BROADCAST DATE : Sep 30, 2011


The North Atlantic Ocean is one of the most hostile marine environments in the world. Thousands of Canadians who make their living from the fishery, merchant shipping and offshore oil and gas go about their work in the shadow of ever-present danger. Their lives depend on a thinly spread and vulnerable system of search and rescue vessels, planes and helicopters.

In "Mayday," the fifth estate examines the troubling state of Canada's maritime search and rescue network. You'll hear from the survivors who were lucky enough to survive brushes with death, and tell stories of those who perished in the raging sea waiting for a helicopter rescue that never came. You'll meet the insider who grounded Canada's fleet of new Cormorant search and rescue choppers after finding major cracks in a key part of the tail rotor system-and now says he paid for his diligence with his job.

Once widely admired, now plagued with problems, our maritime rescue fleet now has one of the slowest emergency response times in the world. The fifth estate's Linden MacIntyre asks why the Department of National Defence believes three helicopters are sufficient to cover the search and rescue needs of an area the size of Europe, and why required response times can stretch up to two hours — while private operators require rescue crews to be in the air within 20 minutes of a distress call.

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