TODAY   |  March 17, 2014

Pilot’s friend ‘cannot imagine’ him hijacking plane

A friend of the Malaysia 370 pilot defends him, saying he doesn’t believe he’d put his own passengers at risk, and called him a warm and gentle man. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>> latest clues in the mysterious disappearance of flight 370 put the focus on the pilots. while investigators in malaysia pore over the two men's activities. experts say the plane was deliberately and expertly diverted. but they cannot say who is responsible. keir simmons .

>> reporter: hey, natalie. good morning. this is a navy p3, and onboard are the detection sensors, meaning it can look below the ocean. here on land, the inquiry of what happened to flight 370 is increasingly focused on the pilot as through the weekend, both of their homes were searched.

>> reporter: fanatical about flying, on his facebook page, pictures of him with a toy helicopter. over the weekend, police searched the home of the captain, a father in his 50s as they'll investigate whether he hijacked his own plane. everyone on the flight. passengers and crew are being looked at. the pilot is politically active. one friend from politics remembers him sharing food last time they met.

>> he came, joined your table, brought food to share.

>> to share, yes.

>> and defends him as a warm, gentle man.

>> can you imagine him ever commandeering his own plane? putting his passengers at risk?

>> i cannot for one minute imagine he making that sort of decision.

>> reporter: the same detective searched the house of the co-pilot speaking with two of his relatives. his father was shocked when flight 370 disappeared. according to the leader of the local mosque.

>> because for me, he's very good people. very humble, innocent, respectable.

>> reporter: leaving friends asking how could they be the focus of the flight 370 investigation?

>> reporter: to be clear, the authorities here are saying they are looking at everybody on board. both passengers and crew. perhaps he won't really know what happened to flight 370 until aircraft like this one manage