Britain's Prince William returning to the skies

7th August 2014, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Prince William is to get back behind the controls of a helicopter and become an air ambulance pilot, his office announced on Thursday.

William, the Duke of Cambridge, is to be based in at Cambridge airport, responding to emergencies ranging from road traffic accidents to heart attacks.

If he passes all the required tests, the 32-year-old should take up a full-time role next year with the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), a charity which provides emergency helicopter cover across eastern England.

In September last year, the prince, second in line to the throne, completed a three-year stint as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in northwest Wales.

"The duke is greatly excited by this opportunity," a Kensington Palace spokesman said.

"He regards his work with the RAF search-and-rescue force as having been an exceptional privilege, and is hugely motivated by the idea of being able to continue to help people in difficult and challenging situations."

- 'Horrifying' emergencies -

In his new job, William, his wife Kate and their son Prince George, who turned one last month, are expected to split their time between their newly refurbished Kensington Palace apartment in London and Anmer Hall, a country house on Queen Elizabeth II's private Sandringham estate in Norfolk, eastern England.

Cambridge lies between the two.

The new role will be his main job but his rota will take into account his royal duties in Britain and abroad.

Road traffic crashes make up the majority of the air ambulance's call-outs but they also have to respond to sporting injuries and other accidents.

"The pilot is part of the team and he will be looking after patients with conditions that would be horrifying for many and some pilots may not like that very much," said the EAAA's medical director, Alastair Wilson.

"Compared to his role as a search-and-rescue pilot, he may be dealing with more injury patients than he is used to, but I'm sure he will adapt very well to that."

Starting in September, the royal will have to undergo at least five months of civilian pilot training followed by 14 exams and a flight test, plus specific emergency response training.

If he passes, he will start as a co-pilot, but, after further training, would become a helicopter commander.

Each helicopter carries a pilot, a doctor and a paramedic. William would work four days on, four days off.

Each day he will have to check his aircraft over and be aware of the local weather conditions.

William will reportedly be paid an annual salary -- £40,000 ($67,500, 50,500 euros) -- but will donate it in full to charity.

He is thought to be the first royal directly in line to inherit the throne to sign a job contract with a civilian employer.

© 2014 AFP

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