Gander Based Cormorant Destroyed

Emergency crews work around the wreckage of a downed CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter at 9 Wing Canadian Forces Base Gander, in Gander, N.L., Thursday, March 10, 2022. The Royal Canadian Air Force says there were six crew members on board the CH-149 search and rescue helicopter when it went down this afternoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Scott Cook

The RCAF says it is inspecting Cormorant helicopters at 9 Wing Gander after an accident on Thursday destroyed one of the aircraft and sent four of six crew members to hospital. One was kept overnight at least. The base is also pausing search and rescue operations until at least Monday while it sorts out what happened to the helicopter, which was being used for routine training at the time of the mishap. The aircraft was hovering just a few metres above the runway when something went wrong and the low speed, low altitude nature of the crash minimized the effect on the humans involved. Not so, for the helicopter, which is likely a total loss.

The Air Force hasn’t discussed what might have happened but a full enquiry will be held. The pause in operations by the squadron comes at a tricky time in that a major winter storm is expected in the area and only one 6,000 foot section of one runway was available until the wreckage could be removed. Authorities hoped to have both runways open by late Saturday. As for rescue calls, aircraft from CFB Greenwood will cover until the squadron is back up and running.