Inexpensive App Used To Track Prince William's Air Ambulance Raises Security Risk Issues

For £2.99 ($4.64 USD), fans of the royal family can download an app that will let them know when Prince William's East Anglian Air Ambulance is in the air and where it is expected to land. While the royal family cite it as a "security matter," an air safety expert thinks it unlikely any harm will come to Prince William as a result of the cheap app.

Currently, Prince William works as an air ambulance pilot, having just started this job after taking paternity leave for the birth of his daughter, Princess Charlotte. The flightradar24 app is used to track air ambulances (such as the one Prince William uses) as they take flight and land in an effort to keep people informed as to how long it will take for emergency assistance to arrive. However, when Prince William is one of those on board, a potential security risk could occur.

While media is often alerted to Prince William's arrival, the area is usually screened first to rule out any potential terrorist or other security threats. But, when Prince William is working, no area sweep occurs when he arrives on board an air ambulance. This is where the major security threat to Prince William occurs. Not only does it give people early warning and therefore a chance to attack Prince William, there is also the potential for an air attack as the air ambulances often travel under 1,500 feet and at a slow speed.

According to the Mail On Sunday, who first broke this story, and Roy Ramm, a former Commander of Specialist Operations at Scotland Yard, the flightradar24 app poses an immediate threat to Prince William and the royal family and should be shut down or, at least, altered.

"Knowing the precise movements, altitude and speed of an aircraft in flight is intelligence gold for any terrorist. The ability to track a high-profile target like this presents a really serious risk. Even without expensive and sophisticated weaponry, there is the real danger that an inexpensive drone could be used to put any aircraft flown by William at risk. There is also the risk that a terrorist might simply open fire on his aircraft at low altitude with the kind of automatic weapon readily available to gangs in London. After all, the Prince is flying an air ambulance, not an armored gunship."
However, according to air safety expert Christopher Yates, it would be relatively easy to modify the flightradar24 app so that any flights with Prince William on board could not be tracked, and that the risk is fairly negligible anyway.
"Most of the time when an air ambulance is called it appears on the scene, scoops someone up and disappears. If there were someone monitoring, the chance of them being there at the scene when he arrives is quite remote. And we don't know from one day to the next if he's going to be on board. So I don't see a problem."
It is not only Prince William's air ambulance that can be tracked using the phone app, many types of commercial and civilian air services can be tracked by the flightradar24 app, but "military and diplomatic flights and private jets do not normally appear for security reasons." This app also allows for alerts for certain aircraft's flight details (including Prince William's craft) to be sent to the users phone.

As yet, the royal family have declined to officially comment on this security risk involving Prince William. They are, however, reportedly concerned over the possible security threat involving Prince William.

[Image credit: Getty Images / WPA Pool / Pool]