London: Duke of Cambridge Prince William may soon be out of a job. His career as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot is under threat after the British government decided to outsource search-and-rescue operations from a US firm. The 1.6 billion pounds deal will end 70 years of a service run by the RAF and Royal Navy.
Reports suggest that Prince William has expressed his concern over the privatisation plans when he met Prime Minister David Cameron.
Prince William, 30, a flight lieutenant, joined the RAF in September 2010. He qualified as an operational search and rescue captain in 2012 and now has a full-time job, albeit with time off for royal appearances, rescuing stranded climbers and stricken vessels on emergency missions in Sea King helicopters.
The RAF said it would stop its search and rescue work from March 2016. A spokesman said employees will then be faced with a number of possibilities which include ground-based roles and airborne roles, both in the UK and overseas.
They will also have the option to apply to leave the RAF. Under the new contract, 22 state-of-the-art helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.
Ten Sikorsky S92s will be situated, two per site, at Stornoway and Sumburgh in Scotland, and at new bases at airports in Newquay in Cornwall, Caernarfon in Wales, which will take over operations previously covered by Prince William's base, and Humberside.
Ten AgustaWestland AW189s will operate, two per site, from Lee on Solent and a new hangar at Prestwick Airport, and new bases which will be established at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports. All bases will be operational 24 hours a day.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)