as though it may have been flying along an aviation corridor. So I'm digging into that for you, and I'm going to go ahead and put up a map, an aviation map, on the screen for you. We've got that.

OK, so what you're looking at -- this is an aviation chart. You can see all these lines all over this chart, and then you see these little dots. Those are waypoints. And those -- one of the things they do is they help kind of define those different navigation routes that the plane can take...

HANNITY: Can I just interrupt you?

GABRIELLE: Sure.

HANNITY: So this would almost be like a highway in the sky.

GABRIELLE: Exactly.

HANNITY: In other words, planes fly particular paths, and they follow the same paths. And then they replay information back to other planes that are following, "By the way, at this location, a lot of turbulence," for example.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

GABRIELLE: That's right, they can. They don't have to. It's the sky. Planes can fly where they want. But let me show you this -- this chart now that you're looking at. Now, this is the path that, according to this Reuters report, the plane apparently flew. So it took off -- you can see where it took off from Malaysia. Then up there in the northeast, that's the last known point of communication.

Then head west from there, and you can see that is where the Reuters report says that the military radar indicated that it may have picked up the 777 near a waypoint over there. And then you see a waypoint just above that, that it says it headed in that direction, according to this Reuters report, and the military radar may have picked that up, and then pointed, you know, over there again to the northwest.

HANNITY: Can you explain what the waypoints are? Because I know, having spoken with a lot of pilots over my lifetime, that usually, they say good-bye to one traffic control center, one airspace, if you will, and then hello to another one. In other words, they're being monitored the entire flight, although there are gaps occasionally, right?

GABRIELLE: Well, waypoints are essentially -- they're just a GPS position.

HANNITY: Right.

GABRIELLE: It's just a position in the sky. But the point of showing this chart -- that if you could put that back up there again, I want to show you -- is none of these are on a specific path. So only two of them are on the same specific path that would head in a direction. This reporting that a pilot or someone may have intentionally taken the plane on a path -- you know, this kind of shows some other evidence because none of these are on a specific path.

And at the end of the day, if I'm a pilot, I don't have to fly any of these routes, Sean. All I have to do is put in a GPS coordinate of where I want to go, and I can turn and point in that direction. So if I'm not playing by the rules, that's probably what I'm going to do.

HANNITY: Well, because it is mysterious when, as we discussed, the pilot had control over the transponder, but this is way off course, which is problematic here. So if we have the two incidents and we put them together, and then these waypoints, as you describe them, and it's way off course, the transponder is off, then I think that goes more towards the theory that somehow, a deliberate sabotage by either of the pilots or somebody else on the plane.

GABRIELLE: I think we have to be very careful there, Sean, and the reason is that this is a lot of different information coming from a lot of different sources. For example, this military radar, that may not have even been the 777. It could be something completely different that they saw.

So the point -- that last point of communication, that last known point of communication, that's -- that could be data on its own. And that other path could not have anything to do with this airplane.

HANNITY: But we do know 777s don't disappear on their own. And we do know that most experienced pilots would never turn off ever a transponder.

WEISS: That's correct.

HANNITY: Right? So...

WEISS: Absolutely.

HANNITY: And we do know that this ended up way off course. And we believe that the mechanical data, on top of the military information that you're pointing out, does suggest a four to five-hour extended flight.

DAVID SOUCIE, FMR. FAA CRASH INVESTIGATOR: I think it's more than suggest, though. To me, what we're talking about are these pings. So it's not just radar, primary radar hit. What a ping is, is it comes off the ACARS system that he was talking about. There's two parts to the ACARS. You've got the information, the data that's stored about the aircraft that's sent back. But how it's transmitted is through the sitcom, or through the radios, if the satcom's not available. So until it makes a connection, it stores that data, and then when it does make that connection, it sends it forward, right? So you get this batch of information. And if the ACARS, absent the data, then the ACARS -- the satcom is going to still try to connect.

HANNITY: Are you talking about the satcom as it relates to mechanical performance at any given moment?

SOUCIE: No, I'm talking about the data that's transmitted. The satcom -- yes, it does transmit...

HANNITY: Mechanical data.

SOUCIE: Yes. Absolutely.

HANNITY: Which is brilliant, on behalf of Boeing. I think the fact that they do this -- they're monitoring that -- the mechanical performance at any given moment.

SOUCIE: So that when the aircraft lands at their location, the maintenance people can be ready and jump right on something.

HANNITY: Right.

SOUCIE: They have the parts all ready out, all that kind of information.

HANNITY: Yes?

GABRIELLE: But I also want to make the point that we don't know that the plane flew way off its intended course. We don't know that for sure at this point. There's a lot of information out there. And you know, one of things that could have happened is this plane could have also crashed, and that would have cut off a lot of -- a lot of...

HANNITY: But we got to also go to the timeline. The timeline was, the plane takes off. Its last known communication is 40-some odd minutes into the flight. Then they go through this 90-minute period where the plane is flying, and it's only 90 minutes later that they realize the plane is missing because it never showed up in Chinese airspace. So it certainly was off course. That's pretty well determined, right?

WEISS: Yes. And no pilot would go off course without enunciating that the fact that they've been off course. I mean, that's a protection. And it's also the law.

Now, remember that that captain was not just 18,000-plus hours, but that captain was also a training captain and certified by their government to give instruction and testing. So he -- if they had an emergency which never was enunciated, if they had a problem, they would have said something.

Remember, the three key factors are you're going to aviate, you're going to navigate and you're going to communicate. Those are the tenets that you fly by, that you live by.

HANNITY: Is it possible that perhaps the pilot was involved? We have to leave that open as a possibility?

SOUCIE: You know, why what happened happened -- you know, I...

HANNITY: We don't know.

SOUCIE: ... don't think we should speculate that. But going back to the validating of the data as to whether it went off or not, the thing that concerns me about discounting that is if it was just radar hits, I would agree with you. There's no way to know what that is.

But to -- but to say that the government had -- our U.S. government came out and said their satellites were picking up this attempt to connect. That's not just anything that does that, so we've got to have...

GABRIELLE: No, but it's not saying specifically where that was. So we don't know how far off course. We don't know exactly where it was.

HANNITY: Is GPS included in that?

SOUCIE: Well, if the data is included, yes, but it's not. All it's saying is there is -- there is this. But the satellite can, you know, figure out where that came from because there's triangulation on the three satellites that pick that up. So I think we're talking about the Malaysia radar, which is primary. But what we're talking about from what the government said, from what U.S. government is saying, is that we have these pings on our radar systems.

HANNITY: All right...

SOUCIE: The confusion there, though, is that Malaysia's saying, "No, we talked to Rolls-Royce. We talked to the manufacturer. We don't have any data," which would make sense if the ACARS is turned off because there is no data.

GABRIELLE: And we'll be waiting to see where those points indicate the plane may have been.

SOUCIE: Right.

GABRIELLE: But there are other things that could happen, Sean, you know, pilot incapacitation from an oxygen failure -- there are a lot of other scenarios out there, a number of them, and I think it's important to report all of them and to consider all of them.

HANNITY: Wouldn't it be more likely, though -- because I know most pilots, once they go wheels up, it's not long into the flight where, boom, that button is hit and we're on automatic pilot, and that -- that -- they're there in case something wrong happens. Right?

GABRIELLE: In a lot of cases. I mean...

WEISS: That and...

(CROSSTALK)

WEISS: Yes, and you know, you want it on autopilot because it's a much more precise way of flying. And certainly, you're going to save a whole lot of fuel with that and you're going to save time with that. So you're going to put that on automatic pilot, yes. The fact that it went off track, the fact that the transponders were off -- I mean, if nothing else, that has to be a suspicion that...

HANNITY: Very suspicious.

WEISS: What happened? Who was in the cockpit? Until you get the voice recorder and the flight data recorder, you can't really know.

HANNITY: We didn't get the flight data recorder in the Air France accident for two years.

SOUCIE: That's right.

HANNITY: All right.

GABRIELLE: And if you remember, in that case, that was -- that was a malfunction in the aircraft that caused that crash...

HANNITY: It was. It was.

GABRIELLE: ... and then pilot error in correcting it.

HANNITY: All right, guys. Hey, very informative on -- from all of you. Thanks you all for being with us.

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