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Recovering copter a challenge: TSB

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Monday's fatal Arctic helicopter crash could result in the first time investigators have had to recover wreckage in waters so remote, so deep and so cold.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada spokesman Chris Krepskei said Thursday he's unaware of any previous search as challenging as the upcoming recovery of the helicopter from the research vessel Amundsen in 420 metres of water, off Banks Island more than 700 kilometres from Resolute.

University of Manitoba scientist Klaus Hochheim died in the crash Monday night on a routine flight checking ice conditions ahead of the ship. Canadian Coast Guard pilot Daniel Dub© and Amundsen commander Marc Thibault also died in the crash.

Their helicopter suddenly lost contact with the Amundsen while flying back to the ship in clear weather.

The bodies of the three men were recovered and have been taken to Resolute.

"The post-mortem exams will take place in Edmonton," although no date has yet been set, Krepskei said.

He could not say when a recovery operation will happen.

It would be up to the coast guard to assign a ship to go to the site and to supply remote vehicles that could work in those waters, said Krepskei. He was unaware how long it will take to get a suitable vessel and the equipment to the area, or where such a ship would now be based.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which is responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard, said Thursday it cannot yet say when it can have a ship and equipment at the crash site.

"The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is in contact with the families to determine their intentions for the funerals," said spokeswoman Caroline Hilt. "The CCG also remains focused on the needs and concerns of the crew and individuals on board the Amundsen. A decision on the future of the scientific mission will be made in the next few days in collaboration with ArcticNet."

ArcticNet is a consortium of universities conducting Arctic research, the most prominent among them the U of M and Laval University. The U of M established a $15-million Arctic research centre last March, of which the Amundsen is a key part.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2013 A5

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