As he takes time off to prepare for his new baby, the air ambulance charity he'll work for has taken delivery of a new aircraft

By Simon Perry
Updated April 23, 2015 07:40 AM
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Just call him the prince of the skies.

Prince William can look forward to a fulfilling and thrilling job when he starts his shifts as an air ambulance pilot, a fellow pilot tells PEOPLE.

The prince, 32, who is currently on leave before welcoming his new baby, will start training back up on June 1. Then, in early summer he will begin flying missions, helping save lives in the region just north of London.

And when he does, he’ll pilot a new state-of-the-art helicopter that’s just been delivered to East Anglian Air Ambulance.

The new craft will enable the crew of two pilots, a doctor and critical care paramedic, to remain in the air for longer and carry out life-saving work as they bring the hospital to the patient, Capt. David Surtees tells PEOPLE.

“It’s a great job and one of the most exciting roles in civilian flying,” he says. “You come to work and you get that one job every now and again and it makes you realize why you do it and there are people that are walking around that would not be had it not been for the team.”

Bigger and Better

The new EC145 T2 helicopter is bigger and better than the charity’s other aircraft, the EC135, and will be based at Cambridge, from where William will do his flying.

Former army pilot Capt. Surtees, who brought the helicopter in for the launch Wednesday, flies in the same role that William is set to take, once he has fully trained in the equipment. Like his colleagues, the prince can expect to work shifts, either at 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or from 4:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

There is some buzz about William being a crew member, but the former army pilot praised the prince for wanting to be one of team. “He is joining us as a pilot. He is an ex search and rescue pilot with a fair degree of experience and is used to the kind of operations we will do and will bring a skill set to the party we are going to take advantage of. It is exciting for us.”

He adds: “We are looking to taking the skills to the roadside and saving peoples’ lives and the prince will be joining that team.”

Like William, Surtees works for Bond Air Services which supplies the pilots to work for the charity. He spoke of what they’ll be able to do on the new craft. “It will carry more people and it can carry more fuel and the cabin itself is bigger and the clinicians in the back will be able to dedicate a better service to the patient,” he tells PEOPLE.

“They can have full access to the patient instead of half the patient’s body that they could in the older aircraft.”

The charity has to raise £8.6m a year to pay for its helicopters, the crew and the support staff. Patrick Peal, Chief Executive of EAAA, said the support enabled them to grow “from one helicopter, one day a week operation in 2,000 to two state of the art helicopters with a doctor and critical care paramedic crew available every day of the year from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.”

Once William and his colleagues have been full trained, including in the use of night vision goggles, the aircraft will be used by all the pilots.

“The days of going out to twisted ankles on coastal paths are gone. We mainly concern ourselves with major trauma like road accidents, equestrian accidents, traumatic cardiac arrests, burns – anything that’s going to need the skills of a team that is based around trauma.

“You are taking the hospital and the skills, and personnel, to the roadside, instead of bringing the patient to the hospital. The kit that is carried on board is akin to what is used in an accident and emergency department.”

The crews expect to be busiest in the school holidays so this summer might be something of a trial by fire for William. “We go down on to the beaches but not offshore,” Capt. Surtees says.

Related: Is Princess Kate Having a Baby Girl?