TODAY   |  March 16, 2014

Motivations of pilots questioned in search for plane

“We really have to rely on the criminal investigation to see if they can bear out the motivations of one or both of these pilots,” said former NTSB investigator Greg Feith. He spoke to TODAY’s Lester Holt following the news investigators searched the home of the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

Share This:

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

>> five is a former ntsb investigator. everybody theoretically is a suspect. i know you continue to lead toward the pilots and you do so based on where that pilot was last seen on radar, handing off now between vietnam and malaysia. the pilots make a final radio transmission . walk me through your theory based on what happened at that point.

>> i think when you look at the timeline itself, it's very compre compressed. everything ab pierce to be normal up to the last communication of the pilot saying okay, good night, something to that effect. there was a sequential shutdown of the transponders and the a car's data prior to that. i find it hard if somebody broke into the cockpit, was taking over command of the airplane, they'd be able to accomplish all these things and get the pilots to do that in a very, very short period of time because the left-hand turn followed shortly after that communication.

>> we learned the pilots did not ask to fly together that night. if you assume that one of the pilots took this action, went rogue, they would have to overpower the other one. i know in the united states some pilots are certified to carry weapons on board. do we know if that's the case with international crews?

>> that's not a universal policy around the world. i don't know what malaysia's policies are. of course, there are things in the cockpit that could be used as a weapon if you want to disable someone in the cockpit without their knowledge.

>> pilots have to undergo periodic medical recertification. is there anything psychological they have to go through to be certified to continue to fly commercially?

>> typically there are a battery of psychological tests when they first come on with the airline. they go through a profiling and that kind of thing just to make sure they're psychologically stable to operate a large commercial aircraft. but that is not necessarily part of recurrent training or all of the periodic medical certifications that pilots go through.

>> greg, lastly, you have drawn parallels over the last several days to what happened here to a silk airlines flight in the late '90s that went down over sumatra. it was later determined the pilot purposely crashed that airplane. i think a problem a lot of folks have is why, if that was the case here, would a pilot want to fly six hours before dumping the plane in the water. it doesn't make sense.

>> lester, when you look at some of the things we've seen just in society where somebody barricades themselves before they want to take their own life, or they want to make a statement, this may not be the statement necessarily of somebody getting on a radio and making a comment. it may be that for the fact that we are here nine days into this and the world is still talking about this and following this drama, if you will, that's a statement in and of itself. so we're really going to have to rely on the criminal investigation to see if it can bear out the motivations of one or both of these pilots .

>> we'll keep asking the questions and searching for the answers. greg five, thanks very much.