TODAY   |  March 16, 2014

Search for plane expanded to 11 countries

As the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane entered its ninth day, Malaysian officials said the search will now include huge land masses, and not just water. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>> are taking a closer look at the pilots of that missing jet. they are examining and elaborate flight simulator one of the pilots had in his home. they are not, however, ruling out the passengers nor the ground crew . they are looking at everyone. today an already vast search area meantime has grown significantly as the malaysians are asking for help from more countries around the globe. we have the story covered from all angles. we begin with kerry sanders in wad with the latest.

>> good morning, erica. as we enter day nine, malaysian officials this morning say the search area is no longer concentrated just over water , they announced at a press conference this morning they're looking over huge land masses of 11 countries, mostly in central asia . for investigators who suspect the pilot and copilot may have hatched a deadly plan, new information may shoot that theory down as the airline has revealed the cockpit crew did not request to fly together. today the u.s. navy has its p3s and 8s off the coast of myanmar, also called burma. as investigators begin to turn to the vast indian ocean , the search will slow down. why? the u.s. navy is flying its planes from kuala lumpur . if it takes three hours to get there, it takes three hours to get back to refuel with about nine hours of total flight time, that leaves only three hours for searching. the best-case scenario would be finding the so-called black boxes , usually the flight data record irs provide answers. in this case if the voice recorder is ever found, it may end up frustrating investigators.

>> it only records information for two hours and then overwrites itself. if this is a six or seven-hour event, we've lost all the good stuff.

>> can you tell us what you were doing inside the house.

>> in kuala lumpur , flight 370 is now a criminal investigation. mrs. there search the homes of the pilot and copilot. the pilot's home flight simulator was removed by police to see if perhaps the erratic route flight 370 took was first rehearsed in cyberspace.

>> i think law enforcement officials are looking at the pilots' homes to understand their broader relationships, their e-mails, their computer files .

>> reporter: what remains unanswered is what route the plane followed as it went west. to track the path officials are relying heavily on technology never designed to locate an aircraft. the 777 has an antenna that automatically sends bursts of data. like how much fuel engine is burning, engine performance . a team of clever technicians realized the pings also reveal how far the plane was from the orbiting satellite. so if this balloon were the satellite and this string were the signal bouncing to and from the plain, you can draw an arc as to where it might have gone. that's why the search area now includes 11 countries like kazakhstan. this inboard communication system happens in the background, but investigators now believe someone tried to shut it all down within the first hour of flight which adds to the theory the disappearance of flight 370 was a deliberate act.

>> that theory also adds to the mystery and number of questions. kerry sanders thank you.