TODAY   |  March 10, 2014

Ex-NTSB investigator weighs in on Flight 370

Greg Feith, a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, talks with TODAY’s Matt Lauer what could have happened to Malaysia Air Flight 370, addressing speculation about an explosive decompression of the cabin, or structural failure.

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

>> morning to you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> you are trained to ask the right questions here. so let's go through those questions. what could've happened that was so catastrophic, so fast on board that plane at 35,000 feet that the pilots had no chance to call for help ?

>> the logical answer to that, matt, is that they had some sort of control event that took place with the airplane. something that was startling to them, unexpected and required them both pilots and their full attention. so you could have an explosive decompression of the cabin, which at 35,000 feet, you've got about 5 to 8 seconds of useful consciousness because of the lack of oxygen. so you're going to have to deal with that. or you could have another structural failure that compromised the controllability of the airplane.

>> given what you know about these kinds of aircraft, is it likely to you that type of a catastrophic event was caused by a structural breakup of the plane? or the explosion of something onboard that plane?

>> as an investigator, you always want to look at history, if you will. and when we look at twa 800 where we had a fuel tank explosion that compromised the stur or we had an egypt air 990 which was basically a controllability thing, then we look at panam 103 which was a bomb. you really have to look at the fact this was probably an external or an intentional type act more so than a real controllability issue with the airplane only because the crew had really no time to make any kind of distress call .

>> so you're saying at this stage of the investigation based on your experience, you would lean in the direction of a terrorist act ?

>> i would look at least the fact this flight crew -- the airplane right now, they've been looking on the water for the last three days with no debris. we've seen, again, from history with air france 447. we've seen it with twa 800 where both airplanes have gone into the water. there has been a large wreckage of debris field, if you will, on the water surface. it was very obvious. this airplane, the 35,000 feet and 500 miles an hour, if it did steer off course, if it went west, it could be over land. if it went and reversed course like the radar data indicates, it could be down near thailand and places like that. only because if the crew is incapacitated, the airplane is still flying. with the pilots being passed out. you remember flew well over 400 miles.

>> all right. greg, thank you very much for your perspective. i appreciate it. he brings up twa flight 800 . unfortunately, i was in a helicopter as the sun came up the morning after that plane went down in the atlantic ocean off long island. and there are a lot of things on a plane that float. and there were -- there were pieces of that debris everywhere.

>> that's what's so mysterious about this. without a trace.