At least four companies are in the running to take over running part of the UK’s search and rescue helicopter service.
The deadline for firms to apply to take over the contract passed yesterday.
Bids were submitted by Bond, Bristow, a consortium including British International Helicopters and CHC, the current coastguard contractors.
Results of the preferred bidder will be announced by the end of the year by the government.
This winning firm will then take over a five-year contract to run the Lee-on-the-Solen base from 2013, as well as three other bases in the south of England and in Scotland.
CHC operates the search and rescue service from Maritime and Coastguard Agency bases. The service is also run from six RAF bases and two navy ones.