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  • Royal Flying

    And Then There Were Two!

    Royal Household Purchases Second Helicopter

    The Royal Household has purchased a second helicopter to compliment its existing Sikorsky S-76C.

    AW109S Grand G-XXEC being prepared for 'royal duties' at Sywell Aerodrome on 30th May 2014 (Photo: Dave Haines)

    The Royal Household's latest addition to the Queen's Helicopter Flight, an AW109S Grand, G-XXEC

    The AgustaWestland AW109S Grand (s/n 22104) registered as G-XXEC, will be based at RAF Odiham alongside the Flight's S-76C, G-XXEB. The aircraft was registered to the Royal Household on 11th June.

    While new to the Royal Household, the aircraft was manufactured in Italy in 2008 and sold to Brasil where it flew as PR-YAA prior to moving to the United States to serve as a demonstration aircraft for AgustaWestland North America where it flew with the registration N473SH. The helicopter has been based at AgustaWestland's facility in Philadelphia and has been advertised for sale for more than a year. The aircraft has less than 500 hours total time.

    G-XXEC, the 'new kid' in the Queen's Helicopter Flight
    queen's helicopter the royal helicopter flight the queen's flight royal flight
    The Queen's Helicopter Flight, together with the Royal Household's travel department, has for many years chartered helicopters to supplement the operations of their sole helicopter and it is likely that this second aircraft will absorb much of that demand.

    As well as addressing a longstanding requirement for a second aircraft, it is believed that an increase in the royal duties performed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were a factor in the decision to purchase a second helicopter.

    SN: 22104 as seen in Philadelphia in 2013 still wearing its Brasilian registration, PR-YAA

    The interior

    Crew seating

    22104 in Philadelphia in 2013

    The QHF's existing helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76C++:

    G-XXEB landing at St. Angelo Airport in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, on 26th June 2012

  • #2
    William May Join East Anglian Air Ambulance

    The Duke of Cambridge will announce he is to become a helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service rather than taking a full-time Royal role.

    He and Kate are planning to base themselves at Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham Estate, which lies midway between the air ambulance service bases at Norwich and Cambridge. The move will enable William to see Prince George on a regular basis.

    William, keen to get back into flying

    He is likely to be one of six pilots, mainly from military backgrounds, who fly the ambulance service’s two yellow twin-engine EC 135 T2 helicopters, which can reach 135 knots (150mph). They can get to anywhere in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk in 25 minutes.

    Two of the East Anglian Air Ambulances

    All are employed by Bond Air Services, with salaries ranging from £40,000 to £60,000, but it is not known if William will be paid. Work is on a rota of five days on, three days off, for 365 days a year.

    As the only air ambulance service in the country with night vision technology, William will expect to fly at night as well as daytime, working ten-hour shifts.


    • #3

      G-XXEC 'Willy 1' departing Kensington Palace on 25th Jun 2014 (Photo: Matthew)
      queen's helicopter flight g-xxec aw109 aw109s aw 109 grand prince william helicopter royal helicopter new royal helicopter


      • #4

        G-XXEC as seen at Cardiff Airport on 2nd July 2014 (Photo: Hugh Trainer) prince william helicopter g-xxec aw109 g-xxec prince william new helicopter queen new helicopter royal flight royal agusta blue helicopter


        • #5

          G-XXEC as seen at Leeds Bradford Airport on 3rd July 2014 (Photo: Stewart Robertshaw)
          prince william new helicopter aw109 g-xxec new royal helicopter william helicopter prince william helicopter blue royal helicopter


          • #6
            William's Future at East Anglian Air Ambulance Confirmed

            Prince William is expected to begin a job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot that will allow him to be a hands-on dad.

            It is understood William will start the £40,000-a-year job in September after completing a period of training and will work a four days on, three days off shift pattern.

            Kensington Palace officials are expected to confirm within the next few weeks that Prince William has postponed taking on full-time royal duties to work as a helicopter pilot with East Anglian Air Ambulance, based near Anmer Hall.

            ​Prince William is to be trained so that he may fly East Anglia's EC135 helicopter

            As a result, sources say the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George will spend a large part of each week at Anmer, on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

            Royal Communications declined to comment last night.

            William is believed to want his own son to experience the same carefree, rural childhood he enjoyed at the various royal country residences.

            Both he and Kate have complained of feeling ‘trapped’ in their 22-room apartment at Kensington Palace.



            • #7

              Helicopter Pilot Required

              The Royal Household are currently seeking to employ a helicopter pilot.

              Department: Lord Chamberlain’s Office
              RAF Odiham
              Salary Band: £75,500 - £78,500 plus benefits
              Hours of work: Approx. 37.5 hours per week, 5 days out of 7
              Contract Type: Standard

              Mandatory Requirements
              • CPL(H) with instrument rating
              • Class 1 medical
              You must be willing to undertake regular travel across the UK and overnight as necessary, have a flexible approach and be willing to take on duties and activities outside your normal responsibilities

              Job Description

              The Queen’s Helicopter Flight consists of a small team of pilots and ground support personnel operating a privately operated Sikorsky S76 helicopter and an AgustaWestland AW109S.

              As the Aircraft Captain, you will be responsible for the safe and efficient execution of the flight in accordance with standard procedures. This will encompass all aspects of planning and preparation of the flight, including liaising closely with the Operations Officer to ensure efficient and appropriate use of resources and personnel.

              Personal Qualifications and Qualities

              To undertake this role you will have:
              • CPL(H) with instrument rating
              • Class 1 medical
              • S-76 and AW109S type ratings and Corporate/VVIP experience are highly desirable
              • The highest operating standards, accuracy, attention to detail and commitment to the task
              • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, with experience of liaising with a wide range of stakeholder
              • High levels of initiative and problem solving skills, with the ability to think ahead and act proactively
              • Strong administrative and self-organisation abilities, with excellent planning and time management skills
              • A flexible and adaptable attitude to work, with an enthusiastic approach to working both individually and as part of a small supportive team
              • A willingness to undertake regular travel across the UK and overnight as necessary, and to take on duties and activities outside your normal responsibilities.
              Application Closing Date: 25 Sep 2014


              • #8
                The Countess of Wessex departing the Royal School for Deaf Children in Margate, Kent, earlier today after opening a new hydrotherapy pool and gymnasium:


                • #9
                  Harry May Join Anti-ISIS Force

                  Prince Harry could join Britain’s fight against the Islamic State in the Middle East as a helicopter pilot.

                  The country is considering deploying eight Apaches to fight ISIS, also known as ISIL, after the helicopters were withdrawn from Afghanistan.

                  “The Prince, who for the last year has had a desk job in Whitehall arranging ceremonial events and the Invictus Games, remains qualifed as an Apache pilot,” reported the Express.

                  Prince Harry is a qualified Apache pilot

                  “He is due for promotion from captain to major next year and is known to want to return to active service.”

                  The possibility of the prince returning to duty, following his first tour being cut short in 2008 when his presence was leaked to the public, gets even higher when considering the shortage of pilots among the Army Air Corps.

                  And his superiors have been impressed with his skill as a pilot, with his commander, Lt Col Tom de la Rue, saying the prince had “reached the pinnacle of excellence as a pilot” after a training course.

                  Also, some sources close to Harry say he would like to go back to serving at the front.

                  “He was shaken to pieces by what he witnessed and it wouldn’t be going too far to say he went out a boy and came home a man. In many ways it is his identity and his raison d’etre. He’s a career soldier first and foremost,” said one military friend.

                  “He wouldn’t hesitate to return to a war zone. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t. If the circumstances are right then he will.”

                  A senior defense source confirmed over the weekend that the possibility of deploying the Apache helicopters to Iraw has been put before Army chiefs, “although there is caution around such a move because of a desire to avoid allegations of ‘mission creep.’”


                  • #10

                    G-XXEC takes advantage of someone's back garden in order to deliver a member of the Royal Family to a rugby match in October 2014
                    aw109 g-xxec royal helicopter aw109s g-xxec the queen's helicopter flight g-xxec royal 109 royal helicopter tqhf 109


                    • #11

                      The Queen's Helicopter Flight AW109S G-XXEC (cn 22104) as seen at Newcastle's Woolsington Airport on 8th May 2015 (Photo: Ian Tate)
                      aw109 g-xxec royal helicopter aw109s g-xxec the queen's helicopter flight g-xxec royal 109 royal helicopter tqhf 109


                      • #12

                        AW109S G-XXEC as seen overhead RAF Fairford on 19th July 2015 (Photo: Alan Gray)


                        • #13

                          G-XXEC landing at RAF Coningsby on 22nd September 2015 (Photo: Manx Norton)
                          aw109 g-xxec royal helicopter aw109s g-xxec the queen's helicopter flight g-xxec royal 109 royal helicopter tqhf 109

                          G-XXEC as seen at Exeter International in October 2015


                          • #14

                            AW109S G-XXEC (cn 22104) as seen outside its home base hangar at RAF Odiham in 2015 (Photo: Steven May)
                            aw109 g-xxec royal helicopter aw109s g-xxec the queen's helicopter flight g-xxec royal 109 royal helicopter tqhf 109


                            • #15

                              AW109S G-XXEC (cn 22104) departing Merchant Taylors' School in Hertfordshire on 25th June 2015
                              aw109 g-xxec royal helicopter aw109s g-xxec the queen's helicopter flight g-xxec royal 109 royal helicopter tqhf
                              AW109S G-XXEC as seen at Birmingham Airport on 17th March 2016 (Photo: Radleigh Bushell)
                              aw109 g-xxec royal helicopter aw109s g-xxec the queen's helicopter flight g-xxec royal 109 royal helicopter tqhf 109


                              • #16

                                G-XXEC departure from Perth Scone
                                aw109 g-xxec royal helicopter aw109s g-xxec the queen's helicopter flight g-xxec royal 109 royal helicopter tqhf 109


                                • #17

                                  G-XXEB Kensington Palace 1st May 2018

                                  Yesterday TQHF's S-76C G-XXEB carried QEII from Windsor Castle to Kensington Palace.

                                  The craft arrived just after 2pm local time and brought the monarch to visit her great-grandchild Louis Arthur.

                                  'EB' arriving at Kensington Palace yesterday

                                  QEII's 'landing steps' are placed in position

                                  QEII alighting 'EB'

                                  Photos by ​Simpson/Bushell

                                  Royal 109 Could be Replaced by Second S-76

                                  Unconfirmed reports suggest that TQHF may take delivery of an additional S-76 to replace their AW109S.

                                  What I 'can' confirm is that the TQHF pilots have for some time wanted to make this change based on their preference for the S-76 in delivering the service they provide.


                                  • #18

                                    G-XXEC Involved in Near Miss near Cheltenham

                                    An Air Approx Board report has revealed that the Queen's Helicopter Flight AW109S G-XXEC was involved in a near miss event which occurred three miles east of Cheltenham on 5th July 2017 while returning from Overbury in Worcestershire with the Countess of Wessex aboard.

                                    Sophie boarding G-XXEC

                                    The report says that pilot in command of the aircraft had to take evasive action in order to avoid collision with a glider which was sighted directly above the helicopter.

                                    Evidently there were two additional incidents, presumably with G-XXEB, one also involving a glider and the other a parachute drop aircraft.


                                    • #19

                                      S-76C++ G-XXEB (cn.760753) as seen at Exeter Airport in November 2019


                                      • #20

                                        S-76C++ G-XXEB as seen departing Newcastle Airport on 24th January 2020


                                        • #21

                                          S-76C G-XXED (cn.76-0699) as seen at Shoreham Airport on 15th September 2020 (Photo by Hawkwind)

                                          Delivering Princess Anne who was visiting Pooley Sword.


                                          • #22

                                            G-XXEB departing Freshwater on the Isle of Wight on 29th September 2020

                                            The craft was departing with Prince Edward who had visited the island's 'Help Hub' based at the Isle of Wight Community Centre.