TODAY   |  March 18, 2014

What do we know about Flight 370?

U.S. officials say Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s change in course was programmed through a computer system in the cockpit, as the mystery of the missing plane enters its 12th day. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has scaled back its search. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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

>> do have big news this morning. today's top story. and it is that deepening mystery, flight 370, with each passing day, any new information only seems to lead to more questions. and that is the case today. nbc's tom costello covering this investigation from the beginning. good morning to you.

>> sources confirmed to nbc news that whoever was flying the plane used the onboard computer system to make the u-turn and then later to bank a hard right up the strait. it was a very smooth turn, and that would take somebody with intimate knowledge of the boeing aircraft. meanwhile, we've talked about the two corridors, search corridors. one to the north up here and one to the south down here. malaysia airlines says its pilots had never flown these routes, these zones before. they've broken these two search zones down into seven quadrants each. and each quadrant is 160,000 square nautical miles . down off the coast of australia, that's the size of maine. in the indian ocean , the u.s. navy is now scaling down its search operations. the destroyer uss kid will soon stop searching leaving only p3 aircraft in the skies above.

>> really kind of an amazing thing to think about. but it could be here.

>> reporter: this morning, 11 days later, still no hint of where the plane might be.

>> the entire search area is now 2.24 million square nautical miles . this is an enormous search area. and it's something that malaysia cannot possibly search on its own.

>> reporter: malaysian authorities have come under criticism for contradicting themselves. now saying a critical communication system did not shut down before the pilot's last radio call. so here's the mystery flight's most updated time line. flight 370 leaves at 12:41 a.m . at 1:07 a.m ., the last automated acars data transmission . the next transmission scheduled for 30 minutes later never comes. at 1:19 a.m ., the co-pilot radios, all right. good night. as air traffic controllers hand him over to vietnamese controllers. two minutes later, something happens. at 1:21 a.m ., someone in the cockpit turns off the transponders. the plane then turns around. at 2:15 a.m ., the last military radar contact. all that's left are those six pings being transmitted somewhere along two very long arcs to the north and south . the last one at 8:11 a.m . meanwhile, the families of the missing can only wait.

>> the first couple of days, all i could do was replay memories and, you know, see him and, you know, open his closet and smell the clothes.

>> reporter: in beijing, phillip wood's girlfriend believes he's still alive and started a facebook campaign for flight 370. while in texas, woods' brother waits for the phone to ring.

>> hang on, brother. he can survive this. he can. he is surviving this.

>> also this morning, china claims it has looked into the background of the chinese nationals onboard the plane and says there's no evidence any of them were involved in a hijacking. the focus remains now on the flight crew . back