TODAY

TODAY   |  March 20, 2014

Aviation expert: Possible debris is ‘sliver of hope’

Robert Hager, a long-time aviation correspondent for NBC News, weighs in on the latest news about the search for missing Flight 370.

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

>> i want to bring in bob hager, who unfortunately had to cover dozens of air disasters in his career. good morning. let's start with what tom talked about, seeing something on a satellite image and finding it in a vast image are two very different things and this image was taken four days ago.

>> this is a sliver of hope. so far we've had so little to go on and you need some hard evidence. i mean, if this at least points us in the area where they should be searching, this is great.

>> it's a matter of working backwards. first the four days to the satellite image . i imagine they have to calculate currents and winds. and even if they found the pieces of debris, then you got to go back eight days because something's been floating in the ocean for 12 days now.

>> and what you may see on the surface, if it is a piece of the plane, a wing, et cetera , it's going to be skin floating on the top. what they really need are black boxes . everyone has to be patient here. it going to take ships to get there so we know whether this is even a piece of the plane. it a sliver of hope.

>> we know where the plane took off from, we know it made a left turn and then there are question marks as to where it went from there. if this debris is from 370 and it is located somewhere off the western coast, southwestern coast of australia, does it shed any light, bob, on what happened in the final hours of that flight?

>> not really. all it tells you is the plane after it got out into the indian ocean went probably south but in a straight line after it went. so the pilot is not putting in a lot of input, or whoever is running this plane, it goes in a straight line and went until it ran out of fool.

>> the black box will only ping under the water for 30 days and these are waters of extraordinary depth.

>> they really are. but there have been cases where they've hauled things up from two and even three miles down. so they can do that. what you have to do next if you find this is the spot is go