LONDON (AP) -- A private U.S. company is to take over the work of Britain's military search-and-rescue helicopter service, whose pilots include Prince William.
The Department for Transport announced Tuesday that Houston, Texas-based, Bristow Group has won a 1.6 billion pound ($2.4 billion) contract to operate the service, which for 70 years has been run by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force squadrons.
Bristow Managing Director Mike Imlach said the company would replace Britain's aging Sea Kings with more advanced helicopters to provide a better service. But unions said they were concerned about the privatization.
Prince William flies a Sea King on rescue missions for the Royal Air Force.
His tour is due to end later this year, before the air force stops its search and rescue operations in 2016.