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Helicopter for William's colleagues

The Duke of Cambridge's employer has launched its newest air ambulance - which will soon be flown by William.

The Duke is expected to join the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) in mid-summer and will work as a co-pilot for the charity after completing training.

Today his future colleagues celebrated the launch of a new £1.7 million H145 T2 helicopter which will enable the charity to provide a faster response and better care for patients while in the air.

Among them were Captain Dave Surtees, who will be one of William's commanders, and new recruit, co-pilot Jennifer Stevenson, who is undergoing the same on-the-job training that the Duke will complete.

Mr Surtees, speaking at the launch in Stow Cum Quay, Cambridgeshire, described the new helicopter as a "fantastic aircraft" and said William would be looking forward to flying it.

He added: "H e's a very experienced pilot in his own right and he's flown a fairly large aircraft himself.

"I'd imagine he can't wait to get his hands on something like this because this is state-of-the-art and it's got more toys on it that his Sea King would have done.

Mr Surtees will be one of those in charge of William while in the air but said the Duke's experience as a search and rescue pilot would make him a valuable member of the team.

"He's coming here as a pilot, not as a royal." he added.

"He's bringing his history as a search and rescue pilot to the party and that makes him a valued asset."

Unlike its predecessor, the new helicopter carries two instead of one pilots and has extra space in the back for four medics to work on patients. This means the co-pilot can take over navigation responsibilities from a paramedic who has done it in the past.

Miss Stevenson, a former helicopter instructor, began her work with the charity in January.

As a co-pilot, her main job is to navigate the helicopter and plan for landing, often in difficult circumstances at the scene of emergency.

She has spent the last three months based in Cambridge, learning the specific demands of the air ambulance role and completing the same preparations that William will be expected to go through.

She said: "I'm sure he'll cope with it just the same as the rest of us - we've all got similar skills and are employed for the same reasons.

"We work closely as a team and I'm sure that's something he'll enjoy.

"The training is quite hands-on and a typical day involves arriving at the airbase, getting the helicopter ready to go and then waiting for the phone to ring - you never know what emergency you're going to be sent to."

William will be employed by Bond Air Services, which provides helicopters for the EAAA.

He will complete job-specific training before he flies missions. T raining involves simulator, helicopter aircraft and in-flight skills training.

In his new role with the charity he is due to earn about £40,000 a year, but the after-tax salary will be donated to charity.

William gave up his role as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot in September 2013 after completing more than 150 missions.

The air ambulance attends emergencies across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Patrick Peal, chief executive of EAAA, said "We are indebted to the people of East Anglia for their support and encouragement which has seen us grow from one helicopter, one day a week operation in 2000 to two state of the art helicopters with a doctor and critical care paramedic crew available every day of the year from 7am to 1.30am."

Medical director Alastair Wilson said: "This new aircraft will allow us to continue to provide the very best pre-hospital care for people in need through injury or medical emergency."

Since the charity was set up in 2000, over 16,000 missions have been carried out across East Anglia.


From Belfast Telegraph