TODAY   |  March 08, 2014

U.S. Navy sends ship to aid in search for missing plane

The United States Navy has sent a ship to help with the effort of finding the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, concentrating efforts off the coast of Vietnam. The plane, which is considered to be a very safe model, is presumed to have crashed into the ocean. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> as you would expect, crews were deployed quickly to try to find the boeing 777 as malaysian investigators called in as many as they could to aid the search efforts. we now know that the u.s. --

>> we are working with authorities who have activated the search-and-rescue team to locate the aircraft and our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.

>> and we now know that the u.s. navy has diverted a ship that was stationed in international waters off the south china sea to aid in the search efforts off the coast of vietnam. tom costello covers aviation for us. tom, what else do we know about all this?

>> hi, lester, good morning. we know the pilot was very experienced, 53 years old with 18,000 hours of flying, and we know that the 777 is a very reliable plane, really a workhorse for airlines worldwide that have long-haul flights. the plane that is missing is a777- 200 series . that's an earlier model of the 777, but the plane is only about 11 1/2 years old, and this particular plane had rolls royce engines. here's the timeline once again. flight 370 left kuala lumpur at 12:40 a.m ., the red-eye to beijing. just two hours into the flight, air traffic controllers lost contact, we believe just short of vietnamese air space or in vietnamese air space . it was supposed to arrive in beijing at 6:30 a.m . it never did. the plane is presumed to have crashed into the ocean at this point. this would be only the second crash involving a 777. last july, an asiana flight crash landed at san francisco international airport . officials believe pilot error was to blame in that crash. three people, you may recall, died. and this is eerily similar to an air france flight from brazil to paris that crashed into the atlantic ocean in 2009 , killing all 228 on board. investigators believe the plane's speed sensors , the pido tubes, iced over when the plane flew into a high-altitude storm. the computers then shut down, the pilots became confused and disoriented, the plane stalled, and ultimately, crashed into the ocean . now, that was an airbus a-330, not a boeing 777 , very different planes, different systems, and that investigation was hampered by the fact the plane was on the bottom of the ocean. it took the french government two years to find that plane and lift it out of the ocean. so, the challenge this morning is simply to find this plane, the flight data and cockpit voice recorders are equipped with pingers that emit those signals that can be detected under water in good conditions from several hundred miles away , but if they're inside the wreckage at the bottom of an underwater trench, that could really hinder the search for these boxes and the plane, lester.

>> all right, tom costello this