Prince William's fate as a member of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force may be in jeopardy now that an American company is privatizing his search-and-rescue team.
U.S.-based Bristow Helicopters will now operate Britain's search-and-rescue services after acquiring the company in a £1.6 billion (or approximately $2.4 billion) deal, according to the Sun
. For the last 70 years, the RAF and Royal Navy squadrons have run the service.
Under the new contract, 22 state-of-the-art helicopters will replace the iconic Sea Choppers — flown by the Duke of Cambridge — to be used in rescue missions.
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It's uncertain what will become of the current flight crews. Some of them are expected to apply to join the new private service but some are concerned they will lose their jobs, the Sun reported, even though Bristow said the deal would create 350 jobs in the U.K.
The U.K. Department of Transportation insisted the RAF will operate more efficiently with the new aircraft.
"Our search-and-rescue helicopter service plays a crucial role, saving lives and providing assistance to people in distress on both land and on sea," Transportation Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the Sun. "The public can have great confidence in Bristow and their ability to deliver a first-class service with state-of-the-art helicopters."
Prince William, the future Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, is a Flight Lieutenant based at RAF Valley on Anglesey in North Wales, from where he commands missions to help stranded climbers and stricken vessels in the area.
The 30-year-old prince made headlines recently for his rescue of two stranded hikers
in the Snowdonia region of South Wales.
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In August, the Internet was abuzz with news of another Prince William rescue when he reportedly came to the aid of an injured Cambodian hiker from the Anglesey coast.
The same month, he saved two teen girls who had been washed out to sea while body boarding. He reportedly arrived on the scene within 38 seconds, one of the "fastest and shortest operations" ever for the Royal Air Force.
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