Debris found in search for missing helicopter

Debris has been discovered near the area where a Newfoundland and Labrador helicopter went missing in Nunavut's High Arctic.
An aircraft operated by Universal Helicopters Newfoundland Ltd. Officials with the Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., company confirmed Tuesday that one of its pilots is missing in Nunavut. ((Universal Helicopters))

Debris has been discovered near the area where a Newfoundland and Labrador helicopter went missing in Nunavut's High Arctic.

Naval Lieut. David Lavallee, a Canadian Forces spokesman, said there has been no confirmation on what kind of debris was found Tuesday evening.

He said that the debris was discovered in the Sam Ford Fjord area of Baffin Island, the last known position of the Bell 206L helicopter. Lavallee said it was spotted by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter.

But bad weather has delayed the search, he said.

Military ships had earlier been searching for the helicopter, which has been missing since Monday afternoon.

One pilot is believed to be aboard the aircraft, operated by Universal Helicopters Newfoundland Ltd. of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L.

'Very hopeful' pilot will be found

The helicopter was on its way to Pond Inlet, located on the northern tip of Baffin Island, from Clyde River, about 400 kilometres to the northwest.

Its last known position was somewhere northwest of Clyde River, according to satellite tracking equipment aboard the aircraft.

"Weather is very poor … around the area where he was last reported," said Norm Noseworthy, Universal Helicopters' executive vice-president. "We're very hopeful that he's just sitting there waiting for the weather to clear, and he'll be in contact with us."

The pilot's name has not been released. Noseworthy said the man is usually based in Halifax and has years of flying experience.

Poor visibility

Capt. Wayne Sinker of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ont. said earlier that search officials did not receive any distress call or emergency beacon signal from the helicopter before it disappeared.

Poor visibility has hampered search efforts to date, even though hundreds of troops and aircraft are in the region for Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces' annual Arctic sovereignty exercise.

The helicopter was flying from Clyde River (point A) north to Pond Inlet (point B), both located on Nunavut's Baffin Island. It was last detected northwest of Clyde River, search officials said Tuesday. ((Google Maps))