STARS operates eight BK117 in western Canada. Photo courtesy of STARS
Air ambulance provider STARS will update its fleet of helicopters with Airbus Helicopters H145s starting in 2019.
The Calgary, Alberta-based nonprofit's current fleet comprises eight legacy BK117 and three Leonardo AW139 helicopters out of bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg in western Canada.
"The bulk of our current fleet, the long-serving BK117, has been phased out of production, and these aircraft are becoming more costly to maintain," said STARS President and CEO Andrea Robertson.
An independent review of the operator's current fleet revealed the need of a new single-model helicopter fleet, with the H145 best suited as it is a "technologically advanced model with an updated version of the medical interior found in STARS' existing aircraft," according to a company press release.
The first of a total of nine new aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2019 and will be based in Calgary. Over the next 5 years, the new aircraft will be delivered and put into operation across the rest of STARS' bases.
The company said it would only need nine helicopters now, as opposed to its original 11, due to the operational efficiencies that come with an updated fleet. The helicopters will continue to serve STARS' current coverage areas.
Overall, five new 145s will operate at its three Alberta bases, three at its two Saskatchewan bases and one at its Manitoba base.