Competition for the UK's SAR-H search-and-rescue helicopter requirement has narrowed to two bidders, with a third consortium having withdrawn its interest in the deal.

Formed of AgustaWestland, Bristow Helicopters, FB Heliservices and Serco, UK Air Rescue had appeared a strong candidate for the SAR-H requirement, but on 17 September the team notified the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Ministry of Defence of its decision to pull out of the potentially 30-year private finance initiative deal.

A source from one of the UK Air Rescue companies confirms that the move was the result of "a unanimous commercial decision, based on a wide range of factors", but declines to give further details.

UK Air Rescue's departure leaves the SAR-H competition as a two-way battle between the Lockheed Martin/VT Aerospace AirKnight consortium and a team including CHC and Thales.

The MCA expects to receive final bids for the deal in mid-November.

Source: Flight International