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TODAY   |  March 18, 2014

Analyst: Flight 370 mystery ‘unprecedented’

Robert Hager, a long-time aviation correspondent for NBC News, weighs in on the latest news about the missing flight, saying “we may never know” what happened.

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

>> much. robert hager was a long time correspondent for nbc news and covered dozens of air disasters . good morning.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> and 12 days in, we still have no trace of this airplane. i mean, does that fact alone surprise you that this still --

>> absolutely. absolutely. 25 years of covering this stuff. i never knew a case this far out and you've got virtually nothing. radar hits, those little pings, that's it. so this is really unprecedented. this kind of mystery.

>> let's talk about some of the different things we've learned in the last 24 hours . we now know that change in course was actually programmed through a computer system in the cockpit by someone knowledgeable, presumably, what does that tell you? what do you make of that?

>> that's further evidence that the spotlight's got to be on the cockpit, the co-pilot. whoever did this, programming that turn into there, intentionally into the computer. they had to know what they were doing.

>> could one pilot make that change in programming without the other pilot?

>> that would be pretty hard to do. it could be done. but i think that the other pilot must already have been disabled or something at that point.

>> all right. let's talk about this search area. it is vast. you can actually throw this map on the screen. the plane would need 5,000 feet of runway to land. if you look at these projected flight paths, 634 runways spread across 26 countries that would meet that criteria. what do you think of this theory it's landed somewhere and no one knows?

>> i think nothing of it. i think that's just not a good theory at all. 777, you can't land it some place and hide it for 11 days now, 12 days . it's inconceivable to me. you hate to say that to the families because, of course, they're going to grasp at any straw for hope. but i don't think you could have landed this plane and hidden it somewhere all this time.

>> another theory getting some traction that this rise in altitude, this rapid assent and descent would've served to incapacitate the passengers onboard which may account for a pilot or hijackers would be able to control people on board.

>> that's a pretty difficult scenario, really, to imagine they'd all be overcome and unconscious and up in the cockpit crew. they're okay. and those high-altitude readings are somewhat suspect. that's not for certain that the plane really went to those extremes.

>> it calls for speculation, but is this one of those situations where we may never know what happened?

>> all those years of covering crashes, i always was careful not to say that because a lot of these crashes, three and four years out, they got the magic answer. and i always thought the investigators are going to figure out what happened. this one, they may not. they may not. we may never know.

>> bob hager, always fascinating to get your perspective. thank you, good to see you. we want to hear from you. everything you want to know about this flight. we know our viewers have a lot of questions. we do, too. head to our facebook page today, send us your questions. tweet us with the #orangeroom. and we'll do our best to answer as many as we can tomorrow morning on