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NHV Dutch SAR under investigation.

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NHV Dutch SAR under investigation.

Old 1st Dec 2019, 09:35
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NHV Dutch SAR under investigation.


Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure, VVD) has launched an investigation into the functioning of the Coast Guard helicopters. They must be able to track down and rescue drowning people and crew far and wide at sea.

The provision of these Search and Rescue services (SAR) is an international obligation for countries. But according to the minister there is currently "insufficient certainty about the functioning of the SAR services," she wrote in a letter to the Lower House on Wednesday.

The minister is also investigating how the supervision of the rescue services should be "shaped". The letter from the minister follows earlier NRC stories about the Coast Guard helicopters. In the beginning of 2018, for example, a nurse was permanently injured during a training flight at sea. In the following months nobody could tell him to whom he could report his industrial accident. Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen answered parliamentary questions about this last month. In addition, she is now presenting an investigation conducted by an external agency. Ever since the tender by Rijkswaterstaat for the helicopter services in 2014, there is uncertainty about the regulations. That is stated in an official report from 2015 by Rijkswaterstaat itself.

Moreover, the Flemish company NHV that had won the tender turned out not to meet all the tender requirements. For example, only one nurse stood by for two helicopters and there was no mandatory built-in infrared camera.

Former minister Melanie Schultz (Infrastructure, VVD) first denied that the company did not meet the requirements of Rijkswaterstaat, but still had research done. This again revealed shortcomings. Yet the minister again expressed her confidence.

Impending strikes
At NHV, which has been managing the helicopters since 2014, following the article about the accident of the nurse unrest, among other things about the employment conditions. Pilots threatened with strikes.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen expects to be able to present the results of the investigation into helicopter services at the beginning of 2020. The other investigation, which is related to surveillance, is relevant for her spokesperson "in relation to the preparations currently being made for the conclusion of new long-term contracts for different flying units."
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