James Cameron speaks with a First Nations leader outside the airport in Fort McMurray, Alta., Monday afternoon. ((CBC))

Hollywood director James Cameron arrived in Fort McMurray, Alta., late Monday afternoon to start his tour of the oilsands.

Cameron, the Canadian-born director of blockbuster films Avatar and Titanic, arrived from Vancouver on an Air Canada Jazz flight around 5 p.m. MT.

After being greeted by a small delegation, Cameron walked briskly through the airport arrivals area to a vehicle waiting outside.

"It's good, yeah," Cameron told the CBC's Briar Stewart. "I've been meaning to come here for a long time."

Cameron then boarded a helicopter with two local First Nations leaders to start his tour of the oilsands, which is scheduled to include a fly-over of Syncrude's tailings ponds.

On Tuesday, Cameron is scheduled to fly to Fort Chipewyan, Alta., to meet with residents and community leaders before heading to Edmonton.

Cameron is expected to meet with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach on Wednesday morning.

"My goal for this visit is to learn as much as possible from industry executives, government officials and impacted communities in order to form my own independent conclusion about these operations," Cameron wrote to Stelmach earlier this month.

"As a native-born Canadian, I'm concerned about the criticism levelled at Alberta's oilsands operations and eager to learn whether they are true or not, and if true, how they are being addressed by industry and government."

At a UN forum in New York City earlier this year, Cameron called the oilsands a "black eye" on Canada's image as an environmental leader.