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Company won contract after industrial unrest

CANADIAN firm CHC is one of the world's largest commercial helicopter companies, operating in more than 30 countries.

Its largest international operations are in Australia, Norway, Holland, South Africa and the UK. The company's main focus is on providing helicopter transportation for offshore oil and gas rigs.

It won the contract for Irish maritime search and rescue in 2004 after the then Defence Minister Michael Smith decided to step down from the Air Corps, which had provided the service for 40 years.

The move followed industrial unrest in the Air Corps, including an outbreak of "blue flu" at its base in Sligo.

CHC's Irish operation provides a search-and-rescue service for the Coast Guard with a range of 200 nautical miles. Each year, it gets about 150 search and rescue callouts to its bases in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford. A Cork base provides transportation for the oil and gas industry.

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