Icelandic Coast Guard (Landhelgisgæslan Íslands) has partly recovered possibility to respond on emergencies with helicopters. Icelandic parliament Alþingi has published the bill, which forced Coast Guard mechanics to stop the strike and complete maintenance on one of the helicopters, RÚV reported.
The bill forced mechanics to perform necessary works on leased Airbus H225 (reg. TF-GRO) during the weekend and on Monday 30.November the helicopter was ungrounded. However, as earlier Icelandic Coast Guard Chief of operations Ásgrímur L. Ásgrímsson explained to Flugblogg, not one but two helicopters and two crews are required to cover an area more than 20 nautical miles offshore out to 150 nautical miles. While one of the helicopters is responding, the second helicopter is a back up in case of an emergency crash landing on water. The second helicopter has to be at least on standby at the base but in some cases, it will follow the primary helicopter.
Earlier Coast Guard mechanics had to start the strike after Aircraft engineer’s labour union FVFÍ could not find an agreement with state negotiation committee regarding the increase of salaries. The dispute started on 5.November and still is not resolved. At the end of November, all three Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG) helicopters – one owned Aérospatiale AS.332 Super Puma (reg. TF-LIF) and two leased Airbus H225 (reg. TF-EIR and TF-GRO) – needed regular maintenance, which was not performed due to started strike. The situation escalated to the point, when at midnight 25.November, all helicopters were grounded without proper maintenance.
It was expected that during the next days Icelandic Coast Guard could receive an emergency call from fishing boats, especially considering more than 50 of them were floating around Iceland during first heavy winter storm during Thursday night. However, the ICG information officer Ásgeir Erlendsson told Flugblogg, fortunately, no stress calls were received.