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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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world lead

March 20th, 2014
05:49 PM ET

The autopilot theory: Could Flight 370 have flown itself until fuel ran out?

(CNN) – Why would missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 turn off course, and then, at least according to satellite pings, continue on for hours?

One theory gaining credence among experts is that there could have been a fire that disabled the pilots and knocked out electrical systems, but also allowed the plane to continue flying on autopilot, without anyone manning the controls until it just ran out of fuel.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports.

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world lead

March 20th, 2014
05:46 PM ET

Experts skeptical debris is from Flight 370

(CNN) – The Australian government released images of two objects captured on satellite and described as possible debris from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Thursday.

But aviation experts are skeptical this is debris from the missing plane.

"The concern that I have, both of these images and objects are about the size of containers. They come in 20-foot, 40-foot, and 80-foot lengths. So I'm holding back to say that it is debris," said safety analyst David Soucie.

Former National Transportation Safety Board accident investigator Alan Diehl agrees.

"That may well be a shipping container," says Diehl.

"If the plane ran out of gas, it's possible wings got severed on impact and with empty fuel tanks, they might still be floating, this long after the event," said Diehl, author of "Air Safety Investigators."

For more analysis from aviation experts David Soucie and Alan Diehl, check out the video above.


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world lead

March 20th, 2014
05:33 PM ET

Australians conduct search for missing plane in unforgiving waters

(CNN) – The Australia government released images of two objects captured on satellite and described as possible debris from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Thursday.

But finding the objects is no easy task – because the scaled-down search parameters are in an area described by Australia's defense minister as one of the most isolated places on earth, with high winds, choppy waters, wicked currents, and weather than can change with little warning.

CNN's Jim Sciutto reports.

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world lead

March 20th, 2014
05:28 PM ET

New tech that could help with deep underwater search for missing plane

(CNN) – The clock is ticking on the signals from the flight-data and cockpit-voice recorders, known as "black boxes," of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The batteries for the recorders last about 30 days.

But even if the signals stop, investigators can conduct underwater searches using manned and unmanned vehicles.

Oceanographer Ian MacDonald, a professor at Florida State University, walks us through the new technology available to investigators.

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