Is Mystery Underwater Sound the Crash of Flight 370?
June 4th, 2014
05:22 AM ET

Is Mystery Underwater Sound the Crash of Flight 370?

Australian researchers released an audio recording Wednesday of an underwater sound that they say could possibly be related to the final moments of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

It's a long shot, but researchers at Curtin University near Perth, Australia, have been studying records from underwater listening devices, including those meant to monitor for signs of underwater nuclear explosions, in an effort to help find the missing plane.

"One signal has been detected on several receivers that could be related to the crash," said Alec Duncan with the university's Centre for Marine Science and Technology (CMST).

Researchers have been analyzing the very low frequency sound for weeks to see if it was "the impact of the aircraft on the water or the implosion of parts of the aircraft as it sank," Duncan said. "But (the source of the noise) is just as likely to be a natural event."

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February 12th, 2014
10:01 AM ET

Nearly 4000 Laser Attacks Annoyed, Injured U.S. Pilots Last Year

Pulsating light bursts into the cockpit of a plane thousands of feet in the air, filling it with seething brightness, and blinding the pilot and copilot.

What sounds like a cheap reenactment in a hokey UFO reality show has become everyday reality in the United States.

Laser attacks on aircraft occur an average of 11 times a day, the Federal Aviation Administration says.

Powerful handheld lasers are affordable and widespread, and some people are making sport of shining them up into passing aircraft. The trend seems to be catching on.

There were 3,960 such strikes reported last year, the FAA says. That's up from 283 in 2005.

But reporting of these crimes has also caught on, which has contributed to the rise in official numbers.

Still, hundreds of attacks go unreported and remain uncounted.

The FBI wants them to stop and is offering reward money for tips leading to the pranksters.

And it's making some arrests. Though it takes work to track down the source of the laser, it can be done with a helicopter, a dispatcher and squad cars.

The FBI has posted YouTube video of one such bust.

It has detained mostly teenage boys and men in their 30s, who face a possible five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

And the FBI is not the only one posting a bounty on them.

For the next two months, 11 U.S. cities and San Juan, Puerto Rico, are offering up to $10,000 for information leading to arrests.

Attacks are particularly common in New York and Los Angeles, and they often obstruct the work of the targeted pilots.

"When a laser light flashes across the cockpit, it's about 25% brighter than a flashlight flashing in your face. So what that does is, that can cause temporary incapacitation," said Stephen Woolery, an FBI agent pursuing laser pranksters.

But the consequences can be much worse than just annoying.

A pilot coming in for a landing at JFK two years ago radioed the tower right after an attack.

"We just got lasered up here," he said. "Two green flashes into the cockpit. It caught the first officer's eye."

A direct hit can burn the cornea, and that has put pilots in the hospital.

So far, no laser strike has been known to cause a pilot to crash an aircraft.

But the FBI fears it is only a matter of time.

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January 15th, 2014
06:52 AM ET

Third Person in Southwest 737 Cockpit Raises New Questions

A company dispatcher who was seated in the cockpit jump seat as Southwest Airlines Flight 4013 landed at the wrong Missouri airport has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation, the company told CNN on Tuesday.

Investigators will want to know whether the dispatcher distracted the pilot as the Boeing 737 and its 124 passengers approached the airport, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN.

The pilots of Sunday's flight, which departed from Chicago's Midway airport, remain on paid leave.

The dispatcher will give investigators another source of information and open up another line of questions surrounding the landing at M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport near the resort community of Branson, Missouri.

An industry official said the Federal Aviation Administration, which is conducting its own investigation, has reviewed the actions of air traffic controllers at Branson Airport and "indicate that there appears to be no controller issue."

The Southwest dispatcher was authorized by the company to fly in the jump seat - which is a fold-down seat in the cockpit.

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