Gallery: The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, will be coming to the rescue of patients in Suffolk next year as he takes up full-time role as air ambulance pilot

The Duke of Cambridge at the controls of a Sea King helicopter. Photo credit: SAC Faye Storer/PA Wire The Duke of Cambridge at the controls of a Sea King helicopter. Photo credit: SAC Faye Storer/PA Wire

Thursday, August 7, 2014
6:07 PM

Prince William has revealed he will donate the wages he earns as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance back to the charity.

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The Duke of Cambridge will next month begin a civilian pilot course, followed by dedicated 999-response training.

The father-of-one is due to take up a full-time role with the charity in spring 2015 and will be based at Cambridge Airport.

His main duties will involve flying an EC145 T2 aircraft, working alongside medics to respond to emergencies ranging from road accidents to heart attacks in

Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Captain Dave Kelly makes his way towards the East Anglian Air Ambulance at Cambridge Airport. Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA WireCaptain Dave Kelly makes his way towards the East Anglian Air Ambulance at Cambridge Airport. Photo credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The role will be his main job but his roster will take into account the duties and responsibilities he will continue to undertake on behalf of the Queen.

Today it was revealed that he will be paid a salary but he will donate it, in full, to the charity.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said the Duke is “very much looking forward to” the next step in his career.

Patrick Peal, chief executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), welcomed the announcement, saying the organisation would benefit both from William’s skills as a pilot and from a boost to the charity’s profile.

Air ambulances

The EC145 will be able to carry two pilots, three HEMS crew, one patient, and enough fuel to fly for over two hours with a range of nearly 300 nautical miles.

It will be equipped to operate at night.

In contrast, the current EC135 T2e, based at Cambridge, can carry one pilot, two HEMS crew and a patient for 90 minutes with a range of 186 nautical miles.

This aircraft, which is night-capable, will move to Norwich once the EC145 becomes operational.

Once the prince has passed all his extra training, the Duke of Cambridge will be able to fly either the EC135 or the EC145.

Mr Peal added: “This is really good news for the charity and we’re delighted His Highness has decided to fly with us.

“We are confident this will help raise the profile of the charity and other air ambulance charities in the region and across the UK.

“We’re very fortunate that we currently enjoy tremendous levels of support but fundraising is always a challenge - we’re looking to raise £7.5 million a year to continue the lifesaving work - and I’m sure that this will help to raise the profile of the charity.

“We’re looking forward to him being part of the team.

“It is a very close-knit crew with the pilot operating closely with the doctor and paramedic so we need a strong team in every operation we go on.”

There had been speculation surrounding the move since William, who is qualified to be a captain or pilot of a Sea King helicopter, ended his active service as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot in September last year.

As new parents, William and Kate are expected to split their time between their new home at Anmer Hall near Sandringham in Norfolk and their apartment at Kensington Palace.

Cambridge Airport is well placed with transport links to both.

Alastair Wilson, the charity’s medical director, said he felt the Duke was well-suited to the role.

“He’s an extraordinary person and it’s just great that he wants to come and do something like this and fly with a charity like the air ambulance,” Mr Wilson added.

“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.

“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.”

The EAAA currently operates two helicopters and employs three pilots in Norwich and three in Cambridge.

Along with a pilot, each helicopter carries a doctor and a paramedic.

Before beginning the new job, William will be required to gain an air transport pilot licence to complement his military training and undergo training specific to his new role.

In order to gain this licence, he must complete five months of training followed by 14 exams and a flight test.

Initially he will be employed as a co-pilot but, after a period of training, William will be qualified as a helicopter commander.

A palace spokesman said: “The job will build on the Duke’s operational experience in the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue force.

“During this time he undertook more than 150 search and rescue operations.”

The announcement further strengthens ties with the city from which William takes his title after he completed a 10-week agricultural course at the University of Cambridge earlier this year.

East Anglian Air Ambulance

The charity was first founded in Norfolk in 1998, in response to the Air Sea Rescue squadron moving from RAF Coltishall in Norfolk to RAF Wattisham in Suffolk.

It started operating just one day a week, but has grown significantly over the years and now has two helicopters, one based in Norwich and another in Cambridge.

Wherever possible, its crew includes a doctor and a critical care paramedic and the bases also have road vehicles for the occasions when the helicopter is not appropriate or available - for example the aircraft are unable to fly in clouds in freezing temperatures.

The charity now operates 365 days a year, covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedford. It costs £7.5m each year to provide the charity’s service and it employs around 40 to 50 people as salaried staff.

However, it very much relies on the hard work and support of volunteers across the region.

Key partners include the East of England Ambulance Service and local hospitals, as well as Bond Air Services, which provides the helicopters and pilots, and so will technically be the Duke’s employer rather than the charity.

The EAAA also works closely with fellow air ambulance charities Magpas Helimedix and the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, as well as other pre-hospital critical care organisations and charities.

4 comments

  • Well he's hardly working for free now is he. Last year the British tax payer funded him and his family to the tune of £36 million. Enough to pay for about 1800 NHS nurses.

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    Nigel Noakes

    Friday, August 8, 2014

  • I think Williams priority in life is to protect his wife & son from the thronges of press that surrounds their every move.After loosing his mother he is going to do whatever it takes to give them peace & some freedom from the ever prying eyes that pick endlessly on everything! Leave them alone!

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    Anne Harkins

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

  • I much prefer him to many others of his family who lived (and still live) largely idle, useless lives. At least he is trying to do something productive with his while he can. Oh and I'd be interested to know how YOU would get on if your entire life, from the moment of birth, had to be lived in the spotlight of the media and public of the entire world? Personally I would NOT want to swap with him, "privileged" or not.

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    blue&white

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

  • He's clearly well capable of doing the job and his extensive training so far will not be wasted. Not having to pay him is a useful bonus for the charity and shows leadership that others, who are able to employ their skills without pay may choose to follow. Perhaps it might also encourage others employed by the NHS to review their salaries and consider taking a pay cut.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

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