The pilot of a helicopter that went missing along the coast of Baffin Island this week is no longer believed to be alive, according to search officials.
Members of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre at CFB Trenton, Ont., told CBC News late Wednesday that they have changed their search to a recovery operation, meaning they are no longer searching for a survivor.
On Wednesday morning, searchers found the wreckage of the Bell 206 Longranger helicopter that disappeared Monday between Clyde River and Pond Inlet, located on the eastern and northern coasts of Baffin Island in Nunavut.
A Halifax-based male pilot was in the helicopter, which is owned by Universal Helicopters Newfoundland Ltd. of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L.
Life raft not deployed
A search official said there is little chance of finding the pilot alive at this point, given the water temperature in the area — about 6 C — and the fact that searchers found an unused life raft in the wreckage.
Parts of the helicopter's fuselage, fuel tank and tail were found by searchers aboard the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Des Groseilliers at Sam Ford Trough about 8 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
Searchers from the coast guard and the Canadian Rangers spent the day recovering the pieces of wreckage and loading them aboard the icebreaker, as well as searching along the shoreline for the pilot.
The pilot's name has not been released. Staff at Universal Helicopters said he has more than 15 years of experience, including three summers of working on contract with the Newfoundland and Labrador-based company.
Universal Helicopters president Geoff Goodyear said Wednesday that staff at the close-knit company are saddened by the tragedy.
Search officials say they will review the case later Wednesday or Thursday, but added they will likely pass on the case to the RCMP on Thursday.