(Contributed image).

STARS to start fundraising for new helicopters

First new Airbus H145 expected to be delivered next year

STARS is looking to the future with the delivery of its first new Airbus H145 helicopter in 2019.

The rest of the new air-ambulance fleet is expected to be brought to STARS’s six bases in Western Canada over the next five years. In Alberta, STARS needs five new helicopters to operate from three bases; in Calgary, Edmonton and Grand Prairie.

Each medically equipped aircraft costs about $13 million. The non-profit, charitable organization will launch a campaign to seek funding from the community and government to help with the new fleet purchase.

The older model helicopters now in use by STARS will also be sold after the new fleet is in place to help offset the cost.

“While we await the arrival of our new helicopters, our existing fleet will continue to serve our patients reliably and safely,” said Andrea Robertson, CEO of STARS. “You can count on us to be there for the next patient who needs us.”

STARS is unveiling a renewal plan to replace current models with a streamlined, unified helicopter fleet. Robertson said, “We need to update and standardize our aircraft fleet, and this is the first step… The new fleet is an investment in our future, helping us continue to provide critical care services for our children, grandchildren and beyond.”

STARS reviewed the long-term sustainability of its current models: the legacy BK117 and the AW139. The assessment indicated the necessity of phasing out aging, costly-to-fix helicopters.

Robertson said, “A unified fleet is considered best practice in terms of safety, fleet management, dispatch flexibility and cost effectiveness.”

The Airbus H145 aircraft was selected as the best option for STARS’s new fleet. The technologically advanced model has an updated version of the medical interior found in STARS’s existing aircraft.

STARS has been operating since 1985 with the goal of providing all residents with the emergency care they need. Outside of Alberta, STARS operates in Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg.

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