Together with patients and supporters, STARS officially welcomed the new Airbus H145 helicopter to its Edmonton base today. The new aircraft model is part of a landmark initiative to replace STARS’ fleet across Western Canada.
“Today is about commemorating with our community allies the arrival of a new fleet that will serve patients across Alberta for decades to come,” said STARS president and CEO Andrea Robertson. “With Edmonton being our last base to implement the H145, today is also about celebrating the fact that our ambitious fleet renewal program is now a reality.”
The milestone event was marked with a celebration in the STARS hangar at the Edmonton International Airport that included provincial, and municipal government representatives, community partners and allies, STARS executive, board, crew and former patients.
In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, a special presentation was given by Dancing Cree.
Fleet renewal necessary for STARS’ sustainability
In 2018, STARS unveiled a multi-year capital campaign to renew its fleet with new, medically-equipped Airbus H145 helicopters, at a cost of CAD $13 million each.
“The bulk of our aging fleet are no longer being built and are becoming costlier to maintain,” said Robertson. “Additionally, independent assessments of the sustainability of our fleet told us we needed to move from two aircraft types to one.”
An extensive review resulted in the selection of the Airbus H145 aircraft as the best option for STARS’ new fleet. It offers cutting-edge technology, advanced safety features, and an updated version of the medical interior found in STARS’ existing helicopters.
Thanks to government, community and corporate support, the not-for-profit charity began taking delivery of the state-of-the-art H145 helicopters in 2019 and has since flown hundreds of life-saving missions in the new aircraft from other bases.
When STARS starts flying missions from Edmonton this summer with the H145, all six STARS bases across Western Canada will be operating the new helicopter model – a milestone only made possible thanks to the generous support of donors.
“Our supporters ride along with us on every mission, and now they have helped us build the next STARS fleet,” said Robertson. “These new aircraft are an investment in our ability to serve the people of Alberta and Western Canada for generations, and we’re incredibly grateful to the community for helping us reach our goal.”