TODAY   |  March 17, 2014

Flight 370 focus moves to pilots

There is new focus on the pilots of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and their backgrounds. Investigators are scouring the captain’s home flight simulator for clues as 26 countries join the search for the missing plane. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>> more to that. but let's move on to our top story. and it is that search for malaysia flight 370. tom costello covering this investigation every step of the way. he has more now. tom, good morning to you.

>> malaysian investigators say they believe it was the co-pilot on the radio with air traffic controllers saying good night. but it's not clear if that was before or after one of the critical transmitting systems was turned off. the two possible tracks of this plane based on those limited satellite pings suggested the plane passed over some of the most volatile countries or over one of the largest bodies of water on earth with no radar and limited satellite coverage.

>> more than ten days since flight 370 disappeared, and the mystery still dominates the world headlines, the last satellite signal received from the plane, somewhere along these two arcs running to the north and south . up to seven hours from the plane's last known radar hit off malaysia's west coast . but half dozen countries in central asia have said the plane never appeared on their radars. further south of the indian ocean , 28 square million miles of water .

>> and what we're going to do, across the world and it may change aviation history .

>> reporter: over the weekend, malaysian police searched the homes of the captain and first officer, confiscating the flight simulator , looking for any evidence he might have practiced flying unusual routes. also, this morning, the pilot was known to be a supporter of the opposition. meanwhile, nasa tells nbc news, it's checking images from satellites and the space station for any signs of the plane. but many aviation experts believe it's highly unlikely the 777 with the wingspan 2/3 the size of a football field could have been stolen and flown undetected to another country.

>> we're talking about a very, very large airplane. if it goes over land where there are people, people are going to see it. there's going to be comment about it.

>> still, with so little to go on, the indian navy has suspended its search, and other countries may be forced to do the same.

>> how much more can they afford to put into this search before they have to give it up because they just won't have the resources to be able to pay for it.

>> yeah, we talked about those underwater pingers. they can only be heard if they are almost on top of those pingers. and those batteries are set to die in about 19 days now, matt.

>> tom costello, thank you very