It entered service in Saskatchewan weeks ago, but STARS Air Ambulance’s newest helicopter received an official Saskatchewan welcome on Tuesday afternoon at their Regina base.
The Airbus H145 is the second of its kind in the province and is an updated version of their BK117 and AW139 helicopters, which have flown tens of thousands of STARS missions over 36 years.
Happening now: STARS and other dignitaries are here at the STARS Regina Base to welcome a 2nd aircraft to their new fleet in Sask. Here is the state-of-the-art Airbus H145 helicopter. #Regina #YQR #Sask pic.twitter.com/BFW9rIrv9S
— Moises Canales (@MoisesCanalesJr) June 29, 2021
Andrea Robertson, president and CEO of STARS, mentioned during Tuesday’s event that one of the biggest differences between this aircraft and their older fleet is the power and capacity.
“When we’re leaving here to go a long distance and we are carrying a lot of fuel, it’s difficult to take off in this hot weather,” Robertson explained. “We are really limited by weight when it’s warm, but with this aircraft, that will never be a problem.”
This particular Airbus H145 is the fifth of ten of these helicopters needed as part of the not-for-profit charity’s fleet renewal campaign.
Robertson discussed the importance of bringing in updated models since some of their older choppers are decades old.
“It’s not that it’s done, it’s that you can’t get parts for [older helicopters] anymore, so they become what we call a legacy aircraft,” said Robertson.
“We had an aircraft out of service last year for eight months while it was waiting for one part. So when you’re in a 24/7 obligation to the population, you need to make sure you are available and this [new] aircraft is going to do that.”
Robertson noted they will be looking to convert Regina’s STARS base by mid-July to accompany the new fleet.
STARS says they have millions of dollars left to raise as part of the campaign. The organization hopes to raise enough funds for more of these helicopters by the end of the year so the remainder of the new fleet can enter service across Western Canada through 2022.
Each medically-equipped Airbus H145 costs $13 million.